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Timing Your Next Season Perfectly...When To Start Training "For Real"

A great analogy here is the ball toss of the tennis serve. You can have all the power of Pete Sampras, the flexibility of Andy Roddick, and the balance of Roger Federer, but if you screw up the ball toss to initiate your serve (too high, too low, too far forward, too far back), you're simply not going to win that point!

Similarly, in running, no matter how fast, strong or enduring a runner you are, if you haven't had enough rest/recovery to begin your next season in a refreshed, relaxed and controlled manner, and if you haven't clearly thought through the proper timeline for your next season, then you're well on your way toward sabotaging your forthcoming efforts. Start too soon, and/or train for too long a term, and you risk sickness, injury and/or burnout (pre goal race peaking). Start too late, and/or train for too short a term, and you risk being under-trained for your goal event, and/or being derailed by even the slightest setback.

So, once you've completely gone through the "Off Season Checklist" above, next ensure that you've spent at least some time (minimum 1-2 weeks, more if desired) in each of the following 3 phases:

  1. "Time Out" — total "athletic" rest (yes we mean no running, no aerobic cross-training!)
  2. Active "Non-Running " Recovery — aerobic and non-aerobic cross-training, still no running
  3. "Smell The Roses" Running — easy, short, non-frequent running, without specific training focus, along with the cross-training in phase 2

Then and only then will you be prepared to begin formal "training" toward your next goal...and only if you are in a happy, healthy, uninjured state of running being, at that! Though every runner and every circumstance is different, over the years we've found the following "training timeline" guideposts very reliable, safe and effective to help most runners determine the term of training for their next big long distance goal event.

For those training for a marathon next season:

For those training for a half marathon next season:

For those training for a 10K:

Note: for those training for ATB 30K "only" (i.e. no marathon plans afterward) — 15-18 weeks

So, as of Monday, November's the "T minus "x" and counting" for a number of popular spring southern Ontario races:

So, using the two charts above, figure out your appropriate start date for next season. How many weeks to you have left before the "real deal" starts?

Note: If you'd like Marathon Dynamics to design a Customized Training Plan for you, keep in mind that we'll need up to a week from the time we receive your interview and basic speed assessment (1 mile trial) to produce your plan, and it may take you 1-2 weeks to get that done. So it's best to initiate things with us 2-3 weeks before the week you'd like to start.