The key to staying refreshed and motivated is to make every third or fourth week much easier. Cut back your long run by up to half and replace a threshold or race pace run with a recovery jog. When it comes to the two week taper, reduce the volume of your training, but not too much. Your body will have become used to regular running, so still get out the door as frequently as before, just reduce the volume.
Speed sessions will improve your leg speed and your ability to work at a higher heart rate. Added to endurance runs, your speed sessions will maximise your aerobic potential. Early in your training, sessions can be as simple as four six minute runs at threshold pace, with two minutes recovery jogging in between. You can build this gradually throughout your plan. These will help train you to race conditions and be prepared for sudden surges, gradual wind-ups and fast finishes.
If your body is crying out for respite, then take an unscheduled rest day if you’re really tired.
The following schedule will give you a rewarding relay race, but to use it effectively, you’ll need to gauge your effort. Don’t know how, no problem – just read on. It’s all based on effort, or rather perceived effort.
6 out of ten ( Easy ) : Recovery running. Up to 45 minutes with the objective of being able to chat easily the whole time and feeling fresh at the finish.
6 out of ten ( Easy ) : Long Sunday runs.
7 out of ten ( Steady ) : Steady running. Somewhat harder pace than a recovery run, but you should be able to maintain a conversation.
8 out of ten ( Brisk ) : Threshold running. And target relay pace. You know you’re making an effort and you should only be able to speak a couple of words at a time.
9 out of ten ( Fast ) : Interval running. This is just below your maximum effort. You won’t be able to speak and you’ll probably feel the effects the following day.
So read that all again, try to take it all in, and read it again from time to time during the schedule. Let’s get on with it.