“The great thing about running is that you don’t have to think about anything, just running.” Very true statement, except when talking about training for a competition and how to organize training within the week. We have already talked about how many miles to run to prepare for a race and how to increase mileage but not how to distribute the mileage within the week to make efficient our training. Because i’is not just a matter of taking kilometers and distributing them haphazardly in the calendar but it’s about shaping the days considering long workouts, recoveries, quality andfatigue accumulation-oriented workouts.
A small digression on the latter topic is necessary, and here the “don’t try this at home alone” overlay should appear. Fatigue accumulation is a technique that leads to accumulation of workouts without optimal recovery. Seen this way, it might seem like colossal nonsense, but i’is a method that serves to make our bodies adapt to handling high workloads that could not be handled in single training sessions. Let me give you an example: if you are preparing for a long distance (a marathon, for example), running 10/12 kilometers at race pace on Saturday leads to starting the Sunday long run already with some residual fatigue in your legs, making the long run more effective. Be careful though, as I told you a few lines above, you should not make these workouts a habit and it is good that they are always decided together with your coach.
However, let’s set aside the accumulation of fatigue now to see together how to distribute the kilometers during the week.
1. Start with the essential workouts
Planning quality training and a long one for endurance is essential and it’s the ‘foundation’ of your week. If you want, you can also throw in a medium distance run at easy pace, which will help increase mileage but without affecting fatigue too much, and can be done close to the speed session – even the day after.
2. Push away the hardest days
As I told you, any serious preparation involves at least two “hard” workouts a week. These two works should be placed on the calendar intelligently by spacing them “equally.” For example, putting the intervals on Thursday and the long run on Saturday means you have too little recovery before the long; ideally, you should instead put them in according to the Tuesday + Saturday pattern for all weeks, that way you can recover before the long run, before the intervals, before the long run, before the intervals. And so on ad libitum, fading, until the race.
3. Distribute the mileage
Creating an excessive imbalance between the week’s mileages can be detrimental and increase the risk of injury. After all, the week has 7 days, why should we work so hard for two days and do nothing every other day? Ideally, we should divide the week into two blocks: a 4-day block where we will have the medium distance run and quality workout and a 3-day block where we will include the long run, and inserting a rest day in each block. I’ll give you an example with a 50-kilometer total week.
Tuesday: 7 km (quality work: intervals, fartlek, tempo run)
Wednesday: 13 km at easy pace
Thursday: 5 km at easy pace
Saturday: 20 km (long run)
Sunday: 5 km at easy pace
As you can see, each hypothetical block has 25 km and the two main workouts are equidistant.
One more thing
There’s another extremely important factor to consider: nutrition. One of the conveniences of weekly workout planning is that it allows us to adapt and organize the main aspects of nutrition as well. So along with the workout plan, it is also important to prepare a weekly planner for what we will eat.
Now all that’s left is to get the calendar and get busy, right!