the experiments: experiment one

I’m now out on my own following the completion of my guinea pig trial. That means it’s time for some experiments of my own construction. I started this experimentation last weekend and repeated the same experiment today. The idea is an 18-mile run – nothing strange about that for a long run. However, my breakdown of this 18 miles was very different to how I normally structure my long runs.

running on tired legs

It is a tried and trusted practice to train to ensure that you can run well on tired legs. How else are you going to smash that goal for a distance beyond what you normally run? Previously, I followed the last X strategy. Last X means you run the last X miles of your long run at/below marathon pace.

For me, the last X strategy was easy to follow on previous marathon training plans. I would run the last 4 miles of my long runs at marathon pace or below. Most times this wasn’t a problem but I did take a few things from my experience of these runs.

  1. It’s mostly easy to gear yourself up for one big 4-mile push at the end of a long run without worrying what you have left in the tank after it.
  2. Finishing your last 4 miles fast and nailing the time can give you an endorphin rush that masks the fact that you don’t actually feel that good.
  3. Switching your mind off for the miles before the last 4 can cause you to slip into ‘junk’ territory whereby your other miles are so far off pace that your run is essentially a long warm-up with 4 fast miles at the end.
  4. You get to the start line (if you suffer with your psychology like I do) and you start to doubt your ability to run your entire race at marathon pace because your training runs are different to your waypoint races. One is way above marathon pace and the other is way below it – you approach them completely differently.

experiment one

Taking the tired legs foundation for distance training, I decided to mix up the previous model. Most of my recent longish runs have been run with the ambition of elevating my base pace. I have maintained these up to 16 miles. For this 18-miler, the plan was to run a 3-mile warm-up, 5km below race pace, 6 miles easy, 5km below race pace, and finally a 3-mile cool down. So, a total of 10km below race pace but split to early and late portions of the run. The second 5km should theoretically be run on very tired legs. Thus, the goal to run it at the same pace as the first 5km will prove I can handle the fatigue.

mile splits of the first of the experiments, over two different attempts
mile splits for the first of the experiments, 4-6 and 13-15 are the key intervals

In the table of splits above are the results of each attempt for this experiment (links: 09/02/2019, 16/02/2019). First off, you can see that I really need to work on discipline above all else. There is some really crazy running in there. Secondly, more heartening, is that in both outings I seem to have found fresh legs for the second 5km. In fact, both times I appear to have run it much faster than the first 5km. It’s heartening but really, should I be that fresh at that stage? Either way, it’s not a bad start to my distance experiments. Onwards we go.

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