Devising an Efficient Training Plan

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Irun100s 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #4820

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    In order to foster some discussion on the forum and to help share the wealth of knowledge across an Internet full of running websites, I thought I’d occasionally post links to articles and offer my take on them. This is my first attempt at that. I’ll see how this goes and decide if it’s worthwhile to continue.

    As most of you probably know, I’m not a fan of “cookie cutter” type training plans. I have encountered people who have followed these plans to the letter and then freak out when they miss one run or have to shift the schedule a bit. You know what? Those plans you find in books are just guidelines, they aren’t meant to be followed to the letter. This is why Hillrunner.com doesn’t have any “cookie cutter” type plan on it. I’ve actually wanted to write an article about how to build a training plan and probably will. However, I wonder if there is really a need to so now that I’ve found this article by Joe Rubio, which covers just that topic.

    Rubio points out the six essential components of training for distance runners (weekly long runs, regular general aerobic runs and doubles, tempo runs, long intervals, short intervals, recovery) and then discusses the need for them and how to fit them into the schedule. A few key points I would take from this are below.

    First, he encourages everyone to work in some doubles. Further, he encourages you to do them on your hard workout days if you are going to limit the number of doubles that you do. His idea is that you make your hard days truly hard and your easy days truly easy. While I have usually gone the other way in the past, this idea makes sense to me. It makes more sense as time goes on and I realize how much benefit there is to truly making your easy days incredibly easy and really going after your hard days.

    The reason this stood out to me is because many people seem to be scared of running more than once a day. It’s really not that bad and a few doubles may do things for your race performances that you wouldn’t even believe.

    Second, recovery days are not the same as “rest” days unless you want them to be. Based on how I’m reading the article, it seems like he’s suggesting that a recovery day can be anything from a day off to a short, easy run to a general aerobic day. The key is to make sure that the day is truly easy if you do choose to run so you can get a good day of recovery. It’s not necessary to take the day off from running but it is necessary to have at least one day a week that is very easy.

    The reason I am noting this portion is because I see in so many places that people say days off are necessary, that you should schedule at least X (usually 1-3) days off a week or risk injury or burnout. This isn’t necessary. If you let your body be your guide, you may find that you need much fewer days off. Before I found this article by Rubio, I had planned on writing an article on this topic. I probably still will when I get the chance.

    Third and the key to why I am linking to this article, he wants you to build your own schedule to meet your individual needs and circumstances. He tells you the key components, makes suggestions for how to fit them into the week, then says it’s up to you to come up with your schedule with those guidelines in mind.

    The reason I’m pointing this out is simple. In my mind, this is the only way to effectively build a training plan. All of the “cookie cutter” plans out there cover only half of the equation, if that. They (some of them at least) make sure the required training components are covered but can’t possibly cover the individual factor. This is why they were not designed to be followed to the letter. They were designed as examples of how you can fit the required components in, one that may work for some people but should be modified for most people to meet their individual needs.

  • #19955

    r-at-work
    Member

    where to begin… several good points in yourp ost & the article…

    1. it’s so good to see a program that encourages MORE running not less and even says a “REST” day can be a jog…

    2. variety of efforts so not all days have to be ‘as fast as possible’

    I’ve been working with a coach for not quite 2 years and for me it was a blessing as I didn’t know any of this stuff (and they did) and as I look back on what I’ve been doing I can say that it has followed this general idea with the exception that they have given me more ‘days off’ (and put in some cross-training) as they are concerned that “at my age” I give myself enough recovery time & stay un-injured…

    but with the whole schedule they & I have been flexible, last week when my kids lives got too busy I ended up with a cut back week… some weeks back in September & October I added miles (and even a few doubles)… but the main thing that has helped me is the consistancy that having a plan has given me…and each cycle the coachs have added ‘more’ so that I am continuing to improve… but then I started as a recreational jogger so there was lots of room for improvement…

    -Rita

  • #19956

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Great points.

    r-at-work wrote:
    1. it’s so good to see a program that encourages MORE running not less and even says a “REST” day can be a jog…

    I would expect this from Rubio but, as far as I’m concerned, you’re right on both points. I’m tired of seeing people say that days off are mandatory. They are only mandatory when your body tells you they are mandatory. For some people, that might be on a regular basis. For others, it might be infrequently. For nobody should that be determined by the calendar.

    r-at-work wrote:
    2. variety of efforts so not all days have to be ‘as fast as possible’

    This is a basic concept of training but it seems to be one that people who haven’t had coaching or some kind of advising from someone with experience often don’t get.

    r-at-work wrote:
    I’ve been working with a coach for not quite 2 years and for me it was a blessing as I didn’t know any of this stuff (and they did) and as I look back on what I’ve been doing I can say that it has followed this general idea with the exception that they have given me more ‘days off’ (and put in some cross-training) as they are concerned that “at my age” I give myself enough recovery time & stay un-injured…

