Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Hadley Liberty Training Cycle

The Hadley Liberty Training Cycle is a training cycle design that allows runners, ranging from 5k to marathon in specialty, to successfully prepare and peak for a goal race or series of goal races.  The Hadley Liberty Training Cycle got its name when one of Coach Hadley's children noticed the diagram of the cycles structure resembled the torch on the Statue of Liberty.  

The Hadley Liberty Training Cycle is made up of 4 training phases and the cycle as a whole typically ranges from 12 to 24 weeks in length, but can be modified if needed for other time frames.  Here is a brief overview of each phase.

Regeneration Phase
The Regeneration Phase is the first phase in a training cycle and starts as soon as the goal race(s) of the previous training cycle ends.  The purpose of the Regeneration Phase is to recover from the last training cycle and to recharge physically and mentally before beginning hard training for the next goal race(s).  The Regeneration break is made of of rest days, short easy runs and light cross training (if desired).  No stress workouts are under-taken during the Regeneration Phase.  The Regeneration Phase will last from 1 to 4 weeks in length depending on the length and demands of the last training cycle and goal race, and the physical and mental fatigue level of the runner.   

Base Phase
The Base Phase is the second phase in the training cycle and acts as a transition period between the recovery of the Regeneration Phase and the rigorous formal training of the Fundamental Phase. In the Base Phase the runner will resume doing stress workouts and fall back into the regular timing of their preferred micro-cycle structure (i.e. normal weekly training routine).  But in order to provide a transition period the stress workouts are kept somewhat less structured and moderate in terms of difficulty.  Quality workouts take the form of easy progressions and informal fartleks and long runs are kept easy to moderate in rhythm and moderate in duration. This Base Phase allows the runner time to get back into the swing of training, regain some of the lost fitness from the Regeneration Phase, but do so in a low pressure and more relaxed environment.  Typically the Base Phase will last the same duration as the Regeneration Phase, so if you take a 3 week Regeneration break then you can figure on a 3 week Base Phase to transition back into full training.

Fundamental Phase
The Fundamental Phase is the third and longest phase of the training cycle.  In the Fundamental Phase the athlete works to build their all-around running fitness with regular speed, stamina and endurance focused stress workouts (see last blog entry for workout examples).  As illustrated in the model above, the runner seeks to expand their fitness in each area.  There is a balance between categories (speed, stamina and endurance) so that no weaknesses are allowed to grow.  For example, if 3 stress workouts are used in each micro-cycle (be it 7 or 9 or 10 days long) then 1 will be a speed workout, 1 a stamina workout and 1 an endurance workout.  But the specific workouts done in each category will vary some from individual to individual based on the goal race distance and any personal strengths or weaknesses the individual athlete has.  Because of the balanced nature of the Fundamental Phase the runner can often race successfully in a fairly wide range of race distance often ranging from 5k to half marathon in distance. Typically the Fundamental Phase lasts between 6 to 12 weeks in length, our roughly half of the training cycle, allowing ample time for significant fitness gains to be made.  

Specific Phase
The Specific Phase is the fourth and last phase of the training cycle and includes the goal race or races.  In the Specific Phase the athlete takes the strong base of fitness built in the Fundamental Phase and starts to focus it in on the specific demands of the goal race distance.  The mixture between workout categories gets skewed towards the goal race demands and workouts within the categories take on a greater goal race focus.  All workout categories are still utilized but the timing and frequency of them changes depending on the goal race.  For example: stamina workouts and endurance workout will occur more often during a marathon Specific Phase than a speed workout will and within the stamina category, Aerobic Threshold workouts will be done more frequently and within the endurance category quality long runs (such as tempo and fast finish long runs) will grow in frequency and focus, as these workouts are more closely associated with race specific demands of the marathon.  This allows the runner to hone their fitness to a peak for a certain race distance.  Typically a Specific Phase will last between 4 and 8 weeks in duration, long enough to get the peaking and gains associated with race specific training, while not too long so that the skewing of category frequency causes any significant backsliding in important aspects of underlying fitness in the areas not worked on as frequently.  

While there are variation in the timing and format that can take place based on specific needs, this is the primary structure of training plans used and developed by Maximum Performance Running. More on each phase and the cycle as a whole coming in future posts.

For those of you who who are familiar with MPR's previous training cycle design discussed in previous blog posts and on the website. The main and only substantive difference between these designs is that I have now broken out more clearly defined the Base Phase from the Fundamental Phase. Previously I would have the first few weeks of the Fundamental Phase be a transition period similar to what I have described here as the Base Phase.  I have now broken it out into its own phase (albeit a short one) and more clearly defined it as I have found it to be a vital step in the flow of the training cycle. 

Happy Running! 


  1. Hey Mark!! Very good post and easy to understand! When I read the training pyramid I thought that you were changing your approach for Lydiard`s, but a 3 week base phase sounds about right:) and you include light stress workouts there! Keep up the great work!

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