In the last post, I gave the periodization idea of starting with high mileage, then decreasing the mileage while increasing the pace. The important point was that overall training workload or stress stayed constant after the initial mileage increase. Generally, people have felt that, as the season progresses, fitness increases and therefore training workload should increase. This has led to the more common periodization plans, which I'll describe under their most common names (names that irritate me, by the way).
This is the standard plan, seen in all training manuals from the 1980's. First, one works on one's endurance by doing long steady runs. Then there's usually a transitional phase, incorporating hills, either fartlek or hill repeats, the idea being to increase the workload and develop leg strength in preparation for the next, more difficult, phase. The next phase incorporates speedwork, either interval running or tempo runs or both. The last phase is a taper, where the workload is decreased by dropping mileage, but incorporating some very fast running, such as strides or sprints. Depending upon the length of the race for which one trains, there may be a racing phase and/or a recovery phase.
Here, the idea is that what's difficult is not the speed, but rather the distance of one's race. For example, a marathoner trying to break 3 hours might find that running a sub-7 mile is easy, but stringing together 26 of them is what's difficult. In this plan, one starts with the speedwork and then adds mileage, the reverse of the previous plan. Progress is measured by how many miles one does at race pace.
This is what most coaches now claim to advocate. One trains for all aspects of one's race at all times during the season, but shifts the emphasis from one aspect to another. This shift in emphasis, however, generally turns out to be "linear." A nonlinear approach to training for a 10K might be to have regular time trials to work on improving one's speed over the distance and an interval workout where one tries to run as far as possible at one's goal 10K pace; as the season progresses, the two workouts become more similar.
I think I have two more posts on the subject to come. One will discuss alternating hard and easy weeks and the other will be my own variation on periodization and crash training that I used with success in the 1980's.
Big change in life today
3 days ago