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How I write a Custom Training Plan

Part 1 - 20 standard questions

The process starts with a list of 20 questions.

1) What is your "A" goal? 2) What are some of your other running goals? 3) What are your lifetime PRs? 4) What are all of your race times in the last year? If any of the races had extenuating circumstances (weather, sick, super hilly, etc.) as to why they are not a good judge of your fitness please include that information as well. 5) What went wrong in your best races? What held you back from doing better? Did you feel the reason you couldn't go faster was because a) you were out of breath, b) your legs felt dead tired, or c) some other reason/combination of the two? 6) Have you had any recent injuries or do you feel over the long term you are injury prone? 7) If you've suffered chronic or a recent injury was the cause running related (because we want to avoid it then)? 8) How many and which days are you willing to run each week? How much time on those specific days are you willing to devote to running? (Most important question, so the more detailed response the better.) 9) What fueling do you do during runs? What fueling do you do after runs? What fueling do you do before you run? 10) Are there specific types of runs that make you feel more fatigued than others? 11) Why do you enjoy running? What is your motivation to run? 12) Why have you chosen the goals you've chosen? 13) What type of technology do you use to run? Treadmill, garmin, heart rate monitor, phone app run tracker, etc. 14) Are there any types of fuel pre-run, during run, or post-run that you like better than others? What led you to choose these items versus others on the market? 15) For races that provide splits, do you tend to be positive, negative, or even split? Why do you think that is? 16) What other training plans have you used in the past? 17) What kind of training have you been doing the last three weeks? Mileage, pace, etc? 18) If you run/walk. When you run about what pace do you do? When you walk about what pace do you do? 19) If I told you to run as slow as you can, how fast would you be running? This would be at a pace where you're barely breathing differently than normal walking. It feels like you're barely trying. 20) Most importantly, what is your upcoming race schedule? What/when is your next "A" goal race that you want to focus your training towards?

Here I'll pull back the magic curtain and explain the rationale to each and every one of these.

1) What is your "A" goal?

It's probably the single most important thing to me when writing a plan for someone else. Finding out what their "A" goal is and what their "A" race is. Because the entirety of the plan will be focused on that goal. Whether it be "to finish", "to have fun", "BQ", "to finish without dying or feeling like death", "a certain time goal", "a new distance", or some sort of lifetime achievement. From there, it's important to figure out - how much time do we have and how reasonable is the goal? If someone says they want to break a 2 hour HM in 8 weeks, and they've raced multiple HMs in the 3 hour range, then we need to find how how reasonable that goal is. Now it's certainly something that could be achievable later in time, but the timeframe between now and the "A" race is important. I try and help the person see the bigger picture and how long given a steady improvement an attempt at an "A" goal may take.

But even more important maybe than the information it provides me, is that it forces the person to write down whatever their "A" goal is. Research has shown that if you write down your goals you are significantly more likely to achieve them. And if you write them down in public or tell someone else, then it increases the odds even more. So while I use the information to tailor the plan towards their goals, I also use it as a method to force that person to commit to the goal to themselves.

2) What are some of your other running goals?

The "A" goal is important, but for some an "A" goal can be a lifetime achievement or long term aspiration. So if someone says a "BQ" is their "A" goal, but they're 80 minutes from the qualifying standard, then it's important to find out their other more immediate goals. It helps again focus the training and to look at the big picture. It also forces them to write down more goals to aid in success.

3) What are your lifetime PRs?

The purpose is assessing the possibilities. This question can go many routes depending on the running experience of the person and the age. Some people set amazing times in their 20s and now in their 40s aren't where they were anymore. Others have their lifetime PRs as more recent. This helps set the table for me to get a big picture PR history on a person. If someone was once capable of a 22 min 5k, but now they're running 30 min 5ks, then the follow-up question would be "what's the difference between now and then?"

4) What are all of your race times in the last year? If any of the races had extenuating circumstances (weather, sick, super hilly, etc.) as to why they are not a good judge of your fitness please include that information as well.

A super important question when it comes to writing my custom training plans. The backbone of my philosophy is based on writing training plans based on time and current fitness. This question is used to assess current fitness. First off, the person informs me of all of the races in the last year. I then use a race equivalency calculator (like McMillan or Hansons) to compare those recent race performances. In general, I'm looking for the best performance. I also use the extenuating circumstances to decide why something should or should not be used as an assessment on current fitness.

So, for example. Let's say someone has the following recent races:

Marathon - 5:45:35 (first marathon) HM - 2:33:56 (in the snow, took it easy) 5K - 27:57 HM - 2:18:41 (unusually hot and I was anemic and didn't know it, felt awful but not a bad time for me) 25K - 2:42:54 5K - 28:20 (hot) 5K - 27:40 10K - 1:06:06 (stayed up too late the night before overindulging) 5K - 27:08 10 miler - 1:40:02 Marathon - 5:23:13 (bonked at mile 19, walked a lot those last few miles) 4.3 miles - 42:18 4 miles - 39:04

One of the first things I always try to do is peg current fitness. The best way to figure that out is to look at your current PRs and recent race results. Race results tell a story and allow a coach to figure out the runner's deficiency. Luckily for me, I specialize in long distance training plan writing (5k and up). Which means 95% of runners come with me with the exact same profile. Their shorter distances (5K) greatly out perform their longer distances (HM and M) when evaluated with a race equivalency. This example falls squarely in that category.

Their recent 5k - 27:08, suggests the following training paces:


From this, you can see that their 5k predicts a race equivalent HM of 2:04:37 and a M of 4:20:29.

Whereas the recent 10 mile - 1:40:02, suggests the following training paces:


From this, you can see that their 10 miler predicts a race equivalent HM of 2:13:24 and a M of 4:36:55.

As is common (95% of runners profile), as the distance increase this person falls further and further from the race equivalency. This means they currently have the "speed" to be capable of running a longer distance faster but they lack the endurance to do so. That's true of many recreational endurance runners. They lack the necessary endurance to match the race equivalency prediction. So how do you get more endurance? Lots of slow running, tempo running, and long runs maxing at 2.5 hours.

I've gotten two very useful pieces of information from this example. I now know that their current fitness is a 27:08 5k and that they perform better at the shorter distances than the longer distances. Therefore, endurance is a deficiency and a key for them to getting faster is working on that deficiency.

But it's not always so easy. Sometimes I get a response like this:

"I haven’t run a race since August 2015."

That makes the game of determining current fitness way more difficult. So in these cases, dependent on the amount of time between now and the "A" race, I might write a really short plan that errs on the slower side and then an assessment at the end. This type of plan is usually 6 weeks in duration and is just used as a measuring stick moving forward for current fitness.

Other times, I find that while the races have a relationship with each other, I don't trust the results. Someone might say this about their best 5k:

"5k recent PR - 28:50 - ran with someone else and chatted the whole way, felt tough, but took my mind off it I guess!"

But that screams to me they're likely capable of more. Then the game becomes asking them questions about different paces they run. What do they feel like? Describe the breathing? I use their descriptions of paces and the amount of time they hold a pace to better assess where their fitness may actually lie. There might be some underlying reason as to why they aren't hitting those faster paces and by asking follow-up questions it helps me dig a little deeper.

I spend a lot of time on this question (and asking follow ups) because it's my belief that the pace and duration of training matters far more than the mileage. So by figuring out someone's current fitness I can best help them train at where they currently are. Now it might cause some follow questions. "I want to run a sub-2:30 HM, but you want me to continue to train at a 2:45 HM? How does that work?" Just keep in mind that the body recognizes what your current 5k, 10k, HM, M or physiologically relevant pacing is. It doesn't know future goals. But by training at where you are, you can reduce the chances for injury and continue to make consistent and sustained improvement over time. Since many of the common recreational distances (5k, 10k, HM or M) are mostly endurance events (5k is 80% endurance and M is 99% endurance), then lots of endurance pacing will help improve everything across the board. Those endurance paces are a wide zone of slow pacing. But the faster end of the spectrum is really tight. Which means if you choose goal HM pace instead of current fitness HM pace, you might actually be training at current fitness 10k pace. Which means you're unlikely to elicit the benefits of the training you were hoping for.

5) What went wrong in your best races? What held you back from doing better? Did you feel the reason you couldn't go faster was because a) you were out of breath, b) your legs felt dead tired, or c) some other reason/combination of the two?

Mostly I'm trying to get them to figure out for themselves why a race didn't go as planned. But these reasons help me determine to a smaller extent additional deficiencies. I'll usually defer to the race equivalency recent races first, and then use this answer to support my hypothesis.

Out of breath = speed pacing Legs felt tired = endurance pacing

This isn't always the case, but it's sometimes helpful additional info.

6) Have you had any recent injuries or do you feel over the long term you are injury prone? 7) If you've suffered chronic or a recent injury was the cause running related (because we want to avoid it then)?

I need to find out where this person is right now and in the past in terms of injuries. If they've had them, how did they occur? What were the warning signs? This is a question that I come back to later in working with someone to see if this was a prior issue or something new. If they've got running related injuries, then we need to figure out the cause so we can best avoid having it occur again.

8) How many and which days are you willing to run each week? How much time on those specific days are you willing to devote to running? (Most important question, so the more detailed response the better.)

The other piece to the major puzzle. Pace is important, but so is the duration or time available to train. I always say let me know what you can commit to. Because a custom training plan that is followed near 100% is far better than a plan with more time/days per week that's followed 75% of the time. I can write a good 4 day plan and if followed 100%, can outperform a good 5 day plan that's followed 75% of the time.

How much and what days plays a big role in how the training is developed. There are golden time durations in terms of writing a plan:

30 min or less: minimal training time 30 min to 45 min: reasonable, still low 45 to 60 min: good easy training availability 60 min to 90 min: great mid-week endurance 90 min to 150 min: endurance golden zone

I don't schedule people over 150 min when they're continuous runners. For run/walk runners, I've been doing 180 min max and seen good results thus far. But my cap on run/walk runners is still in flux as I continue to gather more data. The key to the 150 min max is understanding the physiology of the running system. It is my understanding that aerobic gains cost/benefit ratio is maximized at around 150 min. Beyond that, and you'll continue to make smaller and smaller gains but the risk climbs at a much higher rate. If you want a more in-depth answer as to why, try reading this material:


LINKS TO COME!

So when I build a training plan I use the following guidelines -

Hard Workouts 1) Long Run (for endurance) 2) Tempo (either Marathon or HM dependent on race distance) 3) 5k, 10k, CV, or LT pacing (for speed work)

You get #1 for doing 3 days per week. You get #1 and 2 for doing 4 days per week. You get #1, 2 and 3 if doing 5 days per week with enough time allotted and experience. You get #1, 2 and 3 if doing 6 days per week.

Depending on the time available and the days per week starts a back and forth to determine the best course of action for them.

I think a big player in training is "cumulative fatigue" or the stacking of runs on top of each other. So for anyone looking to make gains in a HM or M, I try to place back to back runs every week. Primarily, this back to back is with the long run. So for example, a 90 min Saturday and 150 min Sunday. This stacking means that Sunday is no longer training for miles 0-10 of a race, but more like training for 10-20 or 7-13. This means you don't enter the long run at 100% freshness but rather just a little extra fatigue is carried over. It helps reduce the timeframe of recovery and thus forces an adaptation mentally and physically in your body to better prepare yourself for the rigors of race day.

