Break's Over. What's the Plan?
Before I get into my new training plan, I realized that I haven’t really covered the idea of training cycles. Both running and strength/stability fitness. This is an important point. As each specific run has a purpose, so does each phase of a training cycle. What I’ve shared so far jumped in the middle of my recent cycle. Heavy speed and speed endurance work for the last few weeks before the taper for Boston. My training cycles are generally 10-16 weeks. This last one was longer. 20 weeks. It worked well. I built in intermediate goals and races. Five months is too long to remain focused on a single objective. You’ll see changes over time depending on the focus of the training cycle and phase in that cycle.
A key component to my training is having distinct cycles. Each with distinct phases. Another key is back-to-back long runs on the weekend. This is not standard marathon training. Not by any means. I started this when I first decided to do back-to-back marathons to get thru the 50 state list. It’s a staple of ultrarunning. So, as I’m looking forward to the WMC, and other endurance events, I’ve kept this approach in my arsenal. I think it brings a strength and endurance. Physically, and mentally.
Back to training cycles. In general, each starts with a reverse-taper. I’m usually coming off a big event, so mileage is by feel. No plan. No or little other fitness training. Nutrition is sort of a free-for-all. Then a base period. Lots of easy and recovery runs. Ease back into some fitness exercises. Start to re-focus nutrition. The base is just that. Rebuilding. Adding to the existing foundation of fitness. This is followed by a strength/speed cycle. This is where I’ll have most of my hill work and short interval sessions, maybe a few marathon-paced runs. Nutrition is pretty consistent at this point. My fitness training evens out. As implied, this phase is to get some speed back. And power. The next phase is a speed endurance section. This is lots of mileage at marathon pace or faster, but in long intervals. Generally, a mile or greater per interval. Tempo runs. Fitness training is modified to focus on endurance. Nutrition is on-point. Or, supposed to be. This is when (hopefully) I’ll lose those last few pounds. The speed endurance phase is really about learning to feel comfortable at race pace. At least not feel miserable. Last, but not least, is the taper. Drop mileage, but maintain some intensity. A mix of speed and speed endurance. Cut fitness training to a minimum. The goal is to be fully refreshed on race day. RACE!! Enjoy. Repeat.
Enough with generalities, what’s my next cycle look like? I’m wrapping up my reverse taper today. Time to start back with a plan. Running. Fitness. Nutrition. This time, I have planned a really long training cycle. 25 weeks. Most training plans you can pick up online or off the shelf are 14-18 weeks. It’s easy to lose focus in 25 weeks. I did okay with 20, by having intermediate goals. This cycle, I’m banking on the specific focus for each phase. I’ll be spending the next 12 weeks in base mode. I have two marathons planned during this phase. It’s a long base period for someone with my running fitness. As I said before, I think my body needs a bit of a break, so this will be it. No real speed workouts. No real pace goals. At least, not often. I don’t want to completely lose my feel for speed, so there are some strides. For the last half mile or so of an easy run, take 8-10 sec to come up to an all-out sprint. Hold it for 8-10 sec, then slowly ease back to easy or recovery pace. Repeat 4-10 times. I’ve also included hill sprints. Similar idea. At the end of an easy run, 8-10sec sprint up an incline. Jog or walk down. Repeat 6-10 times. I have some “pick-ups” or progression runs planned, as well, to mix it up.
My speed/strength phase will be six weeks. Then five weeks of speed endurance. And a three-week taper before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I’ve planned my general fitness approach for each phase of this training cycle. Not specific workouts, but the intent for each session. This is something I’ve not done before. Starting in this base phase, I’m getting back to the gym. Focus on some low rep, high weight exercises. Muscle building. I’ve not done this since I got serious about running. But, there is some good evidence that this approach can help make me a better runner. Stronger. Faster. I figure it’s worth a shot. I will still do low (or body) weight exercises, but only for core and hip stability. Add in yoga for relaxation, stretching, and recovery. I’m ready to get this started!
Training Log April 30- May 6, 2018: No plan. 13.1 miles for the week.
Monday – 2.9mi @ 9:02. Felt good. Nice and easy.
Tuesday – OFF
Wednesday – OFF
Thursday – OFF
Friday – OFF
Saturday –5.7mi @ 8:42. It’s getting warm here, so sleeping in may not have been the best idea. Still, nice comfortable run. Legs are all good. Also did a ~1mi walk with a couple of the pups.
Sunday – 4.5mi @ 8:48. All good. Warm, but easy. Followed with a ~1mi family walk.
Until next week.
Own it, live it, be it.