I have a question about long run intensity. Obviously, the 80/20 programs suggest zone 2, after warming up for half a mile. But there’s a pretty good range within zone 2. I’ve heard some say that you should just keep it easy for aerobic development, which would usually equate to the lower part of zone 2. But I’ve heard others say that you should push the top of zone 2 for more fatigue resistance.
Runners with lower levels of fitness are almost automatically going to be near the high end of Zone 2 in long runs. For them, it’s important to limit the long runs to a duration that doesn’t lead them into exhaustion.
For fitter runners like you, I recommend treating most long runs as long easy runs, and pacing them accordingly:
Your friends who tell you to do your long runs well below the VT1 are right. Your friends who tell you to do your long runs at or very near the VT1 are also right. In other words, you should do both, depending on how you feel. This ensures you get what you need from each of them.
As a final note, fitter runners should do some structured long runs with moderate- or high-intensity segments built into them. This takes the pressure off Zone 2 long runs to effect high-level aerobic development.
Thanks for the response. That helps. For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing everything designated as easy (warmups, easy runs, recovery intervals, cool downs, long runs, etc.) by RPE. Some days, this is really slow and other days it’s faster. Some days it’s a fairly consistent pace and other days it’s really erratic. But it’s always based on what feels comfortable and easy that particular day, plus it’s trending faster.
Since I started doing this, everything zone 3 and up is getting faster with less effort. So as far as I can tell, it’s working.