But, it's not always the case that someone has the day available prior to the LR. Sometimes it's a 4 day plan with TWR and S available. Then I write the cumulative fatigue into the mid-week runs rather than the LR.

This question builds the structure of the plan. Based on this and current fitness, it also helps me go back to question 1 and 2 to help determine the current feasibility of goals.

9) What fueling do you do during runs? What fueling do you do after runs? What fueling do you do before you run?

Helps me determine what they're using and if there are any tweaks I can offer to maximize the use of fueling in races or training. I limit the use of carbs in training to runs over 90 minutes. If the run is warm/hot you are allowed to take in (and suggested to do so) electrolytes. But keep the carbs to only the runs above 90 min. Taking in any carbs when the training run is less than 90 minutes is a dampener of adaptations because it doesn't teach your body to run on fat. However, runs longer than 90 minutes require carbs because you start to increase necessary recovery time the more you starve the muscles. There are glycogen depletion training runs, but I focus on other aspects of improving performance before I pull that type of run out.

At the end of the day, most of all of us can complete a HM before we reach a state of glycogen depletion. So the use of carbs when running could be for medical reasons or as a vehicle for electrolytes. But for the purpose of glucose replenishment, it's really only the marathon that needs it. There are a few cases where it may be necessary for a HM, but it's not as common. Now it certainly won't hurt to take it in (if done correctly). Now in a training situation it's different than racing because of the repeated multiple bouts and the use in aiding in recovery. So fuel in training and racing serve slightly different purposes.

I use a calculator I built from several sources (Hansons and Benjamin Rapport's paper [Metabolic Factors Limiting Performance in Marathon Runners]) to come up with a general system for carb recommendations. It can be accomplished either mid-race or in a sophisticated carb loading procedure prior to race day.

10) Are there specific types of runs that make you feel more fatigued than others?

Typically, but not always - runs you don't enjoy could be a sign of a deficiency. So I read these answers on a case by case basis to see if I can tease apart a possible deficiency that can be improved. Because deficiency improvement is the fastest way to overall performance improvement.

11) Why do you enjoy running? What is your motivation to run? 12) Why have you chosen the goals you've chosen?

This gets to the personal level. It's important to learn about someone from the running and math side, but knowing how/why someone does what they do is highly important. It helps me learn about the runner as a person. Plus, when days come up and they may be struggling with things mid-plan, I pull this answer back up and try to use it to help motivate them back on track.

13) What type of technology do you use to run? Treadmill, garmin, heart rate monitor, phone app run tracker, etc.

To an extent, it helps me figure out how sophisticated I can get. If they've got a Garmin 235 vs a Garmin 10 vs a Timex stopwatch vs phone GPS dictates what kind of workouts I can write. Are they planning treadmill runs on certain days per week? Well then those wouldn't be great for "blind runs" where they are done by perceived effort. If they're using a heart rate monitor monitor then maybe they'd want to collect data or evaluate things from that end as well:

LINK TO COME

This question can go lots of ways dependent on what is available to them for tech.

14) Are there any types of fuel pre-run, during run, or post-run that you like better than others? What led you to choose these items versus others on the market?

I'm a big believer in post-workout nutrition supplementation. So finding out what they're using and whether I can offer assistance based on their answer starts here. I usually include this tidbit in my instructions:

"Lastly, I used to use chocolate milk after every run (8-16 oz milk with Nesquik powder). You can use commercial products instead of chocolate milk, but it gets expensive. And if something is only slightly better (commercial is better than milk), then it isn't worth nearly double the price. A carb protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 has been shown to decrease recovery time and rebuild muscle faster than nothing. I consume my chocolate milk within 15 minutes of finishing the run. In addition, I attempt to get a full meal within 90 minutes of finishing the run. If you consistently do the chocolate milk (or FairLife) and full meals within time, then you will see massive gains to your ability to recover between workouts and ability to store more energy in your leg muscles. I'm currently using a commercial product to try and reduce my sugar intake and feel quite confident in it."

15) For races that provide splits, do you tend to be positive, negative, or even split? Why do you think that is?

Another question that helps identify deficiencies. Start too fast? Start too slow? Leaving time on the table because of decisions mid-race. Figure these things out and we can optimize race day performance.

16) What other training plans have you used in the past?

Helps set the table for what has worked and hasn't. Helps me figure out what buttons to push moving forward to increase performance. Liked Galloway? Liked Hansons? Liked McMillan? Liked Daniels? I can tailor plans to try and see if we can hit the same deficiencies that I've been assessing throughout the questions.

17) What kind of training have you been doing the last three weeks? Mileage, pace, etc?

An important question as to not put them in a bad position starting out. The training plan should be progressive from start to end. So I can write something that starts at 50 miles per week, but it wouldn't be wise if they've been doing 20 miles per week lately. We've got to bridge the gap and optimize the plan for where they currently are. Does that mean it might end up a less than optimal plan? Sure. But two training cycles from now, they may be in position for the optimal plan. So it's important to know where someone is now, so I can take them where I want them to be safely.

18) If you run/walk. When you run about what pace do you do? When you walk about what pace do you do?

There are 4 variables to run/walk:

Run pace Run duration Walk pace Walk duration

Walk pace is essentially fixed as everyone has their comfortable walking pace. Walk duration is fixed as Galloway currently recommends 30 seconds. Here's my explanation as to why (LINK TO COME). That leaves the run pace and duration to be manipulated to determine run/walk pacing. What I try and do is write run/walk pacing based on the same physiological parameters that I would use for a continuous runner. At the core of it, no matter if you run/walk or continuous run there is still a similar physiological background that can be used.

As an example, this is a run/walk I setup:


Question 4 led me to believe this person's current fitness is a 36 min 5k. I then plugged that into my pacing calculator to get the following physiologically relevant current fitness paces. Their nearly 100% aerobic pace is ~14:13. The aerobic threshold (so right close to 100% but just under) is 13:16 (or M Tempo). And so on down the line. From Question 18, it was determined their walking pace was a 16:40 min/mile. My goal was to determine a Galloway LR pace (or M Tempo + 2 min). So in this case an average pace of 15:16 min/mile. Given the walking pace/duration is fixed, that leaves two variables: run pace and run duration. For the Galloway easy/LR the purpose is endurance building. So that means the run pace should be at or near the aerobic threshold (so as to keep their gains in the endurance zone). So I chose a pace of 14:05 (between M Tempo and LR). That only leaves run duration. I played with the run time until I got the average pace to be 15:16. So in this specific case, that meant 30/30 at 14:05/16:40. This should be a relatively easy pace for this runner. As time progresses of using the plan, this person will check in periodically to ensure they agree that it is easy.

From there, I follow the same exercise in writing the HM and 10k pacing. In this particular case, this person's goal race is a HM. If they were instead aiming for a M, then I'd do a specific pace for that. I try to have at least three paces in the plan: easy/LR (which is about 80% of the training), Tempo (race pace), and something faster than goal race pace. The variety ensures that we're challenging multiple physiological areas to improve performance across the board. I'm always paying attention to the relative pace of the run and the duration to ensure that it doesn't go too far. Ideally, I don't have someone run "mile PR" pace for 120 seconds because that's a killer workout.

19) If I told you to run as slow as you can, how fast would you be running? This would be at a pace where you're barely breathing differently than normal walking. It feels like you're barely trying.

This is a good check for me. In general, I'm looking for their response to be around the determined EA/EB pacing. That EA/EB pace is the "very easy pace" and I want to make sure their gut instinct matches up with what I come up with based on their data. If question 4 and 19 don't match, then I tend to ask followup questions to determine one way or the other. If they're really easy pace, turns out to be their 10k pace, then I'm definitely going to need to dig deeper.

20) Most importantly, what is your upcoming race schedule? What/when is your next "A" goal race that you want to focus your training towards?

Races play a huge role in the training plan. We want to focus the training towards the "A" race. But the more "B" races that are added to the calendar takes away from the training plan (unless the "B" race is treated like a training run). There's a time and a place for a good effort "B" race within an "A" race training plan. But any race needs necessary recovery from it, so that we don't push the runner too far into overtraining and thus they stop thriving because of the training and end up just surviving the training. Thriving leads to recovery and adaptation, but surviving stunts adaptation and only focuses on recovery. If you thrive, you'll get better. If you survive, you'll end up injured or stagnated with your improvements.

I follow the philosophy of one rest/easy day for every 3k racing. So:

5k = 2 easy/rest days 10k = 3 easy/rest days HM (21k) = 7 easy/rest days M (42k) = 14 easy/rest days

Would you be able to complete a hard training run prior to those windows? Sure. But it may or may not come back to haunt you later in the plan. So I treat recovery as just as an important factor as the training itself. Respect the training and the recovery and you can continue to make gained improvements over a long period of time.

It's with those 20 questions that we move forward. A lot of back and forth occurs after those initials questions so I can come up with the pillars of the training plan:

A) Current Fitness B) Time available to train C) Race schedule

With those I can start the writing process!


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Part 2 - Structure of the plan

The 20 questions part serves as the beginning. It allows me to develop the key aspects of the training:

A) Current Fitness B) Time available to train C) Race schedule

With these I can move the process forward into the writing phase. The questions phase typically lasts anywhere from a few hours, to days, to even weeks. I can't start writing the plan until the runner and I come to an agreement on the above three key aspects.

The writing phase is when I move over to Excel. I input the different current fitness paces we plan to use into the pacing codes:

Run/walk example


or Continuous example







In general, the plan is written as 80% easy and 20% hard. With the 80% easy being paces at LR or slower (either Galloway's +2 min or M Tempo +~9%). The other 20% is the hard (or fun stuff). So in the above continuous example, 80% of that person's training will be at a 9:58 min/mile or slower. For the run/walker, 80% is at 12:29. Since endurance is the foundation of every recreational race distance from the 5k and up, then a large portion of the training is in that endurance zone.

Essentially I just go through and pick and choose which types of paces I'm going to incorporate into someone's plan for the hard pacing. This goes back to what race distance the "A" race is, their experience with running/racing, and their goal for the "A" race. That's how I come up with the other hard 20%. In general, I choose pacing at and faster than the intended race distance. So if you're aiming for improvement at 5k/10k pacing, then you may either spend time at mile/3k pacing + race distance OR race distance + M Tempo. It depends on the individual and whether they needed more speed or endurance work. What was their deficiency? Or maybe they're coming off a block of endurance pacing and could use something new to stimulate the system.

In both of these examples above, I went with a faster and at pace system. So the run/walker is training for a HM. So they will have HM pacing and 10k pacing. The continuous runner is training for a 10k. So they'll have mile, 3k, Threshold, and M Tempo training. Paces at and faster. But again, these only represent 20% of the total training load. The grand majority is the easy pacing.

When I first start with a plan, I change the dates from this week up until the week of the "A" race.


