What is the optimal way to construct a training week? The first step to creating a weekly routine is identifying which days of the week really matter- whether this is by quality or duration; the remainder of the week can then be built around these key day(s). For most people the weekend offers the best opportunity to do the longest training day so the flow of the week could look something like this pattern:
Wed: hard/ quality
There are two components that are critical to making sure any weekly training structure works in an effective way; the first is to be ready to run hard or long when you plan to, and secondly to be able to plan in easier days after the hard or long days. Note the pattern above where the 2 key days are followed by 2 consecutive easy or moderate days and the day before the hard days is always easy. The thinking behind this sort of weekly plan is two fold- training sustainability and performance predictability. The sustainability aspect is make sure the weekly routine is sufficiently hard enough to provide challenge when needed but not crippling so that you’ll not be able to train consistently week in week out. The predictability is important as this is the essence of training to perform on demand; training day randomness has no place in a training program that is organised to progress to a competition goal.
Another important consideration when creating a weekly training week plan is consideration of all the other life ‘stuff’ that goes on outside of your training; what days will be best for doing the hard or longer workouts? Ideally these are days when you don’t have much going on and aren’t going to be exhausted. Sometimes this might even be the day following a lighter family or work day when you have had the opportunity to fully benefit from an easier day, only you know when the ideal days for harder training will be and these days need to be protected from other family and work responsibilities if at all possible.
Adjusting a plan is inevitable though, and when this happens it’s usually best to give yourself a reset and the opportunity to get back into the routine the following week rather than trying to make up any lost days; a good program though should always have enough ‘flex’ in it that allows a bit of wiggle room when needed. Sustainability and predictability.