Managing a long season — Julia Pieper

Julia Pieper was yesterday’s Workout of the Day and an experiment in a long year. For those who follow my coaching or have heard me speak on training…I like to keep the training year periodized and not overly long…but in the case with Julia and finishing her NCAA season on May 11th and having the German season starting up a month later in June we had to figure it out!

So, how did we manage this ‘season’ of running that lasted well over a year?

It started in May of 2017 with a two-week break. No athlete is exempt from rest…and we believe that when a season ends the athlete needs 10-14 days of mental and physical relief from the training cycle.

From that break Julia ran a 10-week summer base program that had 5-weeks of easy running w/ strides and an emphasis on building up the mileage week to week, followed by 5-weeks of an intense base of hilly runs, progression runs, and harder long runs.

In August, the NCAA cross country season and team training began and so Julia ran through a 14 week NCAA season that saw her run a 5k (XC) personal best of 17:36, finish 3rd at the Conference Championships (within 1-second of winning), and help our team qualify and race at the NCAA National Championships.

After the cross country season we carried on for two more weeks, where Julia was able to run an Indoor 3000 meter race in 10:41…well off of her personal best and showing that we were past our peak and ready for a break.

So, that’s what we did. We took off 10 days before resuming training in the winter. The winter training mimicked the last 5-weeks of the summer base training with hilly runs, progression runs, and harder long runs.

When she arrived in January we started a phase of heavy tempo running and tempo repetition running with Indoor races sprinkled in every few weeks. Julia ran 10:12 for 3000 meters in January and then 10:22 in February for a tactical affair.

The outdoor season started slowly with an achilles strain, but soon Julia resumed training and was back to feeling good on tempo running and progressive running, but struggling with any 3k to 5k paced work…and that showed in her early season racing. Fortunately, she came around well during the latter part of the Outdoor Season where she won a tactical 5000 meters at the NCCAA National Championships…this was a race where she was ranked 5th or 6th going in and executed perfectly to win overall.

From there we decided to take just a few days of rest / easy running before resuming training. We then spent the next month preparing for the German track season…with a session each Tuesday that focused on working from her ‘strength’ (tempo running) to her ‘weakness’ the faster paced repetitions. Each week during that month of preparation we completed our weekly speed maintenance session of 2 x (5 x 200 meters) on Friday and a progressive medium long run on Saturday.

Once Julia returned to German she had a month long track season where we were able to race over 1500 meters (once), 5000 meters (twice), and finish the season with a 3000 meter race (season’s best).

All in all, it was a long year…BUT IT WAS ALSO A VERY GOOD YEAR and one that gets me excited about what the future will hold for Julia. For now, we are planning on a half marathon this fall and potentially a marathon debut in the fall of 2019!


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