I've got my start of the plan with dates, and weeks to go. In general, I'm looking for at least 8 weeks prior to the race and best case in the 12-16 weeks range. The bodies adaptations to paces work on a 3 week scale. The cardiovascular improvements from a training cycle occur around 8 weeks of training. The muscular/skeletal improvements after 12 weeks. So dependent on these ranges allows me to figure out where that person will be at different points in the training. I work with a Monday to Sunday schedule. All of the boxes from "WU" to "RI 2 Dist." are for coding the different types of workouts into. The description is the key box that tells the runner what they're suppose to do on that day. It's been my experience that runners prefer their training plans written in a certain way. I could write either of the following:

Run 120 min at a 10 min/mile. Run 12 miles at a 10 min/mile.

In my experience, runners prefer the mileage based system. But in fact, I write the plan based on time and pace. Mileage is one of my last concerns when writing. So for the purpose of me, I focus on most everything else. But for the ease of use for the runner, I make sure the description is in miles (or distance).

I separate out my easy/hard pacing. For the user I give mileage summaries. For me, I'm more focused on "total" (or the total time spent training). And then the red number represents the longest run of the week divided by the total mileage of the week. My goal is to keep the longest run to be in the 25-30% of the weekly mileage. Above 25-30% and you may not be well equipped to handle that type of mileage in the longest run. That person may spend more time focusing on the long run, when there are so many other aspects of training that could be beneficial. I'm willing to go to 35%, but I've got to be able to justify it based on the answers they've provided in their questions. Less available time to train during the week usually means the long run won't be maxed. But that's ok. Because you can still thrive with training less than the max. But if we take you to the max without the proper balance in other areas of the plan, then you risk moving into the survive zone of training.

Once I've got the weeks setup. I fill in the race schedule. Since races will greatly manipulate the schedule, I need to account for them along the way. So I type in the different races and whether they are "A", "B" or supported training runs.

"A" Race


If there are any "B" races, then I need to put in the taper runs before and recovery runs after. For a 5k/10k, I have no hard workouts within 4 days prior to the event. For a HM/M, no hard workouts within 10 days of the event. And then after the event, we go back to the "for every 3k of race equals one rest/easy day". So if someone has two HMs in a plan, then that means the "B" HM mid-plan must be followed by either 7 easy or rest days. After that, training can resume again where it left off. So if you start to do the math, you can see how big of an impact a "B" race can have on a training plan. For example, a HM has 10 days proceeding and 7 days after. That's 17 days of no hard workouts! If you were following a 6 day a week plan, then you lose out on 5 or 6 hard workouts for a single "B" race. A 10k would cost you 7 days total or potentially 3 hard workouts. So I always try to impress upon the runners during the Q/A striking a balance between "B" races and supported training runs. And if you previously agree to a supported training run, but then find yourself treating it like a "B" race on race day, then you'll still necessitate the recovery time afterwards. At the end of the day, we all do this for fun. So each individual person has to decide what they want out of this experience. There is no right or wrong answer to whether a race should be "B" or supported training run. Rather there are just outcomes because of the choices made. Like maybe it makes that "A" race goal just a little harder to obtain with all of the "B" races sprinkled throughout the training.

Once all the races are inputted, then it's time to go back to the runner's availability. What was their daily schedule?

Some do 3 days per week (T, R, Weekend) Some do 4 days per week (T, R, Sa, Su) or (M, W, F, Sa) or (T, W, R, Sa) etc. Some do 4/5 days per week *where they alternate back and forth between 4 days in a week and then 5 days in a week Some do 5 days Some do 5/6 days *where they alternate back and forth between 5 days in a week and then 6 days in a week Some do 6 days

Whatever we agree upon during the Q/A is then placed into the schedule. Here's an example of a schedule I received:

Alternating 4/5 days per week. On 4 days per week (Tues, Wed, Fri, Sun) and on 5 days per week (Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sun)


That's at the core to a custom training plan. Whatever you can do, I can write for. It fits the training around your schedule rather than the other way around. You've got daycare, or work trips, or lunch breaks, or time with kids on the weekend, or unlimited Wednesdays. Whatever the case may be, I set the training days and time based on the user.

Now once I've got my "off" days, race days, and necessary taper/recovery from "B" races written in, then I've got the structure of the plan finished. The next step is to start inputting the workouts.


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Part 3 - Long Runs and Easy Runs

Once the structure is set up, then it's time to populate the plan with the bulk of the training - Long Runs and Easy Runs. As previously explained, this makes up about 80% of my training plans. If you want some additional reading as to why an 80% easy and 20% hard split works, read the original research by Stephen Seiler (link). I follow an every other training style for the long run. So every week it is either up or down in terms of long run duration.


So I work my way backwards from the "A" race and add in the long runs. I then decrease the distance incrementally down and work my way back towards the beginning of the plan. So in the above example, this person has a "B" race of a 15k. I've already inputted the "taper" prior to the event. I work backwards from it on an oscillating schedule for the long runs. Since the goal distance is a HM and this is the first time we've been working together and first time at 5 days per week for this person, then I went with a maximum long run of 120 minutes. They are doing a 60/30 @ 11:15/16:00 LR pace. Based on an average pace of 12:29 for the LR, that means they can do roughly 10 miles in 120 minutes.

Then, we scroll down to look at the weeks prior to the HM. In this case, the runner was limited on weekday runs to ~50-55 min throughout the entire plan. Because of this, I was unable to max out the HM training during the mid-week. So for the last "LR" slot I opted for a longer distance HM Tempo run. This way we could try and get a nice long attempt at that distance. For HM Tempo, I like to do a duration of no more than 60 total min at that pace. This person's current fitness HM pace is 10 minutes, so that means their max HM Tempo is 6 miles. I still want this to be a decently long run, so I add in 4 miles of easy mileage to the run (before and after as a warm up and cool down). This person is doing a HM pace of 120/30 @ 9:15/16:00. The easy/hard does become a bit distorted on a run/walk plan because not everything can be purely considered one or the other, but it does a reasonable job. That's why the "hard time" for the HM may say 48:29 minutes, but in reality I see it as 60 min.

Here's the 10k example:


The 10k person actually wanted their long runs on Wednesdays. So the plan is a tad unique in that aspect. But the root of it is still the same. For the 10k plan, the runs don't oscillate as much as they are kept lower in duration and this person has more experience. Since it's a 10k, then the max long run is kept at 120 minutes. So for this person's long run pace that means a max of 12 miles (but we capped at 11 for this plan). If this were a normal 4/5 day per week oscillating plan, then I would put the "high" long run on the 5 day week and the "low" during the 4 day per week. You can also see another specialty LR in the week of 4/9/18. The taper for the 10k is also much shorter at just 3 days of easy/off.

So I build those long runs from the end of the plan back towards the beginning. I continue to decrease the distance until I hit the beginning. It's at that point (when I hit the beginning) that I come to my first cross roads. How far down in long run duration did I get? Where is the person currently (last three weeks of training)? How big of a gap is there between the optimal mileage (what I've written) and where they are now? If the gap is even noticeable a little bit, then that's when I now bounce back forwards. Let's say the person had a longest run of 60 min recently. But the earliest long run starts at 90 min. I would be hesitant to make that jump. So I'd go back to the Q/A and justify it, or start from the beginning of the plan and drop the long runs to bridge the gap.

Once the standard long runs are set, that's when I make the decision (like in both of these cases) whether a hybrid/special long run is going to be used. Different types of hybrid long runs incorporate other pacing (HM Tempo, M Tempo, Progression of paces, Daniels T, etc.). Essentially something other than long run pacing incorporated into a longer duration run. I choose to add these types of runs on a case by case basis based on days available and duration available to train.

Now that covers the "high" long runs. Next is to go through and add in the "low" long runs. These would oscillate in the other weeks. I max these out at 90 min and then again work my way backwards back towards the beginning of the plan. The same process as the "high" long runs and determine whether the distance for optimal is too much based on where they are currently.


Now that the long runs are set (both high and low), next is to go and add in the easy cumulative fatigue inducing runs. I max these at 90 minutes and I aim to have them occur prior to the long run.


In this case, 90 min for the easy inducing fatigue run is 7 miles.

10k example:


In this example, the person is limited to 60 min on the days prior to the long run (or there is a necessary off day). So to compensate for the slightly shorter easy day (60 instead of 90), then I added in strides.

Strides are short bursts of speed that last no more than 10 seconds. They shouldn't be a sudden burst, but rather a controlled increase in speed (3 sec), maintain (4-5 sec), and then controlled decrease (3 sec). Do no less than 30 seconds (but certainly longer in-between is fine) of continuing the easy run until doing the next stride. The runner should feel fully recovered between strides before considering doing the next one. The strides should be saved until the last mile of the easy day, or after the easy day is over and post a short stretch (I prefer within my easy run). The runner should do about 4-5 strides in total.

Once the long runs are finished and the easy cumulative fatigue inducing runs are added, then it comes to adding the remainder of the easy days. This is when I come to another cross road. Dependent on the number of days per week will dictate how many more easy days I need to write into the plan. Again:

So when I build a training plan I use the following guidelines -

Hard Workouts 1) Long Run (for endurance) 2) Tempo (either Marathon or HM dependent on race distance) 3) mile, 3k, 5k, 10k, CV, or LT pacing (for speed work)

You get #1 for doing 3 days per week. You get #1 and 2 for doing 4 days per week. You get #1, 2 and 3 if doing 5 days per week with enough time allotted and experience. You get #1, 2 and 3 if doing 6 days per week.

The HM plan is this person's first time at 5 days per week. So I decided to play it cautious and go with only one other hard day other than the long run. This means I need 2 more additional easy days (in addition to the already added long run and cumulative fatigue easy day). For this specific case, the HM is for run/walk and this person is interested in trying out some continuous pacing to see if it works for them. So while it is easy, it's necessary to build this new to them continuous pacing progressively as to find out from them whether they tolerate the pacing/duration change.


So here earlier in the plan, you can see I progressively add the "EC" or easy continuous pacing in small segments intermixed with their standard easy runs. First a 2+2, then 1+3, then 0+4. Since their weekdays are limited to 50-55 minutes I determined that 4 miles was the max weekday easy run. Sixty minutes is the max easy run I schedule other than the cumulative fatigue easy. So you can have one 60+ easy (up to 90) and then all other easy days need to be treated as recovery days (max of 60 min).

Same process for the 10k plan:


Since this plan oscillates back and forth between 4/5, then the 4 week will definitely have only one additional hard day. The 5 day week comes down to whether the 3rd hard day makes sense. In this case, this person has more experience with 5 days per week and based on the Q/A justified going with an additional hard day. So this plan will oscillate between 3 hard days (LR, hard 1 and hard 2) and 2 hard days (LR, and hard 1). Limited to 60 min, so that means the easy run is 5 miles for this person. So again, time and pace is the determining factors when deciding outcomes. The mileage (5 miles) is merely a by product of their pace (11 min/mile) and duration (60 min). I also added in some strides to the easy days on the 4 day weeks to add just a touch of difficulty to those days (but still overall easy).


That filling in of the easy pacing goes all the way back to the beginning. The beginning of the plan consists of a few weeks of just easy running to get the runner accustomed to new pacing and to the routine. Eventually, the hard days are weaved in gradually as to keep to the overall progression of the plan.

Once all of the long runs and easy runs are inputted, then it's time to move on to the fun stuff!


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Part 4 - Hard runs (the fun stuff!)

