Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fun New Long Run

Let's face it, with the same long runs ... over and over and over ... marathon training can become a little monotonous and  repetitive.  So to change it up, I'll often incorporate little games into my workouts like targeting specific paces for various mile segments, or "fast finish" long runs, where the last few miles are ran much faster than the rest.  Changing the pace and progression of the run helps maintain mental focus, and also trains the body to perform when it's fatigued.

After last week's run, I received a comment from a reader, jdsnipes, suggesting a different type of long run that I hadn't tried before.  It sounded like a challenge, so I decided to give it a go this week.  Here is what he wrote ...

A go to Long Run Workout for me done usually 2-3 weeks before a race that has done well in predicted my fitness is as follows: 

2.5 hours total run as follows: 
30 minutes easy/aerobic, 
60 min Goal Marathon Pace, 
20 minutes easy/aerobic, 
20 minutes Goal Marathon Pace
20 minutes easy/aerobic

The easy/aerobic 20 minutes in between the marathon pace segments really does a number on your legs and if you can run the second marathon pace segment equal or better to the first, that's a good ball park for your race pace. In the past I've been a few seconds per mile faster on race day than this predicts.

I stayed with the suggested general time guidelines, and as it equated to mileage for me, meant 3 miles@8:00/pace, 8 miles@6:50/pace, 3 miles@8:00/pace, and then 4 miles@6:50/pace. I then cooled down with 2 very slow miles for a total of 20 miles.

I was able to get through the workout, but it was tough.  It was cooler on Saturday, at about 70 degrees, but the humidity was 88%, which didn't help.  The 6:50/pace is actually quite a bit faster than I could run in a marathon right now, but it's my target 3:00 time, hopefully later in the Fall.   It took a while for me to "get comfortable" with the 6:50/pace, but once I did, I didn't have any trouble holding it.  I felt like I could have gone for a while at that tempo.  But then came the break at the end of the fast 8 miles.  I found it really difficult to slow my pace for 3 miles since I'd been pushing it for 8.  But even more difficult than that was ramping back up to 6:50 again toward the end of the run.  My legs felt heavy, it was more challenging to keep the pace, and I really struggled the last mile, but I ended up hitting the targets I was shooting for, and ended up with an average pace of about 7:15/mile for the run - which is great for me at this point.

My assessment is I LOVE THIS WORKOUT!!!  It's very challenging and really reveals your conditioning.  I'll have to do a little research on what the slowing down after the first segment actually does to your body metaphysically, but I can tell you it played a number on me mentally.  I really appreciate the suggestion from jdsnipes and will be back to this workout from time to time!
... Be Great Today!


  1. That sounds like a great workout: really challenging at the end, but not risky. I am struggling to hold anything right now...I think I need a better aerobic base. But this workout will be useful later.

  2. Thanks for sharing this workout, or re-sharing as the case may be. Long runs do get a bit monotonous, so it's always great to try new things other than new routes. I'm going to try this for my next long run. How do you track pace? GPS watch I assume? Thanks!

  3. Glad you liked the workout. In the interest of full disclosure I got this workout from a friend of mine who is a way better endurance athlete then me. He is a triathlete so he trains by time not miles so that's how I have done the workout. He swears by it, and I found it to work well for me as well.

    20 miles at an overall 7:15 pace in humidity is quite impressive. That first hour of goal marathon pace usually isn't too bad, but trying to ramp back up after a 20minute aerobic/easy break is the tough part. I find it really simulates the end of a marathon without completely wrecking your body. It's tricky/difficult to be able to run even splits for the 2 MP segments, so big kudos for doing it on your first try. I think it took me 3 times trying this workout before I ran even splits.

    I'm going to be running this workout in 2 weeks or so for a marathon in Geneva, IL on Sep 12. Your paces are my exact targets as I am going to try to break 3 hours. Looks like you are setting yourself up for a sub 3 try as well.

  4. Great workout idea!! I'll have to try that one out. I have my first 20 miler for this training cycle coming up but I'm not quite ready for that much a marathon pace (not in this weather anyway). Your training is going great!

  5. I feel like I'm still such a newbie at the marathon-training thing that just running the big kilometres are challenge enough for me. That workout sounds incredibly challenging. And it sounds like you'll be doing it again.

  6. 8 miles at 6:50? whew, that's incredible! Keep it up!


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