Gonzo Long Runs

By Rick Morris

Long runs are the Jekyll and Hyde of running. They can be very easy, gentle and relaxing or long, intense and brutal. Most of your long runs probably fall more on the Dr. Jekyll side, with an easy pace and moderate distance. Since this article deals with the gonzo side of running you can count on these longer runs falling far on the Mr. Hyde side of the equation.

Marathon Massacre

This gonzo long run is a marathon specific training run that isn’t for the meek. Marathon pace long runs are nothing new, but this goal pace, fast finish sequence is especially brutal but effective. Because of the difficulty of this run you should plan an easy week after this workout or do it just before your three week taper

  • Description – Run 23 miles. Run the first 20 miles alternating between one mile at easy endurance pace and one mile at goal marathon pace. Speed up to 10K pace for the final 3 miles.
  • Pace – Alternating between one mile at easy pace and one mile at goal marathon pace with the final three miles at 10K pace.
  • Recovery – None

18 Mile Progressive Run

Most progressive runs are rather enjoyable because the gradually increasing pace allows your body to “warm” into the faster paces. This one is much more difficult because of its very long length. This gonzo long run is great for preparing for a marathon but can be used for any racing distance.

  • Description – Run 18 miles at a pace the increases gradually from an easy pace to a very hard pace.
  • Pace – Run the first 6 miles at easy endurance pace,  the second 6 miles at tempo pace, the next three miles at marathon pace, the following 2 miles at 10K pace and the last mile at 5K pace.
  • Recovery – None

Tempo Tantrum

Long runs can be difficult run in their own right. The faster tempo pace finish to this long run adds a new level of difficulty but it also trains your body to run at a quality pace when already fatigued.

  • Description – Run for between 18 and 24 miles. Run the first portion at your easy endurance pace. Run the final 6 miles at tempo pace.
  • Pace – Run the first portion at an easy, conversational pace. Speed up to your tempo pace or 30 to 45 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace for the final 6 miles or 10K.
  • Recovery – None

Rolling Long Run

Most of us do our long runs on fairly flat terrain. That type of long training run does a good job of preparing you for racing on flat terrain. What about racing on hilly or rolling terrain? Here is a gonzo long run that will get you ready for those hilly or trail races.

  • Description – Run between 18 and 24 miles over a hilly, rolling course with some steep sections or on a treadmill. If you do this work out on a treadmill change the incline frequently between 2 percent and 12 percent elevation.
  • Pace – Run at your normal long easy endurance pace. When you run up the hill portions try to maintain your pace. Judge your pace by speed, not by perceived exertion. Try to maintain your speed on the up hills.
  • Recovery – None

Pike’s Peak Gonzo Long Run

One of my favorite races is the Pike’s Peak Marathon in Colorado. I like it not only because of the spectacular scenery but also because of its eye popping difficulty. You climb steadily for 13 miles before beginning a quad cramping descent of 13 miles. This gonzo long run simulates that long climb.

  • Description – Run 20 miles. Run the first 10 miles up a hill of moderate incline or on a treadmill at 5% incline. Run the final 10 miles back down the hill or on a treadmill at zero incline.
  • Pace – Run the first 10 uphill miles at a strong but relaxed pace – very close to marathon race pace. Run the final 10 downhill miles at easy endurance pace.
  • Recovery – None