To recap thus far, we've made it though the Q/A. By doing so, we've setup the pillars of the training plan:

A) Current Fitness B) Time available to train C) Race schedule

We then started building the structure of the plan. Started with setting up the pacing coding. Then, plugged in the races. Setup the days per week (primarily putting in the off days). Entered the taper and recovery for "B" races.

Then comes the foundation of the training plan. The long run (oscillating between high and low), the cumulative fatigue inducing easy run, and the remaining easy runs. The number of easy days written into the plan is dependent on the amount of experience the person has as well as the time available. The end goal will be to have around 80% of the training to be at "long run pace" or slower.

Now comes the fun part, the hard runs!

There are several types of pacing that I use in my arsenal in coming up with a training plan. Remember from before, that the end goal is to have pacing at race distance and faster than it. When working with the hard runs is when you bring in the idea of specificity. Arthur Lydiard pioneered this idea way back in the 60s (some background). One key concept, specificity, is that as the desired race gets closer you get closer and closer to more of your hard pacing to be at or very near race pace. So start with pacing faster than desired race pace, and then transition to the slower race pace over the training cycle. So for a marathon race, the pacing gets closer to marathon pace and conversely for 10k racing the pacing starts faster than 10k and works closer to 10k pace.

Daniels Mile Pace

Per Daniels, the purpose of mile pace is anaerobic power and running economy. Daniels mile pace are short durations (roughly 40-120 seconds). The run to rest ratio is 1:2-3 (so if run for 60 seconds, rest is 120-180 seconds). It's important to calculate out your mile pace and determine the distance of this interval. For some 45 seconds is 100m, others 200m, and others 300m. The key part is that all of the runners are doing mile pace (relative to themselves) for a similar duration. If your 400m mile pace is 3:30 minutes, then don't do 400m as a distance. Max of 120 seconds. The distance is far less important than the time spent at that relative pace.

SIDEBAR - A very common concept across all types of runs is to "avoid the fade". This means that as a run progresses if the goal is 200m in 55 seconds, then you want all of the intervals roughly around 55 seconds. If you run the first few in 52 seconds, and then the final few in 60 seconds this is not a successful workout. You didn't hit many, if any at all, intervals at the desired pace. By not hitting the pace, you didn't hit the adaptation that you intended with the workout. So, with that being said, this means that if you feel the need to have more rest between bouts to ensure you hit that pacing then thats not a bad thing. A 60 sec run and 180 sec rest with consistent intervals at 60 seconds is WAY more beneficial than a 60 sec run and 120 sec rest with a scattering of hitting and fading on intervals.

The mile paced workouts represent the lesser of 5 miles or 5% of total mileage (so 50 miles in a week, means 2.5 miles of R in a single workout).

One very important thing to keep in mind is that GPS devices (like a Garmin or phone) can't measure these very short distances very accurately. So my thought is that all of the speed workouts can be done on a track, but it isn't a perfect simulation of outside running which is where your race will likely be. My suggestion is to find a nice stretch of flat road in a neighborhood or similar that is not traveled frequently. I will use a satellite website (like google maps) to determine the 200m and 400m using man made objects (like sewer drains, manholes, lights, etc.) to determine check points that I will run for these workouts. The GPS device will NOT be accurate enough to gauge 200m or 300m with any kind of certainty.

Daniels 3k Pace

Per Daniels, these are the hardest runs for endurance runners. They are VO2max workouts. The duration of the 3k paced run is vitally important. At this pace, to hit VO2max it takes ~2 minutes. But going beyond 5 minutes of running at VO2max pushes the system too far and doesn't allow during the recovery period to appropriately prepare for the next interval. So, ideally the duration of 3k paced workouts are 3-5 minutes. The rest period is 1:1 or 1:-1 min. That means if you do 3 min duration 3k paced runs, then the rest is either 3 min or 2 min. For a 5 min duration, then the rest is either 5 min or 4 min.

The 3k paced is the lesser of 6.2 miles or 8% of total mileage (so 50 miles in a week, means 4 miles of 3k pace in a single workout).

5k Pace

I tend to aim for no more than 3-4 total miles of 5k pacing. I do the rest periods at 400m between intervals. Interval lengths can be anywhere from 400m, 600m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m or a Ladder workout that mixes up the distances.

Schwartz CV Pace

Schwartz CV pacing is intended to be between VO2max and Lactate Threshold. The idea behind this pace is that if you work just in the perfect spot you can elicit the benefits of VO2max pacing and LT pacing.

These are about 10k pace or 2% less than LT pacing. I do the intervals between 400m to 1600m with the rest period being 1:00 min for every 1000m run. These should be about 6-8% of total weekly mileage (so 50 miles in a week, means 3-4 miles of CV pace in a single workout).

Daniels T Pace

The "comfortably hard pace". This is your estimated Lactate Threshold pace which is roughly 60 min race pace. For some that's a 10k, and others their HM race pace. The workout to rest ratio is 5:1. So if you run for 10 min, then you rest for ~2 min. Again the key being fully prepared for the next interval such that you can accomplish it. The overall duration of T within a single sustained run should be between 5-20 minutes. But, if you do intervals of T rather than a single sustained T, then the goal is at least 30 min and no more than 60 min.

The T pace is 10% of weekly mileage (so 50 miles per week is 5 miles at T).

Half Marathon Pace

Half Marathon pace isn't really a physiological zone. So this pace is primarily only for those running a HM. This hones in the mental adjustments to memorize what the effort of this pace feels like. I cap the HM training at 60 min total. The run can be in intervals or sustained. If I schedule intervals, then I do rest periods of either 400m, 800m, or 1600m.

Marathon Pace

The aerobic threshold. The purpose of this pace is mostly mental as well. It helps you determine whether this is a sustainable pace for race day. Practice eating and drinking. But as Daniels mentions in his book, it offers the chance to do something other than easy or long run. Just a slightly more difficult run, but only slightly different physiologically.

The pace should be held for no more than 110 minutes or 18 miles (whichever comes first) and should represent less than 20% of total weekly mileage (so 50 miles is 10 miles of M Tempo).

Hybrid Long Run

This is a specialty workout that includes pacing other than long run. All of these remain capped at 150 min just as the sustained long run.

It could be either a fast finish (run LR for a period of time (like around 90-120 min) and then finish the run with 20-40 minutes of marathon tempo).

It could be a longer duration HM Tempo run if you were unable to do that during the mid-week because of schedule. Accomplished by adding an extended WU and CD to either side of the HM Tempo.

It could be a longer duration M Tempo run if you were unable to do that during the mid-week as well.

You could add in periods of Daniels T mid long run or mid M Tempo.

There are tons of possibilities.

Progression Run

It's important to remember that each run doesn't happen in a vacuum. Which means doing two consecutive days (or two very close days in relationship) of the same paced runs is likely not beneficial and may stunt the adaptation process. It's important to keep in mind that many of the different paces have different lengths of recovery time necessary before performing another workout at the same pace. The faster end of the spectrum is lesser in necessary recovery time and the longer duration needs more. So a 150 min max long run needs more time before the next 150 min max long than does a 2 total mile of R paced workout.

So when I schedule a "hybrid long run" I tend to schedule a mid-week progression run. This reduces the workload at similar pacing. I usually schedule the progression run in the following manner:

-Similar duration to other commonly scheduled mid-week run. -Long WU and CD -Progressively take the pacing from just slower than long run and build to as fast as either HM or 10k pacing.

Warm ups and Cool downs

The warm-ups are key for anything faster than "long run" pace. Essentially, there are two main pathways for the body to use oxygen to produce energy. The aerobic pathway is mostly used in slower running. The closer you get to the point where it becomes harder to breathe (Ventilatory Threshold) the more you use the anaerobic pathway. The aerobic pathway is more efficient and faster at creating energy, whereas the body uses anaerobic when the aerobic can't keep up (because you're going too fast).

The most interesting part between the aerobic and anaerobic pathway is that even though the aerobic is used mostly during slow running it takes about 6 minutes of running before it can be used. This means for the first 6 minutes we're stuck with the slow, inefficient anaerobic pathway. So if you don't do a warm-up, and you're running faster than "long run" pace you push the anaerobic pathway too hard. This creates a deficit in energy within the first 6 minutes that becomes harder to overcome. As this deficit starts to catch up with you in later miles, it causes our running form to suffer.

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Those are the key workouts types I use when writing a training plan. Now how do they all fit together?

Let's go through the HM run/walk example first!


I again start at the end of the plan and work my way backwards. The two goals are specificity (race pace towards the end of the plan) and a progressive build to the distance/duration held (so start with the max scheduled and work backwards to build to it). So for this plan I already had my HM Tempo LR Hybrid written in on 4/1/18. Since HM Tempo was occurring on that weekend, it meant I needed to do either a 10k workout (faster than HM race pace) or a progression run. Since this is a first time with me, I went with a 10k paced run because it's simpler than the progression. I kept the duration of the 10k pacing to 27 minutes since this is a new to them pace. It's not really viewed as "10k" pace by the body since it is run/walk, so it's kind of like doing speed work in how it's perceived.

As is the case with all my plans I don't schedule hard days back to back. I like to allow recovery between hard bouts to elicit adaptations. There is a time and a place for back to back hard days, but I tend to shy away from them.

I then filled in the other available Thursdays with HM Tempo workouts. The HM Tempo pace is 10:06 which means the max of HM Tempo is 6 miles (because 60 min cap). But the person's limit is 55 min on Thursday. Since this run is faster than long run, it requires a minimum 5 minute WU. So I did a 0.5 mile of WU (easy or 12:29 or 6:15 in total) before the HM Tempo started. I did the same with the cool down. Since that is 12:29 off the 55 min cap, the remainder was calculated to be 4 miles at HM Tempo (~40 minutes). And then I worked backwards from there. It's important to think of the training in blocks of three. So allow three weeks of adaptation before moving to a new duration held or total duration. So working backwards I wanted to have 4 miles of HM Tempo at least three times (but we do work from the beginning as a double check of appropriateness again).


Continue to work backwards towards the beginning of the plan. Which means less HM Tempo and more 10k pacing at the beginning (rule of specificity). You can see the 10k pacing is progressively building over the course of the plan.

So in total, this runner has 4 different paces to work on:

10k (faster than race pace) HM (race pace) Easy/LR (bulk of training) EC (new to them continuous running training)

Let's walk through the 10k plan now:


I built this plan moving forward. I wanted to stay at a pace for at least 3 weeks before moving to something new. So the plan opens with some easy running to get them back in the groove post last "A" race. Then the mile pace (R) starts in the second phase. This is the person's first time at this type of pacing. So a cautious build up is the better choice. Because of their oscillating 4/5 weekly schedule this means that some weeks have 2 hard workouts (4 day week) and some have 3 hard workouts (5 day week).

The first R is on 2/18/18. The total mileage (19.875) says we can schedule 0.99 miles of R (based on 5% rule). So that equates to 8 x 200m. I could have done either 200m or 400m, but it's best to build to it. 200m at their R pace (7:28) is 56 seconds. So we're between that golden zone of 40-120 seconds. The rest period is 2-3x the run duration and is typically scheduled as equal distance (but slower pace). Then the remainder of the workout is filled in with WU and CD with maintaining at least 5 minutes of WU (but in this case it is 22 minutes of WU).

