I stumbled across a post in another running FB group that I’m in that made me stop and pause for a second.
The post was sharing an article from Trail Runner magazine with a headline that read:
Camille Herron’s Advice for Ultra Athletes: Skip the Long Run
I’m not quite sure I’m ready to lump Trail Runner magazine in with Runner’s World as just absolutely garbage mags, but this is definitely a case where they crafted a clickbait title that has very little, if anything, to do with the actual content of the article itself.
The title is, at best, dishonest.
And calling it a bald-faced lie wouldn’t be a stretch.
Hey Trail Runner mag, do better!
The Info in the Article is Actually Quite Good!
The thing that I’m most frustrated about in this debacle is that it’s actually a good article!
Even if the clickbait title is complete bull shit.
First of all, Camille never said that ultra runners should skip long runs.
What she said was that long runs are overrated.
Near as I can tell, those are two completely different statements!
Instead, she talked about the value of cumulative mileage compared with getting the bulk of the training volume in one or two weekend long runs.
The article also pointed out that certain physiological adaptations to running stress, specifically skeletal adaptations, don’t show further benefit from prolonged stress.
To put that another way, your bones get strong from the pounding of running during the early phase of your run (the first mile or few at most), and after that point the bones don’t continue to strengthen.
I didn’t know this, but I’ll trust the science on this front.
But that said, there are still mental and physiological benefits of going long that the article conveniently forgot to mention.
Science supports these benefits/adaptions, too.
So should you incorporate long runs into your training, whether you’re an ultra runner or not?
Yeah, I’d say so.
But should you prioritize them over everything else?
Lack of Nuance is the Issue
Camille Herron is a badass. We can all agree to that, right?
As such, you, I, and every other Tom, Dick, or Sally reading this article that talks about Camille’s training philosophy might be wise to recognize that what works for her may not apply to us.
The article talks about her running doubles several times per week, with a typical total daily volume on her double days of 18-22 miles.
If you, I, or every other Tom, Dick, or Sally could run multiple doubles per week where we are getting 18-22 miles in on those days, in addition to other days where we are “only” running 10-15 miles, I reckon we might not see much value from epic long runs either!
Like, how much of a long run is she going to do?
And how much more benefit is she going to get from a random 25-30 miler that she’s not already getting from going over 100 weekly miles every fricking week?
But when we have work and family and lives and our easy pace isn’t 7 minutes flat, we might not be able to knock out 15-20 mile days 4-5 times a week.
In those cases, the long run is a pretty important piece of the training plan puzzle.
This is just one instance where the nuance is lost, especially if all you’re doing is reading the title and not really digging into, and thinking critically about, the meat of the article.
Do What Works for You
Ultimately, this is a reminder to me that there are no shortage of means to most ends.
If you have the ability to run higher mileage most days of the week, then long runs aren’t as important because your overall volume is high.
If you need to load up the bulk of your miles on one or two days of the week, that’s a viable option as well.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking at what others do, even what elites do, especially if you’re looking for ways to change up the training that you’re doing.
But at the end of the day, you need to develop the right training plan/routine to fit your life.
If that means epic long runs on the weekend, then that’s what you need to do.
Regardless what some misleading article from a running magazine might say.
How Do You Feel About the Importance of Long Runs in Your Training?
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