• Each period (~12weeks) has 1 or more target races (E.g. Nat XC Relays and West District XC);
• Each period builds on the previous training plan. – E.g. our Sep-Dec period builds on our summer block of training; and leads onto a further block of training leading to Nat XC in Feb, or targeted 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon race;
• Each period is made up of phases:
The 1st 4 week phase (technical term is mesocycle) focuses on building strength and endurance required for the target race(s) in readiness for the following phase;
The 2nd 4 week phase focuses on speed endurance for the target race(s)- building the capability to run fast for long (5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon);
The 3rd 4 week phase focusses on maintaining strength, endurance and speed in readiness for the targeted race (in our case the 8-10k West District XC, or 5k park run or club Christmas handicap – all 1st half of December).
• Each phase is broken into weekly training sessions targeting specific adaptations:
o In the first phase the weekly sessions are as follows:
Tuesday hill session – each effort should focus on running form (staying relaxed, high cadence, using upper body (driving with arms and hips); form and time for reach rep should remain the same – don’t go so hard at the start that the latter efforts are compromised – the goal is to build and maintain the ability to keep going (strength and endurance);
Thurs tempo session – a controlled hard sustained effort (builds the capability to hurt for longer in races like 5k, 10k, HM, M…); Effort should be hard enough that you’ve just gone beyond the point where talking is easy; or current Half Marathon pace; or 5k pace plus 10sec/400 (e.g. 21min42sec 5k time = 7min/mile pace = 1m45s/lap +10sec = 1m55s/lap at tempo pace; or 75-85% Max Heart Rate (MHR) – see below for measuring MHR;
Sunday long run – an easy long run – 10miles – 17miles; pace should be ~1-2min per mile slower than half marathon pace – e.g. if you’ve raced on the Sat, the slower pace; if not, start at the slower pace and build to the faster pace during the 2nd half of the run – this type of run builds and maintains base endurance ( the capability to run often and longer) – if you do no other run do this one; if you’re not sure of the distance/speed go to the club run for a week or two for advice/judgement;
All other days are easy; either days off if weekly mileage target met; or one recovery run – less than 45min easy running; at or slower than Sunday run pace; or if mileage is higher could be 2 easy runs (e.g. a 4mile and a 5 mile); or cross training (just make sure its an easy effort no matter what it is) – swimming, cycling, yoga, Pilates, walking, stretching…
o In the second phase the weekly sessions are as follows (focus of these weeks is to improve the capability to run faster for longer in the target race(s)) :
Tuesday interval session – these are long (2min or longer) efforts with recoveries (jog not full recovery) ~50%-75% the time of the efforts (e.g. 3min effort with 2min jog recovery repeated 6 times); the efforts should be at 5k pace (not faster/not slower); ~85-90+% MHR(but not 100% or close to it); you should be able to run the last effort at the same pace as the first; otherwise you do not get the benefit of the full adaption (you’re training to run harder and faster for longer, not to slow down as the distance increases); that is why the total effort is relatively long (5k or more usually) and the recoveries just long enough to recover, but not too long to fully recover between efforts; as per hills, focus on staying relaxed, good form (high cadence, using arms…); this session benefits all events – e.g. 5k park run to marathon and beyond;
Thurs tempo session – as the first phase – to maintain this threshold tempo pace at half marathon pace (sometimes called lactate threshold pace – or just below it – you’re training the body to process lactate – not over load it with lactate – so even a wee bit over the right effort reduces the training adaption; it’s a very good session for pace judgement too; it is not an easy jog with lots of chat!
Sunday long run as phase 1;
Recoveries as phase 1.
o During the 3rd phase the weekly sessions are as follows (focus of these weeks is to maintain the strength, endurance and speed adaptions that the first 2 phases have built):
Tuesday mixed interval sessions – mixing different efforts (distance and level of effort) and recoveries to practice race pace running; longer intervals are maintained but the volume (number and total distance at those efforts (5k pace) is reduced; this produces a tapering affect that should lead to peak performance on target race day (West Districts XC, December park run, Christmas handicap);
Thurs tempo run maintained;
Sunday long run maintained – mileage can be dropped during this phase (10-20%) especially if the Sunday run is towards the longer distance – 13miles plus;
Recoveries as before.
o Other factors:
1. Other races are trained through (can’t peak for everything otherwise it wouldn’t be a peak performance);
2. The sessions are general in that we are trying to benefit everyone – if you want something specific to your own goals, targets and strengths/weaknesses – speak with captains or coaches;
3. Ideally phases should be a bit longer (6-8weeks rather than 4) to gain the full adaption benefits during a phase of training – again we compressed it a bit as it is a bit easier to plan for a bigger group over 12 week periods; note at some point using this periodization approach improvements drop off so it’s important to change the focus of training as a training year evolves; this includes phases of focussing on recovery and base endurance training (no or little speed training except for short efforts with long recoveries);
4. This 12 week period is applicable to runners aiming to peak for endurance events – in our case XC, 5k, 10k, HM, even marathon – The long Sunday run and Tempo runs tend to be a bit longer for marathon and ultra-events;
5. Warm up and warm down before and after the main part of the session (ideally at least 10min for each);
6. Monthly club handicap’s – treat as a 5k race and a time trial to monitor progress – obviously run at 5k pace;
7. Sessions can be time or distance based;
8. Don’t force effort or pace if struggling – take an extra recovery day – it is only a plan so accept it will change due to external factors – work, family, life etc; for example, feeling rough on Tuesday, take it easy, go out on the Sat, feel good, so do the session as a fartlek time based session on the road;
9. Do cross train – but make sure the effort is easy;
10. Use complementary techniques
o stretching (warm-up stretching and warm down stretching – not the same thing),
o Pilates…if it helps you;
11. Do the obvious –
o drink water,
o don’t drink too much (hardly any) alcohol,
o don’t smoke
o sleep well (family allowing)!
12. Ask questions! Never accept you can’t improve! Fortitudo Omnia Vincit!
13. Measuring Max Heart Rate – different levels of training (recovery, endurance(Sunday), tempo (Thursday), long intervals (Tuesday) target specific % of MHR; Easiest way – run a park run (hard at race pace); finish with a flat out effort (last 400m or so); measure heart rate just after finishing; this is more accurate than age related (MHR can vary greatly from this)
(DON’T do this if you have any medical condition or illness!!!). There are other methods and something called Heart Rate Reserve can be used (for another time) as it takes into account Resting Heart Rate (RHR) and % of the difference between MHR and RHR rather than just MHR. Speak to captains or coach for further info or if you are uncertain about this aspect.
Remember you can use your current 5k pace to calculate your Sun, Thurs, and Tuesday paces – especially if you have a Garmin etc;