“Bread and butter”,

“the hay is in the barn”,

“the deposit’s in the bank”

Such colloquial terms can refer to the weekly tradition of a ’long run’. My favourite term to describe the long run is “bread and butter” as I believe it to be the platform of my fitness. Today I was joined in spirit by thousands of other Australian runners performing what ’Monna‘ and ’Deek‘ did and made popular during their long careers; “the Sunday long run”.

No matter the level of runner we all can benefit from the long run. Best done weekly this run, I believe, is the foundation of fitness. Here are a few thoughts from Australian Exercise Physiologists Peter Reaburn and David Jenkins concerning a long effort where heart rate is at least 65% of maximum. The training benefits include;

  • Increased stroke volume of the heart (more blood to muscles, yay!)
  • Increased oxygen transport in the blood
  • Increased blood volume (more blood to fuel your working muscles)
  • Increased number of capillaries that carry blood to your muscle cells
  • Increased ability to use fat for fuel.

In simple terms I get fitter and can run faster without trying any harder. Good news! From my experience the long run is rarely done at high intensity and is the perfect chance to run with others.

For my training group in Newcastle the long run is the social highlight of the week. It’s usually performed at a relaxed pace with the distance or ’time on the feet’ being the key challenge. For the middle distance runners in the group this means 60min 80min of running is plenty while for others who are targeting 10k races this winter 1hr 45min was in order this morning. Our run finishes at Merewether Baths where a dip in the ocean is often called for followed by a coffee or milkshake at the beachside cafe. Yep it’s a hard life!

For the marathon runner in the group, today’s long run was a ’bread and butter’ 2hrs30min. This is the perfect duration for me, some may require more, others less. This morning’s run also signalled 14 weeks until the men’s marathon at Rio and as such the beginning of my marathon specific phase of training.

To this point I have not performed any recent training bouts that anyone might think resembles a marathon like effort. But they are coming, yes, I know they are coming, so I had better hope there is plenty of hay in the barn!


Peter Reaburn and David Jenkins wrote “Training for Speed and Endurance” (1996). Quotes taken from page 50.

“Hay in the barn” quote attributed to Scotty McTaggart from Canberra who I made plenty of hay with during my time in Canberra 2002-2004.