Most runners follow a training schedule that’s 7 days long, usually focusing on a mid-week speed workout and a weekend long run. And since many of us work Monday through Friday and have the weekends off, this type of schedule makes a lot of practical sense. But if you’re trying to break through a plateau or you’ve struggled with proper recovery in the past, you might want to consider a 10-day training cycle. This alternative is exactly what it sounds like—each training “week” is 10 days long as opposed to 7 days. This longer block of training has a lot of benefits, but it might not be right for everyone. Interested? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons.
Pros of a Longer Training Cycle
The biggest benefit of a 10-day (or longer) training cycle is that it allows for more flexibility and recovery time. Instead of trying to jam in interval workouts, tempo work, long runs and strength in a 7-day period, you have the ability to add in more recovery time. With more time to absorb the hard workouts and recover from the pounding, runners might see less injury and burn out.
With a longer training cycle, runners also have the opportunity to give their complete mental and physical focus to key workouts. You know the drill—there’s an interval workout on the schedule, but you’re still dragging from last weekend’s long run. You go ahead with the session, but maybe you cut it short or don’t quite hit the prescribed paces. With more time for recovery, that kind of run can be a thing of the past.
Sample 10-Day Schedule
- Monday: Easy run
- Tuesday: Intervals & strength training
- Wednesday: Rest day
- Thursday: Easy run
- Friday: Tempo run & strength training
- Saturday: Easy run
- Sunday: Rest day
- Monday: Long run
- Tuesday: Easy run
- Wednesday: Hill workout & strength training
Cons of a Longer Training Cycle
One of the major downsides to a longer training cycle is that it’s not always practical for day-to-day life. With no set day for long runs and speed work, training can be difficult to plan for. For example, what happens when your 20-miler lands on a Tuesday, but you also have a full day of work? With a less traditional schedule, you may also find it tougher to train with running buddies. Keep that in mind if you enjoy company for workouts and long runs.
A longer training cycle also requires more planning and training knowledge. So unless you’re using a coach, figuring out where each workout fits in a 10 day cycle can add a lot to your mental load.
There are pros and cons to any training approach, but a 10-day plan might work best for injury prone or older runners given its emphasis on recovery. It’s also a great option for runners with flexible work schedules (like freelancers and shift workers).
If you’re looking for more flexibility and recovery time while also aligning your training with a traditional calendar, a happy medium might be a 14-day schedule. You can still plan on one to two weekend long runs, but you’ll have more flexibility and breathing room when it comes to fitting in the other key workouts.
Sample 14-Day Schedule
Week 1: Plan for a speed workout on Tuesday, a Tempo run on Friday and an easy long run on Sunday. The remaining days should be easy runs or rest days.
Week 2: Pencil in a speed workout on Tuesday and a fast finish long run on Saturday. The remaining days should be easy runs or rest days.
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