It can be very tempting as a runner to think that every session must feel hard, that you need to push yourself during every workout right? Wrong.
Zone 3 is sometimes known as the "Grey" Zone and many fall into running at Zone 3 pace, which feels a bit hard. Unfortunately, it is not hard enough to produce physical adaptation and not easy enough to allow for adequate recovery.
Why Do We Do It?
Usually it for the satisfaction of creeping up your 'average pace', after the run you can look at your stats and congratulate yourself for pushing that little bit faster than the last time. However you may not recover well enough to feel able notch up your Zone 4 running pace during your next speed workout, and it is here where you will improve your overall pace.
Zone 3 can leave you in a state of continuous fatigue and unable to push and grow your limits.
To avoid this you need to keep your easy Zone 2 steady-state runs, truly easy, they should feel comfortable. Your speed sessions are where you can throw it all you have and really push you top-end pace. Reward yourself as you push your interval paces faster, not your easy pace.
What is the Point of Zone 2?
Zone 2 runs are done to promote recovery, increase aerobic capacity, become more efficient at using fat as fuel and build endurance for longer races. Your average pace Zone 2 pace when 'easy' runs are performed properly allowing recovery for speed training will naturally and gradually increase with time, however, they will still be Zone 2 runs.
Why do Zone 4-5?
These speed sessions will train your body to be more efficient at a higher pace which will ultimately allow you to sustain faster for longer.
This is where you become efficient at mitigating lactic acid, more efficient at burning carbs, and thereby reach your optimal performance.
Phil's Plans allow for adequate recovery to maximise potential during the high-quality workouts. Improvements result from slowing down on Zone 2 days and putting the saved energy into the speed workouts.
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