Now the plan builds to the next R on 2/23. Gradually introducing a longer duration of R (300m or 84 seconds). In the classic Daniels plan, this workout is 200m and 400m. But I switched it to 300m because of this person's R pace. A 400m workout would have put them right on the cusp of max (1:52 vs 2:00). I felt it unwise to take this person to the max on their second R workout. I went with a multiple approach with 2 200m runs for every 300m run (1:24 duration). So the workout in total is kept still on the easier side (not easy, but easier than more 300s). The weekly mileage (31.3) dictates a 1.56 mile cap on R pace. I've got 1.75 miles schedule (so just a touch past the limit). Then add in WU and CD.

Now since there are 3 hard days in the week of 2/19 I can introduce another workout. I don't want to do exclusively R since that was just done, so I moved to T pacing. This block is meant for R so there is still some R incorporated within the T workout. I went with 200m Rs as a WU and CD sandwiching a 3 x 1 mile Daniels T. The weekly mileage (31.3) dictates a 3.1 mile cap on T pace. So I went with 3 total miles. The Daniels T pace is 8:34 which means at 1 mile it's 8:34 in duration. So I scheduled a 1 minute resting interval between each Daniels T. Total time at T is 25.5 minutes which is just under the 30 min set by Daniels but is justified based on the rest of the plan.


The week of 2/26/18 moves back to R pace at 200m and 300m. Now I've included some segments of 300m back to back. So again getting progressively harder. The max of R is 1.2 miles and I've got 1.3 miles scheduled. Filled in the rest with WU and CD.

The end of the R phase (week of 3/5) brings the peak of the R with only 300m intervals. Mileage cap of 1.7 miles and I kept it at 1.3 miles. The Daniels T run steps up another level as well. Previously 3 x 1 and now moves to 2 x 2 (or 17 min sustained) with a 3 min resting interval. Now 34 minutes of Daniels T.

As the plan moves into the week of 3/12/18, it moved into the next phase with 3k pacing. As a reminder, the key time is 3-5 minutes, but as a minimum it's 2 minutes. So I started this runner off with the minimum. This is the hardest pace, so it's important to be gradual and cautious. The I pace (3k pace) is 7:51 and 2 min of running is 0.25 miles. The limit is 8% based on the weekly mileage (27.9) that means a cap of 2.2 miles. I scheduled 2.25 miles (or 9 x 2 min). The resting interval is to be equal or less 1 min. I went with equal bouts of rest. I then filled in the rest with WU and CD.

Now an important part of moving forward in the phase is that every once in a while you bring back a previous pace. It just reminds the body and keeps it fresh. So the week of 3/19/18 I bring back the R pace. Doing a recently achieved workout. I then moved up the I duration from 2 min to 3 min. This means the runner will get 1 minute of actual work at VO2max pacing. Distance cap of 2.7 miles and I went with 2.3 miles. Decided to go with equal rest again.


Continuing with 3k pacing. Introduced the first 4 min segment. The difficult increases significantly from 3 min up to 4 min. So I went with a single 4 min I just to make sure it is tolerated well. I kept the rest at -1 min and then added in additional 3 min and 2 min intervals. Keep turning up the dial on the workouts progressively. Move to 4 min, add in specialty workouts, keep the pressure on from a week to week basis.

Starting with the week of 4/16/18 the focus shifts from 3k pacing to T pacing. This is closer to specificity given the desired race distance of 10k. The 3k workout is tampered down (12 x 2 min) and the T pace workout becomes more frequent.


The end of the plan! Just an additional T pace and then race day. The Daniels T is reduced to keep the body fresh and ready for the race.

So in total, this runner has 6 paces to work on during the 14 week plan:

R pace (beginning of plan) I pace (very hard and middle of plan) T pace (the most relevant to the race distance (10k) M Tempo (aerobic threshold) Long Run (maintaining that endurance gain) easy (bulk of the training)

Wahoo the plan is done.... well not quite yet. Time to add in those color coding runs and double check the plan as written!


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Part 5 - Double Check

The plan is finally written, but it certainly isn't done yet. It's necessary to add in some other fun!

Nutrition runs (Green runs) - These are nutrition strategy runs. These are the only runs that you should take in any carb source. If the run is warm/hot you are allowed to take in (and suggested to do so) electrolytes. But keep the carbs to only the runs in green. Taking in any carbs when the training run is less than 90 minutes is a dampener of adaptations because it doesn't teach your body to run on fat. However, runs longer than 90 minutes require carbs because you start to increase necessary recovery time the more you starve the muscles.

Blind runs (Red runs) - These are blinded runs. You are to only use your watch/treadmill as a guide to new intervals or distance completed. However, you may not use the watch as a means to pace yourself. Your goal on these days is to try and match the effort needed to run this pace. These are important excercises to teach your body to become more intune with your internal GPS. So during non-blind days always be cognizant of memorizing what the effort feels like. What does EA feel like? What does EB feel like? What does M Tempo feel like. Over time you'll build a data bank of memories from which you can draw on for these blind running days. The end results of the blind runs are neither inherently good or bad but an assessment of your internal GPS. For a treadmill blind run, try covering the treadmill console with a towel and pushing up and down on the pace based on feeling (if possible). Ideally blind runs are done outside to get the "feeling" of effort.

Blind runs can be very valuable on race day. Let's say you completed 18 weeks of training throughout the winter and you're finally prepared for your spring race. But suddenly the temperature increases by 20 degrees from what you've been training in. Well all of the training has been for an X:XX goal. So guess that's what pace we're going for on race day, right? Well, having these blind runs helps you adjust on the fly. Let's say you head out on the first few miles of the race at the trained for pace. But you "feel" like it's harder. Then it might be a sign that today is not the day to attempt that trained for pace. Instead it might be wise to pull back to the same effort level you had been hitting in training. These blind runs help hone that craft in training by forcing you to run without looking at GPS data mid-run. Just feel the effort and see how close you get at the end. I don't schedule blind runs on the "high" long run. I tend to schedule a blind run on the second to last race paced run (like HM Tempo or M Tempo). It's like a final test to assess where you are at. I sprinkle blind runs in every 2-3 weeks on runs that have a wider window of hitting the pace (like easy, long run, or HM/M tempo). I don't do blind runs too often because if you miss the mark consistently then you start training inconsistently. So the use of blind runs needs to be balanced across the plan as to not train too hard or too easy consistently (usually too hard).

I have my runners report back the splits of their blind runs. What I'm looking for is consistency within a run and between runs over different weeks. When I see someone consistently running too fast for the blind run, the question becomes "are you being honest with yourself?" It does neither me or the runner any good for the runner to push the effort on these runs. Yes, the pace will be faster (if effort harder), but that's not the goal. The goal is to run at the same effort whatever that may end up being. But as a coach, it helps me see where the runner is at if I trust their use of blind running.

After I go through and add in my nutrition and blind runners, then it's time to check the numbers.


I run down the side of the weekly schedule. That's where I see the easy/hard split, the total distance (in yellow), and the % of the longest run of weekly mileage (in red).

I want to ensure they I don't stray too far from the 80/20 ideals. Is 70/30 ok? Yes. Is 90/10 ok? Yes. But overall the plan should be balanced from a pulled back view. The above plan shows good balance among easy/hard.

Then I look at the red numbers. How close did I get that longest run of the week to be 25-30% of the total mileage max? This plan was 20-27%, so we're good here.

Then I look at the overall mileage. This is the end of the plan, so I'm keeping an eye on the last week's mileage (not including the race) and the peak week (2 weeks earlier for HM and 3 weeks earlier for M; this peak makes sense since the lifecycle of the mitochondria (powerhouse of the cell) is 14 days. This means the bodies mitochondria from the peak week will no longer be existing by race and you'll be left with fresh newly minted mitochondria.). The goal is to have the mileage of the last week be about 42% of the peak. So 17 miles (which is 30.1-13.1) should be around 42% of 54 miles (peak week). In this case it's about 31%. Why a little less? For this person it's because of their distance at easy pacing.

I also go further back in the plan to evaluate the ebb and flow of the overall mileage. I like to follow a high, medium, high, low mileage on a 4 week cycle. The thought process revolves around the bone remodeling scheme of the human body. Bones remodel every 3-4 weeks. To allow for this process to occur, you drop the mileage down so you enter a mini-recovery moment. Here's an example from a marathon plan:


Mileage is going 45 (high), 44 (medium), 48 (high), 40 (low), 53 (high), 49 (medium), 55 (high), 43 (low), 56 (high), etc.

If either the long run is inappropriate (more than 35% unjustified) or the ebb and flow doesn't show the appropriate recovery, then that's when the re-write occurs. I start dropping easy/LR duration down and then re-check the math across the board.

Once the plan has been double checked (mileage is good, easy/hard is good, nutrition/blind runs added, etc.) then it's time to send the instructions!













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Part 6 - The Instructions

After the plan is written, it's time to send it off!

For a plan with R pacing:

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This is a first attempt. If you see something you don't like let me know. A training plan is only as good as how willing you are to do it. So if you don't like something, I want to change it because I want you to maximize getting better.

Alternating 4/5 plan:

Sunday hard Monday easy Tuesday off Wednesday hard Thursday easy Friday hard Saturday off

And

M- OFF T- 60 min max W- 120 min max R- OFF F- 60 min max Sa- OFF Su- 90 min max

I'll reiterate this from the beginning, this is a HARD plan. It will be very critical to listen to your body. If you find that you are not hitting the paces as scheduled or more importantly see a fade in the later intervals of a day, then please please please pull back and let me know. Having workouts with a fade is a sign the body can't tolerate it. This is not something to push through.

Training Plan Alright, here is my training plan for you. I am always open to changes as this is my first attempt. Please let me know if you feel it is too much or too little (either in pacing, time, mileage, days of the week, etc.) Now for my explanations.

My philosophy on developing a training plan is based on these principles:

1) Keep an 80% Easy / 20% Hard split. 2) Have the longest run in a week not exceed 35%. 3) Never exceed 2:30 hours in a training run. 4) Use Arthur Lydiard method of specialization.

We based the pacing on some of your recent training runs.

So, some logistics.

How to read the schedule

The "Pacing Code" describes all of the different paces used for different types of runs. The dates are written with Monday-Sunday. The codes next to the listed days correlate with the pacing code. The prescribed training for the day appears underneath the "Sunday date". If it just says 4 mi, then do 4 miles at the prescribed pace The easy/hard columns are the separation of types of workouts to help visualize the balance in the plan. The % easy/hard are represented near the end of the line.

The yellow boxes represent the total mileage for the week. The red number represents the % of the longest run of the week relative to the total mileage completed.

Red runs - These are blinded runs. You are to only use your watch/treadmill as a guide to new intervals or distance completed. However, you may not use the watch as a means to pace yourself. Your goal on these days is to try and match the effort needed to run this pace. These are important excercises to teach your body to become more intune with your internal GPS. So during non-blind days always be cognizant of memorizing what the effort feels like. What does EA feel like? What does EB feel like? Over time you'll build a data bank of memories from which you can draw on for these blind running days. The end results of the blind runs are neither inherently good or bad but an assessment of your internal GPS. For a treadmill blind run, try covering the treadmill console with a towel and pushing up and down on the pace based on feeling (if possible). Ideally blind runs are done outside to get the "feeling" of effort. *I did not include any blind days. It's too incredibly difficult to do SPEED blind.

