Adaptive Training

For this marathon cycle I’ve been following the principles and loosely following a marathon plan from Brad Hudson’s book Run Faster.  One of what I consider his foundation principles is Adaptive Training.  Basically it means that every training plan must adapt for each athlete.

He does not completely invent a new training plan for each athlete, but he believes in tailoring it for each person, for their body and how they respond.  This applies to the beginning of your training cycle when you’re laying out a basic plan or selecting someone else’s plan to follow to your race, but I believe it also applies as you go through your training cycle.

I know I’ve been guilty of getting a schedule in hand, and moving the moon and stars to get every single run done no matter the cost.  There are times when it is important to set aside your feelings and push through a workout.  Often workouts are hard, either mentally and physically, and that is good, it takes stress on our bodies to improve and perform better.

There are times though, that our bodies are genuinely telling us that we need a break, to back off a bit.  Part of Adaptive Training is to be able to identify these times, and listen to our bodies and adapt the plan based on that.

In my tentative schedule that I had laid out for this marathon cycle I had planned to do a 100 km week 5 weeks out from race day.  Well my body had other plans, 6 weeks out I developed a cold, and then at the end of that week I raced a half marathon.  During what was to be my peak week I was tired, my legs were tired, my body was fighting a cold, my resting heart rate was high, and my HRV was low.  These things were all signs that it was not a good time to run the biggest week of training that I’ve ever run.  On top of all that my achilles felt a bit tight in a couple of my runs.  In the past I would have been really tempted to push through these workouts as planned and move heaven and earth to get my planned distances in.

One of my goals during this training cycle is to train smarter, to not make the same mistakes that I have in the past, mistakes that have lead to injury.  I decided to go ahead and forget about my weekly mileage goal, to back things off a bit, and run a more manageable week of runs.  Here is how my week was planned (P), and what I actually ended up doing (A):

Monday: P: 10k, A: 10.5k (I was still thinking the week would go as planned)

Tuesday: P: 16k, A: 7k (this was the run that made me think, ugg, I don’t think this is going to happen)

Wednesday: P: 18k, A: 12k (I’m accepting this lower mileage and am glad that I made the change!)

Friday: P: 19k, A: 19k (we had planned a long slow trail run, and felt ok, so went for it)

Saturday: P: 6k, A: SRD (I decided that a total rest day was a very good idea)

Sunday: P: 32k, A: 32k (we had a 20 miler planned, and decided to go ahead and do it, at a nice easy pace)

My total for the week ended being 80 km’s, not the original 100k, still a totally respectable distance, just not what I had in my head.

I’m still tossing around the idea of doing 100 km’s before this cycle is finished, but am not married to the idea, it will all depend on how I’m feeling next week.  It’s the last big week before taper, and the most important thing is that I come out uninjured and feeling good.

The good news is that I ran my planned 16 km’s today at lunch, and felt great, my cold is on it’s way out (FINALLY) and my HRV and resting heartrate are recovering.  It all bodes well for having a good couple of last weeks of training!! 🙂

A nice day for #runch in Calgary!
A nice day for #runch in Calgary!
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