Training Plan – Running Season

I noted in an earlier post that I would put up my running season training plan. As also noted earlier, I have engaged with a coach and have been following the direction of the coach since December. The ski season worked out very well- I notched up in performance and now find myself in contention for top 10 overall and less than 10% back from the winner in the larger regional races. At 58 I consider this to be successful.

The major change was rigorous commitment to a two-a-week interval session protocol in addition to the over-distance (OD), tempo, and skills workouts. I was concerned that I would not be able to support the interval sessions but found that, as long as I truly took easy days, the intervals sessions went well and I looked forward to them.

For the running season, my coach has continued the two-a-week interval session protocol. I was a bit concerned because, not being a “real” runner, I thought that the pounding would get to me. After 3 weeks of this program, I am fine and once again, look forward to the intervals. Hopefully this continues because I can really feel the positive impact of the intervals in fitness, flexibility, and, interestingly, technique. The last point is similar to that experienced when skiing where in order to do the intervals at speed one’s technique needs to be honed. In skiing, the weight shift and “wax setting” need to be timed well in order for the speed and efficiency to materialize, independent of fitness and to extract the most out of the intervals any significant technique issues need to be resolved. This gives one much to think about while doing the intervals and the concentration involved is just the “deep practice” that one needs to engage in to improve. I find a similar situation with the running. All of my intervals are conducted on trails and this allows for the development of enhanced trail technique for uphills, downhills, and flats. For instance my trail descending speed has improved dramatically since starting the interval sessions. I can, at this juncture, highly recommend trail intervals to anyone wishing to improve their fitness and their technique.

Basic Weekly Training Outline

Much as we developed for the skiing season, we put together a weekly outline:

Sunday: Long Run

Monday: easy/off

Tuesday: intervals

Wednesday: Long run or Tempo

Thursday: easy/off

Friday: intervals

Saturday: Flex

I like regularity and this schedule is definitely a “rinse and repeat” with some opportunity for changing the structure of the various types of sessions. As you will see the intervals are quite varied, as are the tempo runs. Also added to this plan are near-daily strength sessions and active recovery. The weekly totals end up in the range from 13h to almost 20h, but mainly in the 16-18h range. Distance, although tabulated, is not the point- time, intensity, and vertical ascension are the primary outputs that are analyzed by my coach.

Specific training leading up to a 100 km race

Here are the specific training sessions that we have planned leading up to a mountainous (5,000 m (17,000 feet) of vertical ascension) 100 km race  on 21 June. The race will be difficult, as all of the vert comes in the first 50 miles and this is followed by a 13 mile continuous downhill to the finish- basically it is half a Hardrock with a 13 mile downhill to finish you off. The May and June calendars are presented below. Note: I use the Friel protocol for naming some of the sessions as I am an avid user of heart rate during training and find his workouts to “work” for me. Certainly there are other approaches that may work better for some.Training Calendar Running 2014 MayTraining Calendar Running 2014 June

There were two weeks of training prior to what is shown (in April)- one was an easy week with intervals and the the other just  prior to the May activities, was a volume week with intervals. Prior to these weeks I was “on my back” for 10 days after my wife/coach brought back some evil Beantown virus after visiting family. I have not been sick for over 12 years and this one really put me down- hopefully it will be another 12 years before being hit again.

You will note that I have included roller skiing into this plan. Since my primary sport is cross country skiing, it is very important to maintain the required core and upper body strength to be able to transition smoothly into ski-specific training in the fall without injury. Cross country skiing is essentially a “core”-dominated sport and focus on the core is central to any training plan. Core strength is also very important in running so the two sports compliment one another in this way. The roller skiing sessions are all “double pole” activities; I do this because the action is a “whole-body” exercise requiring not only strength but significant coordination, not to mention skiing technique. As expected, the double pole technique is highly dependent on, and therefore uniquely develops, core strength. It also addresses lats, biceps, triceps, and pecs- all of which are critical to ski speed and race success. Although some of these all-body motions can be simulated in a gym, I much prefer to be outside doing this work… I have never been a gym-type and I moved to the mountains to be outside in clean air, not inside a gym. But these are my preferences, others quite obviously enjoy the gym experience.

Also included here is a lot of active recovery (almost daily). Much of this is a bike ride to the local grocery where I shop daily. It is a 5 km round trip ride on bike paths with a net vert of about 90 m. I do this ride on a 3-speed “cruiser” and cannot help but smile while doing so. I ride daily to the grocery year-round as the bike paths are plowed in winter and I just switch to studded snow tires to make things safe. I find the ride to be very helpful in recovery, particularly in the running season and if I do miss a day, I know it. Highly recommended.

So that’s the plan- I am 4 weeks into it and so far, so good. I am thrilled that the intervals are working out as I think that this will pay dividends across the board in the coming race season.

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2 thoughts on “Training Plan – Running Season

  1. Hi! I was just wondering if you have any idea, or suggestion on how much vertical gain per week should i run? Im training for a race that has 3500m vert gain this coming november??

    • Hi pfernz,

      Although the length of the race plays a major role in this, I think in general the key is to:

      1. ensure that the vertical you do in training is similar in grade and length to what is in the race

      2. that this vertical training is regularly about the same rate of climbing that you will see in the race- meaning that if the vertical is 3500m for a 100 km race then your training should try to simulate this by having about 1200 m of climbing in a 30 km training run, etc.

      3. Remember that the downs are just as important as the ups- so simulating the downs in speed and length is critical

      If you do not have the appropriate terrain available in your regular training, then develop some simulations based on the terrain that you have. This may involve multiple repeat climbs and descents on smaller hills. To a great degree, so long as the total vert/descent adds up to a good race-type simulation you will likely be prepared. However, the climbing grade in these simulations should be as similar as possible, particularly if the race you are training for involves very steep sections (e.g. >20% grade) as this will dictate how much speed hiking you will be doing. Speed hiking is an acquired skill, so one must practice to become efficient.

      On a weekly basis, and without all of the information on the specific race, I would suggest that your longer runs be designed according to #2 above and that you regularly run/speed hike grades similar to that in the race in your other runs. There is no replacement for vertical training- one must do vert to be efficient and as fast as possible for the race. As a general rule, I try to adhere to a weekly total vert that is approaching 1-2X that of the goal race vert- for you that would be 3500-7000 m vert with a peak vert coming in your last volume week before the race (approximately 3-4 weeks before the race, depending on how you set up your training plan). Note: For some of the extreme vert races (like UTMB, Hardrock, Wasatch, etc.) the 1-2X rule is not appropriate as most would not be able to regularly support that kind of training stress.

      Hope this helps.

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