Where do you do your long runs? The answer depends on where you live, environmental factors, or personal preference. For many, a typical long run is usually done on a road or a dirt trail. While the benefits of long training runs should be universal regardless of where they’re conducted, there exist characteristics unique to running on a track for a long time.
Recently I’ve done 2 long runs on a 400-meter track in a local high school – they were 20 miles (80 laps) and 28 miles (112 laps) long. This sounds a little unconventional because most people don’t associate marathon training with running in circles for hours on end. However, I planned these workouts for reasons that made sense to me – in addition to my borderline insanity that may or may not exist. Here are some pros and cons pertaining to track running in general:
My main reason behind doing long runs on track is to be able to focus on my pace. Most of my long runs are on the roads connecting my neighboring towns – and these roads are hilly and busy. So occasionally running long on a track enables me to gauge my training progress while I maintain my goal pace for an extended period of time.
Psychologically speaking, I’ve never been exceedingly bored that I had to stop running when going long. In fact, an interesting article from Running Times points out that Boring is Better. As I wrote about this topic in the past – during long runs I’m often quite busy maintaining my pace, practicing my hydration/fueling strategy, and monitoring my body. Of course, this experience is personal and can be significantly different for you.
To be completely honest, it does get a bit stale and repetitive for me sometimes. However, this happens mostly in the early portion of a long run, where I’m fresh and can handle more sensory stimuli. But trust me when I tell you this: boredom will not be your biggest concern after 2.5 hours of running. Below are some of my suggestions on executing track long runs:
Running long on a track isn’t anything revolutionary or spectacular – nor is it much more challenging than a regular long run. As a matter of fact, many ultramarathons (most commonly in 24-hour runs) are competed on a close loop of 1~2 miles or a 400m track. Although this type of training runs are overly repetitious to many, it provides distraction-free and accurate goal pace simulation. With practice – and eventually some mental adjustment – this is just like any other long run.
Where do you do your long runs? Have you done long runs on a track or treadmill? What’s your secret weapon to combat boredom and repetition? Please share in the comment section below.