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Monday, June 29, 2015

Ten-day training cycle

As I ease back into running, I'm considering moving to a 10-day training cycle temporarily. I've always used 7 days, and it usually has a few key features:
- a long run, always on Saturday.
- an easy easy run, a slow jog on soft surfaces, on Sunday.
- speed work. At least I USED to do this, Mondays at group track (canceled; everyone joined another Tuesday group but it's a farther track and a bad day for me).
- off day or cross-train day

The other days were just moderate running (although at times I was really consistent about a mid-week ten miler at a not-slow pace). The problem with this cycle was that I only got in one hard workout. I've tried two, but I could never adequately recover, and would end up hurt. So one speed session per week it was, and that meant too many moderate miles. See, speed session lead to recovery sessions. One speed session per week means just one easy day per week, too. And not enough variety running: almost all my runs were the same easy pace.
Another problem I foresee with the weekly schedule is handling cross-training. If I try to cross-train more to avoid injury, I can either sub an easy day for cross training and only run 5 days a week (not enough miles to improve) or sub an off day for cross training and never get a day off (hello, injury).

I've put together a tentative 10-day training cycle, and an example looks like this:

Long (long and slow)
Very easy (short and slow)
Easy(regular old running)
Very easy

So let's compare months:
Regular 7 day training cycle                 Ten day cycle
Long runs: 4                                             Long runs: 3
Hard days: 4                                             Hard days: 9
Very easy days: 4                                     Very easy days: 6
Off/cross training: 4                                 Off/cross training: 6
Easy/moderate days: 14                           Easy/moderate days: 6

As you can see, this gives me much more variety, and increases very easy or non-running days by a third. It is, however, a hefty jump in hard days, but "hard" isn't necessarily death-by-track every single day. Hard workouts can be mid-week long, tempos, fartleks, hills, or speed work, depending on the plan. I would definitely be redefining "hard".
The obvious drawback to a ten-day cycle is that your long runs could end up on a weekday. That shouldn't be an issue for me now, as I build up mileage, but if I were training for a half or full marathon, I'd have to reconsider.

What do you think? Doable? Safer? More dangerous? Have you ever used a ten-day plan?


  1. I've never done it, but I can't see doing a long run and going to work the same day. I guess it would be fine if it was under about 14 miles, but I generally hover at 14 or higher for my long run. And man, that would just be a mess at work afterward...

  2. I considered this sort of schedule, briefly, after reading "Meb for Mortals." Meb utilizes a 9-day training schedule. Looks like this: Day 1-long run, Day 2 and 3-recovery, Day 4-interval workout, Day 5 and 6: recovery, Day 7: tempo run, Days 8 and 9: recovery.

    It's tempting for me, but I have 3 (homeschooled) kids who are each involved in sports + my husband's job now has him traveling 2-3 days per week every couple of weeks, so it simply won't work for me (unless I win the lottery and hire a nanny/tutor-lol!!) Right now I'm only running 5 days per week and doing spin class twice a week. I'm slowly phasing in more intensity, but I can't see myself straying from the convenience and ease of a traditional 7-day schedule.

  3. I've always thought that a 7 day week just didn't work for me for training. I wanted one easy/rest day between hard workouts. But no matter how hard I petition the government they're not going to change it and I want to keep running with my group so I'm stuck with my 7 day structure. I just take off the occasional day hear and there when I need it. I think 10 days will work for youl

  4. Really interesting Grace. I can definitely see the benefits and love that you've put so much thought into it. I think it would definitely be safer, simply because of the additional recovery. I've ran long runs in the middle of the week, and the time needed before work is the issue. If you can make that aspect work, I say "go for it"! Plus, I 100% agree with the difficulty in two up-tempo workouts in the middle of the week. A lot of times, I'm not fully recovered from my Tuesday speed run when Thursday's tempo run rolls around. Most would say I'm probably running it too hard if that's the case ... which might be true.

    I think the single most important workout for long race training (half of full marathon), is the long run. I think the Hanson people don't necessarily agree with this, but I just feel long race simulation is the best way to adequately prepare. And if adding a few days to your cycle can help the long run go better, I would be all for it.

    Good luck - and great post!

  5. I honestly don't know enough about training and racing to recommend one or the other, but there are as many ways to train as there are runners, so if 10 days works for you, then it works. That's that.

    The 10 day cycle is kind of a new thing to me but it might work for me because my long runs are not so long that I couldn't do them on a weekday if I *had* to. Also I tend to race shorter distances so I could get by with 3 long runs a month instead of 4. More hard workouts as opposed to long runs are more beneficial for me, running 5K, 10K, and occasional half marathon, then more long runs. Even my fastest half came when I was doing more long tempo runs than traditional "long slow distance" bc I got to practice running at that half marathon pace more.

  6. I think a longer cycle is better if it works better for you. Plus, it keeps running fresh to try new things. I've considered a 9 day cycle after I read that Meb uses a 9 day cycle.

  7. I always wish there was more information about a 10 day training cycle - pretty sure some running books mention it as a "better" way to train, but no one (at least, no one who isn't a pro runner and therefore works to pay the bills) does this because it doesn't like up with the weekend. I've thought about it since I work such a varied schedule and spend half of my weekends at work, which leads to moving around workouts. It gets to be a mess because I'm running hard too many days in a row, or just trying to squeeze in workouts. I'm definitely going to look into this more...and I'll be interested to see how you work with this!