Stop Running Long on Sunday

On the Run at Ironman® Wisconsin

Many Ironman® athletes, training plans, and coaches schedule the weekly long run on Sunday after a long bike on Saturday. The reason is often given as “you need to practice running on tired legs.”

This is NOT a good idea and here’s why:

  • A long run on tired legs is just another opportunity to practice running slowly on tired legs vs running more quickly on fresher legs. The best way to become a faster runner is to create opportunities in your training week for you to…run faster, not slog through a run on wooden legs!
  • The recovery cost of a long run done on Sunday, for example, after a long Saturday bike is much greater than that same run done mid-week. The net is that Monday, often Tuesday, and sometimes Wednesday’s workouts begin to become compromised, especially as that weekend volume gets up to a 4-6hrs long bike on Saturday and 2.5-3hr long run.
  • Any long run in training will have at least an hour or more where your legs feel Ok. That is, they feel like you’re starting a long run after a long bike the day before. Contrast this to Ironman® race day, where you’re coming right off a 112 mi bike after a 2.4mi swim. After you get your legs back a bit, by about mile 6 or 7, your legs will now feel like, at best, about mile 15 of your best long run…then it just gets harder. My point is that your tired legs on Sunday long run isn’t even close to what it’s going to feel like on race day…so why bother?

I made the switch with my athletes to a mid week (Thursday or Tuesday) long run in ’02 or ’03, I believe, and never looked back. By separating the long bike from the long run:

  • The long run can now accommodate some get-faster work.
  • We can separate the long run from the long bike with a no-legs day on Friday.
  • We weight the cycling to the weekend. A 3hr semi-long ride on Sunday has a MUCH lower recovery cost than a hard 2.5hr Sunday run = much lower chance that it, and it’s combination with the Saturday ride, will affect your early week workouts the following week.
  • Finally, it may create a social opportunity for you on the bike on Sunday — a Sunday ride with friends. Riding with other athletes, especially those stronger than you, is a very, very valuable opportunity that we encourage our athletes to seek out.

Learn more about your next race online here.

Sign Up for the Endurance Nation Newsletter!

* indicates required





12 comments
  • Russell
    REPLY

    I used this idea for both my IMNZ races, doing up to 2:45 after work, and then used the bike commute home to ease out the legs. Found it worked very well for me, and I could do a focussed long ride on Sat, and a swim/bike or bike/run on Sun. My aim was always to run as fast as I could at IMNZ, did a 3:18 run last year to have fastest run my AG, beating quite a few of the pro run times. I also did much the same idea when training over our NZ summer for an ultramarathon – did a solid 2 hr run mid-week, and then anything up to nearly 6 hrs as a Sat or Sun really long run. Main thing is to enjoy what you do!

  • Russell
    REPLY

    I used this idea for both my IMNZ races, doing up to 2:45 after work, and then used the bike commute home to ease out the legs. Found it worked very well for me, and I could do a focussed long ride on Sat, and a swim/bike or bike/run on Sun. My aim was always to run as fast as I could at IMNZ, did a 3:18 run last year to have fastest run my AG, beating quite a few of the pro run times. I also did much the same idea when training over our NZ summer for an ultramarathon – did a solid 2 hr run mid-week, and then anything up to nearly 6 hrs as a Sat or Sun really long run. Main thing is to enjoy what you do!

  • Brian S
    REPLY

    Sorry, but I actually look forward to those long runs on Sunday morning. I also really don’t feel like the long bike on Saturday has that much affect on my Sun runs. Nice idea though.

    • admin
      REPLY

      We’ve found this to be really beneficial, not just for running, but to allow Age Groupers who can only train “long” on the weekends to put the rides there….we get two good rides instead of just one. Good luck to you!

  • Brian S
    REPLY

    Sorry, but I actually look forward to those long runs on Sunday morning. I also really don’t feel like the long bike on Saturday has that much affect on my Sun runs. Nice idea though.

    • admin
      REPLY

      We’ve found this to be really beneficial, not just for running, but to allow Age Groupers who can only train “long” on the weekends to put the rides there….we get two good rides instead of just one. Good luck to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.