Question from Adam: For someone who has about 30 weeks for their peak race, is it too early to start base or Phase 1? Would doubling the length of Phase one of the 5k plan hurt my race? Would I peak too early or plateau?
Run SMART Coach, Blake Boldon: Thanks for the great question. The simple answer is no, it’s never too early to start a base phase. You’re right that there are many different answers to the question and that’s one of the great aspects of our sport – all of them can be a right answer as long as it works for you. You’re on the right track by doing your homework and gathering a lot of information. I’m guessing that you’re self-coached and having been down that road myself, my first advice is to come up with a long term philosophy or plan and stick with it. There is an unlimited supply of coaching advice and training theory and you need to decide what you’ll use. Then you have to avoid the temptation to constantly shop around for a different approach. Consistency in training is the key.
Now to your specific question, 30 weeks is a long time to get ready for one 5k race. Although that race may be the target for the entire year (macrocycle) or season (mesocycle) you’ll need to periodize your training to keep making progress. Again, there are a number of ideas on periodization and what components to include in your training at any given point of the year. The take home message is that 10 weeks is more than enough time to specifically prepare for a 5k (assuming that you start that 10 week period with an aerobic fitness level commensurate with your goals). Considering you have 30 weeks to prepare for this race I would suggest finding a longer race like a 10k or even a half marathon to help give your initial 10 weeks of training more direction. The aerobic development and threshold work necessary for a longer race will serve you well when you enter your 5k specific training phase. Look for this “base race” about 12 to 15 weeks before your 5k. This gives you enough time to take a recovery week or some down time after the race and still have 10 weeks to turn it up for your big goal race. Whatever you decide, you don’t need 5k specific workouts until those last ten weeks but I would suggest incorporating threshold training throughout the plan, beginning as early as the first week. Good luck and happy running!
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