19 December 2014

training basics and the benefits of zone 2

I've been talking to a friend about training recently and after he came to the conclusion he needed to do more zone 2 (read: endurance pace) work I had a bit of an epiphany and realized I do too. The sources of information are these.

When I was cycling a lot I had a huge aerobic base. Now that I'm running - and because my body can't tolerate running seven days/week and because of some injuries - that base has eroded significantly.

I'm resolved to 'put in some base miles' as they say and try to build that aerobic fitness back up. How to do this? The key will be to not go too fast unless I'm doing an interval or similar workout. This is a classic rookie training mistake that so many athletes make and obviously I'm not immune to making it as well.

A good example is the Fleet Feet Sports Seattle Tuesday night run I do. There is a big bunch of people that show up regularly who are significantly faster than I am. When I try to keep up - and because I can't actually keep up and get dropped - I end up running at something between an endurance pace and a proper race pace. This is not usually fast enough to benefit me much and it's not slow enough to let me recover or build my endurance. Classic junk miles in other words. It also prevents me from going really hard on Wednesday when I try to run the track or cross country workout the Seattle Running Club puts on.

Ditto for most of the times I ride the Expresso exercise bike.

Last Tuesday and yesterday I finally held back and it was a bit of a revelation. On the run I had to let people go while climbing up Interlaken and I had to resist closing fast. On the ride, half way in I had to watch my ghost (my PR on the course I was riding) pull ahead and if I wanted to keep my heart rate under 140 bpm I had to let him go. And for once I did.

How long do you need to dedicate to building base fitness and increasing your zone 2 efficiency? Most people say about two months. Since Shelley and I are going on vacation and I won't really be able to start this until January, that means I need to chill until March.

Do I have races schedule before March? Of course I do, my calendar has me running a 50k in January and another that I would really like to enjoy in February.

I see two good options.

  1. Treat the race as a long training run and really keep the heart rate down.
  2. Start slow and finish strong if I am able.

Luckily me goal events are not until August. Not that I want to feel like crap in the early races but hopefully I can keep them in perspective.

Does building your base mean you can't go hard? Nope. You just need to make sure your easy days really are easy and your endurance days are not too fast. For sure it's okay to throw intervals in there.

We'll see how I do.

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