Typical phases included in your training plan

Luke Humphrey Training Phases

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This is immediately post goal race or after peak season. How long you take in this phase will depend on the race distance, the length of the training segment, and really just how hard the segment was on you. The longer the race, the longer this phase will be, but in general up to about two weeks.


I have also seen as Alpha phase or rebuilding phase. But this a period of mostly easy running and long runs. If the phase is long enough, you’ll then begin adding hills, light tempo, and strides. This phase will be 3-12 weeks, depending on things like we discussed with the Regeneration phase. I’d also consider things like weather. A tough winter might make it a little easier to just stay here during the toughest stretch. 

Foundation phase

This will be the work that sets you up to handle the race specific work you’ll be doing next. Since I coach mostly marathoners, this would consist of 

– introducing marathon pace

– Improving lactate threshold

– Reaching near peak volume

– Reaching near peak long runs 

This phase typically lasts 6-8 weeks.if you have the itch to race shorter distances, now would be the time to do it. Just make sure it fits into the context of what your training represents. For most people training for a marathon a 10k or two would make sense during this phase. Realistic expectations need to be in place here. 

Race Specific Phase

This is 6-8 weeks of race specific dedicated training. For marathoners, this means your biggest marathon pace workouts, your longest and toughest long runs, and making sure you are strong and resilient for the distance. If you believe in the idea a cumulative fatigue, you are now in it! 

Race Peaking 

Now, technically, this phase can last up to 6-8 weeks, but that’s meant for short distances racers reaching a championship season. For marathoners, I like two weeks, but if you are really in the well, extend out to four weeks. 

Then you start all over again! 

A couple points here and maybe you picked up on it while reading through this. If you are a marathoner and a perpetual one at that, then when do you get to race? 

Well, if doing it right, not much! Sure, you can substitute some races in the right phases, but you’re still training hard, and these races are a secondary or tertiary focus. You won’t get an opportunity to race that much at peak fitness unless you dedicate a segment every now and then to a shorter race distance(s) so that you can go through a proper race specific and race peak phase. So, what am I saying? If you want to continue to improve in the marathon, take a season now and then and you’ll see continued improvement. 

Think about this this way, your marathon pace can’t be above your lactate threshold or your VO2max then we leave less and less room to improve if we never dedicate time to improving our race times that stress these areas. 

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