Aerobic base training alongside speed work?

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05/06/2014 at 19:22
Genghis Khan wrote (see)

Pete, I have no interest in arguing with you (or anyone else) on the internet, but you keep moving the goalposts.  

The OP's question was: does he need to do ANY more LSRs at easy pace, once he has built his base and is at the business end of "the season"/marathon training.  He then implies that he thinks the "normal" pace for LRs during this period is race pace + 30s.  (I grant you this is not completely clear but that's how both Ballesteros and I interpreted it.)  

My answer: yes, there will still be a place for LRs at up to 90s slower than race pace, and + 30s is too fast to be the default speed for LRs, even in the last couple of months of marathon training.  

eg - last 3 LRs, 5, 4 and 3 weeks out from the marathon respectively.  Probably 60 miles or so.  Should he run all, or most, of those 60 miles at mgp +30s?  No, that would be mental.

 It may be we are both saying the same thing in a different way, i.e. once you've built a good base, do some of your LR miles at closer to race pace.  Not all; not none; but some.  In which case fine, nothing to see here etc etc.



I will remind you of your answer:


if you are training for a marathon, your long runs should be about race pace + 10-20%.  Which, unless you are super fast, is more likely to be in the range of + 45-90 secs than + 30 secs.

You have now acknowledged that we are talking about the business end. So why would the LSRs be 45 to 90s. rhetorical question.

I have not moved the goal posts pal you have.

05/06/2014 at 20:42

You might think your question is rhetorical.  It isn't.  Slow paced long runs remain important - in fact, essential - right up to the end of the period before the taper.  They build endurance while avoiding compromising the quality of the rest of your week's work.

Since you clearly don't want to take my word for it, try Hal Higdon - from his Advanced Plan, not his Novice or Intermediate - on the pace for long runs.  

Normally I recommend that runners do their long runs anywhere from 30 to 90 or more seconds per mile slower than their marathon pace. This is very important, particularly for advanced runners who do speedwork during the week. The physiological benefits kick in around 90-120 minutes, no matter how fast you run. You'll burn a few calories and trigger glycogen regenesis, teaching your muscles to conserve fuel. Running too fast defeats this purpose and may unnecessarily tear down your muscles, compromising not only your midweek workouts, but the following week's long run. Save your fast running for the marathon itself.

Don't like Higdon?  OK, try P&D in Advanced Marathoning.  In their 70-85 mile plan (i.e., for serious runners) the last 4 LRs pre-taper total 78 miles.  Of which just 14 miles are at race pace.  The other 64 are at standard LR pace, which P&D specify is race pace + 10-20%.  For a 2.50 marathoner, this would be race pace + 40-80 seconds.

Long story short: you are telling the OP to run his LRs too fast.  I couldn't care less about whether you agree with me, I've only persisted this far because the OP deserves better advice than "train slow, run slow".  Which is rubbish, as Higdon, Pfitzinger et al make clear.  But hey, don't reply to me, write to them.  I'm sure they will be delighted to hear from you.  Pal.



05/06/2014 at 22:39

this was your answer to the ops post re the final stages:


if you are training for a marathon, your long runs should be about race pace + 10-20%.  Which, unless you are super fast, is more likely to be in the range of + 45-90 secs than + 30 secs.

Please note: no mention of faster LSRs you totally dismissed them. Which is wrong at the later stages. 

i told you to re-read the op, because we were discussing the final stages.

I also added

However, some plans will have you running at the slower pace and the quicker pace within the same run, for instance the 22miler, again so as not to over fatigue the runner in the final stages of the training.

Stop trying to tell me what I already know after your original incorrect advice.  Because your original advice is not what you are saying now. FACT


end of discussion.



Edited: 05/06/2014 at 22:52
09/06/2014 at 16:26

lol, chill. Thanks to both of you for persisting. Definitely some good advice there to pick through.

18/07/2014 at 09:00

I decided to take the guesswork out so have been doing exclusive low HR runs (max 140bpm) and cycle rides. What the articles about base training don't talk about is how daftly bored you'll get! So a warning to others: just because you are doing really slow miles, don't be fooled into thinking you can suddenly add an extra 50% miles on top of your normal weekly quota just because your legs don't ache after runs. This way leads to injury. I thought I'd pulled a calf muscle but my masseur says it's just tight. Phew. Take care all!

18/07/2014 at 15:08

+1 for GK

23/10/2014 at 09:16

Thought I'd report back. Between the end of June and 11th Sept, I did ALL my runs at 140bpm. Soooo boring, but I learnt to enjoy it somehow.

On 11th Sept, I did the same 34k run that I had done 3 months earlier (end of June). Conditions/temperature were the same, course was the same, time of day and food were the same. I was 11 minutes quicker and I felt so much better in the latter stages of the run. Since then I've been including a few of these very slow runs in with racing and threshold and intervals etc. and yesterday I was a little quicker again by 5s/km (although it was quite a bit colder yesterday so not comparable).

Overall, I'm very happy and now working on building the speed up again.

23/10/2014 at 10:02

Nicely done. What is your Max HR if I might ask?

Edited: 23/10/2014 at 10:03
23/10/2014 at 11:08

I haven't really checked but I've seen it at 185 in fartlek sessions. I tried to keep it between 138 and 141 for all the runs during those months, based on a fairly unscientific 180 minus age = 140.... (found it on a website somewhere).

Why do you ask?

