Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Low Energy Runs: Quantity and Progression of Long Runs

In day two of analyzing my lack of energy during mid-week runs, I'm looking into the quantity and progression of my long runs.

According to Coach Jenny (via Ask Coach Jenny),

  • Quantity of long runs.  A solid half-marathon training program should include a variety of ingredients. When too many long runs are performed on back-to-back weekends, it, too, can cause energy drain. The long run progression should build and cut back regularly throughout the season. The cutback week with a shorter long run is, in its own way, a rest from the demands of building mileage. Without it, your body can experience fatigue. However, this usually is expressed in a continuous low energy level.
  • Progression of long runs. If the progression of long-run mileage is too demanding, it can cause fatigue. It is vital to efficient recovery and adaptation (growth) to start from where you are in the beginning of the training plan and progress gradually from there. If you are jumping up by more than one to two miles, this may be your culprit. It is better to go into race day with a shorter long run under your belt than to progress too quickly and toe the line tired.

Though you couldn't exactly call me a devout follower of my marathon training plan, I've done okay with meeting my long runs. I've rarely done the correct long run on its corresponding week of training, but I always knock out the right amount of mileage overall - and if I cut a run short one weekend, I make up for it the next. I haven't done any super long runs* on back-to-back weekends, so it's highly unlikely that Quantity of Long Runs is causing me to feel depleted. 

*I'm calling anything over 10 miles "super long" right now. And yes, I'm fully aware that I have a loooooong way to go before 26.2

Now as for Progression of Long Runs, there's a good chance that this could have something to do with my low energy levels. While I am running the correct amount of days throughout the week, I'm not always running the right amount of time. With the chaos of summer, I quickly realized that I'll just have to do the best that I can with the time that I have and not overly stress about getting the exact number of miles and minutes required by my training calendar. So for the most part, as long as I'm able to get something in each day, I feel like I'm doing okay. As such, I sometimes just set out for my long runs with a lofty goal of running such and such # of miles, without really taking into account that I haven't run everything I should during the week prior. Basically, I'm relying too heavily on my long runs to make up for what I've missed during the week... and it's safe to say that my body is probably thinking "WTF is she doing to me??!" each and every weekend. 

So, it looks like I may be on to something here. Though the best solution in my case is to amp up my mid-week training, rather than scale back the progression of long runs because I still have a very long way to go. Enter the paradox - how do I increase mid-week training when I'm feeling so friggin' tired??


  1. Great post! My wife and I were just talking about something similar to this this past week. Sometimes, when the humidity is really high and your energy level is low, I'm not sure if you're really helping or hurting yourself. There are a lot of advantages - but it just seems like you're spinning your wheels.

  2. Exactly! It's nice to hear that you two go through the same thing. I usually attribute most of my gripes to the fact that I'm still such a runner newbie - and though that is certainly the issue with a lot of what I do, I'm glad that I'm not alone and you experienced runners have those days too.