Green runs - These are nutrition strategy runs. These are the only runs that you should take in any carb source. If the run is warm/hot you are allowed to take in (and suggested to do so) electrolytes. But keep the carbs to only the runs in green. Taking in any carbs when the training run is less than 90 minutes is a dampener of adaptations because it doesn't teach your body to run on fat. However, runs longer than 90 minutes require carbs because you start to increase necessary recovery time the more you starve the muscles.

The description is the key box. The speed workouts can get quite complicated. So I suggest programming the workouts into a Garmin 235 (or something similar) using the web based interface system (a Garmin is a great investment). All of the speed workouts can be done on a track, but it isn't a perfect simulation of outside running which is where your 10k race will likely be. My suggestion (and what I will do as well) is to find a nice stretch of road in a neighborhood or similar that is not traveled frequently. I will use a satellite website (see here for journal post) to determine the 200m and 400m using man made objects (like sewer drains, manholes, lights, etc.) to determine check points that I will run for these workouts. Your GPS device will NOT be accurate enough to gauge 200m or 300m with any kind of certainty. So I will use my Garmin and just hit the lap button at the beginning and end of an interval. So when programming the Garmin I did the following:


As an example this run is 0.5 mi @ WU + (2x200m @ R w/ 200m RI) + (4x400m @ R w/400m RI) + (2x200m @ R w/ 200m RI) + 0.5 mi @ CD.

So a day's schedule would be:

0.5 miles @ WU (9:52-10:31 min/mile) 200m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 49 seconds) 200m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 200m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 49 seconds) 200m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 400m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 1:40) 400m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 400m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 1:40) 400m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 400m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 1:40) 400m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 400m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 1:40) 400m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 200m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 49 seconds) 200m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 200m @ R (6:36 min/mile, complete in 49 seconds) 200m @ RI (10:31 min/mile) 0.5 miles @ WU (9:52-10:31 min/mile)

So, when evaluating the program I setup in Garmin you can see a critical difference. I set up the timing of the run for 200m to be "2:00 minutes" and the RI of 200m to be "2:05 minutes". Because of the inaccuracy of the Garmin I will not rely on it correctly measuring 200m. This means I will hit the lap button on the watch at the beginning and end of each interval on my own based on man-made objects. The Garmin might think I ran 150m or 230m, but I know I am as close to 200m as I can get from satellite accuracy. Thus, when I look down at my watch and see "2:00 min" of running on a day I'm doing R pacing, I know that means 200m at 44 seconds (or 56 seconds for you). And same goes for seeing "4:00 minutes" or "4:05 minutes". I won't actually run for 2 min or 4 min, but rather it's just a way to guide me through the workout without having the GPS mess it up.

Here is another example:

2 mi @ WU + 3 mi @ T + 4 x 200 @ R w/ 200 RI @ WU + 2 mi @ T + 2 mi @ CD


This time I have runs at "T pace". Because T pace is more manageable and something we can grasp, I set a pace window on it. I use +/-5 seconds from desired time. When working with speed pacing, nailing the pace as scheduled becomes SUPER important. So a 6:48 min/mile T pace for me (outside the pace window) is NOT a victory. It means I'm working a pace spectrum system I wasn't intending on. Don't let the paces bleed into other paces because then it starts to ruin the intent (and benefits/adaptations) of the workout.

Pacing

The pacing prescribed is solid. As an example, If I said to run 4 x 1 mile @ T, then the goal is to run each individual mile at 8:34. If you were to start this workout and the 1st T mile was completed in 9:34, the goal is to run the 2nd in 8:34. We don't want to sacrifice the 2nd mile to make the average 8:34 (i.e. don't run 7:34 to make up for the 9:34). Here are the strict windows to try and stick to:

Long Run = +/- 10 sec M Tempo = +/- 10 sec HM Tempo = +/- 10 sec T Pace = +/- 5 sec I Pace = +/- 3 sec R Pace = +/- 1 sec (from real duration not pace, thus scheduled pace is 56.0 so 55.0-57.9)

I view each interval/mile as a mini-goal. Can I run this mile in 8:34? Can I run this mile in 11:06? If I'm too fast it's a failed goal. If I'm too slow I can live with it, but I missed the mark on the workout. Doing every workout at the prescribed paces maximizes the benefits received. I try and hit 80% of intervals on a per workout basis and per week basis. If you start to find yourself dipping into 50% or less, it's a red flag the plan/pacing may be too much. It's not a failure, just means we missed the mark. The sooner we notice this the better so we can make changes.

I tend to pay attention more to "lap pace" than "instantaneous pace". Because your pace smoothed out over 800m is more accurate than an immediate assessment on pace (instantaneous) which is based on satellites really really fat away.

Something to keep in mind with the "easy" days. They should be EASY. They should almost never require that much effort. It is NOT a failure to run these 30-40-60 seconds slower if that feels right. Take easy days easy no matter the pace. Just don't let easy days get too fast because then they won't be easy anymore.

Why each workout

Speed teaches you running efficiency. To nail these you'll have to pay attention to your body. Where are my arms? What is my head doing? Where is my foot placement? Long Run teaches you to go the distance and what the end of the race should feel like.

R pace teaches neurological abilities. To run this fast in your current fitness state requires a ton of mental attention. This neurological adaptation will carry over into the other workouts and races making the other workouts seem easier.

I pace is not too dissimilar from R pace, but the intent is to try and run by feel moreso than actual pace on this. We still want to nail the 6:48 min/mile, but focus more on the effort necessary to do so then staring at the watch.

T pace is the threshold pace. This is defined as the pace you could hold for about 60 min in an all out race. It is believed that training at your lactate threshold will improve your bodies ability to efficiently clear fatigue. It will enable you to run faster over longer distances.

It is important to remember that all paces at Daniels T or faster should be done on a flat stretch of road.

Memorize the effort needed to complete each run. When weather dictates that the run needs to be slower, then continue to run at the effort equivalent to a different day that had good weather. This may mean that what was suppose to be 8:34 becomes 9:00. That's ok, because effort based running trumps paced based running. However, if you're feeling good and the weather is great doesn't give you the liberty to run faster. If prescribed 8:34, but equivalent effort feels like 7:50, run 8:34 and pull back.

Important Techniques One of the most important aspects of running long distance races is your running form.

Foot strike - The general recommendation is to have about 180 steps per minute or more. To have this many steps per minute, it forces you to take smaller, shorter strides and quicker foot movements. You can measure this with a phone app metronome or have someone watch you run and count. Your Garmin measures this. Foot strike during the easy running (LR or EA) is still important for reducing injury risk by making sure it is light-footed. Don't force this too much. Gradually over time find your happy place for cadence with a nice quick stride. Having your foot fall underneath your torso is the most important part because overstriding tends to lead to injuries.

Breathing - Ultra important during long distance racing. The body needs the maximum amount of oxygen you can deliver during long distance running. During all of your runs try to breath in a 1 in + 1 in + 2 out pattern (i.e. in on left foot, in on right foot, out on left/right foot). In addition, these breaths in should be from as deep in your lungs as you can. Relax your stomach and this will allow for deeper breathing. You can also try a 1 + 1 + 3 pattern if you find yourself with injuries developing only on one side of your body as this might be related to extra force during exhaling/inhaling.

Shoulders - Try this right now. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Interlock your fingers in front of your body and turn your hands so that you see the top of your hands. Lock your elbows, and slowly swing your arms in front of you until they are now above your head. Memorize how your shoulders/chest feel. Now release your interlocked fingers, but try to not move your chest or shoulders. This is your proper upper body running form. It may seem awkward now, but over time it will feel normal.

Arms - Arms should stay tight to the body with your hands closed but relaxed.

Eyesight - Keep your eyes up. Your eyes should stay at eye level or higher. As your eyesight drops to look at your feet you reduce your lung capacity by as much as 30%. Since oxygen is so important to running, this decrease in oxygen can have a large effect on finishing time. I find this to be the biggest culprit when people say breathing is holding them back. This will likely be the single most important aspect of being able to accomplish the R, I, and T pacing. Eyes up and stay as relaxed as possible. Try to think of your jaw as jelly.

The warm-ups are key for anything faster than "long run" pace which includes Strength and Tempo. Essentially, there are two main pathways for the body to use oxygen to produce energy. The aerobic pathway is mostly used in slower running. The closer you get to the point where it becomes harder to breathe (Ventilatory Threshold) the more you use the anaerobic pathway. The aerobic pathway is more efficient and faster at creating energy, whereas the body uses anaerobic when the aerobic can't keep up (because you're going too fast).

The most interesting part between the aerobic and anaerobic pathway is that even though the aerobic is used mostly during slow running it takes about 6 minutes of running before it can be used. This means for the first 6 minutes we're stuck with the slow, inefficient anaerobic pathway. So if you don't do a warm-up, and you're running faster than "long run" pace you push the anaerobic pathway too hard. This creates a deficit in energy within the first 6 minutes that becomes harder to overcome. As this deficit starts to catch up with you in later miles, it causes our running form to suffer. When we get closer to your first race we'll talk about a detailed warm-up routine done prior to the race which is extra important in races.

So for you, the EA, EB, and Long Run paces can all be started without doing any type of slow jog warm-up. I do dynamic stretching before all of my workouts and static stretching after my workouts. However, I don't like to make recommendations on stretching because the research I have read is that you're more likely to get hurt changing your stretching routine than if you did nothing/stayed the same.

Fueling

Just continue what you are doing since there aren't many green runs anyway.

Diet

My philosophy follows that of a European style. Eat more at Breakfast and Lunch, whereas Dinner should be a lighter meal. Another key for endurance athletes is making sure we're eating enough food in general and enough protein. Protein is the building block of the muscle. Without a good source of protein in your diet, you might as well not be training at all. After sustained training in a depleted protein state the leg muscles will just start starving and breaking down. For me, I prefer eggs and chicken as my primary source of protein. They are both high in bioavailable protein (eggs higher than chicken) while being relatively low in fat.

My other philosophy on diet is to try and make smart choices. When choosing between a natural item and a processed store item, it's best to choose natural. I used to eat sliced turkey deli meat (it was still good but not great). Now I put a couple of chicken breasts in a crock pot with broth once per week and leave it cooking all day. Then I remove the chicken, shred it, and wa-laa I've got healthier lunch meat made with little effort and in about half the price.

Lastly, I use chocolate milk after every run (8-16 oz milk with Nesquik powder). You can use commercial products instead of chocolate milk, but it gets expensive. And if something is only slightly better (commercial is better than milk), then it isn't worth nearly double the price. A carb protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 has been shown to decrease recovery time and rebuild muscle faster than nothing. I consume my chocolate milk within 15 minutes of finishing the run. In addition, I attempt to get a full meal within 90 minutes of finishing the run. If you consistently do the chocolate milk (or FairLife) and full meals within time, then you will see massive gains to your ability to recover between workouts and ability to store more energy in your leg muscles.

I'm currently doing the following (link).

What can I expect?