Edited: 23/10/2014 at 11:08
23/10/2014 at 12:11

Reason being theres a chunk of literature on heart rate based training. I have a similar max HR and opinins vary as to whether base training down at 125bpm or closer to 140bpm would give the best results.

Having experimented a bit I'm leaning towards the latter maybe not quite 140 but towards the upper end of that little scale anyway


Edited: 23/10/2014 at 12:13
23/10/2014 at 15:43

From what I've read it depends on the person (probably more to do with % of VO2maxHR than maxHR), but it would be better to head out the door for a 5 mile run than to spend time worrying about the exact HR  If you wait for the perfect plan, you'll never start. You said you've been experimenting though. Must be tough figuring out if changes are making any comparative difference

Edited: 23/10/2014 at 15:49
23/10/2014 at 16:04

well I started out just following what I gleaned from the HADD thread, and that had me running at about 125-130bpm for the base building part. I then went on to follow a relatively standard plan for a first marathon in the spring.

Later I started working with a coach and he  contends that running that easy wasn't ideal but running at what he called 'steady' pace (in practice more like 140bpm) offered more by way of building pure aerobic capacity. Where he really differed from a hadd type approach was to do pass on the idea of doing long slow runs at the weekend as easyas you like - rather he does seem to keep them more at this 'steady' pace and also make some of them 'progressive.'

The approach seems to be more in tune with P&D than HADD and I think it suited me more - second marathon was faster but also more controlled and I managed to accelerate over the last 5k rather than fading as previously.

So very much aerobic work alongside interval work throughout. This guy is a bit of a stickler though - if you say speed work to him he wants to talk about 1500m race pace, vV02max and sprints. Certainly Not 1mile repeats at threshold pace or yasso 800s 

Edited: 23/10/2014 at 16:07
24/10/2014 at 08:04

I think I agree with him. If your muscles are strong/fast enough to run a single 1500m fast, then you just need to work on sustaining it. There's only so much working on lungs and heart will do before you reach the limit of what your legs can actually handle.

When you say "progressive" do you mean keeping a steady pace so that the HR rises during the long run? Or do you mean actually increasing pace?

I'll be throwing in some fast sections (at least race pace) in SOME of the long runs when in the marathon goal phase e.g. 3 mile slow, 11 mile race pace, 3 mile slow, and a few half marathons at marathon race pace so that the body knows what it's like to sustain the pace. Just need to work out when I'm fit enough to start the build up. I'll get a flat out half in soon to check. Need to lose 5lb too (cake season ) but that'll only take me a couple of weeks.

24/10/2014 at 08:46

'progressive' as in starting easy, then doing a fair chuck at steady and then going through the gears to finish at something like 5k or 10k race pace. Maybe tailing off in the last mile as cool down but thats it.

The other thing I am wondering about for the next marathon cycle and over 2015 is how often to race a 10k or HM. I can see the need to keep benchmarking and measuring progress but Ive also read that racing too much can be counterproductive

24/10/2014 at 13:53

I was wrong about my maxHR. Did a 10k today and it reached 193 with average 185. Got a PB which surprised me since I had done 22miles day before yesterday...

28/10/2014 at 10:55
I'm trying to mix the Lydiard method and maf training. Lydiard advocates working backwards from the event through the tapering stage, hill work stage which all have set periods. Whatever is left is for base building. This is often seen as LSD and I think that is where it falls down is that people take it too slow.
MAF training is about running at a purely aerobic hr, essentially 180-age, for me 149bpm. That equates to 7:00/mile for me, before I was running at 8min/mile thinking base building had to be that slow. Lydiard advocates a weekly tempo run or fartlek, I'm finding that just working on aerobic capacity is working fine for me (12 miles at 6:42/mile recently) but will introduce weekly speedwork when I start to plateau and maybe do a few weeks at 155bpm to kick myself back into life as it were!
28/10/2014 at 18:22

Often seen as LSD? And people take it too slow?

Edited: 28/10/2014 at 18:22
19/11/2014 at 09:51

Since September I've continued with a mix of runs at 140bpm, some long race pace runs, threshold, 1k intervals and PB races (10k, half marathon and full marathon). Did the same 35k tester run at 140bpm today and shockingly went 14mins quicker again (so 25mins quicker than August). So the answer appears to be that it doesn't seem to matter if you are doing all ABT or just 2 or 3 a week some alongside other training - you still see the benefits.

19/11/2014 at 15:34
Charles R wrote (see)

Hope someone knowledgeable in this area can help I've found various articles discussing how great 12-16 weeks of aerobic base training is pre-season, so very slow runs, gradually building pace a bit through the 12 weeks.

My question is: is this supposed to be exclusive, so no fast runs or intervals at all?

My 2nd question is: mid-season when the intervals and long fast runs are in full effect, is there any real benefit in doing these very slow runs alongside (not to be confused with the LSR which are just e.g. 30s per mile slower than marathon pace).

1. The reason why you don't do speedwork during the 12-16weeks is because you are working on Aerobic base. Its just a matter of time. If you train 8 hours a week and for two sessions you work on speed then that's 1/4 of your training week you are not working on Aerobic base. It's not a problem but at the end of the 16 weeks, in effect you've only actually done 12weeks of the potential 16weeks work on Aerobic base. Of course you've also effectively done 4 weeks of speedwork. Just decide what's important.

2. Your long slow run will be Aerobic.

Edited: 19/11/2014 at 15:36

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