Epic Running In 2021 Starts Now: my training cycle

For epic running 2021. Training begins now.

I’m going to take you through my training plan for the remainder of 2020.

Starting with the structure.

One key point differentiates my training from most other programs. I am not following the typical 7 day week. Instead I’m extending my training weeks out to 9 days.

It’s a better way to fit everything I need to while getting enough recovery. It also allows me not to have the down weeks as much as is in other training programs.

Working Life

The other reason is it fits in more with my working life.

I’m a shift worker.

I do rotating shift work. At the moment i’m on a 9 day cycle of shifts.

Starting off with the day shift. Then the shifts get later as they go along. Followed by a bunch of days off. It all starts again.

Training Guideline

What is on each of those nine days?

Have in mind this plan is a guideline.

I’ll have things that come up that will get in the way and will force me to make changes.

Day 1: Easy Run

Begins with a super easy run.

The idea of this is to make sure I’m recovered and ready for the rest of the training week.

On these days it’s also kind of forced upon me. The work shift usually starts at 6 a.m and it’s 12 and a half hours long. I like to get my training done in the morning, that way that at the end of the day I can spend some time with the family.

I’m usually out doing my training at about 4:30 in the morning. It will be ridiculously slow. I’ll be out with the dog CC. The pace is dictated by her. She isn’t a fast runner but enjoys going for a run. We get 20 to 30 minutes of some very easy running and I’m ready for the rest of the day.

By getting up earlier and doing a little bit of exercise I feel way more awake than if I get the extra sleep and go straight to work.

Day 2: Hill Repeats

A later start for work means I get to fit in something a bit more substantial.

I dedicate this day to hill repeats.

About 20 to 30 minutes worth of work where I select a hill and I run up and come down really easy within that 20 to 30 minutes.

The run-up is not a full-on sprint, but it’s hard work. I’m aiming to get that spring, get the knees up nice and high with a full range of movement. I’m developing that force, power and technique under load.

It’s a session I’ve been including over the previous 8 weeks. I feel like it is making a substantial difference to my running.

Day 3: Easy Run

After we’ve had the slightly harder day of the hill repeats, it calls for something a little bit easier. So it’s an easy run.

All i’m going to do is head out and run for about 60 minutes. Keep the pace nice and easy. The heart rate down in my zone 2 or easy level for me. That’s keeping the heart rate below about 77% of my heart rate max. Which is below 137 bpm.

It’s just an easy run nothing special.

Day 4: Tempo Running

We should be feeling nice and fresh after an easy day. Time for a tempo run.

I define tempo pace above my aerobic threshold also termed that 1st lactate threshold and below the anaerobic threshold or the 2nd lactate threshold. Tempo sits in the middle thinking marathon pace to half marathon pace. It’s a solid run. That middle grey zone many say to avoid.

I find I respond well to these runs. Be careful as it’s easy to underestimate the recovery that’s needed from them. I’m going to gradually push it out.

I’ve been running this at 6km sandwiched between the warm up and the cool down of course.

It’s now time to extend things out. I’m looking at adding 1km each cycle. From 6km next will be 7, 8, 9 and then I’ll probably hold it at 10km for a little bit. See how my body responds. Then be looking at how to increase my training in other means as I consolidate the tempo run.

Just to add to the load on these tempo days it will usually be a night shift at work for me.

Day 5: Easy Run

I’ll work overnight into thisday so day number 5 in the cycle will be easy.

Usually a mixed bag with how I feel. I’m usually pretty flat and find it quite difficult to do any extended training or runs where I’m doing intervals. Asking to hold some high concentration for that day is usually not on cards.

All I’m doing is running on how I feel.

Day 6: Intervals

After I’ve had the easy days hopefully I can switch my body clock back around out of night shift.

I’m back on day times and am ready for interval training.

This is one of my key runs for the cycle.

At the moment intervals is where I’m doing my faster work.

I’m sticking with 6x1km efforts at my critical velocity. I had been running at a 4:30/km pace. This had been based on a 5km time trial a few weeks ago.

Now I am finding it’s a lot easier to run slightly faster.

