Renato Canova wrote:
In a normal periodization, we have a FUNDAMENTAL PERIOD lasting (for an athlete not having cross as specific target) from November to March (all winter). We can use NOV as General or Introductive Period. In the first 4 weeks of training we can use a weekly microcycle, having the goal to increase your basic qualities, for being ready to start the real training in December. This is a very simple microcycle for introductive period :
Before reading not this period is 4 months long and the example below is described as "simple."
a) 1 hr moderate run (for ex., for an athlete able running 3:50 / 14:30 / 30:00, about 6:00 a mile). Every week you can add 10min (1h10 - 1h20 - 1h30)
b) Warm-up + 4 easy circuits (only 300m climbing, with 4x60m sprint at 80% connected by 10 squat-jumps, 30m skipping, 30m bounding). Every week you can add 10m to the sprints (70m - 80m - 90m)
This say certainly is of moderate intensity. The run in the morning is moderate, and though the circuits are described as "easy" I have done circuits even described as easy and almost any type of circuit mixing strength exercises with sprinting (it is tough to "sprint" at 80% because we think of the word "sprinting" meaning maximum effort) is difficult. So consider this a moderately hard to hard day, with a moderate run and fairly difficult circuits. Only my opinion, though.
Day 1: Moderately hard (1 moderate run, 1 harder circuit)
a) 30 min easy + 5 times 4 min fast (at 3:00 pace per km) rec. 3 min easy (at 4:00 pace). Every week add 1 min to the tests, with same recovery of 3 min easy (5 x 5:00 - 5 x 6:00 - 5 x 7:00)
b) 40 min easy regeneration
In the morning certainly a tough workout. About 1300 meters at 4:49 mile pace 5 times (so a bit more than 4 miles at 4:49 pace). The progression goes eventually to 7 minutes at this same pace, which is very difficult (no time for the athlete is given, but let us assume it is the 13:30 athlete from before), meaning in 4 weeks the athlete will do 5 x 7 minutes at 4:49 mile pace, or 5 x 2330m. Difficult. The afternoon is easy. Combining the effect of the moderately hard day before, consider this day a hard effort.
Day 2: Hard (1 hard fartlek, 1 easy run)
a) 30 min easy + technical exercises :
* 5 times 30 sec. skipping fast with short strides (going to 6 - 7 - 8 times during the following weeks)
* 5 times 30m heels-to-buttocks (6-7-8 times foll. weeks)
* 5 times 50m running with very high knees (6-7-8 times)
* 5 times 30m bounding (6-7-8 times)
b) 50 min easy regeneration
So far two moderate to hard days in a row. This Wednesday is not "hard" per se, but exercises are not, as Renato said, necessarily very easy on the nervous system. This exercises set can be somewhat taxing to the neuromuscular system in duration and intensity. There is also an easy run. The volume, too, can be considered a stimulus so this should be considered in the total stress accumulated. For the most part, this day is easy.
Day 3: Easy (2 easy runs, 5 sets of exercises)
a) 30 min easy + 4 km continuous running uphill (gradient about 5%). Every week add 1 km at the same pace for 5/10km runners, try running faster 5 sec per km if miler.
b) 1 hr with short variations of speed. Short variations last from 30.0 to 45.0, trying to use a good frequency. Recovery is about 2:00 / 2:30, running at a basic speed of 4:00 / 3:50 per km. Normally I use one variations inside every 3 min of run.
Another hard day. The morning work of 4 km climbing is hard. To climb a hill steadily puts great stress on the heart muscle and the systolic pressure rises higher than that of flat running. The progression too is of faster speed or more distance at the same speed, a higher stimulus. In the afternoon the work may be medium hard with fartlek with "good frequency." Call this a hard day.
Day 4: Hard (1 hard long hill climbing, 1 medium short fartlek)
a) 1 hr 20 at 3:45 per km (every week running faster of 5.0 per km : 3:40 - 3:35 - 3:30)
b) 40 min easy regeneration + technical exercises like Wed
With the progression of getting faster this can be easy bordering on medium intensity. For a 13:30 athlete, 3:30 pace is not too bad, but the duration of 80 minutes can also provide a stimulus. Also technical exercises. For all intents and purposes, an easy day
Day 5: Easy (1 easy to medium longer run, 1 easy run, 5 sets of exercises)
a) 30 min easy + 8 km (if miler) or 12 km (if long runner) fast, increasing speed every 4 km (miler : 13:00 at 3:15 + 12:40 at 3:10) (long runner : 13:20 + 13:00 + 12:40). Every week you must run 2.5 sec. faster per km : 12:50+12:30 - 12:40+12:20 - 12:30+12:10 = 24:40 average 3:05 at the end of the period. The same for 12 km.
b) 40 in easy regeneration
This day is moderate. 24:40 for 8K we think of as a good collegiiate cross-country time for a 29-30 minute 10K runner. 13:30 is a bit faster, so for him a medium run. The afternoon is easy. Let us call it moderate.
Day 6: Moderate (1 medium middle distance run, 1 easy run)
Long run at personal sensation, adding 5 min every week :
from 1h20 to 1h40 for milers, from 1h30 to 2h (adding in this case 10 min every week) for 5/10 km runners.
Because of length and accumulated volume, this could be moderate (or hard if "personal sensation" means the athlete can feel good and run hard). Let us call it moderate because of accumulated volume and the possibility of the athlete running moderate to hard. Time spent on the feet can make even a medium pace harder also.
Day 7: Easy or Moderate (1 long run).
So the week has 2 moderately hard/hard days in a row, an easy day, hard, easy, moderate, and easy to moderate. Also we should remember the volume:
This is an example of training for INTRODUCTIVE PERIOD, where we have 2 workouts of technical exercises, 1 circuit climbing, 1 long fartlek, 1 continuous run uphill, 1 fast progressive long run, 1 short fartlek, and a good general volume. At the end of the period, the athlete can run, per week, from 170 to 200 km (110 to 125 miles)
110 to 125 miles, perhaps at altitude, with 3 hard days (sometimes more than one hard workout in a single day) and 1-2 moderate days seems very tough over the course of 4 months, and this is just a simple introductive part of the fundamental period. Maybe I underestimate the resilience of a 13:30 5,000 meter runner, but even adapted for someone a little slower, I think it still is tough (and the training definitely must be hard to be fast, but maybe not so hard as this; Tinman proposed that more than 2 hard days to this end does not significantly impact fitness, ergo, 2 hard days could be better for recovery and stimulus for improvement than 3-5).