Base Long Runs

Moving further through the base phase means the training is not just about getting ready for more training. It was nice back in the introductory phase when the long runs were almost hikes. Unfortunately, keeping things comfortable only gets you so far. The change over isn't cut and dry in that one day I am doing one thing, and the next day it's a complete change. The process is gradual and there is a lot of cross over. The start of my base phase will be fairly different to the end of it. It is the long run where these differences are showing up.

At this time my long runs are travelling at two levels. The longest in a continuation of what was achieved in the introductory phase. Where I go out on a good mix of terrain with plenty of hills. I reached 2.5 hours, but am adding 10-15 minutes every week or so if I feel its right to increase the length. The so, is because I never follow a traditional seven day week. The intensity is now no longer kept at super easy. Instead I am adding a few minor time goals to these runs. For a standard run, with a mix of hills I want to average about 6:00/km throughout the run. This is pace that feels quite easy for me at the start of the run, but one in which I've had trouble holding in the latter stages. Quality in this case is in the way I maintain the pace. Another aim is to be able to do this without consuming any calories for at least 3 hours. I'm almost there, but this pace still appears a bit too reliant on the contribution of carbohydrate.

The next level of the long is at a significantly faster pace. As a starting point I've chosen this pace as the slower end of my base intensity zone, or 80% of my goal marathon pace. This comes out as 4:48/km. Each run incorporates about a 5 minute warm up and cool down at the start and end. Starting out at 90 minutes, I hope to add 10 minutes each time this run comes around as long as the rest of training is progressing as it should. This run should have a strong influence on the fat / carbohydrate cross over point, and raise the pace at which I can run below the anaerobic threshold. Throughout the base phase this will probably become the most important run out of all that are in the mix.

I'll argue that incorporating regular long runs is the cornerstone of endurance training. The details of those runs change depending on goals and fitness. There is definitely no one size fits all. Over the months, these will change around even more. It is a necessity if I want to keep improving.


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