Why Stamina Zone Running Must Be In Every Marathon Training Plan [16]

stamina zone

Stamina Zone

Discover how to get the best results from running in the stamina zone – what we call the Faster-Longer Zone.

Spending time in this zone raises your ‘lactate threshold’. This is a major predictor of marathon success!

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Read Full Transcript

Mark: We’re now moving up the hardness scale.

Dave: Yeah, we are now moving into something that I call the Faster-Longer Zone…

Which is primarily working on stamina.

And what I would call this is medium-hard.

A lot of people in running circles like to call the sessions in this zone ‘comfortably-hard’ running.

Mark: Where in your training history would you do this?

Dave: This starts very early in what I call the Trail Phase in Acceleration Runs and on some very moderate gradient hills…

But then it becomes more formalised into what are popularly called tempo runs as you get into the marathon-specific zone.

Getting in the Stamina Zone

But let me just describe to people how you feel on a conversation level while you’re doing this…

Because this is where I would say you’re responding to questions rather than having conversations.

That’s a nice way to describe it…

It’s either responses or short sentences.

Mark: So this is now the time as I said before where you are happy for the other person to take over the conversation?

Dave: Yes, you’ve hit it now!

Mark: Yes and no answers? Or aren’t we quite there yet?

Dave: Not quite. I think you’re like most runners. Impatient to be running faster!

It’s actually a very pleasurable zone to be to be running in when you’ve got more experience.

I think this is why they call it the tempo run because it encourages a wonderful rhythm…

Both in your breathing and the way your body moves…

Even in the way you think because you can become quite mindful and in the zone.

Benefits from Running in the Stamina Zone

Mark: Yeah it sounds really good.

So we’ve seen what it is and where it is…

Why would you want to be running in this zone

Dave: We described in the last zone how the longer zone literally helps you run longer and longer.

This one is a bit more about running faster for longer which is effectively what stamina is.

Lactate Threshold

More specifically and physiologically it helps you raise something is called a lactate threshold

Which will be familiar for a lot of runners…

But I will spell it out for anyone not familiar with the term.

This is when blood lactate accumulates at such a level that running starts to become harder…

Because the hydrogen ions actually inhibit effective running…

By changing the pH and making it a lot more acidic.

And the threshold for this occurs in this zone.

By working in this zone, you start raising the threshold so you’re able to run increasingly faster.

Without getting these inhibitory changes in your muscle blood pH.

Raising your Lactate Threshold 

Mark: Physiologically then what’s happening in the body as that threshold starts to go up?

What’s working better?

What aren’t you having to deal with?

Dave: You’re basically not having to deal with increasing anaerobic respiration…

Creating a situation where the pH is becoming more acidic…

And it’s harder and harder to use fats for fuel and do all of that easier running that we talked about earlier.

So your body is under a little more stress.

Typically it’s not just the lactate threshold…

What also starts going up rapidly are the breathing and heart rates…

They all go up as you start exceeding this threshold.

Mark: So, If you understand that your threshold is being pushed up and up…

Are you then conscious of the fact that you might be breathing better or more deeply?

And that your lung capacity has increased?

And your heart muscles are working a lot more efficiently?

What will be going on in the body?

Dave: You will be pleasantly surprised when you look at your watch and you look at the paces…

How that at a given pace…

Where you were starting to breathe quite heavily…

And you thought your heart rate was going up…

And you felt under more stress…

Because you’ve now developed this aspect of your training….

You’re looking at that pace and you’re actually feeling quite comfortable…

Because you’re not in that zone where you’re working harder any more.

Mark: So again your body condition is improving all the time.

Dave: Exactly.

Controlled Running

Mark: So are there any more benefits then?

Dave: Yeah. It’s a real running skill to be able to have more control when you’re training.

And this particular zone whether it be continuous tempo running or longer repeats…

You get into this rhythm where you actually learn how to control your running in such a way that is highly beneficial when you get to the marathon itself.

It’s all about controlled pacing.

So you learn that important discipline of controlled faster…

Not fast…

But faster running and getting into that essential rhythm.

Shorter Sessions for Time-Pressed Runners

And another thing that’s more logistic because we talked earlier about time-pressed runners…

Is these sessions can provide a good return on your investment because they can be quite short.

Mark: Excellent. You’ve been through a lot of information. What are the main takeaways people should be getting.

Versatile Training Zone when Conditions are Right

Dave: This is a very versatile zone in how you approach it, so you don’t have to be on a running track…

You can do them on a canal towpath, or a flat piece of road, or even park land.

But what I would say is you want to have good conditions.

You don’t want to be battling a headwind or anything like that, because you want to have nice controlled conditions for these sessions to get the most out of them.

Please leave any comments below on your experiences with stamina zone running. 

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