Planning Your Training Part 1: Long Range
This is a pretty lengthy discussion that I will try to make as simple as possible. There are also a lot of opinions out there on this subject, but this is the framework that I have worked off of for many years.
Lets start with a simple list of steps:
1. Define your overriding goal and when it occurs.
2. Work back from your goal and identify any sub goals, events or mile stones along the way.
3. Create a training calendar, broken into months, that starts with your goal and goes backward back to now. Insert the sub goals into the calendar and identify their level of importance (I generally have A, B, and C events with A being my larger goal and C being less important…more on this later.)
4. Put into the calendar any known training roadblocks…vacation, work trips etc.
5. Identify what each block’s focus should be. Event/goal specific training should be highlighted the closer you get to the end and broad and general training should occur first to set the “base.”
5. Each block should be 3-6 weeks in length. The block starts with a baseline test and should grow in volume, possibly intensity, and should culminate in a retest. Between blocks you should have a “deload” period of 3-7 days with extra rest and no more than 50% of the weekly average volume from the previous block.
6. The blocks will not encompass 100% training days of that block’s focus but should be more than 50%. As an example if you are in an aerobic base building phase then 3-4 of the days training in a given week should be spent on aerobic base development with 1-2 rest days and the other 1-2 days spent on strength work, speed work etc. If strength work is the focus of this block then ensure you are actually focusing on getting stronger (which entails proper rest, recovery and fueling) and that you are not just adding strength work to an already busy training schedule. We will discuss examples of different blocks in a post coming soon.
7. If your main goal is more than 8-12 months away then realize that you will likely need 2-3 waves of blocks with proper rest, deload, and rebuilding phases. As an example if my goal was to run a 100 mile race two years from now then I would base build for 2-4 months, focus on speed and vertical climbing for 1-2 months, taper and then race a B or C race. Then would come a rest period, followed by a month of strength focus and then back to base building, speed etc. I would repeat this cycle as needed to get to the race two years from now.
8. Each block should ramp up. Some people like to do easy, hard, easy, harder, deload. While others like to do easy, hard, harder, hardest, deload. There are obviously even other ways to do this but in general it should get progressively more challenging and you should be looking forward to the deload week.
9. Write down and tell your self that life will get in the way and that it is OK…until its not OK. No training plan will be executed to perfection. We all get sick, have life emergencies, and generally have wrenches thrown into our plans. Its OK! Until its not. Let these bumps in the road roll of your shoulders but make sure you get back on the horse before it becomes too easy to keep telling yourself that you will get back at it “tomorrow.”
Below is a sample long range calendar. Don’t get too hung up on the details. We will dive deeper into how each month/week/ day should look in future posts. Do take note of the fact that the only information in there is what needs to be there. Goals, events, time off, new training blocks, testing and retesting and peak weeks. The blank weeks will be easy to fill in later as you already have your road map.