    This is why I think anyone who hasn’t worked with a coach or received personalized advice from someone with experience should do so, at least for a while until they get to the point that they understand those concepts and why they are important. It’s kind of like having a mentor in the workplace.

    r-at-work wrote:
    but with the whole schedule they & I have been flexible, last week when my kids lives got too busy I ended up with a cut back week… some weeks back in September & October I added miles (and even a few doubles)… but the main thing that has helped me is the consistancy that having a plan has given me…and each cycle the coachs have added ‘more’ so that I am continuing to improve… but then I started as a recreational jogger so there was lots of room for improvement…

    Flexibility and consistency. These things would seem like opposite ends of the spectrum but I view them as concepts that should be applied in tandem. By being flexible, you can avoid a complete collapse during challenging times, which will help with your consistency. By being as consistent as possible, you can afford to be flexible when needed. This, once again, is one of the big reasons why I don’t like those “cookie cutter” training plans. People use these plans and don’t allow themselves flexibility. Without allowing themselves flexibility, when something bad happens, their consistency is shot. You have to be willing to build your schedule to fit with the rest of your life and then, when things happen, know how to best adjust the schedule to get through those challenges.

    It sounds to me like your coach is doing a great job guiding you and, in return, you are doing a great job listening to your coach’s advice and learning from your coach.

  • #19957

    randys
    Participant

    Ryan,

    What confuses me in articles like this is the lack of clear periodization. As I understand the concept periodization begins by building base, a long phase of aerobic running (easy to marthon pace). As the race approachs the focus shifts to strength (via an emphasis on hills) then speed (via a focus on intervals) and finally the taper.

    Yet in this article every week has elements of each type thoughout training.

    I am training for a May 7th marathon. I thought the focus now should be on maintaining and building a base.

    To me that comes from running reasonably high mileage week to week (70-80 mpw) with a mix of longer days and general aerobic days. A pace in the range from easy to marathon, occasionally a little faster.

    So his approach to constructing a schedule from the 6 elements (from easy runs to hard intervals) seems to lack any notion of periodization (or at least I failed to see it in the article). It seems the schedule he speaks of would be appropriate only in the final 8 weeks or so of a marathon program as you begin to add intervals and speed work.

    Randy

  • #19958

    Zeke
    Member

    Randy, some people agree with your approach, some other people like to include “all” the elements throughout the year – just in different amounts depending on whether they’re in the base-building phase or anaerobic phase, etc.

    Ryan, I totally agree with your statement about including a day off. People (I’ve been guilty myself) like to let the calendar determine their training. Our bodies don’t know what a “week” is. Should we take a day off based on some arbitrary, man-made devise to track days, weeks and months? We’re the inventors of the calendar thinking about running when they designed it?

  • #19959

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Randy, I think Zeke hits on the point pretty well.

    I tend to call what you (and, to an extent, I) prefer strict periodization and what Rubio prefers moderate periodization. What I mean by those terms is that you and I tend to focus strictly on the goal of the phase of training we are in to the extent that we eliminate or at least greatly reduce all attention to other training objectives. During base training, we focus on building a big aerobic engine and completely or at least nearly eliminate speedwork and other aspects of training. What people like Rubio do is keep all (or nearly all) aspects of training around at all times. They moderately periodize by shifting the focus of their training (their key workouts) depending on the phase of the training they are in. While you and I eliminate or at least greatly reduce our speed workouts, Rubio keeps them around but doesn’t focus on them.

    Is one of these ways right and the other wrong? Not necessarily. Both have worked for a lot of people. While I have a lot of faith in “strict periodization” I can also recognize that “moderate periodization” works for a lot of people.

    Zeke, you hit the nail on the head with the comment about following the calendar. Your body has no idea what a week is. The calendar was devised primarily around moon phases (notice that each quarter is 7-8 days) and around the seasons. The duration of weeks and months is tied very closely with how quickly the moon revolves around the Earth and the duration of the year is tied very closely with how quickly the Earth revolves around the sun. Neither of those factors have anything to do with how often the human body needs recovery. I prefer to plan my training schedule by the week because that’s how my life is structured. However, if I could structure my life around running, I would most likely structure a good portion of my training around an 8 or 9 day cycle when marathon training and probably a 6 day cycle when training for shorter races. Even doing that, though, I wouldn’t put days off on the calendar because there is so much more than number of days that goes into determining when you need a day off.

  • #19960

    Irun100s
    Member

    I am all for having a training plan for my big races.  I am an ultra runner and usually have a few 100 mile “goal” races that I am training for.  During the season I use other races for training runs.  My basic training program is from this article 50 Mile Training Program

    Irun100s

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