The Thursday Runs: Steady

photo (37)

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As shown in my marathon training plan there are numerous types of runs used to prepare for a race. In this series I’m breaking down the types of runs, what they mean and their purpose, and also talking about other important such running things.

Full disclosure: I struggle with steady runs. If I’m going to skip a run, it’s going to be a steady run. Bad, I know, but hear me out. As stated in my LSD post, all of my runs have the following hierarchy:

  1. LSD
  2. Tempo/Hills
  3. Speed
  4. Steady

And so, if I’m dropping my runs from 5 to 4 (which I usually do) this means dropping off a steady run.

Before I get into why I’ll drop a steady run, let’s see what our friend John Stanton and the Running Room have to say (Toronto Waterfront Training Program):

Steady run is a run below targeted race pace.

Run at a comfortable speed; if in doubt, go slow. The run is broken down into components of running and walking. Based upon the clinic, the ratio of running to walking will change.

In the 5km and 10km clinics the Running Room now use the run/walk formula (10 — 1) on all runs, which includes regular steady weekday runs. We do not encourage participants to run continuous at these levels but prefer the walk/run approach. In the Marathon and Half Marathon programs walk breaks are optional during the week but not optional on the long run (Sunday), they must be part of the program. They are a great way to keep you consistent in your training.

  • To develop stamina, build strength and pace judgment

  • Improves your confidence

Steady runs build on the pyramid from the LSD post:



(All images from John Stanton’s marathon training program)

Since I’m talking about skipping my steady runs, I want to clarify that it’s not because I think base training in unimportant, it’s actually just the opposite, I’ll skip a steady run in order to rest my body and to prevent injuries.

Everyone has a point at which they’ll start to get injured – some runners struggle with mileage over 20 miles per week, some can run up to 50 miles per week, it really depends on the individual. I’m lucky in that I haven’t felt much in the way of niggles since starting my marathon training, but I have felt tired, so I will always sacrifice a steady run for rest (usually on a Saturday because 10 hours of sleep > 8km run).

For this training program, I really haven’t fussed over pace, I run what’s comfortable and, like John Stanton says, if in doubt, go slow. If my legs feel tired or sluggish, I’ll just run slower. One slow run isn’t going to make or break my marathon.

After writing all this, I skipped hills this week. I ran on Tuesday and I felt good and ran at a good pace, but my stomach just wasn’t feeling it at all. Not even a little bit. I felt off until I went to bed. I had hoped I’d feel better in the morning, but spent all day Wednesday feeling off and debating if I should head home (I stuck it out at work) and knew there was no way I’d be running hills. Not the best, but I also know running when I’m feeling off is only going to set me back.

This week I found an awesome article from Runner’s World that discusses training fatigue and really talks about pace times and how they are not the be-all end-all when it comes to training:

If you’re training by a calculated pace based on a formula or a race you did four weeks ago, you’re likely to over- or under-train, as your body is never in the same place daily. It’s like guessing the winning lottery numbers. The body knows effort not pace. For example, a common mistake I see runners make with long runs is to base them on planned finish time or just bump them up faster than last year’s training pace because the goal is to improve. That’s fine until you start running in your anaerobic zone because of the heat, lack of sleep, or the fact that it’s early in the season, and your fitness doesn’t support the planned pace. You end up struggling to finish or completely wiped out when you do. If you continue on this trend you can accumulate too much stress and end up in a continual state of fatigue, unable to recover from the greater demands of training along the way. One sign that you’ve overdone it is if the fatigue doesn’t subside after a few weeks.

I really, really needed to hear this this week. I’ve been worried about whether my tempo runs were too quick and my long runs too slow, but according to the above, nope! I still fully plan on using my pace chart below as a guide, but knowing that it’s okay for me to listen to my body is awesome.

Last week I did my steady run in 30C (86F) and that is hot for this Canadian! My pace was pretty slow on this one, but based on the above, my pace is good so long as I’m not wiped after. (You’ll note I almost always start out too quickly on my runs, I’m really trying to work on this!)

steady 2

steady 1

Last, but certainly not least – PACE TIMES!

Half Marathon

  1:45 2:00 2:15 2:30 To complete
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:00 6:15 6:36 7:17 8:37
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:00 10:00 10:30 11:13 13:52
LSD* (min/km) 5:33-6:16 6:56-7:47 7:19-8:12 8:03-9:00 9:29-10:53
LSD* (min/mile) 8:53-10:02 11:06-12:27 11:42-13:07 12:53-14:24 15:10-17:25
Steady (min/km) 5:33 6:56 7:19 8:03 9:29
Steady (min/mile) 8:53 11:06 11:42 12:53 15:10

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly


  3:45 4:00 4:15 4:30 4:45 5:00
Tempo/Hills (min/km) 5:24 5:44 6:05 6:26 6:47 7:07
Tempo/Hills (min/mile) 8:38 9:10 9:45 10:18 10:51 11:24
LSD* (min/km) 6:00-6:45 6:22-7:11 6:45-7:45 7:08-8:00 7:30-8:25 7:52-8:49
LSD* (min/mile) 9:36-10:48 10:11-11:30 10:48-12:24 11:25-12:48 12:00-13:28 12:35-14:06
Steady (min/km) 6:00 6:22 6:45 7:08 7:30 7:52
Steady (min/mile) 9:36 10:11 10:48 11:25 12:00 12:35

*note all LSD times are adjusted for a 10 minute run/1 minute walk interval, so if you’re not doing 10:1 you can adjust your times accordingly





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3 thoughts on “The Thursday Runs: Steady

  1. Pingback: The Thursday Runs: Staying Healthy | Cowgirl Runs

  2. Pingback: The Thursday Runs: Speedwork | Cowgirl Runs

  3. Pingback: Link Love | Cowgirl Runs

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