Marathon Training – Part 3

Increase the workload! I am adding threshold runs for my mid-distance (6-mile) run. Previously, we discussed the first period (BASE) and its main goal of increasing volume. So, let’s talk about the next stage – BUILD.

This phase typically occurs 1-2 months before approaching our priority event, race, or competition. The running volume should change to a slow build or decrease the total volume. During this stage, the focus is on improving the performance of running. We increase intensity during this phase by focusing on increasing our threshold runs. The importance of threshold run training focuses on blood lactate. Lactate is a byproduct of normal metabolism and exercise. At rest and with “easy runs,” our ability to clear lactate is nearly the same speed at which it is produced. With increased intensity of exercise and running, the number of lactate climbs. Your “threshold” is the speed/intensity of running in which the body can keep a steady state of lactate. “Above threshold” means the body cannot clear lactate at the same rate it is being produced.

To increase performance/speed – we need to move where our current threshold is. This improves our ENDURANCE. What does threshold running training look like? To improve at something physiologically, like lactate threshold, we need to stress the system physiologically. Ideally, we want to stress the system at the lowest intensity that causes a change – TRAIN AT THE THRESHOLD. The heart rate variability (HRV) should be between 80 and 90% (ZONE 3-4) or “comfortably hard.” There are two types of threshold workouts: tempo runs and cruise intervals. Tempo runs are steady pace at the goal HRV. Cruise intervals are run at a threshold pace for 5-6 minutes with a short break (1 minute) and then repeated multiple times. If you are having difficulty determining a threshold run pace, an excellent question to ask yourself is: could I keep this pace up for 30 minutes?

Author: Lauren Stacy, PT, DPT

Lauren is a Virginia Beach native and has been with The Therapy Network since 2006. She joined TTN as a physical therapy technician. Lauren fell in love with the field and she was inspired to continue her education with a focus on physical therapy. She obtained an associate’s degree from TCC and became a Physical Therapist Assistant. Lauren continued her physical therapy education at ODU and for an undergraduate science degree and finally her doctorate degree in physical therapy. Gait pathologies and lower extremity biomechanics are her main interests for physical therapy. In addition to having extensive education in biomechanics, she is also dry needle certified since 2015 and McKenzie certified since 2017. She enjoys continuing to expand her education and skillset. Lauren’s hobbies including spending time with her fur-babies, running locally, camping, dirt biking and racing motorcycles.