The spring weather is back! Its easy to tell, the buds are starting to come out and the flowers coming to bloom. People are also back running outside! It’s now time, more than ever to build up the mileage on the long run, and here’s why.
- Aerobic capacity: The more the heart and lungs have to work, the stronger and more efficient they become and the more they can handle over time.
- Vascularization: Your veins and arteries are the body’s highway. They transport blood to and from the lungs and heart to the working muscles. Over time, endurance sports increase the total number, called vascularization. As well as the strength and durability of these highways making a more efficient transit system.
- Mitochondria: Mitochondria are the so-called “powerhouse of the cell”, any given cell in the human body including the heart, lungs and muscles. They are responsible for creating the energy needed to run fast and far. Training longer stimulates more mitochondria to be made as well as to function more efficiently.
- Fat burning and metabolism: The body has a preferred method of getting the fuel it needs to move faster and farther. It begins with readily available blood sugars then quickly transitions to stored, but still easily accessible, carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Once glycogen starts to run out, the body uses fats to create energy. Repeated bouts of swimming, cycling and running trains the body to quickly and efficiently use the energy it needs including a greater proportion from fats.
- Technique and economy: The more and longer you run, the better the body becomes at adapting to an ideal form, increasing energy efficiency.
Now, there is reason to still do those HIIT, tempo and race pace workouts, however many find that by simply increasing their long run they see significant improvements.
You will however need to be patient, the body needs adequate time to adapt and make the necessary changes. Deciding one day to run 30kms, when your longest run has been 15kms, probably isn’t the best idea. Slowly add on the kilometres/minutes every week. Have given day when you do your long run and stick to it. Try mixing up the terrain you run on, maybe even take to the trails. Join a group of runners. Remember to listen to your body and take the time to warm up, cool down and stretch, emphasizing rest and recover.