Question Regarding Impact of Long Runs on Training Completion | 80/20 Endurance

Question Regarding Impact of Long Runs on Training Completion

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  • #11832

    Morning All.

    I’ll get straight to the point. For the first time on my plan (50 Mile Ulta Plan) I had to adapt it slightly post 4 hour 30 minute run.

    I completed my Yorkshire 3 Peaks Z2 run and was happy with where I was. The subsequent runs were done at lower HR (zone 1) to let me keep running but also recover better (they should have been Z2 Foundation runs). I actually completed my Training week with some minor adjustments, but the week after I really felt fatigued and my data also agreed

    My pace went down, HR went up and my VO2 predictors went down. Is this a normal reaction to such a taxing long run (I know it’s unavoidable in some ways, and I actually thoroughly enjoyed my long run/ runs and I always do)… But it did have a knock on effect to my subsequent training days.

    I’m doing my 5 hour long run tomorrow and really liking forward to it, I’ve just had 2 full rest days and feel ready to go.

    Is this dip is fitness purely momentary and just a reaction to my body taking longer to recover, or am I overtraining and doing more harm than good?

    My race is the end of May and I’m pretty certain I’m going to do well… But I feel I’d like to bring my VO2 up a bit and better my zone 2 run pace on my next training cycle, which leads me on to asking the next question…

    Would a marathon program (primarily run on road and flatter trail, opposed to the mountain running I currently do) bring me on a bit speed wise… Or should I look at a shorter distance?



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    David Warden


    First, let’s talk about how fitness is gained.

    The most interesting thing about training is that training actually temporarily reduces fitness. Let’s imagine I asked you to go and run a 10K at maximum effort, and you get a PR. Then, as soon as you cross the finish line, I ask you to run a 10K again even faster. Why can’t you do it? Doesn’t training make you more fit? So why can’t you immediately go out and cash in that new fitness?

    The answer is that fitness is gained by a combination of training + rest. Too much of one without the other and you don’t gain fitness.

    Therefore, is you were to graph fitness, it would not be linear, it would be a series of peaks and valleys. Heavy training brings your fitness below “baseline temporarily, then rest bounces your fitness above previous baseline.

    What you are experiencing is that temporary fitness valley, where your fitness a week after a huge training session dips. Often, that dip lasts longer than a week so you’ll go into long run #2 less fit than long run #1. That’s normal, and over time the net gain of this cycle will be positive.

    For your other question, are you proposing switching from an Ultra plan to a Marathon plan before your next event, or after? If before, then my recommendation is no. Continue on your plan as is. If after, sure.



    Thanks for the reply.

    That makes sense, I have no issue with a temporary dip in fitness to achieve the desired end result.

    I’ve just completed my last 5 hour long run today and I start to reduce volume from next week, definitely feel like I need it.

    So, i like to run distance, but I’d also like to concentrate on some speed and VO2 increase next training cycle (after my A race at the end of this 50 mile ultra plan).

    Will I see enough difference doing the level 2 marathon plan compared to the level 1, 50 mile ultra plan? I mean, improvements in v02 or zone 2 pace as I kind of feel I’ve plateaued pace wise and seen little improvement towards the last 1/3 of the 50 mile ultra plan, but have seen endurance gains and the ability to keep moving over 4-5 hours.

    Or, would it be more advisable to drop to a shorter distance plan at a higher level to get the most improvements V02 and pace wise? I’m getting a Stryd pod ready for some power based training also… As next training cycle I’ll be doing a lot more on the road and flatter trail running.

    Thanks again!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by MrHammonds.
    David Warden

    Specificity plays a critical role in training. You need specificity to perform well at a particular distance. For marathon and Ultras, you do need to lose a bit of speed and VO2 in order to switch to the specific demands of those distances, which don’t call on a lot of speed or VO2.

    It you want to reset and focus on speed for a couple of months after your Ultra, I would for sure switch to a 5K Level 2 or 3 plan. That will raise your base VO2, speed, etc. and is a quick 9-week investment. You just can’t get the same increase in speed on the marathon plan.




    Thanks for this, that’s the answer I was looking for.

    If the 5k plan is more specifically tailored towards V02/ speed etc compared to a marathon plan.


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