How Long is Your Long Run Really?


I was walking Bandit one day last week, thinking about my “long-er” runs and how much more manageable short long runs seem (if that makes sense). I had already decided on this topic for todays post, then I was texting with another runner friend. She is also not running very long these days or racing, although our reasons are different.

We both mused about how we might get back to longer runs and races — some day

Prepping or grabbing that post run snack

It’s not just the run
If you’ve ever trained for a longer distance race, you know that the long run can start the night before. Laying out your clothes, your fuel, your hydration, perhaps your recovery snack. Making sure you either have the ingredients for breakfast, or getting breakfast ready so that it’s ready to just grab or heat up. Making sure any electronics you need are charged. Making sure you get to bed at a decent hour so you’re rested.

The morning of your long run there’s dressing. Maybe applying anti chafe gel and sunscreen. Eating breakfast — if you’re like me, that means leaving a couple of hours, 90 minutes at the least, to digest said breakfast before you run. Probably drive somewhere to run. Dynamic warmup.

Finally it’s time to run!

If you’re meeting up with friends, there might be chatting beforehand — and after. Before you know it, more than half the day is gone!

You may not include all these steps in prep for your long run, but there’s no denying that for most of us there’s some prep work that goes into a longer run.

Now it’s time to actually run!
If you’re a faster runner, this may only be a few hours out of your day, depending on the length of your long run. If you’re a slower runner, it can take a much longer time. You may or may not need a pitstop before, during, or after, too!

gwy calf foam roll
Recovery foam rolling

Now it’s time to recover
That might mean a snack, or it might mean a meal with your friends and more chatting. Maybe some stretching and/or foam rolling. Depending on how long you ran, or how hard that run was, you might even need a nap.

Well, you get the idea. Sometimes if feels as though running long is a job! Not necessarily in a bad way, but it can consume a lot of time.

Now imagine this . . .
Your long run is between 5 – 8 miles. The run itself takes less time. There’s no reason to carry fuel (although you should definitely still hydrate!).  You are less likely to feel really tired afterward. Breakfast can be easy — some toast or a sprouted English Muffin with some butter (in my case ghee) and honey and a little salt. No prep the night before!

There’s really no need to alter your eating much before or after. I foam roll before, personally, rarely afterwards, although I usually do stretch afterwards.

Because it takes so much less time it’s much easier to squeeze into my week, on a weekend or any other day, really. I’m also able to do some strength training later in the day

The biggest benefit? I’m not so tired. It’s really just a run, a slightly long-er run.

Final Thoughts
I still have more than half the states to run a half marathon in! That isn’t a goal that I’ve given up on, just but on hold for now. Someday when life is less stressful I may feel differently, but for now, running less suits me. I also really enjoy how easy it is to fit shorter runs into my life.

I know for some people maintaining that long run is a way to feel more normal in a world that is still not at a new normal. Whatever floats your boat! Just be on the lookout for symptoms of burnout (which just might be an upcoming post soon).

You might also enjoy:

5 Must Dos After a Long Run/Race

Reflections from a Long Run

5 Thoughts from a Long Run

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Long Run?

8 Ways I recovered from my Longest Long Runs

What would you miss if you didn’t run so long?
What might you be able to do if you weren’t running so long?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


30 thoughts on “How Long is Your Long Run Really?

  1. I agree, Judy, long runs ARE a job!
    When we did our long runs on Saturdays this summer, it took the whole day. Driving out, meeting up, running 4 hours, drive home. By the time we were home, it was often 4 pm.
    Sometimes we had a dinner date later on, which worked fine, but there was still very little time to do things like grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning.
    But I still loved the long runs! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do agree partly.

    We were actually discussing this this past weekend because besides me not everyone runs a half every month.

    We decided that 6-8 miles is the shortest a run should be if it is a long run. And every Saturday. For a routine.

    I enjoy my long runs because of the time we spend together after eating which is often longer than the run.

