Phase 2: PREPARATION60 percent Endurance
15 percent Speedwork
25 percent Strength
Preparation means strengthening the body for the fast running to come, says McMillan. You continue to build endurance through long runs, but a few of your easy days become tempo miles or hill repeats.
Endurance: The long run. Continue to build or maintain endurance by upping your long runs to 6 to 15 (or more) miles, depending on race distance.
Pace: Half-marathon race pace or slightly faster, or a seven or eight on a 10-point perceived-exertion scale. You can alternate your tempo runs with long repeats (miles, 1200 meters) run at 10K pace to help prepare your body for faster running.
Speedwork: Tempo runs or long repeats. Tempo running trains your system to utilize lactate instead of letting it shut you down, and also develops muscular endurance and strengthens connective tissues.
Strength: Hill running. Hills are by far the best strength training for runners, says McMillan, because they're specific to the sport and they put the same demand on your muscles as weight training. Run them at a hard, but not all-out effort. Reduce your gym workout to once a week or upper body only.
Phase 3: PEAK40 percent Endurance
50 percent Speedwork
10 percent Strength
You have one goal this period: speed. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts, and as you do so, drop the overall volume (miles/hours) by about 10 percent.
Endurance: The long run. Maintain endurance with long runs slightly shorter than those in Phase 2, depending on your race goals. For example, if you topped out at 14 miles in the prep phase, run 10 in this one. Shorten them further as race day approaches.
Speedwork: Two speed sessions a week dominate this phase, as well as the option to run tune-up events—shorter races to help you prepare for your main event. Focus one session on short, fast repeats, such as 400s or 800s at 5K pace. Do a tempo run or long repeats (1200s for example) for your second speed session.
Strength: Replace one speed session every third week with a hill workout to retain strength and power. You can continue your strength training once a week, maintaining the same weights and reps; or put weight-training on hold until after your race.