The First 6 Weeks
Having completed a 10-week break-in period similar to the one described under training for the 10-km race or standard marathon, I am ready to start increasing the weekly distances I run in training with the aim of peaking with 2 weeks of 160 km (see Exercises 6.8).
Notice that the major difference between the training program described in Exercises 6.8 and that in Exercises 6.6 is that the total running distance on Tuesdays and Thursdays is greatly increased in Exercises 6.8, as is the distance of the long weekend-training runs. The relative rest days of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday remain the same.
The key during this phase is to increase gradually the total distance run each week by increasing the amount run on the 3 hard-training days. I pay exquisitely careful attention to the symptoms of overtraining, and if any of these develop, I don’t run on the relative rest day and I approach the next hard-training day with utmost caution. Should these symptoms remain even after a full day’s rest, then
Adapted from Inside Running: Basics of Sports Physiology (pp. 98, 101, 103) by D.L. Costill, PhD, 1986, Benchmark Press, Canmet, IN. Copyright 1986 by Benchmark Press, Inc.
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The next hard-training day becomes a light-training day, and this continues until all symptoms have disappeared. What is really remarkable is how quickly the body recovers when given a chance. With just 24 hours of rest I am usually fully recovered, and the next training session is inevitably a delight.
Two other important indicators of whether the training load is optimal are the times run over a regular training course and performance in interval sessions or time trials. I frequently run the same course between my work and home. By
Regularly checking my running times over that course, I can immediately spot when I am doing too much, because the run will take longer and will require more effort. Conversely, fast, effortless runs indicate that I am approaching my peak.
A question that is yet to be resolved is whether, when one is training hard, each training week should be of the same distance or whether there should be a varied pattern in which, for example, the normal mileage of 140 km is run the 1st week, reduced by 20% (to 112 km) for the 2nd week, increased by 15% (to 160 km) for the 3rd week, and reduced by 50% (to 70 km) for the 4th week. The need for variation is argued by both Galloway (1983) and Costill (1979). Galloway feels that we all need one week of reduced training each month to allow our bodies to repair themselves. My own feeling is that Galloway is probably correct and that altering weekly training distances probably also reduces the risk of overtraining. But the 6-week hard-training program is probably just short enough to reduce the risk of overtraining, particularly because the program leads directly into the tapering and sharpening period. The athlete who plans a longer buildup should consider varying the training distances.