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the experiments: experiment three

intervals for a long distance run, hmm photo ©

With a couple of high mileage weeks behind me, the long run was curbed a little this week. I decided to drop it back to 18 miles given that I had more miles than normal completed midweek. Just because the distance dropped, didn’t mean I was going to take it easy on myself though. The experiments are about finding that breaking point while learning new things along the way.

I once read about steady state running that worked on alternate efforts rather than a single contiguous block. This is prime material in the context of what I am currently playing with. I wondered if this approach would lend itself to a long run? Two-mile alternates (2 miles easy, 2 miles sub-pace, repeat) for 18 miles was my decision to find out if it did.


By far the toughest test yet. I have run this number of miles sub-pace already in my experiments so I know that it wasn’t due to extra distance at pace. Also, it was a shorter distance overall. In total, I ran 8 miles sub-pace. This is the same distance as the two 4-mile blocks and the single 8-mile variation. However, it hurt a lot more.

that was the toughest of the experiments to-date, 2-mile intervals over 18 miles hurt
the toughest of the experiments so far, 2-mile intervals for a long run really hit hard, much more than a single block of miles

Looking at the splits, trying to gain some understanding as to why this felt so much tougher, there are perhaps some clear indicators. I ran the first and second sub-pace intervals at an acceptable pace, nothing too crazy. However, the last 2 sub-pace intervals were too quick. This wasn’t a test to find out how fast I could run 18 miles. Yet again my discipline needs attention (view Garmin data).

I still finished the run without being completely spent. However, I know that I was pushing hard to finish that last sub-pace mile. Now the question is whether the constant alternation of pace over 2-mile intervals caused a false freshness that gave me enough energy to push hard for 2 more miles at the end of this run? Alternatively, whether it’s possible that 2-mile intervals could work over a full distance in a similar fashion? Food for thought!

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