Power of the Fast Finish Long Run

Power of the Fast Finish Long Run

The California International Marathon is the perfect race for a Personal Best (PB) or Boston Qualifying (BQ) time. If that’s your goal this December, then one of the best workouts to have in your training arsenal is the fast finish long run. For the first 60 to 90 minutes of this session, you’ll run at a very comfortable aerobic pace to slowly accumulate muscle fatigue and partially deplete your glycogen stores. Then the fun begins! In the middle of the workout, you’ll increase your speed to match your target race pace. Finish your run by covering the last couple of miles at 90% effort… you really want to empty the tank!

Why It’s Valuable

The goal of the fast finish long run is to simulate the stress and speed of race conditions and teach you to adapt to them. The fast finish long run also provides a valuable opportunity to dial-in your marathon nutrition, and practice other pre-race routines so they become second nature before your big event.

When to Do

It As you progress through your training plan, you continue to build fitness, strength and speed. Approximately 8 weeks from race day, you can begin alternating a fast finish run with your weekly steady long run. Try to conduct two or three fast finish long runs during the last 8 weeks prior to your marathon.

How to Pace It

Let’s say you’re aiming to run a 3:20 marathon (the BQ standard for men age 45 – 49). That means your average race pace must be 7:38 or better. For that goal pace, a typical fast finish long run might look like this:





8:15 – 8:30/mi




Race pace



Very fast

Last 400m


Very, very fast

Make no mistake: this session is challenging! You must be well-rested and mentally prepared for this workout.

Avoid the Most Common Mistake

The design of the fast finish long run is deceptively simple, but tricky to execute. To derive maximum ROI from this session, you must precisely manage the prescribed variations in pace. Many athletes – especially those new to this format – run the first phase of the workout too quickly, preventing them from realizing the benefits to be gained from the last 7 miles. In the above example, the first 10 miles must be run easily (in fact, it’s common for these miles to feel a bit too slow). Don’t worry, these slow miles are simply meant to pre-fatigue you for the final miles to come… it’ll get tougher soon! Runners often lose their sense of pace in the late stages of this workout due to their accumulated fatigue. So, if you have a GPS watch, be sure to monitor your effort regularly to ensure proper pacing. To achieve your performance goals, it’s important to flawlessly execute your critical workouts. The fast-finish long run is one of those key sessions that can have a massive effect on your finish time. Master it in training, and you’ll have a memorable race day!

Recover with Hyland’s Naturals

To help promote recovery from demanding workouts like the fast finish long run, try the wide selection of Hyland’s Naturals products formulated especially for athletes. Hyland’s Naturals ArniSport and Muscle Therapy Gel are designed to alleviate sore muscles, stiffness, swelling and bruising so you can keep your training consistent.