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the long runs: third eighteen

The long runs continued this week. Getting back on track with a prescribed week of training from the first draft of the schedule. I mentioned recently that I felt the need to tweak something because my recoveries were not going according to plan. Tiredness was hanging around when it should have been ousted. Things were not as fresh as they could be.

Figuring out what to change is difficult though. I did sacrifice my first 23-miler last week in favour of a 20-mile repeat from the previous week. That made a lot of sense given the health context prior to that outing. I still didn’t feel good about doing it though. However, I need to get over myself and understand that changes are inevitable. If done for the right reasons they can also be productive. I must work towards a productive training regime. So, while the long runs may not change too much, weekly mileage up to Tralee has been revised.

Today’s 18-miler was part of the original plan but I tweaked the format. Instead of a 3/6/2/4/3 like the first of the long runs it changed to a 3/5/2/5/3. The 5s run at sub-7:30min/mile pace and the rest at a comfortable, easy pace.


Why the tweak to the format? Well, there is thought behind it, you may be happy to know. Originally the 3/6/2/4/3 breakdown was structured to tire the legs early on. Running the long , 6-mile interval against a very slight incline, the work is pushed to the start of the run. By doing this, the second interval at pace would not be overly easy nor provide too many ‘free’ pace benefits. Changing this format to two 5-mile intervals instead makes the run a little easier. Less upfront work while still demanding performance on tired legs. Not as tired after the first set of 5 but you have to push the second set for longer.

another target met in the long runs series – the tweak didn't hinder performance
another target met in the long runs series – the tweak didn’t hinder performance

A nice easy start. This was sensible given the prevailing weather pattern and not knowing exactly what we would be running into today. Then straight into the first set of 5 with near perfect splits. Only 2 seconds of a range between fastest and slowest. Slow recovery in the middle but not important. The second set of 5 started slow with the eye taken off the ball slightly but the target still hit. After that, we kinda pushed the pace a bit and finished with 3 sharp miles before cooling down. Discipline-wise, we could have been better over those last 3. Keeping the splits to 7:20+ would have been better but it didn’t take too much from us. The job was done.

steady pace, predictable heart rate response, good Performance Condition scores
steady pace, predictable heart rate response, good Performance Condition scores

A reasonable set of charts. Pace looks reasonably controlled and the heart rate looks somewhat predictable. There are a few notches on the pace for the first set of 5. Unfortunately I also hit 160bpm on heart rate for the same set. However, in my defence, the wind was in my face all the way for this segment. I had to work hard to keep on target. The second set of 5 gives rise to a much more satisfactory heart rate chart. Even with the jump in pace for the final 3 miles the bpm were good.

2 miles less at pace overall but still a very respectable lack of Zone 4 activity this week
2 miles less at pace overall but still a very respectable lack of Zone 4 activity this week

Good zones. Not much else to say. This is an 18-mile run and last week was 20. Even so, the time spent in Zone 4 is comparatively much less. I am very happy about that as reducing the Zone 4 exertion is key to racing my target time with greater ease. Something that I have to do (view Garmin data).


The long runs are taking a week off now. At least a week off from the structured long runs anyhow. Next week it’s time for a bit of fun while keeping distance goals in mind. More on that next time…

Reflecting on today, I believe that I made the right decision both in sticking with the 18-miler and tweaking the format. I lost miles last week by dropping from 23 to 20 and I could have reacted by swapping that 23 to today. However, that would not have been sensible. That would have been ego and illogic taking control. Today, I completed a solid training run with another 10 miles of quality pacing therein. I finished feeling relatively fresh and the heart rate data confirms that feeling.

Tralee is only seven weeks away. I must show up at the line feeling as comfortable as I did today and run the same way. If I can do that, I will give myself every opportunity to realise the goal. The ambition that I have been chasing for some years now.

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