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


  1. this is awesome - thank you for sharing! i am really curious what the core and drill workouts look like (maybe they are on your site already - i will have to explore!), and also wonder when/if you put rest days in the training? i am typically taking one day of rest each week even if i don't feel like i "need" it ... i'd love to know your thoughts on that! one of these days i truly want to be coached by you. i admire your methods and approach so much, and everyone i know who has worked with you has such positive things to say about their experiences!

  2. Thanks so much Jessica for all the kind words. On the days off - if you are going to take a rest day using the 14 day micro-cycle that 14th day is the perfect place. That actually is probably a good transition for you as well if you are currently running 6 days per week to move to 13 out of 14 days in your next training cycle. You'll eventually get to a point where you find your body actually recovers better with a short 20-30 minute run rather than a complete rest day. I am working on some videos of the drill and core circuits and hope to have them up on You-Tue soon - I'll link to them here on my blog when they are up. :-) Happy Running!