    I actually did 10 miles every weekend during the pandemic but now it will most likely be 8-12 depending on which race I’m training for. It’s time we’ll spent. IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Long run is a personal consideration. In the past the long run, for me, was not less than 13 miles now it’s 10.
    I cannot wait for coming back to run in person a half marathon.
    Around my city there are good routes for long distance runs but the car traffic is always a problem so the best day is sunday.
    The day before the long run carbohydrates for lunch and a good sleep in the night. The day later proteins.

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  4. 100% agree! There’s so much prep work that goes into a long run and it’s so important to make sure that you have everything you need for a good run and post-run recovery.

    Thanks for linking up with us, and apologies that I don’t have a post today as my blog was down last night.

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  5. I remember in the RRCA course hearing that a long run was 90 minutes or longer. Not that runs that are shorter than that aren’t beneficial, but it doesn’t have the same impact. I’ve really had to learn how to save time on my long runs this year.

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  6. Long runs are relative, as are fast/slow paces…and we all get to decide how we choose to label them 😉 My Air Force 26.2 “long” runs just weren’t much fun for me (when I was doing them) this summer. The couple of 13-15-mile runs took a lot more time and effort than I’d remembered, so it was a relief to have my race cancelled. I have a half marathon in 12 days, so I should get one more 10-miler in this weekend (I did that 70-mile bike ride two weekends ago, and I was out of state this past weekend). Oh well…I’m not too concerned with my endurance.

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  7. There is a lot that goes into a long run as you mentioned. I do like to keep one longer run in my routine weekly so that when I do start training for a race again, I can safely increase. I prefer to keep a 10K base

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  8. Anything less that 10 miles, I’ll put in quotes, i.e. I did a “long” run of eight miles… but yes, everyone is different. If your normal run is three miles, then eight miles is a long run! ‘
    i agree that a true long run can take a loooong time. It’s tough with kids. Even older kids get antsy if I’m gone for too long on a Sunday morning! Ideally i’ll get up super early to get it done while everyone else is sleeping in. But I’m one of those people who loves running long- so I love all the prep and recovery that goes into it. It’s my little weekly adventure!

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  9. For me, anything over 6 miles qualifies as a long run, but I agree that up to about 9 miles doesn’t take nearly as much prep and post-run recovery as double-digit runs. 10+ miles is when it starts to feel “real” when I’m training for a half marathon. I look forward to my long runs most of the time but when it’s July or August and so hot and humid even early in the morning, I don’t enjoy those as much. If I weren’t running as much I honestly probably would just sleep in a bit later on Saturdays and end up just whiling away the time not really doing much.

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  10. We all have our own definition of a long run. It could be 6, 8, or 10, etc. There are some day when I do not enjoy these long run but I know they have to be done. Oh and if my run is 5-8 miles, I do take some fuel with me. I don’t take gels but use Tailwind.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

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  11. And I’ve got 10 miles to do tomorrow….lol! It is a process and can take up a LOT of the day, especially when you’re running at a “slower” pace. I’ve been trying to get out earlier and earlier so that I’ll have more time to spend with my family on the weekends.

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    1. Good luck! It’s been a really long time since I’ve run double digits.

      During the Summer I do have to get out there early, but by the end of the Summer, I find that really wears on me. I’m so happy when it turns cooler and I can relax a bit in the morning sometimes.


  12. When I was marathon training, the long run was all day. All day. Maybe two days, because I had to go to bed early the night before with just the right dinner and snacks. It’s a time-consuming activity, isn’t it?

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  13. I love long runs, but I don’t like it when they take up most of the day. I try to get out early – last summer I was good about getting 2-2.5 hours in before 8:30 AM! But then it begins to take up Friday night because I have to go to bed early!

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  14. So true about it starting the night before! I’m lucky I can generally get out the door and run and run fasted-ish, because running is so much more than the two hours ish I usually run at the weekend. It’s definitely another two on the back end for stretch, soak.

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