Marathon Training – Part 4, Peak Phase

Time to run fast! Repetition and interval training! We discussed the BASE and BUILD phases of our running program utilizing endurance periodization. Next, let’s talk about is PEAK phase. Here, we increase the intensity of running, defined by adding interval or repetition training. Hill training can fall into either category. With an increased workload, adding rest breaks to the run is essential. This peak phase of running should finish one to three weeks before the race. Peak training is completed at an above-threshold rate. The heart rate variability (HRV) should be between 90-99% (ZONE 4-5) or “hard!”. PEAK training improves speed and maximizes aerobic power and running economy. Aerobic capacity is defined as how much blood (carrying oxygen) can be delivered to the muscles and how well that oxygen can be converted into energy. Otherwise known as VO2 Max.

We can reach our goals in the peak phase by incorporating interval and repetition training.

Interval runs: intervals should be HARD running for 1-5 minutes (max of 5 minutes), and the speed should be about the max speed you could race at for 10-12 minutes. If you’re more comfortable picking a distance versus time, start with 800 meters and progress to 1200 meters. Rest in between and repeat. Rests should be no longer than the time you spent running. Interval training targets aerobic power.

Repetition training: short duration than intervals (never more than 2 minutes) at even higher speeds. The speed should be comparable to your current max one-mile time. The rest should be longer – about two to three times the time spent running. Again, if you’d rather distance versus time, start with 200 meters and progress to 400 meters. Elite runners can progress to 600 or 800 meters. Repetition training targets improving the speed and economy of running. Typically, interval training is perceived as “harder” than repetition training. Look for my next post to discuss what tapering for races looks like and the goal of rests.

Author: Lauren Stacy, PT, DPT

Lauren is a Virginia Beach native and has been with The Therapy Network since 2006. She joined TTN as a physical therapy technician. Lauren fell in love with the field and she was inspired to continue her education with a focus on physical therapy. She obtained an associate’s degree from TCC and became a Physical Therapist Assistant. Lauren continued her physical therapy education at ODU and for an undergraduate science degree and finally her doctorate degree in physical therapy. Gait pathologies and lower extremity biomechanics are her main interests for physical therapy. In addition to having extensive education in biomechanics, she is also dry needle certified since 2015 and McKenzie certified since 2017. She enjoys continuing to expand her education and skillset. Lauren’s hobbies including spending time with her fur-babies, running locally, camping, dirt biking and racing motorcycles.