Endurance Running

by Christian, Answer by Marius

For all distances above the 5k, planning your cardio sessions wisely is a key element for optimal results.

Endurance running sessions right around the lactate threshold is a key element in this ; but it needs to be planned well.

Christian sent this question :

Dear Marius,

I’m a German Hobby Runner. 31 years old.
Very interesting reading on your Marathon training page. I’m always training the most at the bulk raining zone 2 and wondering why I didn’t make progress in my training. My personal best is 33:00 over 10.000m.

My question is can you make some example how I can bring Zone 3 in my training?

What do you think about tempo change running where I play with this Zone3 for example 16km
2km zone 2 (4:20min/km) 2km Zone 3(4:00min/km) down to 3:50/km?

Do you think 40% of training Zone 3 is enough?

Hope that you can help me and thanks for the useful info.

Greets Christian

Hi Christian,

Thank you for the question.

Now, this is how you can plan Zone 3 training into your program. A key element here is to vary the pace within zone 3.

What I generally recommend is first to find your Zone 3 pace.

Say your max heart rate is 200.

Zone 3 is usually between 80 and 87/88% of max. Which means between 160 and 174.

Now, what you want to do in the Zone 3 sessions is to play around within this zone.

Let Me Bring Out a Few Running Examples

4 x 9 min where you run first 3 min at 160, then right up to 165 for 3 min, then right up to 172-72 for 3 minutes. What you do here is to work within the whole Zone 3, but at the same time run at distincly different speeds for within the 9 min (a marked change in pace every 3 min.)

This is much better compared to just a even paces 9 min.

Then, if you need some work above Zone 3, into Zone 4 (generally about 1 session weekly for most of a marathon/half marathon cycle), what you want to do is to run this as parts of a Zone 3 session.

Specifically, for example 5 min in Zone 3 (with 2 min at 160, 2 min at 170, 1 min at 175), small recovery, then 2 min at zone 4 (which means between 175 - 184 in heart rate, before going down to 5 min in zone 3 again ; and repeat

Point is :

The key is variation within the "correct" training zones.

Otherwise, only Zone 3 training at the same monotonous pace will lead to heavy, non-elastic muscles.

100 Meter Strides After Endurance Running Sessions

I will also recommend to always end the Zone 3 runs with strides of 100 meter, about 5-10 of them. Zone 3 training can influence your sub-maximum speed but these strides that are not sprints usually helps you sustain that element of float at higher pace.

In a week, it is not recommended with Zone 3 training every day, rather every other day.

However, there is no problem to double up the Zone 3 runs on those days, meaning you run Zone 3 both in the morning and afternoon that way.

For total volume, between 2o and 50 % depending on your total volume weekly and how good control you have over the pace.

Good luck !


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