Training like an Olympian


By Gary Droze


Every season, the major running publications trot out six-month training plans designed to put racers on the path to a personal record (PR). While these plans are typically well-constructed, they also presume that we are sitting around twiddling our toes the other six months of the year, or jogging mindless miles until our next PR plan arrives in the mail. Is it possible to have a general training plan that we can follow on a weekly basis, all year long?

Well, sort of. Theoretically, racers begin a one-year or six-month cycle with long, easy mileage, and then transition to shorter, faster efforts as they approach key races. However, this theory doesn’t mesh too well with the reality of year-round racing calendars, such as the buffet of races that span from January to December here in Tallahassee. The Gulf Winds Track Club Racing Schedule requires area runners to stay racing fit nearly all year long. Thus, the challenge for locals is to arrive at a balanced training schedule that builds and maintains aerobic fitness continuously, without losing race sharpness. I have found some success with a concept that I stole from Ed Eyestone, an Olympian who regularly showed me his heels when we both competed in the Western Athletic Conference. This schedule incorporates many levels of effort in one week, which Eyestone recommends:

DAY ONE: Base Endurance. A long, moderate effort of about twice the distance you average on your other training days.

DAY TWO: Cross-Training or Rest. Those who can afford nine hours or more of sleep per night may skip this recovery day and put in another base endurance run. The rest of us hate you.

DAY THREE: Racing Intervals. Three to six miles of ½ mile to 2 mile bouts, all at a bit faster than goal race pace speed, with the shortest recovery between bouts that you can allow yourself. Eyestone regularly ran 8-10 800 meter repeats at 2:12-2:20 with under 2 minutes for recovery. I hated him!

DAYS FOUR and FIVE: Rejuvenation Runs. Day Three should leave you sore or fatigued, but steady runs of 30 to 60 minutes, followed by 8 to 12 100 meter strides at light sprint effort, will maintain endurance and flexibility.

DAY SIX: Pre-race OR Speed Day. Those racing on Day Seven would opt for 20 to 60 minutes of light effort running, while non-racers could undertake a few miles’ worth of 200 to 400 meter repeats at one mile race effort.

DAY SEVEN: Race OR Tempo Day. Those not racing this day should run for 30-45 minutes at a pace that gradually approaches race effort during the second half of the run.

This schedule may not make you an Olympian, but at least it allows you to claim that you are training like one.