Having increased the distance over the last 2 weeks, the time came to launch into the first of the long runs for my Tralee Marathon training programme.
Last year was full of experiments; learning a huge amount about how my body performed (and didn’t) under stresses that I never tested before in training. It paid many dividends and also helped me to discover many breaking points. The early part of this year will not be so experimental. The plan is to take the learning from last year and apply it, with control.
Thus, with that in mind, the first of the long runs was selected from the long run collection of last year. An 18-mile jaunt, broken into distinct segments. I ran this breakdown as part of the taper for the Dublin Marathon last year. It is a 3/4/2/6/3 with the 3s and 2 done at easy pace and the 4 and 6-mile segments done at sub-marathon pace.
I made one change to the breakdown above. I swapped the 4 and 6-mile segments for this run. My thinking: to shock the system on the first of the serious long runs. Straight into a 6-mile effort and then finish on tired legs.
My splits for the run are as ideal as I could hope for. Truly; I could not have hoped for a better outcome from this run. More than just getting the target, there is a consistency to the splits also. For the ego, there’s the fact that both of the last mile efforts in each segment is exactly the same and faster than all the rest.
The charts make for good reading too and a 144bpm average heart rate is very comforting. Performance Condition scores indicate that I ran well and felt good while doing it – it wasn’t just the post run endorphins clouding my judgment (view Garmin data).
No Zone 5 activity at all. Perfect! The proportions for each zone indicate that the faster miles came easy with some seeing a bit of Zone 3 action. That truly would be the holy grail. To reach a number of race pace splits while in Zone 3 would be like shortening the marathon by a couple of miles.
Onwards to a repeat of this session next weekend before taking on the first of the 20s, using the now tested race strategy of 4-mile intervals. Let’s hope I’m still moving freely by then.