Creating An Optimal Long-Term Training Plan

Learn how to fit your shorter training blocks into the bigger picture. 

Runners tend to think of training in isolated blocks: 16 or 20 weeks for a marathon, 8 to 12 weeks for an upcoming 5K and so on. However, training doesn’t always occur in neat little segments as we’d like to think. Each training cycle builds upon the last to improve some aspect of your fitness and to make you a better runner. Therefore, rather than looking at training and racing in independent weekly segments, runners should take a more holistic view, planning instead in one or two year blocks.

This long-term approach sounds fine and dandy if you’ve been running for a long time or if you’re well-versed in training theory, but if you’re a new runner or don’t have a strong grasp on exercise physiology, this can be a difficult and confusing task.

RELATED: Become A Faster Miler To Become A Better Marathoner

Each runner is unique, and over the following pages I’ll explain why you need to vary your training for different race distances over the span of one or two years and then outline a few long-term approaches you can take to train optimally year-round for your favorite distance.

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