A training plan is a fluid process. The more you keep me in the loop the more I can help you. The gains you make will be dependent on how well you can stick to the plan. Making adjustments is not a bad thing. If we have to shift the paces up/down, or the duration up/down it's not a sign of failure. It's a sign that we missed the mark on the plan. The number one thing to watch in your training is you should always feel like at the end of every workout you could have done "one more". That's one more mile or one more interval. This plan should not push you so hard you can't finish a day's workout, or start to see a "fade" at the end of a workout. If you see this let me know. We can always make changes.

Alright, that's all I can think of at the moment. Let me know what you think about the training plan and my ideas.

************

And for a training plan without R pacing:

This is a first attempt. If you see something you don't like let me know. A training plan is only as good as how willing you are to do it. So if you don't like something, I want to change it because I want you to maximize getting better.

Day 1 - 60 min max Day 2 - 60 min max Day 3 - 90 min max Day 4 - 150 min max

This is a somewhat long length plan between now and your 10 miler, so I anticipate we might make changes along the way. Paces up or down, switching up days and such. What we need to see is how your body reacts and adapts to the training as designed. So the more feedback you can give me the sooner we can pivot if necessary. We need to be very cognizant of any "feelings" that go awry because they could be early signs that something is amiss. Primarily, I try and stick to 25-30% or less for the longest run of the week as the % total of the weekly mileage.

Training Plan Alright, here is my training plan for you. I am always open to changes as this is my first attempt. Please let me know if you feel it is too much or too little (either in pacing, time, mileage, days of the week, etc.) Now for my explanations.

My philosophy on developing a training plan is based on these principles:

1) Keep an 80% Easy / 20% Hard split. 2) Have the longest run in a week not exceed 35%. 3) Never exceed 2:30 hours in a training run. 4) Use Arthur Lydiard method of specialization.

I based the plan on your guess of a 37 min 5k fitness.

So, some logistics.

How to read the schedule

The "Pacing Code" describes all of the different paces used for different types of runs. The dates are written with Monday-Sunday. The codes next to the listed days correlate with the pacing code. The prescribed training for the day appears underneath the "Sunday date". If it just says 4 mi, then do 4 miles at the prescribed pace. The easy/hard columns are the separation of types of workouts to help visualize the balance in the plan. The % easy/hard are represented near the end of the line.

The yellow boxes represent the total mileage for the week. The red number represents the % of the longest run of the week relative to the total mileage completed.

Red runs - These are blinded runs. You are to only use your watch/treadmill as a guide to new intervals or distance completed. However, you may not use the watch as a means to pace yourself. Your goal on these days is to try and match the effort needed to run this pace. These are important excercises to teach your body to become more intune with your internal GPS. So during non-blind days always be cognizant of memorizing what the effort feels like. What does EA feel like? What does EB feel like? Over time you'll build a data bank of memories from which you can draw on for these blind running days. The end results of the blind runs are neither inherently good or bad but an assessment of your internal GPS. For a treadmill blind run, try covering the treadmill console with a towel and pushing up and down on the pace based on feeling (if possible). Ideally blind runs are done outside to get the "feeling" of effort.

Green runs - These are nutrition strategy runs. These are the only runs that you should take in any carb source. If the run is warm/hot you are allowed to take in (and suggested to do so) electrolytes. But keep the carbs to only the runs in green. Taking in any carbs when the training run is less than 90 minutes is a dampener of adaptations because it doesn't teach your body to run on fat. However, runs longer than 90 minutes require carbs because you start to increase necessary recovery time the more you starve the muscles.

The description is the key box telling you exactly what you should do on a given day.

Pacing

The pacing prescribed is solid. As an example, If I said to run 4 miles @ Long Run, then the goal is to run each individual mile at 14:46. If you were to start this workout and the 1st LR mile was completed in 15:46, the goal is to run the 2nd in 14:46. We don't want to sacrifice the 2nd mile to make the average 14:46 (i.e. don't run 13:46 to make up for the 15:46). I give myself windows based on the type of run:

Speed - +/- 5 sec HM Tempo - +/- 10 sec M Tempo - +/- 10 sec Daniels T - +/- 5 sec Long Run - +/- 10 sec

I also give myself a +30 second buffer on the first post-WU interval. I view each interval/mile as a mini-goal. Can I run this mile in 13:47? Can I run this 400m in 12:07 min/mile? If I'm too fast it's a failed goal. If I'm too slow I can live with it, but I missed the mark on the workout. Doing every workout at the prescribed paces maximizes the benefits received.

I try to hit 80% of intervals in a "hard" workout and 70% of intervals for the week. I stopped scoring easy intervals, because the easy days should be easy no matter what.

I tend to pay attention more to "lap pace" than "instantaneous pace". Because your pace smoothed out over 800m is more accurate than an immediate assessment on pace (instantaneous) which is based on satellites really really far away.

Something to keep in mind with the "easy" days. They should be EASY. They should almost never require that much effort. It is NOT a failure to run these 30-40-60 seconds slower if that feels right. Take easy days easy no matter the pace. Just don't let easy days get too fast because then they won't be easy anymore.

One thing to keep in mind as we move through changes in weather. These paces are scheduled based on your recent races (which may or may not be the same weather conditions as the upcoming training cycle). So use the following chart to give you an idea about pace adjustments necessary because of temperature changes.

Why each workout

The Daniels T should be comfortably hard. They are not easy, but push you just enough to maximize benefits.

Long Run teaches you to go the distance and what the end of the race should feel like.

M Tempo is the aerobic threshold.

HM Tempo should become a natural pace.

Speed is meant to clean up your form (breathing, posture, and cadence).

Strides are short bursts of speed that last no more than 10 seconds. They shouldn't be a sudden burst, but rather a controlled increase in speed (3 sec), maintain (4-5 sec), and then controlled decrease (3 sec). Do no less than 30 seconds (but certainly longer in-between is fine) of continuing the easy run until doing the next stride. You should feel fully recovered between strides before considering doing the next one. The strides should be saved until the last mile of the easy day, or after the easy day is over and post a short stretch (I prefer within my easy run). You should do about 4-5 strides in total.

Memorize the effort needed to complete each run. When weather dictates that the run needs to be slower, then continue to run at the effort equivalent to a different day that had good weather. This may mean that what was suppose to be 13:47 becomes 14:40. That's ok, because effort based running trumps paced based running. However, if you're feeling good and the weather is great doesn't give you the liberty to run faster. If prescribed 13:47, but equivalent effort feels like 12:30, run 13:47 and pull back.

As time progresses, we can re-evaluate your paces. But as we start out let's try these first. If you give the appropriate performance related indicators, then we'll make changes.

Important Techniques One of the most important aspects of running long distance races is your running form.

Foot strike - The general recommendation is to have about 180 steps per minute or more. To have this many steps per minute, it forces you to take smaller, shorter strides and quicker foot movements. You can measure this with a phone app metronome or have someone watch you run and count. Many Garmins can measures this. Foot strike during the easy running (LR or EA) is still important for reducing injury risk by making sure it is light-footed. Don't force this too much. Gradually over time find your happy place for cadence with a nice quick stride. Having your foot fall underneath your torso is the most important part because overstriding tends to lead to injuries.

Breathing - Ultra important during long distance racing. The body needs the maximum amount of oxygen you can deliver during long distance running. During all of your runs try to breath in a 1 in + 1 in + 2 out pattern (i.e. in on left foot, in on right foot, out on left/right foot). In addition, these breaths in should be from as deep in your lungs as you can. Relax your stomach and this will allow for deeper breathing. You can also try a 1 + 1 + 3 pattern if you find yourself with injuries developing only on one side of your body as this might be related to extra force during exhaling/inhaling. I highly recommend forcing this breathing technique on easy days so that it becomes natural.

Shoulders - Try this right now. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Interlock your fingers in front of your body and turn your hands so that you see the top of your hands. Lock your elbows, and slowly swing your arms in front of you until they are now above your head. Memorize how your shoulders/chest feel. Now release your interlocked fingers, but try to not move your chest or shoulders. This is your proper upper body running form. It may seem awkward now, but over time it will feel normal.

Arms - Arms should stay tight to the body with your hands closed but relaxed.

Eyesight - Keep your eyes up. Your eyes should stay at eye level or higher. As your eyesight drops to look at your feet you reduce your lung capacity by as much as 30%. Since oxygen is so important to running, this decrease in oxygen can have a large effect on finishing time. I find this to be the biggest culprit when people say breathing is holding them back. Try to think of your jaw as jelly.

The warm-ups are key for anything faster than "long run" pace which includes HM Tempo, Daniels T, and Tempo. Essentially, there are two main pathways for the body to use oxygen to produce energy. The aerobic pathway is mostly used in slower running. The closer you get to the point where it becomes harder to breathe (Ventilatory Threshold) the more you use the anaerobic pathway. The aerobic pathway is more efficient and faster at creating energy, whereas the body uses anaerobic when the aerobic can't keep up (because you're going too fast).

The most interesting part between the aerobic and anaerobic pathway is that even though the aerobic is used mostly during slow running it takes about 6 minutes of running before it can be used. This means for the first 6 minutes we're stuck with the slow, inefficient anaerobic pathway. So if you don't do a warm-up, and you're running faster than "long run" pace you push the anaerobic pathway too hard. This creates a deficit in energy within the first 6 minutes that becomes harder to overcome. As this deficit starts to catch up with you in later miles, it causes our running form to suffer. When we get closer to your first race we'll talk about a detailed warm-up routine done prior to the race which is extra important in races.

So for you, the EA, EB, and Long Run paces can all be started without doing any type of slow jog warm-up. I do dynamic stretching before all of my workouts and static stretching after my workouts. However, I don't like to make recommendations on stretching because the research I have read is that you're more likely to get hurt changing your stretching routine than if you did nothing/stayed the same.

Fueling

Just ask questions if you've got them. The key to remember is 2g carbs needs 1 oz water to absorb.

Diet

My philosophy follows that of a European style. Eat more at Breakfast and Lunch, whereas Dinner should be a lighter meal. Another key for endurance athletes is making sure we're eating enough food in general and enough protein. Protein is the building block of the muscle. Without a good source of protein in your diet, you might as well not be training at all. After sustained training in a depleted protein state the leg muscles will just start starving and breaking down. For me, I prefer eggs and chicken as my primary source of protein. They are both high in bioavailable protein (eggs higher than chicken) while being relatively low in fat.

My other philosophy on diet is to try and make smart choices. When choosing between a natural item and a processed store item, it's best to choose natural. I used to eat sliced turkey deli meat (it was still good but not great). Now I put a couple of chicken breasts in a crock pot with broth once per week and leave it cooking all day. Then I remove the chicken, shred it, and wa-laa I've got healthier lunch meat made with little effort and in about half the price.

Lastly, I used to use chocolate milk after every run (8-16 oz milk with Nesquik powder). You can use commercial products instead of chocolate milk, but it gets expensive. And if something is only slightly better (commercial is better than milk), then it isn't worth nearly double the price. A carb protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 has been shown to decrease recovery time and rebuild muscle faster than nothing. I consume my chocolate milk within 15 minutes of finishing the run. In addition, I attempt to get a full meal within 90 minutes of finishing the run. If you consistently do the chocolate milk (or FairLife) and full meals within time, then you will see massive gains to your ability to recover between workouts and ability to store more energy in your leg muscles. I'm currently using a commercial product to try and reduce my sugar intake and feel quite confident in it.

What can I expect?