I’m going to let that happen. Let the pace creep up. I’ll keep an eye on this session afterwards and double check my heart rates. Making sure I’m not doing anything crazy and really pushing it. Just creeping the speed a little bit faster. Going from 4:30km down to 4:28 maybe 4:26 or 4:25/km.

I’m getting used to the faster speeds. Taking about two minutes easy jog recovery in between each repeat.

That’s the main body of the session. There’s one key thing I’ve added beyond. Adding some faster repeats after the 6x1km.

I’ll do about 150 meter efforts for 4 repeats. 4x150m. With one minute recovery in between.

The pace will be significantly faster than I had been doing for the 1 kilometre efforts. If I was running 4:30/km efforts the pace for these 150m efforts would translate to maybe 3:30 or 3:20/km.

Really it’s a way of teaching my body to get used to running fast after already going hard for some time.

Day 7: Easy

It’s an easy day and again.

Probably somewhere around a 60 minute run. Might be a bit less. Might be a little bit more. Depending on how I feel.

The goal of that day is for it to be really easy.

Day 8: Long Run

This is will be one of my favourites. This is the day of the long run.

I have been running up 2 hours for most of my long runs lately. Now adding 10 minutes each cycle to that so 2 hours 10min, 2:20, 2: 30 and 2:40 will be the progression.

I will aim for a mixture of terrain. Trails, roads, hills, some flats and undulating sections.

The pace of it I’m not too worried about. It will be a by product of trying to keep my form up to scratch while keeping the intensity relatively low.

I’m keeping this one in my zone 2 which will be the same as I’ve mentioned for my other easy runs. But I will be working a little bit closer to that threshold area. Maintained below my aerobic threshold for me that’s below 137bpm for my heart rate which translates to about 77% of my maximum heart rate. Probably averaging between 125 to 130 beats per minute for the run. The pace will purely be a by product of that and the terrain.

Day 9: Non-Running Strength & Conditioing

I won’t run.

But I’m still training.

Something a little bit different.

I’ve been finding that by running every single day the loading on my Achilles’ tendon is too much. It’s not quite getting the break it needs to adapt and recover from all the training. If I give it that little bit of extra time off running it seems to respond way, way, way better.

This is still a very solid day.

I’m going to be spending that time in the gym.

Doing a mixture of exercises. Which will include some:

  1. plyometrics
  2. drill work
  3. form work
  4. range of motion work
  5. specific strength
  6. heavy weights with low reps
  7. isolated strength and conditioning targeting some weak points

Aiming to be fit enough to run rather than just running to try and get fit.

Usually finishing off with some upper body and core work. I’ll mix it up. Having the aim of adding a challenge that hurts. (recommended: How To Push Harder | 6 keys to run hard). I’ll be pretty stuffed at the end of it. I want to finish with something that challenges the mind to force myself to keep going that little bit more. The exact format will vary each cycle.

Extra Thoughts On The 9 Day Training Cycle

There we have it that’s my 9 day training cycle. Preparing for running in 2021.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned weekly mileage.

I’m not too concerned about it. Mileage becomes the by product of getting everything else right. From experience what I notice is this will probably translate to about 60km per normal week. So that’s over a 7 day week.

Then will gradually increase as my long run and tempo run extends. I’m not increasing the other runs at this stage. Just keeping those 2 runs out of the 9 day cycle. Everything else will stay roughly the same.

The 9 Days:

  1. Easy
  2. Hill Repeats
  3. Easy
  4. Tempo
  5. Easy
  6. Intervals
  7. Easy
  8. Long
  9. Strength & Conditioning

I’m not having up and down weeks. Not having like 2weeks build and then drop it off.

The recovery is built into the program. I’ll take some extra time off if I need it.

Hopefully I’ve got this one right. Unless anything else comes up this is the plan for the remainder of the year. At least until Christmas.

The aim is to be consistent in 2020 for my best running in 2021.

I’ll adjust it if my work schedule changes.

Keep on running and let me know if like this approach or have different ideas.

Don’t forget I have plenty of videos on this running thing on Youtube!