CUT DOWN RUNS
Cut down runs are an effective way to prime the legs and lungs for future hard efforts. Cut down runs start comfortably with the effort increasing incrementally throughout the run.
The beauty of cut down runs is that the intense portions of the run occur well into the run when the body is warmed up. Cut down runs provide a safe and effective means of adding quality and intensity to the training week while reducing injury risk by ensuring that the body is thoroughly warmed up prior to any hard efforts.
ORGANIC CUT DOWN RUNS
The most basic cut down runs are organic meaning that you simply start comfortably and increase the effort as you go without worrying about pace or heart rate. Most training runs naturally progress this way - after 10-15 minutes of easy running the pace naturally picks up. However, if you make a concerted effort to increase the effort of the run from start to finish we'll call that a "cut down" run and not simply an "easy" or "recovery run."
We often schedule organic cut down runs as the first quality run back after a long run. This is intentional because sometimes the legs are ready to roll while other times the body and mind are still recovering from the long run. Rather than prescribing a specific pace, we simply suggest that you start at a comfortable/conversational (aerobic) effort and gradually work your way into a sustainable effort.
Cut Down Runs are coded purple in our training plans to represent the blend between blue (aerobic - below the ventilatory threshold) and red (lactate threshold). These runs start "easy" - slower than goal marathon pace - and can progress to half marathon effort or faster. Please read Peak Run Performance Color Continuum for more details about the color code we use to design and communicate about the various purposes and intensities of training.
TRADITIONAL CUT DOWN RUNs
Cut down long runs can take on a couple of different forms. Some forms include precise accelerations at specific intervals. For example, start at 10:00 per mile and "cut" the pace by 10 seconds every mile - 10:00, 9:50, 9:40, 9:30, 9:20, 9:10, 9:00, 8:50, 8:40, 8:30, etc.
TREADMILL CUT DOWN RUNS
For even greater control, do the cut down run on a treadmill. Start at a comfortable / conversational effort and increase the pace by 0.1 mph or kph every .25 mi/km.
For example, 7 mph @ 0 mi, 7.1 mph @ 0.25 mi, 7.2 mph @ 0.50 mi, 7.3 mph @ 0.75 mi, 7.4 mph @ 1.0 mi, etc.
The same thing can be done with time as the metric rather than distance:
10 kph, @ 0 minutes, 10.1 kph @ 1 minute, 10.2 kph @ 2 minutes, 10.3 kph @ 3 minutes, etc.
Coach Jacob Puzey running a Treadmill Cut Down to set the 50 Mile Treadmill World Record
THIRDS PROGRESSION RUNS
Other cut down runs call for breaking the run into thirds - 30:00 minutes @ COMFORTABLE effort, 30:00 minutes @ sustainable, STEADY effort below the THRESHOLD, 30:00 @ goal marathon pace/effort or faster. Sometimes these are called “Thirds Progression Runs.”
FAST FINISH LONG RUNS
Still others are simply a long, steady run (90 minutes or more) with the final 1/3 to 1/4 at goal pace/effort or faster/harder. Sometimes these are called, “Fast Finish Long Runs.”
Cut down long runs can be particularly effective at teaching the body and mind to push even when fatigued. This is a vital skill and ability when you reach the final stretches in a race and you feel like you have nothing left to give. They teach the body and mind to break the race into small, manageable parts focusing on section at a time. (Read more about a race strategy that benefits from increasing the effort as the race progresses: "Run the 3rd Quarter Like Your Last."
Running cut down runs will increase your confidence that despite the pain, soreness, and fatigue, you are capable of grinding through and running goal pace or better all the way through the line.