3 hours: no pace, no pressure

Windy Start

Getting up before the sun has become a norm in recent times. Such is the advent of autumn – especially in the context of the weekend long run. After numerous experiments and races in the past 2 months, we needed a break of sorts. Marathon runners don’t take breaks though: our idea of a break was spending 3 hours on our feet, running at an easy pace!

After last week’s experiment, I had some reservations about my weekly mileage from the week before. I have fully resolved at this stage, a week on, that it did indeed hinder my performance for last week’s long run test. My body was operating in a very sub-par form. All the same, that experiment was a significant challenge. Running 68% of a 22-mile run below marathon pace – it was never going to be easy at the end of a training week.

We all decided that a good long run with no goal other than to spend 3 hours on our feet was essential. Thus, this weekend, we did just that.

analysis

As you might expect, resigning to running a shallow off-pace run should throw out very predictable results. There should be no crazy variations in pace, no sustained high heart rate, and no excessive fatigue. That said, it was still 3 hours on our feet and 3 hours is going to take some sort of toll no matter how comparatively less the effort is.

just over 3 hours of running, 22 miles, and reasonably consistent splits after the warm-up miles
just over 3 hours of running, 22 miles, and reasonably consistent splits after the warm-up miles

So, no surprises observed in the splits above. The 3 hours turned into 22 miles for the sake of a couple of minutes. Relaxed and steady. I’ll be honest though, the legs were getting tired in the last couple of miles. Yes, it was slower running but it was still a long time on one’s feet at the far end of a week with reasonable mileage covered. The charts tell the story quite well, with pace fluctuating a little erratically in the last few miles and my Performance Condition score dropping negative for the last half of the run.

no surprises on the charts – condition dropped as expected at the end of a week of many miles
no surprises on the charts – condition dropped as expected at the end of a week of many miles

Again no shock there. This wasn’t a run that I tapered into. In fact I was running all 4 days this week before it. Absolutely no recovery and no time off before getting out there. That’s just as it should be though. The other experiments have been about hitting pace targets and realigning the body to tolerate long periods of testing effort. This was also an experiment to ensure that we could stay on our feet for 3 hours. With respect to time alone, this was our longest training run.

importantly, the heart rate was exactly where I had hoped it would be, carrying an average of 141bpm also
importantly, the heart rate was exactly where I had hoped it would be, carrying an average of 141bpm also

My heart rate could not have behaved better. Only in the last few miles, with slightly fatigued legs, did it begin to creep up slightly. No Zone 5 activity and over half of the run completed in the fully aerobic Zone 3. The overall average was quite pleasing too, just 141bpm for the 3 hours of running.

summary

This was a welcome suggestion for a long run. It’s not a format that I have really done before now. Sure, I’ve gone on long runs with no pace targets. However, I’ve never set out a run of this distance by way of a long run in recovery mode. That’s the importance of training in a group and feeding from the ideas of others.

It has been a welcome week off. The effort of the past 2 months has taken a toll. Facing into big miles today brought a welcoming attitude that there was no sub-pace intervals ahead of us. Only 4 weeks out from the Dublin Marathon now and really only 2 weeks of intensive training left to do. Next weekend it’s back to business as usual, pushing sub-pace intervals over distance. Here’s hoping that all this experimenting, learning about our limits, and rebuilding our foundations will pay off come 27 October.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *