I am guilty as charged. The crime? Lack of patience. The evidence? My training plans from the past. They are riddled with inconsistency. Why? Because I am a tinker. I like to tinker with plans and try to perfect them. Why is this a problem? Because it takes months for a plan to fully unfold. A balanced plan will have stages. It will allow for the development of new speed as well as moving your lactate threshold, running economy, and much more. You can’t do all of that at the same time. Bottom line: It takes months to improve the variables that impact running performance enough to see a measurable difference.
What have I done wrong? I have continuously tweaked programs based on how I was feeling rather than sticking to the original design of the training program.
You should stick to your training plan without major changes for at least 3 months.
It takes ten days to get the full extent of adaptations from a workout. If your plan is ideal, then four weeks of work could possibly show a measurable difference. That means that it takes about 1.3 months to see a perfect plan work. Now throw in the idea that we have good and bad days. If you have a bad day in the race where you expect to see the results of 1.3 months of work, you might reach the wrong conclusion that it did not work. It is only after about 3 months of steady progress that you will see a significant change even if you have a bad day. That is why I say 3 months is the standard. Follow a plan with multiple stages and complete 3 months as it was designed before you draw a conclusion on whether it worked or not.
Looking back at my own running over the past 5 years, it becomes clear that the times I made the most progress were the times that I stayed with a program most consistently. That is true regardless of the program I was following. When I first started, I followed programs from Hal Higdon. When I wanted to get faster, I followed the plan of Dr. Jack Daniels. Then I heard about the innovative work of the Hanson Brothers. I followed their program and got another big improvement.
Since that time, I have been tinkering with different types of workouts. I have found several workouts that work well on changing some of the variables of running performance. I have gone through several and been frustrated by my lack of overall improvement. I just keep changing things. When I was on a coordinated program for at least 3 months, I made progress.
While I was tinkering with my own programs, I have developed training programs for many athletes during the same time. When they have stayed true to the program I developed for at least 3 months, they have seen the improvements they sought. Now I need to practice what I preach. I have developed my Next-Level Training Program and personalized it for many runners, including myself. I know that if we stick to the program, we will get the results and move on to the next level. I just have to stop tinkering. I have to wait for the program to develop. I have to wait for all of the changes that come with all three stages of the program. I have to stop evaluating the program in the moment and wait until for my next training schedule to make any changes.
I know that my Next-Level Training Program is a balanced approach that will get me where I want to go. The components and stages are all first-class, trustworthy workouts. The stages are in the right order. I just have enough trust and patience to stick to the program.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”
— P. Mark Taylor