If you are an individual who doesn’t have a coach – maybe new to running – and you are the one responsible for setting your own week of training, it is difficult to know whether you are doing it the most beneficial way.
Structuring your week ‘properly’ can mean many a thing, but the foundations are that you are extracting as much training benefit out of the week that you can, whilst keeping your body healthy and injury free. It’s very easy to overload your week, leading to stress and injury niggles (in some cases – constant fatigue); on the contrary, it is easy to under-load your week, implying you are not getting a fit as you could be if done differently.
The key to structuring your week is getting the correct balance between easy and intense efforts. ‘Intense’ efforts can include: Tempo runs, interval sessions, weight sessions and races. ‘Easy’ efforts can include: Long runs, slow runs and ‘junk miles’. Balancing them correctly is just stating the fact that they need to be correctly organised within a week.
My week – for example – will have my hard efforts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in the form of: Tempo, track session, hill session (or race). Note that they are not on consecutive days. This allows me to adequately recover between sessions, which helps me avoid injuries, and allows me to push my body further in each session – reaping a greater benefit from the session in question. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday will be my easy efforts in the form of: Two easy runs, one easy one moderate run and a long run at a comfortable pace. Again they are placed in between sessions as they allow me to get fitter, whilst dissipating lactic acid from the previous session, consequently leaving less chance for injury niggles.
It is also important to correctly place a rest day(s) during your week. Mine will be on a Friday, as on Saturdays I either race, or have a hard session in the morning followed by an evening run. With Saturday being my most intense day of the week, it is important to place my rest day before that. A debate can be had as to whether you should rest the day before a race, but a general rule of thumb is to rest before your most intense workouts. Structure is the key to maximum benefit.