How To Modify A Pre-Built Training Plan
When following a program template, are there special considerations to be made for sequencing? Meaning – never do a swim/speed session the morning after a long run, always schedule your tempo run the day after you did “XYZ”, etc. – Brian G.
Brian asks a very good question. He has purchased a 20-week training plan for a half ironman, but the workout order in the plan doesn’t match his schedule. This is a common problem with purchasing a pre-built training program.
There are some things to review and understand when moving things around.
1) Identify the “quality” workouts. These will be your interval sessions and speed work. Then see how they are spaced apart. Are they on back-to-back days, the same day, a couple days apart?
2) Identify the key endurance workouts. These will typically be your long run and long ride, or a long brick. Most training plans put a long ride on Saturday and the long run on Sunday, but you don’t need to stick to the back-to-back days. Getting some rest and recovery between long endurance workouts can give higher quality long sessions.
3) Figure out your ability to recover. The key to a good training plan is quality workouts that fall at appropriate times so that you can complete them well. If you are tired going into a workout, it won’t be quality – you won’t be able to give it the effort it needs for maximal / appropriate stress. Everyone is different in their recovery needs. Family and work obligations play a role, as does age and training background.
4) What are your strengths and sports you need to work on? The areas that need the most work should get the priority, especially when doing more than one workout in the day.
Putting it all together
Review the plan and how it is structured based on the points above. Then try to move things around appropriately to your schedule. It might take some trial and error, but you’ll know you have got it right when you feel good at the start of every workout.
You may not feel “fresh” per se, but you won’t feel like the workout is suffering because of fatigue. If you are fatigued, slow down or stop the workout and get some rest. Your sleep and nutrition habits will also be important.
Some other things to consider
- Most age group athletes will not have two quality sessions on the same day.
- It’s OK to skip a workout here and there if it just doesn’t fit your schedule. (Just don’t miss too many quality workouts!)
- Consider purchasing a custom training plan. If you aren’t thinking of hiring a coach, but aren’t finding the right pre-built plan, you can often get custom training plans from a certified coach written around your schedule for your specific race season. (Note: I do provide this service.)
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