When planning out your training plan/schedule step number one is to use the Easy/Hard Principle of Running to plan out your weekly schedule. After you have your weekly schedule laid out it is then important to begin planning even further ahead so you can schedule your working weeks and your cut back week. It is ideal to have three weeks on and then one week off. Just like we don’t want to push our body day after day (which is why you should have a weekly recovery day each week) we don’t want to beat our bodies up and push them to their limits week after week. If we do, the results can be scary – injury, exhaustion, etc.
Ideally, during your three weeks of work you can add a bit or mileage and building each time. You can also work on adding in or changing up a workout. For example: once my girls (clients) are through the base building phase we introduce tempo runs to build a bit of speed. I would introduce their first tempo run on the first week of this four week cycle. Give them the second week to improve it and maybe even add an extra half mile or so depending on how they did the first week. Then, the third week they do another very similar tempo run to work on perfecting that skill. Finally, after three weeks of hard work your body should be pretty exhausted and ready for a bit of a break.
I have personally found that cutting my mileage to 60% seems to be the optimal recipe for cut back week success and leaves me feeling fresh for a new 4 week cycle. So, if I had run 30 miles the week before cut back week: 30 miles x 0.60 = 18 miles for cut back week. This is not a week to lay around, eat pizza, and drink all the fancy-schmancy craft beer you can (though that does sound fabulous). This week is a chance for your body to recover. You should be running less, and helping you body to recover in other ways with that bit of extra time you gain. Think about tossing in some extra stretching, or, my personal favorite, a rest and recovery nap.
Then, you will be ready for a brand new 4 week cycle where you would continue to work on aspects of your previous four week cycle, but if you felt up to it might add in a new type of workout, perhaps fast finishes one day a week. However, remember to stick to your weekly Easy/Hard Principle of Running and don’t keep tossing too much on.
Let me know –
Have you put the Easy/Hard Principle of Running into place yet?
What do you think about inserting a cut back week after 3 work weeks?
Is run coaching advice something you find valuable?
Abby is an RRCA Certified Running Coach (so if you don’t want to do all the planning I can do it for you) who is blessed to be able to run for Mizuno Running. She is also lucky enough to be an ambassador for ProCompression, BAMRBands, and Nuun Hydration.