Posted by: pointlenana | March 15, 2012

Periodization

People often say that runners shouldn’t increase their mileage by more than 10% per week.  Based on my own experience with injuries, that guidance sucks – it’s way too aggressive.  That suggests that someone could go from 40 miles to 70 in about 7 weeks.  My plantar fascia, knees and hamstrings all hurt thinking about that.  Periodization – ramping up for a while and scaling back occasionally – works better for me and I aim for increases of 10% every 3 to 4 weeks.  When I’ve done that I have fewer injuries.

There are lots of approaches to periods:

– every week add 5 minutes to each run, and then drop back every 4th week

– alternate long and short weeks – run 60 miles one week, 40 the next, 65 the next, 40 the next

– like  a sawtooth (what I’ve been doing lately), jump up, ramp down over a few weeks, and then jump up higher.  So for example, run 50 miles, then 45, then 40, then 55, 50, 45, etc..

The benefit to this approach is that your body has time (multiple weeks) to adapt to the previous peak, and right before you jump to a new peak you rest up during a relatively lighter week.  I find the big (peak) week is fine, I’m tired toward the end of the 2nd week, and I recover over the 3rd easy week.

The rhythm each week depends a little bit upon where I am in the cycle.  For example, if it’s a peak week, then my long run will often be done all at easy pace but go longer.  This way I get some of the peak miles done but I’m not thrashing myself with speedwork when the week will be long.  On a shorter week I might do a marathon pace run – a shorter long run but with a section at marathon pace.  In between I might do a long run with some tempo pace at the start and the end.

I haven’t figured out how speedwork should relate to the periods.  Generally I alternate between intervals and tempo and just try to avoid doing the same thing twice in a couple days.

I’m 5 weeks out from the marathon and starting to reduce the miles.  My run home from work last night was good – I felt strong, went reasonably fast (for a hilly run) and finished feeling like I’ll be ready.  The weather was bad though.  I started in a blizzard, got some nice sun midway and then finished in a steady rain.

My college friend and I are numbers 2 and 1 in Dana Farber fundraising right now.


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