Winter training is upon us, which in coaching terms is code for ‘crush more distance’. However, my lord, that can get boring!
Your weekly long workouts are obviously a staple in your formula for developing endurance, and by now, most of us have been taught that long workouts should be slow and steady — in your Zone 2 range, and that still holds true. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have more fun during our time getting those meters.
So here are our top 5 exciting additions you can build into your long pieces to spice them up and help you gain fitness a little faster.
The following five alternatives are designed to be alternated every second or third workout between a heavy Zone 2 (aerobic workout) and your usual long workout that should have some intensity.
After a solid warm-up, perform 15-20 x 1-minute intervals with a 1 to 2-minute active recovery period. This breaks you out of the Zone 2 effort and adds a little zip to your pace.
Get up to speed on the 1-minute work intervals, and then bring it back down to Zone 2 pace. Your goal is to keep going with the intervals until you have covered that 5km distance.
This one makes that distance disappear quickly!!
After a warm-up, performing 10 x 2-minute intervals with 2 minutes of active recovery in between is a sure way of creating some stress by not stopping and sustaining your pace.
Doing a few repeats won’t have a big effect, but doing 20 minutes worth will put a little dent in your recovery time.
The idea is to teach your body 10K pace without smoking yourself early in the season.
On a long workout of any distance, I love to see people push the last phase of a workout to finish it off faster.
Pick your long distance and set a timer, so your last 30 minutes are where you are going to pick up the pace.
This is especially good if you are training for a marathon or an ultra-endurance event.
Being able to push the pace a little faster than you’ll need in the race is beneficial both physically and mentally.
If you are a runner, then an added challenge would be to run this on an out-and-back course, finishing with a slight uphill.
This one can really test your fitness!
After a good warm-up, perform 2 x 20-minute intervals at Zone 2 heart rate, then do 2 x 12-minute sets at Zone 3 heart rate. After that, and near the end of the workout, your goal is to hit Zone 4 for 8 to 10 minutes.
This may sound easy, but it’s a hard one to execute properly. Those final minutes toward the end will be challenging.
Finally, the one workout that will bring it all together for you.
You’re going to need a good base of endurance (and a fair amount of time) before you attempt this one. After a solid warm-up, start with a 20-minute effort at Zone 2 piece, followed by 15 minutes in Zone 3. 5 x 2-minute intervals are up next, and to really finish this right, you have 10 x 1-minutes, with 1-minute active recovery pace.
This will definitely leave a mark, and you’ll know if you pushed too hard, so it’s a good workout to determine if you are pacing well, or if you need to back off your fitness expectations.
This will be around a 2:20 to 2:30 long run — the cherry on top of all your other long workout variations. Here’s a breakdown of the complete workout:
There you have it — five solid, long workouts that are anything but your classic, monotonous plods. If you want more training plans for those longer distances of 1/2 or Marathon distance, then head to https://darkhorserowing.com/workout/ and come join us in The Crew.
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