Running in the 'Meda: Creating a fitness calendar

Running in the 'Meda: Creating a fitness calendar

Marty Beene

With many people headed off on vacations in the midst of the summer travel season, I was reminded of how I enjoy mapping out such a trip. But it's also a great idea to map out your fitness plans for the year, especially if running is your thing.

December is usually the month of the year when I'm primarily resting, i.e., doing only easy runs to recover from a year of running and racing. So that's usually when I plan for the upcoming year. For this year, my plan has been focused on three racing "seasons." First, my primary goal event was the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field's Masters Track Championships, held on May 31. So my first five months of 2015 were focused on that event.

Once I got past that, my plan shifted (somewhat quickly) to shorter racing, starting with last Saturday's Ralph Appezzato Charity Event (or, R.A.C.E.) right here in the 'Meda, continuing with a road mile in San Rafael on Sunday, and culminating with all-comer track meets (at Chabot College or down in Los Gatos) the last three weeks of July.

Once we get into August, I'm planning to shift gears once again, this time for cross-country. Just like for road racing, the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field has a terrific series of cross-country races, which are also oriented toward team competition like the road series. The bonus this year is that the association is hosting the club nationals in December in Golden Gate Park - the first time since 2006 that this meet has been in San Francisco.

So how should you map out your year?

It's not really possible physiologically to train continuously for more than about six months and still keep improving your fitness. After that time, your fitness gains will mostly level off or even drop. So it's a good idea to think of two or three or maybe even four "peaks" to your training. This will allow you to train for two to four key events and have some necessary down time when you will go through a period of "detraining."

Detraining is when you notably lose fitness. It seems somewhat counterintuitive, but as long as you don't completely move to the couch, those detraining periods will actually have the effect of enabling bigger gains once you get back to training.

What I did with my plan has worked out well so far because the first training period was relatively long, at five months. While I wish I had had a little more time to prepare for the shorter races I'm in the middle of now, it's not too bad. In fact, by wrapping up this shorter race "season" by August, it will give me enough time to be running at my best in November and December.

There is, however, always a caveat to any plan, and that is to plan to be flexible. You never know when you might either sustain an injury or have some annoying pain that you don't want to become an injury. Or you could get sick. Or you could have some sort of work or family emergency that requires a major adjustment in training. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to plan ahead and create different maps for all of these possibilities, but only to have in the back of your mind that you may need to change directions.

In other news, the Alameda R.A.C.E. was - as expected - great fun for many, many Alamedans and others. The results showed 675 finishers, a record! Alameda High alums Zach Perkins and Corinne Roberts took the men's and women's titles in 15:14 and 18:58, respectively. The quality of the field was superb, with 30 runners finishing in under 20 minutes (6:27 per mile). Congrats to all of the finishers!!

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. He can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.