Periodization, a question

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Tyrone 15 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #1072


    In another thread I was given excellent advice by Ryan and Zeke to push off the anaerobic phase of training, cutting it back to 8-12 weeks. I have also read Ryan’s article as well as the articles referenced by Zeke. These all make intuitive sense to me.

    By following my old training schedules I managed to improve my pb by a disappointing 3 mins (3:40 to 3:37) over the past 12 months. Clearly I want to do better this year.

    With their advice in mind I have restructured by schedule so that I will mantain my aerobic phase for an additional 7 weeks. This will be on top of the last 8 weeks; all of which was aerobic but included some recovery weeks after racing. All told I will have at least 10 weeks,averaging 60 mpw, of aerobic running before moving to the anaerobic phase.

    Following their advice I will then do a shortened anaerobic phase of 12 weeks (including a 2 week taper) before my race.

    It did’nt take much convincing for me to make this change because, frankly, I enjoy aerobic running and dread doing intervals. I need little or no recovery from aerobic runs, even long runs well over 20 miles, but feel like crap after a track workout.

    My makeup seems to favor endurance over speed (my pb for the mile, even for a 46 year old, is a pathetic 6:12).

    My question regards the ‘cookie-cutter’ schedules found in training books and on the web. After my first marathon, where I trained using a published schedule, I have designed my own schedules but they have been modeled, more or less, on the ‘cookie-cutter’ ones.

    Why do almost all of these schedules have anaerobic workouts from the beginning of the schedule, 18 or even more weeks out? Books like ‘Advanced Marathoning’ and ‘The Competative Runners Handbook’, among others, with 18 or 24 week schedules have interval and tempo workouts almost from the beggining, well in excess of the 8-12 weeks that a strict periodization plan calls for. In fact they seem to follow a pattern of increasing long runs and increasing intensity throughout the cycle but no clear phases in many cases.


  • #12854


    Why do almost all of these schedules have anaerobic workouts from the beginning of the schedule, 18 or even more weeks out?

    Make sure you don’t classify a tempo/LT/AT run as an anaerobic workout. Those are still considered aerobic workouts. I made this mistake the first time I read the Lydiard article. Therefore if you look at Advanced Marathoning, you’ll see tempo/LT/AT runs like 16-18 weeks out, but you won’t see anaerobic workouts until 8-10 weeks out.

    Hope that helps.

  • #12855


    Glad I asked this question! Yes, I was in fact viewing tempo runs as anaerobic runs.

    My reasoning went as follows: Since a marathon is generally run almost entirely aerobically and a tempo run is faster than marathon pace I assumed it would qualify as anaerobic training.

    From a HR point of view I distingushed runs as follows (for those who train by intensity, the percentages still represent relative values):

    70-75% – Easy, recovery runs

    75-80% – Long, steady runs

    80-85% – Marathon pace (the high end of aerobic running)

    85-90% – Tempo and hill workouts (the low end of anaerobic running)

    90-95% – Long intervals

    95-99% – Short intervals

    Are you saying that tempo and hill workouts should be run during the aerobic phase? My intent was to run the next 7 weeks at or below 85% and not begin anything above that level until the last 12 weeks.

    My original schedule had only 8 weeks of long and short intervals so I would not need to change it nearly as much as I thought if this is the case.


  • #12856


    Just reiterating what Zeke stated already pretty much.

    I prefer to think in terms of intensity. To me, a tempo run is at most a moderate intensity run. It’s not easy but it’s not a gut wrenching experience. Save those gut wrenching workouts for the final 12 weeks but go ahead and do an occasional tempo run, even a fartlek run as long as you don’t make it too hard, before. In fact, as Zeke referenced a while back when mentioning Lydiard, strides are technically anaerobic but are great to do in any phase of training. To me, this still falls into the moderate intensity thing. Strides are not all that hard. They are quite fast but they don’t last long enough to be really hard.

  • #12857


    Randy check your Hr ranges for certain runs against Pfitz’s program

  • #12858


    I checked that link and you are right; my ranges are a little high but besides the easy run are not high by too much.

    I intend to follow the advice that was given to me on this site. Now that I understand that tempo runs (and hills) would be considered aerobic I will not exclude them over the next 7-8 weeks while I continue to build my base. I will wait until the last 8 weeks before doing any hard interval workouts.

    I was confused about this because when I run a tempo run or do hill repeats my heart rate eventually climbs above 80%, usually over 85% by the end of the run. I assumed that the line between aerobic and anaerobic was somewhere around the mid 80’s so to me that meant do no training at or above those levels during the ‘base building’ phase.

    I now see its not strickly an ‘aerobic/anaerobic’ distinction but has more to do with intensity. If I understand it right its not that a tempo run does’nt involve some time spent in the anaerobic range but that the duration and intensity is relativly low compared to doing intervals. This makes it suitable to run during the base building phase.

    I will strive to focus on long runs, medium runs and easy runs with a hill session once a week and a tempo run thrown in once a week or two. Then when I get closer to the race, during the last 8-10 weeks, I will add more intense interval workouts and reduce my milage slightly.

    While this is different then what I did during the last 6 month cycle its now (based on these new details) much closer than it I thought it would be.


  • #12859


    I know when I do hill repeats, the workout frequently turns into something that can become even more intense than many track workouts. I think running over hills at any point in training is a good thing but I consider hill repeats to be as intense as any track workout.

  • #12860



    Does this mean I should wait to do hill training, along with intervals until the last 8-10 weeks? So during this phase I would limit my running focus to long, medium, easy and tempo runs. Maybe a few striders at the ends of runs. Light hills as part of a my runs (like overpasses and such) but avoid the treadmill hill repeats I spoke of in my other tread.

