Let's Talk...Conversation Pace Runs
So you get a training plan from your coach (or download one off of the internet!) and you see terms that confuse you. LSD runs, easy runs, goal pace runs, tempo runs, hill repeats, intervals, Fartleks (say what?!?!). Isn’t it enough to just, well, run!?!?!? Absolutely! But as you grow as a runner and want to improve endurance and speed (and reduce chance of injury), you may want to switch things up with more specific runs. There are so many types of runs, and I feel it might be overwhelming to talk about them all in one post, so I’m going to spend a bit of time over the next few weeks diving into types of runs. The first run we’ll talk about happens to be my favorite...conversation runs!
Just like it sounds, these runs are done at a pace where you can easily carry on a conversation with a training partner (or, well, yourself!), usually 60-90 seconds slower than race pace. For those of you who like numbers, you’re looking at a heart rate of approximately 110-140 bpm. These runs will make up the bulk of your training runs, about 75-80%. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it!?
There are so many benefits of conversation runs! These runs...
Train the heart, lungs, and muscles to absorb, deliver, and use oxygen as efficiently as possible, while simultaneously removing waste products such as carbon dioxide, acidosis, hydrogen, etc.
Increase the size and number of mitochondria. This will take uou back to your high school biology days-but mitochondria are responsible for cellular respiration. Meaning, they break down nutrients and convert them to energy. So, more mitochondria means more energy!
Promote a more efficient running form. This will help you run farther and faster and reduce your risk of injury.
Strengthen muscles and adapt the ligaments, tendons, joints, and bones to sustained activity.
Teach runners to become patient, disciplined, and better able to push through the physical discomfort of running.
Conversation runs might be short, medium, or long distance.
Short conversation runs are typically under 6 miles and take less than 45 minutes. They are a comfortable distance for most daily runs, and are good for recovery runs between hard sessions. These runs also help flush waste from muscles, build overall strength, and teach discipline. Most training plans will call for 2-3 days of short conversation runs.
Medium conversation runs take anywhere between 45-90 minutes. I usually call this my “mid week long run.” Not as long as my weekend long run, but longer than my easy weekly runs. These build strength without too much stress (physical and mental), increase a runner’s ability to handle discomfort, and increase our ability to transfer and use oxygen.
Long conversation runs (MY FAVORITE!), also called LSD runs (Long Slow Distance) refers to anything over 90 minutes. Long runs help our bodies improve glycogen storage, handle glycogen depletion, and manage our ability to keep going despite being depleted of glycogen. I have found that the best benefit, by far, is that long runs remind me that I can do hard things for a long period of time. It’s a huge mental boost. Most training plans, call for one long run a week, with usually no more than 3 a month (two weeks followed by a step back week, then repeat). Most importantly, on long runs….slow and steady. These are not pace runs to prove that you can run 20 miles at marathon pace (I’ve made this mistake many times over).
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read! If you have questions, please feel free to ask. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to find one for you. That way, we both learn something new :) Up next...goal pace runs!