‘Tis the Season for a Run Focus

In our last article we talked about the transition period or the chunk of time after your last race of the season before your “offseason” program begins. At this point, you are probably nearing a month from your last race of the season or gearing up for the ITU Cross Worlds. Either way you are trying to figure out what to do with your offseason program and juggle the busy obligations that often come with this time of year..


Evaluate your season and set new goals


This could be an entire article by itself, but for now sit down and evaluate your season. What were your strengths and weaknesses? Take a look at your performances and compare your results to your peers. What will it take for you to move up against your competition next year? This can be done on your own or with your coach. Take this information and set new goals for next year. Write them down!


Focus on a limiter


Take your limiter/s from this season and focus on them during your offseason. Many of us want to improve all three disciplines, but there are one or two that really stick out in comparison to our peers. Pick one mode to focus on for your offseason training and shoot for maintenance in the other two disciplines. If running is one of those limiters we highly recommend that you start with a run focus.


Why start with running


This time of year is extremely busy. We have guests coming to town for the holidays or we are planning trips to visit family. Pools are often closed for big chunks of time or you simply can’t find one while traveling, and your better half thinks the Pack ‘n Play is more important on your holiday travels than your bike. Psst…unfortunately he or she is probably right. Running is the one thing you can squeeze in just about anywhere and offers more bang for your buck. Running has the biggest fitness returns and the highest transfer of training for the amount of time you put in.  A run focus block can accomplish a lot with 4-6 hours per week and you do not have to worry about bike routes or pool schedules.


Run focus example


In general, we recommend a block that is about 8 weeks long.  The plan we detail, follows a 4-week mesocycle with 3 build weeks and one recovery/regeneration week.  Volume is tracked by time rather than distance to accommodate different running speeds.  Run volume ranges from 4 hr 10 min in week 1 to 5 hrs 35 min during week 7.  So fast runners averaging 7:30 min/mi might be completing 32-44 miles per week, whereas a runner averaging 10 min/mi will complete 25-33 miles per week.


The program starts with a running field test found on our Middaugh Coaching website:




And descriptions on performing benchmark protocols is found here:




The first 4-week block of training is focused on endurance with key workouts in the Tempo zone as described in the zones spreadsheet.  The second 4 week block moves into threshold training at and around 10k race intensity.  Long runs progress from 80 minutes to the longest run at 2 hours.


Swim and bike workouts are also included with two days/wk in each discipline as well as run-specific strength training.  


Set a goal


It is important to plan a test or race of some sort at the end of the block to measure your run gains and to keep you motivated. A 10k, half marathon, or trail race are great options.  If this is not possible because of weather, you could plan a snowshoe race, or competitive group run that ends at a local brewery or coffee shop to reward yourself for the hard work and keep you motivated.


Middaugh Coaching 8 week run focus program on Training Peaks:




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