Basic Training – 30 Percent
After recovery, get in a simple routine so you can get consistent with your training and begin the process of getting fit again. The goal here is to set the stage for your real training (which follows), not to get fast or add miles. Inside Marathon Nation we have a template basic week that members can repeat as often as needed. It’s short, concise, and easily applied to the average person’s schedule. It’s tempting to start laying down some personal best times, but we want to spend at least two to four weeks at the start of each training cycle to build a good rhythm and getting on a proper schedule that's easy to follow.
Get Fast Training – 40 Percent
With the recovery and basic training behind you, it’s time for you to start thinking about getting fast. Inside Marathon Nation we always build speed before we add distance, as experience has shown that adding intensity (speed) to a program with significant mileage in it (distance) is a recipe for over-training, fatigue, and potential disaster.
Our Get Fast training plans are all eight weeks long, although sometimes folks will follow them for just a few weeks. Regardless of your plans, know that the goal of the Get Fast plan is to improve your 5K or 10K time; the critical benchmark of your fitness inside Marathon Nation. If you can improve your 5K by one or two minutes over the eight weeks, you will have improved your marathon potential by approximately 10 minutes.
Many long-distance runners will switch to a volume-oriented approach when their race focus begins, but these early miles are often run very slowly—in other words there’s little fitness adaptation. Not to mention that a five- or six-month plan with consistent aerobic miles will stifle your fitness during the long term. Don’t fall victim to the same old approach to adding miles; focus on the volume you can handle and manipulate the intensity to get the results you need to see great progress.
Race Preparation – 20 Percent
And last, but not least, we have the race preparation block of your season. You started off rested, and then added a basic routine that's manageable and effective. You followed that up with eight weeks of solid Get Fast training and built some serious fitness. So far we’ve barely bumped up against your allotted training time…until now.
With the shift to race prep, we’ll see the intensity drop as we add more miles to your weekly program. These aren’t “hard” miles, per se, as running at 45 to 60 seconds per mile slower than your average Get Fast session is actually pretty easy in comparison. During this phase your weekly long run should progress to be between 75 and 80 percent of your goal race; you might even consider a race simulation run to test your fitness across a greater distance.
Even though the demands on your time and body have significantly increased in this phase, it’s manageable because you have been careful all year. You haven’t been training tons already, so you aren’t fatigued. You’ve been smart with your time and as a result, you are present at work and haven’t ditched your family and/or social commitments. It’s time to focus exclusively on your race, from your diet to your equipment to training…and you have the physical, mental and personal bandwidth to make it happen.