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the long runs: third (tired) twenty

slightly off the track – original photo © Jonathan Brazil

Time to queue up and execute the third twenty-miler of the long runs. You would think that having learned so much from last year’s experiments that I would have approached this weekend’s run with a little sense. I ran a full marathon distance long run last weekend as a test of “time on feet” and I should know that it takes a bit out of you even if you don’t notice it at first.

Sadly, I didn’t listen to the voice of sense in my head this week. On Tuesday I completed my midweek long run. Wednesday was sensible enough too, just 40 mins on the treadmill testing out my Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes for the first time – finally taking them out of storage. Then on Thursday, I had a half-day booked from work and somehow lost the plot completely. I went to the gym and did my weights session. I planned to follow this with an easy run but instead decided to squeeze in a 10-miler with the middle 8 in progression format, finishing the last split at 6:40min/mile pace. Oh boy!


hit the pace targets but not the way I wanted to approach the long runs
hit the pace targets but not the way I wanted to approach the long runs

As you can see from the splits above, I managed to hit my pace targets for the format (3/4/1/4/1/4/3 – the 4s run at sub-marathon pace). As we all know though, pace masks many issues and doesn’t tell the whole story. Glance sideways and look at those heart rate numbers. Also, look at that first recovery mile between the 4s.

This is a classic example of getting the job done but not taking pride in the work. I should have been much more disciplined coming into this run and certainly without the double whammy of weights and a progression run on Thursday. That was just stupid.

the charts give little comfort either, look at that Performance Condition!
the charts give little comfort either, look at that Performance Condition!

I always look at the charts to pick out attributes of my runs, even the good ones, where things are less than perfect. Well, I think I just took a paintbrush and spread imperfect all over these charts! Negative Performance Condition from the get-go. My glutes were less than happy even at 8min/mile pace warming up. Heart rate climbed quickly – compare this to an aerobic 3:40 marathon last week at an average of 138bpm. That cliff face after the first set of 4 at pace. I was shot; almost dead on my feet. The long runs should not be a walk in the park but neither should they be disproportionate suffering.

taxi for Brazil – nothing to see here
taxi for Brazil – nothing to see here

No point putting it off any longer, time to look at the heart rate time in zones. Oh my! Zone 5 – eek! Okay, it’s just a couple of minutes but it’s my first Zone 5 registration for a 20-miler this year. Can we ignore the Zone 4 time? Please? No? Okay, wow! Two full hours in Zone 4 today, fighting every step of the way; needlessly. I could blame the wind but that only appeared at mile 7 and intermittently before I turned for home after 10.

The last time I ran this session was in a storm, with serious gusts of wind, and I spent nearly half an hour less in Zone 4. The only thing I can take from this at all is that I am not in the least surprised with the data from this run. It’s everything I expected it to be (view Garmin data).


Job done but it hurt. Don’t jar a heavy progression run and a weights session into a hard 20 in future. Silly behaviour having done the 26.2 last week. That’s the lesson for this week; I’ll learn!

I’m being very negative here and I would say rightly hard on myself. Are there any positives to take from today’s effort? Well, I got the job done on paper, quantitatively speaking. Qualitatively however… I suppose that the fact I could hit my pace targets despite being in imperfect condition to start with is a positive. It’s not something that I want to repeat in my training though as training sensibly is more important. My legs hurt following this run and I could have needlessly injured myself by pushing through the reluctance.

Thankfully I don’t think that any real harm was done but the long runs to come will not follow a similar pattern. It’s quality all the way from here!

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