Testing Zones Saturday before Long Run

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    Every week in the UK (and elsewhere) ParkRun organise free, timed, 5K events in local parks on Saturdays at 9am: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/

    This represents a great opportunity to re-test my running threshold/zones in a ‘race’ environment, and to get more experience running in race conditions (I feel that after a year or two of 80/20 and training on my own, I need to re-learn how to really push under race conditions).

    I know that I should replace the hardest workout in each recovery week with a threshold test on my Marathon Level 1 plan. That typically occurs on Friday. Is it OK to instead do Satruday’s foundation run on Friday, and do the 5K race on Saturday in place of the hard workout, and still do the weekly long run on Sunday?

    I don’t want to make it complicated, but it’s a great opportunity to re-test zones!


    Matt Fitzgerald

    I don’t think that’s a good idea. Races are disruptive to the training process. I would never build a marathon training plan that included a 5K race every third week, so I can’t recommend retooling a plan to include that much racing. It’s even riskier to follow such an effort with a long run the next day. Nor is it really even necessary to adjust training zones that often, unless you’re starting from a low fitness level, hence improving rapidly. I recommend using the less-stressful talk test to make the smaller adjustments that are needed after athletes have gotten past the beginner stage of their development.

    Intensity Guidelines for 80/20 Running


    Great, thanks so much for the quick response Matt. On reflection, yes, I probably wouldn’t do it *every* third week.

    You mention the talk test, which I’ve read about but never properly tried – will give it a go. I’ve always suspected it will result in a lower top-end Zone 2 pace, even if my a recent 5K time would give a higher one in the zone calculator. I’ll find out…

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