Monday, February 24, 2014

Spotlight: The 14 Day Micro-Cycle

Today I want to open up my playbook a little and talk about a 14 day micro-cycle I utilize with many of the runners I coach, and why I find it very effective.

The 14 Day Micro-Cycle is a training structured that is a 2 week repeatable sequence that contains 5 stress workout opportunities in that 2 week period.  

The structure look like the following: 

The speed workout on Day 1 is usually some form of interval workout over shorter distance (i.e. 200's or 400's or 800's, etc.).

The stamina workout on Day 4 is usually a some form of tempo run or tempo repeats focused on improving either lactate threshold or aerobic threshold.

The endurance workout on Day 7 is usually a long run with some type of quality element to it such as a tempo section, fast finish or steady state long run.

The stress workout on Day 10 can be either a speed workout or a stamina workout depending on the training phase the runner is in and the race distance they are training for.  

The endurance workout on Day 13 is usually an easy or moderate pace long run.

There are 2 easy recovery days after each of the first 4 stress workouts in the cycle allowing the runner to attack workouts hard knowing they have 2 days to recover afterwards.  

After the 5th stress workout there is only 1 recovery day, so we make that our shortest and easiest day of the micro-cycle to ensure recover before the speed session on Day 1 of the new cycle.  

If the micro-cycle is started on a Monday than both long runs (day 7 and day 13) fall on weekend days, Sunday and Saturday respectively.  This is an advantageous set-up for many runners who work a full time Mon-Fri job, as well as for students who go to schedule full-time during the week.   

I find this 14 day structure also sets up for strength training.  I like to have my runners do 2 drill circuits and 4 core circuits per week.  So I will have them do drill circuits on days 2, 5, 8 & 11 and core circuits on days: 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 14.   This allows them to be doing some form of strength training every day except their long run days and also makes sure they are not doing the harder drill strength circuit on the day before a stress workout (to promote fresher legs for the stress workout).  

Who might benefit from this micro-cycle structure?  I think it fits many marathoners well as their workouts tend to be longer and more energy system fatiguing, so the 2 recovery days after 4 of the 5 workouts give them ample time to recover while still keeping mileage levels up.  As mentioned earlier, it also fits students and full-time workers well.   It also is very effective for shorter distance runners (3k-10k specialists) who want to maintain a higher mileage level during their base or fundamental phase, before switching over to a 7 day 3 stress workout schedule to get more quality density closer to or in-season.  

Happy Running,

Coach Mark Hadley

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Taking The Worry Out Of Weather

Many runners spend a lot of time worrying about the weather.  Deciding what clothes to wear and whether or not to run outside or on a treadmill inside can preoccupy their minds, sometimes for hours before their runs.  I have come to realize that this worry and preoccupation causes far more stress than any actual effects of the weather may have during the run.

So I am suggesting taking away some of the guess work out of the equation, so that you know in advance how you'll handle each situation.  This will give your mind less to worry about, so you can focus more on the planned workout that day.

I propose coming up with your own personal weather chart, that lists the "real feel" temperature and how you will handle that in terms of what you wear, where you run, and any anticipated effects on paces/performance.  Then just put a copy of this chart in on your dresser, or in your locker, or where ever you prepare for your runs.  No worries, just check the weather quickly before your run and prepare according to your personalized chart. :-)

There is no right or wrong answers in this chart, it is personal to you based on your experience and what you are comfortable with.  And of course you can adjust this chart as your experience grows with certain temperature rages.

Things you may want to include on your chart:

  • "Real Feel" temperature range
  • Clothing to wear in easy or long run
  • Clothing to wear in race or quality workout
  • Adjustments for precipitation
  • Performance/pace adjustments for the weather 
  • When to run indoor vs outdoor
Your chart may look something like this:

Often just having a chart like this made up, can give us a little peace of mind in knowing how we plan to deal with any type of weather situation we may run into.  It can also be handy to have as we approach a new weather season so that we can make sure we have enough of the apparel we may need on hand.  

Happy Running,

Coach Mark Hadley