There are three specific factors that define a runner’s approach to high-intensity training: the frequency of high-intensity work within the typical training week, the challenge level of individual high-intensity workouts, and when high-intensity work is phased into and out of the training program. You can manipulate each of these factors based on what you learn about how your body responds to this type of training. A vast majority of road racers (5K to marathon) find that a schedule of two to three high-intensity workouts per week works best for them, and I suggest that every runner start there. Table 3.1 shows a typical training week in Deena Kastor’s preparation for the 2004 Olympic Marathon, where she won a bronze medal. The three high-intensity sessions are bold. More than frequency of high-intensity training, what distinguishes the optimal training formulas of runners who can handle a lot of high-intensity work from those of runners who cannot is the challenge level of those workouts. An appropriate speed workout for a runner who is easily overwhelmed by high-intensity training might be 8 400 m at 3,000 m race pace with 2:00 jogging recoveries, whereas a runner who can handle a lot of high-intensity work may run 20 400 m.
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