Your training plan, including your weekly workout schedule, is but a guide to keep you heading toward your goals. While using this guide, pay attention to how your body responds to the training and make adjustments along the way.
As discussed earlier, gains from your training actually occur during the recovery periods between the harder training sessions. If you pay attention to your recovery and adjust your training when you’re not getting enough recovery, then you can avoid overtraining and stay on the right trajectory toward your goals. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you monitor your training and recovery.
With any higher intensity interval work — especially VO2max intervals or LT cruise intervals — your aim should be to leave the workout with something left in the tank. In other words, you do not want to leave it all on the track in any given workout. Apply a sufficient stimulus to trigger a response; then back off and allow your body to gain the adaptation. That will allow you to return a few days later to train some more, rather than needing to turn that second workout into a recovery day.
For example, let’s say you’re doing 6 x 3-minute VO2max intervals. You hit the first three consistently, but you really struggle on the fourth one, turning in a much slower time. The same thing happens on the fifth one as you slow down even more. Rather than fighting through a sixth one, call it a workout and warm down. You achieved the main objective of the workout and are past the point of diminishing returns. It’s time to begin your recovery.
Pay attention to your sleep and eating patterns. Your body rebuilds during rest and sleep, and your body needs nutrients to grow stronger as it adapts to the training stress.
Endurance athletes — both men and women — can be at risk for a condition that scientists have termed relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). RED-S results from not eating enough calories during training and can result in low energy levels and endocrine dysfunction. Read more about the warning signs of RED-S and be sure to avoid them with a healthy diet that complements the increased caloric needs of the endurance training you’re doing.
If you’d like to start with a pre-built plan and then customize it for your needs, check out the Alp Fitness training plans on TrainingPeaks. If you’d like to use the Alp Fitness workout library to create your own training plan on TrainingPeaks, check out the “Running – Workout Library.”
Whatever your goals, good luck with your pursuits and train smart!