    Then, in the next phase, add hill repeats and track intervals, while reducing milage slightly.

  • #12861


    If I were building a plan for myself (as I soon may be) here’s what I would do…

    Now until ~12 weeks out: Base building. No track workouts, no hill repeats. Lots of miles at a relaxed pace, strides about 2-3 times a week, distance runs over as many hills I can find but just doing the hills as part of the run, not pushing the hills. When I feel good, launch into a tempo run or fartlek but nothing planned.

    About 12 weeks out: Strength. Hill repeats once a week, tempo run once a week, hard run over lots of hills (possibly a hill fartlek) once a week.

    6-8 weeks out: Speed. Track workout once a week, tempo run or fartlek 1-2 times a week.

    2 week taper (I don’t like tapering for real long) where I keep the track workouts but don’t make them quite as intense and I keep one tempo run/fartlek per week.

  • #12862



    I think I started to question your program when I saw the 6 x 800 hill repeats, eventually dropping down to MP. I think you can do hills as long as you keep the pace controlled. Also do the tempos, but I’d error on the side of conservative pacing.

    I followed Pfitz for my last 2 marathons and Daniels the 2 before that. For Boston I’m going to try Lydiard’s program from his book Running to the Top. It can also be found on one of the links I posted yesterday.

    Right now I’m just doing easy aerobic runs, incorporating some two-a-days into my program and trying to get my mileage up. Once a week I’m doing a mid-week 12-15 miler with my college teammates. Right now, it’s probably very close to MP for me. 14 weeks out I’m going to start doing 2-3 hill sessions per week for 4 weeks. These will be more of a bounding repeat focused on building strength. 10 weeks out I’m going to start doing anaerobic workouts. This will be February in Minnesota, so I’ll do the best I can with whatever Mother Nature provides. Throughout the program, I’ll try to do 1 run of 2+ hours, 1 mid-week medium run of 12-15 miles, and 1-2 days of strides. New for me this time around will be the 4 weeks of hills, more strides, more anaerobic focus, less focused tempo and MP runs.

    Now that I look at this, it brings me to a question for anyone that’d like to answer. Lydiard doesn’t have any specific tempo runs in his program. Is that because he says the aerobic base building period should be run between 70-99% of your aerobic capacity? Is that where malmo, Hodgie-san, et al say run hard when you feel good, back off when you don’t?

  • #12863

    Zeke wrote:
    Now that I look at this, it brings me to a question for anyone that’d like to answer. Lydiard doesn’t have any specific tempo runs in his program. Is that because he says the aerobic base building period should be run between 70-99% of your aerobic capacity? Is that where malmo, Hodgie-san, et al say run hard when you feel good, back off when you don’t?

    Yes and yes. If I remember correctly, I seem to recall Malmo saying some time back that the term “tempo run” wasn’t even around 20-25 years ago. Sometimes, you ran very slow. Other times, you ran pretty fast. Those pretty fast days would today be called tempo runs.

  • #12864


    Thanks all,

    I don’t think it could have been said any clearer. I will adapt these ideas into my training and keep everyone informed about how things play out over the coming months.


  • #12865


    Would you want to do even 10 weeks of anaerobic workouts?

    If I had time for a race.. for example 30 weeks, it would be the same for everythign but the base even if i had 6 years…

    If i was peaking for that one race, and wanted to do as well as possible for that race…

    i would count back from the race date…

    1 week taper

    2 weeks sharpen

    4 weeks anaerobic

    6 weeks Hills( or 3 tempo and 3 fartlek type if you have no hills )

    The Taper is exponetial, if im used to running 10 miles per day i would cut it down to 7 on the first day 5 on the second then keep it right around 4 until the end.

    3-4 days before the race i would do a shorter distance race/time trial or goal pace intervals, but not very much.. keep it short but intense

    the 2 weeks of sharpening would be long runs, anaerobic sharpeners and sprint sharpeners… an Anaerobic sharpener is something like sprint 50m jog 50m sprint 50m jog 50… continue until you feel fatigued

    sprint workouts start as just windsprints/striders and go up to 350s maxium.

    the 4 weeks of anaerobic work would be intervals, very long intervals for marathon, shorter ones (400m or more though) for shorter races. Not neccesiarly the same one each time though, you want a range of speeds to be worked on. so 1k-15k intervals maybe depending on your level of fitness .. this is assuming your doing marathon.

    The 6 weeks of hills would have a hill session of something like 10x300m twice a week or more/less depending on your fitness.

    If you do tempos.. just run tempos twice a week, then switch to fartleks, which are much like intervals, just a little easier… either hills or tempo/fartlek ease you into track work so you dont injury yourself 🙂

    so if i had 30 weeks

    i would do

    4 weeks easy running + Long run once or twice a week from now on

    4 weeks easy running +weights 3x a week, striders, drills, and plyometrics from now on

    9 weeks normal running + 3 workouts- Long run – Progression – Longer progression (for marathon)

    Progression is when you start out really slow and then very randomly and very slowly pick up your pace to max aerobic effort by the end

    You might also throw in MP workouts in place of the long run every other week or whatever you prefer, ive seen lots of ways to do that, but it is a very good idea to do it.

    after that I would do my peak phase as shown above.

    Is this about right?

  • #12866


    the reason behind only doing 4 weeks of anaerobic workouts is, I read an article that Arthur lydiard wrote…

    he said anything over 4-5 weeks of real anaerobic training will actually decrease your aerobic fitness.

    the sharpening phase anaerobic sharpeners are very short in comparison to real anaerobic work, and this only keeps your edge on your anaerobic systems but doesn’t dull your aerobic fitness.

    All I have learned on this topic are from Hadd, John Kellog, and Arthur Lydiard. Let me know if i misinterpreted something

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