My training rebuild began a year and a half ago. Going into it I was running the same route every Sunday in 1hr41:15. I state this level of accuracy because there were three weeks were it came in with within ten seconds of this time! This was July-August 2020 and aligned to multiple aches and pains, and no improvement on my interval work it was clear I needed to rebuild.
So I embarked on the rebuild and after a couple of deliberate slow runs didn’t see much difference. Sometimes they were slightly slower, sometimes slightly faster but there was a small improvement and by the end of two months my fastest time was 1hr39.
Then I began 800m training and after another month I was scraping under 1hr35 so things were looking good. My pace had gone from around 8:40/mile to around 8:15/mile but that was where it stayed for the rest of the training cycle.
Come Spring 2021 I went back to a block of endurance work and now the times tumbled to the point where I ran the route in 1hr29 (7:38/mile). “Fantastic” I thought.
When I started my next cycle of 800m training I knew my legs would be tired some Sundays, so didn’t expect it to be this good every week but what surprised me is the long run times dropped back to around 1hr35 fairly permanently. There was the occasional glimpse of a good run but all too often the following week would go backwards.
Once again in October 2021, I picked up a block of endurance work and the long run edged to times around 1hr30 again until eventually I set a new course record by ten seconds (21-November). At last, I was going to see progress on my long run but once again I was proved wrong.
I moved on to doing fast kilometre intervals during the week. And my long run went backwards (terribly) as I suffered a VO2 lull – 1hr45 for the long run! Over the following five weeks it gradually quickened up until I set yet another all-time best with 1hr28min26 on (30-January-2022).
Then I changed training phase to Threshold Intervals and once again the long run went backwards (1hr42!) but it’s gradually been rebuilding week-by-week until last Sunday came in at 1hr31min54.
I’m not too bothered as it’s a good example of how training can be up and down week-to-week but overall the trend should be improvement. Invariably it depends on what else you’ve been doing during the training week but also quite noticeably on whether the focus is on building speed or endurance.
Here’s a graph of the runs week-by-week. You can see the general trend is towards faster times but even then it’s not clear cut. But what I know is that my parkrun times and steady runs have been improving and these will impact elsewhere in the week so that explains the variance on Sundays.
You have to have confidence in your training and never over-react to a bad run or two.