Every runner is destined to make some mistakes in choosing peak workouts and workloads. But these mistakes are learning moments. A runner who pays attention gains self-knowledge that enables him to choose better next time and still better the time after that. And the more expert that runner becomes in the practice of this skill, the less necessary training plans are. A few planned peak workouts and one peak training week are easy to remember. As with the standard weekly training schedule, there is no need to write them down. Training for a Peak Race To run faster on race day than you can run today, you must be fitter then than you are now. Fitness gains accrue at a generally predictable rate (although they accrue for some faster than others, of course). Thus, the less fit you are today, the more time you need to prepare for the race. Deciding how long to train for a peak performance is one of the most basic decisions in running, and yet it does not get a lot of attention. The training plans that runners find in magazines and books and online have certain typical durations that vary by race distance, but the rationales for these durations are seldom explained. Thus, it is unclear to the curious runner whether these typical durations are optimal (and if so, are they optimal for everyone?) or if their lengths merely represent conformity to convention. If I asked you to run your best possible 5K race, how much time would you request to train? What if I asked you to run your best 10K? How much time would you need for that? And your best half marathon? Marathon? You need to be good at answering such questions if you are to have success with any training approach, including the improvisational approach I’m preaching here. As with creating the optimal weekly workout schedule and choosing the optimal peak workouts and workload, establishing the optimal training cycle duration is an aptitude that improves with experience. But what works for one runner is generally within the zone of what works for most runners, so it makes sense for beginners who lack experience they can draw fromand even veteran runners who just have not paid much mind to the matterto begin by trying what works for most runners.


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