Here's a shot of my original training plan (click any of these to make larger):
And here's a shot of my executed training plan:
The obligatory disclaimer: what worked for me might not work for you. It might not even work for me the next time around. Also, I did not get injured from any aspect of this plan. I got injured because I got realigned/released 2 weeks before the race, which triggered a whole slew of problems. External forces, not anything wrong with my training.
So, what worked?
- Swimming as active recovery - most weeks I swam on Monday to give my legs a break from the weekend. This left my legs feeling pretty fresh by the Tuesday evening track workout.
- Running 4 days a week (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday). This allowed me to rest my legs the day after both the track workout and the tempo workout. My back-to-back days were the long run and the recovery run, both of which were at an easy pace. I am definitely going to stick with this for the near future.
- Pool running at least once, if not twice a week. Pool running on Wednesday was a great recovery for my legs after Tuesday's track workout, and many weeks I squeezed in another pool run - sometimes on Sunday after my recovery run, sometimes on Monday coupled with swimming. I completely believe in pool running as a supplement to land running. My body doesn't like high mileage on land, so this allowed me to have high mileage overall weeks without increasing the risk of injury.
- Taking both Friday and Monday as an easy active recovery day. I would either swim or do an easy ride on these days. The one week that I did a long ride on Monday, I paid for it Tuesday night at the track. I found that I preferred swimming on Monday as recovery and cycling on Friday - all my best long runs happened after I did an easy ride on Friday.
- Following my Sunday recovery run with yoga. It made a nice end to the training week and I felt really helped me recover from the long run.
- Stepping back my long run distance almost every other week. Alternating high and low mileage weeks works for me. I had one instance where I had two high mileage weeks in a row, and I was really ready for the step-back week by the time I was through those weeks.
- Lifting four days a week. I stepped my lifting back from the 5-6 days a week I had been doing, and this allowed me to maintain my fitness in the weight room. In some higher mileage weeks, I stepped down on the weights to balance the overall intensity of my training.
- Trying to maintain a decent cycling base. I think part of this was due to the fact that this was a winter training cycle and I simply don't like to ride in cold weather. I rarely got in more than one ride a week, and some weeks I didn't ride at all.
- Resting the day before a long run. I discovered that complete rest made me feel sluggish and slow, but some easy movement left me feeling fresh.
- An 11-week plan. I created a long plan because I was still coming back from surgery and wanted to make sure I had a good base, but 11 weeks was still too long. I was race ready three weeks out.
- Not planning a longer tune-up/practice race. I only planned one race - a 5K - in this cycle. Next time I'm in a half cycle, I'd like to include a 10K or even a 10M race, depending on where it falls in the cycle. I think this would also prevent me from peaking too early.
- And, of course, doing something completely new to my body 2 weeks out from the race.
What's next? You might have forgotten, but I didn't. I've got a 70.3 right around the corner. I'm in the hands of an excellent PT right now, and she has okay'd cycling and swimming. I mapped out a 70.3 training schedule a few weeks ago, but now everything is different. For the next two weeks, I'm going to focus on getting my cycling base back up - lots of easy miles. I'm going to continue swimming at least twice a week. I'm going to pool run at least once, if not twice a week. I'm going to keep lifting like I have been. And I'm going to let my PT call the shots on the running.
The great thing about this 70.3 is that it's not an A race for me. It's a foundation race, it's a check-and-see-where-I-am race. So I am not stressed about my preparation or my time. If I can't run by then, I'm okay with that. I can still swim-T1-bike-T2 and then walk, or just skip the run and DNF. There is still a lot of value to be gained by doing 2/3rds of the race. And no matter what happens at that race, I'll be spending the following week in Jamaica on my honeymoon! Life could be a whole lot worse.