The following race training plans are based loosely on the Daniels’ Running Formula. If you are serious about the dynamics of training and want to get the most out of your training runs I highly recommend picking up a copy: Daniels’ Running Formula: by Jack Daniels, PhD. (No not THAT Jack Daniels)
The first problem with most training plans are that they require a very rigid schedule, based on keeping a calendar and it is up to you to ensure you don’t skip a workout. The reality is that there are days when we can’t leave work early or the kids are sick or the weather is not playing nice. The second problem is that the training plans are either way too technical, (requiring you to calculate paces or measure out 100 yard increments for interval training, for example) or they just tell you to increase your time or mileage over the course of the program (ramping up mileage is great, but you won’t hit that PR goal by just increasing miles).
I have created the following training plans as a guide to help you train smarter. Instead of a rigid calendar to stick to, I have noted the types of workouts to cover each week. If you miss a day, you can just re-order to week as needed – there is no pressure to stick to a rigid schedule. In addition, I have identified the most important workouts of the week at the top. If you have to skip a workout during the week, drop them off of the bottom of the list. This will maximize your benefit from training.
Just like Daniels’ plan, my training guides are broken into 4 stages. Each stage has a unique goal in mind:
- Phase 1 - The goal of Phase 1 is to ease into the training program. This is easy running, stretching and strengthening – preparing your body for the more intense workouts to follow. Slowly ramp up your distance here and enjoy yourself!
- Phase 2 - Daniels calls this the “Early Quality” phase. It is where you start transitioning from just long runs to more “quality” running. This is where we introduce some shorter-distance runs with a higher intensity. These are called “Threshold” runs and should feel “comfortably hard” but not “hard”.
- Phase 3 - Here is where we introduce “hard” running – also known as “Interval” training. Phase 3 is where the best quality workouts take place. You will be building muscle strength and endurance.
- Phase 4 - During Phase 4, we will scale back on the intensity and begin preparing for race day. This is a time to “lock-in” all the hard work you have done and ensure your body is well rested and prepared for race day.
The following is a good guide to use when trying to determine the appropriate running pace during each training session:
- Easy Pace – Should be running at a level where it is comfortable to talk. Do not over-do an Easy run.
- Long Run – Is the same as an Easy pace except for an extended distance. (You should see one long run per week.)
- Threshold Pace – Can be thought of at “Comfortably Hard”. You want to push yourself, but don’t kill yourself. You should not be gasping for air.
- Interval Pace – This is a “Hard” pace. Here is where you really push yourself. You should feel discomfort and muscle fatigue when running at an Interval pace. Fortunately, Interval runs are for very short distances and times. The purpose here is to build muscle.
- Race Pace – This is your goal pace for the race you are training for.
Following these plans will help ensure you get the most out of your pre-race training: