Threshold pace question once again

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    I have a threshold pace question once again. Sorry, this topic was discussed a number of times, but there is one thing still not clear to me.

    I am on 100M L1 plan now. Right before it I went through 50M L1 plan and raced my first 50M. So I am new to these distances yet.

    Even before I tried ultrarunning, I noticed that after getting my TP by running 30 mins test it was little tough for me to keep to it on the latest intense workouts like progression runs. Though I thought there should be some tough workouts by design.

    Then on 50M L1 plan I noticed the same again. Latest hill reps and progression runs are difficult for me to sustain as prescribed if I stick to the received TP result.

    I intentionally do TP tests with some fatigue as I think this condition is closer to everyday training than well rested and refreshed. I do full protocol 30 mins test intentionally – I should be able to suffer extra 10 mins. And still I get TP results that are difficult to keep to in some workouts.

    When doing a workout I usually I start in a middle of a zone and then drop or raise my pace depending on how I feel today. If I feel fine I run endurance runs up to 4 hours in the middle of the zone 2. But even feeling good I cannot do the longest one of 5 hours as prescribed.

    That what I felt while on 50M L1 plan. My longest run was in July on Long Island on a 95 degree humid day and I thought well this weather is not the best to run so my pace is ok to drop. Now I am on 100M L1 plan and last weekend I run the longest ER in a beautiful weather 43 degree and not much wind. I felt excellent this day from start to finish, nice weather, flat course, but did 10 seconds pace below Zone 2. I feel if I ran faster even 10-15 seconds, my pace would start to drop after 4 hours if not earlier. I aimed correctly to the pace that I can sustain for 5 hours. I did not have same experience while training on marathon plans as endurance runs are not that long in them, but did feel I cannot sustain the most intense workouts.

    My questions are:

    1. Is my experience normal? Is this just my body adapting to the new type of running? My total running experience is about 4 years and I am only 9 months into ultra running. I understand that failing on few workouts is not a problem yet, but I see the same pattern across training for different distances, not just some days I felt not good and did a bad workout.

    2. I calculated and would feel comfortable if dropped my TP by 10 seconds or so. Is that ok or I am going to spoil the whole science behind the training plan?

    David Warden

    Yury, thanks for your post. I am assuming that you are using Pace, not HR, as your primary measurement based on your comments. If I’m reading that wrong, the first suggestion is to switch to Pace as your primary measure.

    In your situation, the thing to remember is that Zone 1 and 2 are interchangeable. While the division between Zone 2 and X are empirical (the threshold between hard and easy) the division between Zone 1 and 2 is based on our best guess of “really easy” and “easy.” Zone 1 and 2 are both easy. When Zone 1 is called for, you can use Zone 2. When Zone 2 is called for, you can use Zone 1.

    Theoretically, you’ll gain more fitness if you can hover in Zone 2, but that’s just not possible for everyone as you do those 3, 4, 5-hour runs and then have built up fatigue. Zone 1 is just fine on those days.

    As your race distance workouts increase, clearly you’ll have to reduce intensity. Although we prescribe Zone 2 in some of those long runs, feel free to drop to Zone 1.

    It sounds like you’re performing the threshold testing just fine.



    Understood. Thank you, David.

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