A training plan is a fluid process. The more you keep me in the loop the more I can help you. The gains you make will be dependent on how well you can stick to the plan. Making adjustments is not a bad thing. If we have to shift the paces up/down, or the duration up/down it's not a sign of failure. It's a sign that we missed the mark on the plan. The number one thing to watch in your training is you should always feel like at the end of every workout you could have done "one more". That's one more mile or one more interval. This plan should not push you so hard you can't finish a day's workout, or start to see a "fade" at the end of a workout. If you see this let me know. We can always make changes.

Alright, that's all I can think of at the moment. Let me know what you think about the training plan and my ideas.

******

And a run/walk plan:

This is a first attempt. If you see something you don't like let me know. A training plan is only as good as how willing you are to do it. So if you don't like something, I want to change it because I want you to maximize getting better.

I can definitely do 4 days a week. Week days I can do 45 min (up to 60 on Fridays), weekend i can do whatever time is needed. If we add a 5th day, it’s easiest on tuesdat or Thursday - but I can make most saturdays happen if that’s what makes sense to train best for the latter miles.

Pacing wise, we took a shot in the dark because while you have a 5k time your description of the race leads me to believe you're faster than you think.

This is a normal length plan between now and the HM, so I anticipate we might make changes along the way. Paces up or down, switching up days and such. What we need to see is how your body reacts and adapts to the training as designed. So the more feedback you can give me the sooner we can pivot if necessary. We need to be very cognizant of any "feelings" that go awry because they could be early signs that something is amiss. Primarily, I try and stick to 25-30% or less for the longest run of the week as the % total of the weekly mileage.

Training Plan Alright, here is my training plan for you. I am always open to changes as this is my first attempt. Please let me know if you feel it is too much or too little (either in pacing, time, mileage, days of the week, etc.) Now for my explanations.

My philosophy on developing a training plan is based on these principles:

1) Keep an 80% Easy / 20% Hard split. 2) Have the longest run in a week not exceed 35%. 3) Never exceed 2:30 hours in a training run. *when continuous running 4) Use Arthur Lydiard method of specialization.

So, some logistics.

How to read the schedule

The "Pacing Code" describes all of the different paces used for different types of runs. The dates are written with Monday-Sunday. The codes next to the listed days correlate with the pacing code. The prescribed training for the day appears underneath the "Sunday date". If it just says 4 mi, then do 4 miles at the prescribed pace. The easy/hard columns are the separation of types of workouts to help visualize the balance in the plan. The % easy/hard are represented near the end of the line.

The yellow boxes represent the total mileage for the week. The red number represents the % of the longest run of the week relative to the total mileage completed.

Red runs - These are the classic Galloway Magic Mile runs. I've put one in this plan to assess current fitness. You are to do the easy warm-up and then attempt to run the mile as fast as you can comfortably. Do not push to the limit on these. We'll see where you are at and then can reassess pacing if desired. *NONE SCHEDULED

Green runs - These are nutrition strategy runs. These are the only runs that you should take in any carb source. If the run is warm/hot you are allowed to take in (and suggested to do so) electrolytes. But keep the carbs to only the runs in green. Taking in any carbs when the training run is less than 90 minutes is a dampener of adaptations because it doesn't teach your body to run on fat. However, runs longer than 90 minutes require carbs because you start to increase necessary recovery time the more you starve the muscles.

The description is the key box telling you exactly what you should do on a given day.

Pacing

These are the different paced type runs I came up with for now:


-HM Tempo is your "race pace". We can play with this a bit, but I like where this one falls in relation to all of your pacing. -10k is your 10k pace using intervals. -Easy/Long Run is the bulk of training at the classic Galloway + 2 min pace. -EC is a continuous paces (easy) that we will slowly introduce and find out how they go before moving in any direction with continuous training. It's at a 10:36 min/mile.

The goal with the EC paced runs are to try and stick to about +/- 10 seconds from the goal pace.

Something to keep in mind with the "easy" days. They should be EASY. They should almost never require that much effort. It is NOT a failure to run these 30-40-60 seconds slower if that feels right. Take easy days easy no matter the pace. Just don't let easy days get too fast because then they won't be easy anymore.

One thing to keep in mind as we move into summer. These paces are scheduled based on your recent races (which were likely in better weather than what's coming). So use the following chart to give you an idea about pace adjustments necessary because of temperature changes.

Why each workout

Long Run teaches you to go the distance and what the end of the race should feel like.

HM Tempo teaches you what race effort feels like.

10k should help develop your ability to race faster.

Memorize the effort needed to complete each run. When weather dictates that the run needs to be slower, then continue to run at the effort equivalent to a different day that had good weather. This may mean that what was suppose to be 11:29 run becomes 12:00. That's ok, because effort based running trumps paced based running. However, if you're feeling good and the weather is great doesn't give you the liberty to run faster. If prescribed 11:29, but equivalent effort feels like 10:00, run 11:29 and pull back.

Because we took a shot in the dark with the paces, I'm going to need to hear some updates after the first couple of runs. I need to hear how the run felt. Especially once the HMT and 10k paces start.

Important Techniques One of the most important aspects of running long distance races is your running form.

Foot strike - The general recommendation is to have about 180 steps per minute or more. To have this many steps per minute, it forces you to take smaller, shorter strides and quicker foot movements. You can measure this with a phone app metronome or have someone watch you run and count. Many Garmins can measures this. Foot strike during the easy running (LR or EA) is still important for reducing injury risk by making sure it is light-footed. Don't force this too much. Gradually over time find your happy place for cadence with a nice quick stride. Having your foot fall underneath your torso is the most important part because overstriding tends to lead to injuries.

Breathing - Ultra important during long distance racing. The body needs the maximum amount of oxygen you can deliver during long distance running. During all of your runs try to breath in a 1 in + 1 in + 2 out pattern (i.e. in on left foot, in on right foot, out on left/right foot). In addition, these breaths in should be from as deep in your lungs as you can. Relax your stomach and this will allow for deeper breathing. You can also try a 1 + 1 + 3 pattern if you find yourself with injuries developing only on one side of your body as this might be related to extra force during exhaling/inhaling. I highly recommend forcing this breathing technique on easy days so that it becomes natural.

Shoulders - Try this right now. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Interlock your fingers in front of your body and turn your hands so that you see the top of your hands. Lock your elbows, and slowly swing your arms in front of you until they are now above your head. Memorize how your shoulders/chest feel. Now release your interlocked fingers, but try to not move your chest or shoulders. This is your proper upper body running form. It may seem awkward now, but over time it will feel normal.

Arms - Arms should stay tight to the body with your hands closed but relaxed.

Eyesight - Keep your eyes up. Your eyes should stay at eye level or higher. As your eyesight drops to look at your feet you reduce your lung capacity by as much as 30%. Since oxygen is so important to running, this decrease in oxygen can have a large effect on finishing time. I find this to be the biggest culprit when people say breathing is holding them back. Try to think of your jaw as jelly.

The warm-ups are key for anything faster than "long run" pace which includes HM Tempo, CV, and Tempo. Essentially, there are two main pathways for the body to use oxygen to produce energy. The aerobic pathway is mostly used in slower running. The closer you get to the point where it becomes harder to breathe (Ventilatory Threshold) the more you use the anaerobic pathway. The aerobic pathway is more efficient and faster at creating energy, whereas the body uses anaerobic when the aerobic can't keep up (because you're going too fast).

The most interesting part between the aerobic and anaerobic pathway is that even though the aerobic is used mostly during slow running it takes about 6 minutes of running before it can be used. This means for the first 6 minutes we're stuck with the slow, inefficient anaerobic pathway. So if you don't do a warm-up, and you're running faster than "long run" pace you push the anaerobic pathway too hard. This creates a deficit in energy within the first 6 minutes that becomes harder to overcome. As this deficit starts to catch up with you in later miles, it causes our running form to suffer. When we get closer to your first race we'll talk about a detailed warm-up routine done prior to the race which is extra important in races.

So for you, the EA, EB, and Long Run paces can all be started without doing any type of slow jog warm-up. I do dynamic stretching before all of my workouts and static stretching after my workouts. However, I don't like to make recommendations on stretching because the research I have read is that you're more likely to get hurt changing your stretching routine than if you did nothing/stayed the same.

Fueling

Just ask questions if you've got them. The key to remember is 2g carbs needs 1 oz water to absorb.

Diet

My philosophy follows that of a European style. Eat more at Breakfast and Lunch, whereas Dinner should be a lighter meal. Another key for endurance athletes is making sure we're eating enough food in general and enough protein. Protein is the building block of the muscle. Without a good source of protein in your diet, you might as well not be training at all. After sustained training in a depleted protein state the leg muscles will just start starving and breaking down. For me, I prefer eggs and chicken as my primary source of protein. They are both high in bioavailable protein (eggs higher than chicken) while being relatively low in fat.

My other philosophy on diet is to try and make smart choices. When choosing between a natural item and a processed store item, it's best to choose natural. I used to eat sliced turkey deli meat (it was still good but not great). Now I put a couple of chicken breasts in a crock pot with broth once per week and leave it cooking all day. Then I remove the chicken, shred it, and wa-laa I've got healthier lunch meat made with little effort and in about half the price.

Lastly, I used to use chocolate milk after every run (8-16 oz milk with Nesquik powder). You can use commercial products instead of chocolate milk, but it gets expensive. And if something is only slightly better (commercial is better than milk), then it isn't worth nearly double the price. A carb protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 has been shown to decrease recovery time and rebuild muscle faster than nothing. I consume my chocolate milk within 15 minutes of finishing the run. In addition, I attempt to get a full meal within 90 minutes of finishing the run. If you consistently do the chocolate milk (or FairLife) and full meals within time, then you will see massive gains to your ability to recover between workouts and ability to store more energy in your leg muscles. I'm currently using a commercial product to try and reduce my sugar intake and feel quite confident in it.

What can I expect?

A training plan is a fluid process. The more you keep me in the loop the more I can help you. The gains you make will be dependent on how well you can stick to the plan. Making adjustments is not a bad thing. If we have to shift the paces up/down, or the duration up/down it's not a sign of failure. It's a sign that we missed the mark on the plan. The number one thing to watch in your training is you should always feel like at the end of every workout you could have done "one more". That's one more mile or one more interval. This plan should not push you so hard you can't finish a day's workout, or start to see a "fade" at the end of a workout. If you see this let me know. We can always make changes.

Alright, that's all I can think of at the moment. Let me know what you think about the training plan and my ideas.

XXXXXXXXXXX

After the instructions are sent, then come the waiting on my end. I need to verify that the plan is acceptable to the user and whether any tweaks need to occur. This is usually when someone remembers a vacation they forgot or something similar. So a small re-write occurs and then we're good to go.

After the plan commences, I have the runners message me periodically on their progress. Hearing how the running is going/feeling helps me make any necessary adjustments along the way. As I say in the last section, making changes is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means I missed the mark. But I am always watching out for the "fade" and signs of something going wrong in their responses. I also make on the fly adjustments when life comes up (and it always will).

So that's the process!

-Start with the Q/A -Set the foundation based on races and weeks to "A" race -Write in the long runs and easy runs -Write in the hard runs -Double Check the plan -Send instructions -Have check-ins from the runner to assess progress along the way

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