Current Training Plan -The Adaptive Running System-

I have had a few people ask me questions about specific workouts I’m doing, or about my overall volume and where I’m getting the basis for the training plan I’ve been following. I thought It might be fun to share some of that on the blog. I realized that though I have stated the name of my training plan, I’ve never actually shared that many details on it.

I will start by saying, every aspect of my running has been positively impacted since I started changing how go about training last summer. When I first started marathon training in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing, apart from the knowledge that I needed to follow a training plan of some kind. After a brief search I discovered the free training plans offered on and jumped right on board. I then used some version of them up until my fifth marathon last spring. I felt that my training was never without some kind of setback or injury each cycle though. I also felt that due to that and some other unknown factors, I was beginning to plateau. Going from having never run before late 2010, to marathon training for a of couple solid years, I had definitely seen a steep curve in performance over that initial phase and I wanted it to continue! I started searching for new training plans early last Spring and bought a number of books on training, coaching, theories and disciplines. I did some searching online, too, from running blogs to forums and every sure in between. Somewhere online I saw someone refer to a book published in 2008 by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. After a quick visit to, it was enroute to the house.

The book is called Run Faster – From The 5k To The Marathon. The authors are both well known and well trusted, Brad Hudson is a professional coach of Olympic caliber elite runners and Matt Fitzgerald is a well known writer, coach and sports nutrition expert. The book teaches you how to self coach using what Hudson refers to as the adaptive running system, he stresses that proper training and racing should help you see a year over year increase in performance and injury prevention. There are 12 general methods of training that characterize the adaptive running system:

  1. Consistent, (moderately) high running volume
  2. Nonlinear periodization
  3. Progression from general training to specific training
  4. Three periods in each training cycle
  5. Lots of hill running
  6. Extreme intensity and workload modulation
  7. Multi-pace workouts
  8. Non-weekly workout cycles
  9. Multiple threshold paces
  10. Constant variation
  11. One rest day per week
  12. Selective cross-training

Now, that might seem like a lot of great ideas on training, but rather hard to align with an actual training plan, it is not the case though. Throughout the book, using examples, figures and data a complete picture is established on how to use the adaptive running system to coach yourself. At the end of the book there are example training plans given, using the workouts and periods of training that Hudson recomends. One level of marathon training used in the examples happened to align quite well with the fitness I was currently at, so I built my training plan off of that base, using the methods described in the book. My last training cycle I had just started reading the book and was not ready to shift my training approach completely, though I did begin to. I ended up suffering through some mild injuries last fall and put in a month of very solid base work before attempting to follow this training system for a total 20 week cycle. So there you have it, the building blocks behind the training log updates I have been posting on here. I could take a much deeper dive into the individual workouts and the progression over the different periods in this training system, but I think that would fit better in another post. I will give one last shout-out to two of the things I have believe have helped me the most in this system; hill sprints for muscle strength and injury prevention and specific endurance pace based speedwork. I highly recommend giving the book a read if you are looking to improve your training.

PS- I’ve added a new blog post category titled, Training- should I make future posts about this training system or other training topics I will use that tag.

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