Training Cycles Running | Run Planning in 2021

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all the types of training out there?  There are long runs, tempo miles, track intervals, hill repeats, and strength training!  There is a way to train without running 20 hours a week to try and fit them all in so you don’t have to quit your day job!


In this episode, I cover how you can “periodize” your training and how you can plan out your running for 2021 for running wins and staying healthy along the way!  


Every elite runner out there uses periodization to their advantage so why shouldn’t we as recreational runners? We will be discussing the very important and often overlooked principle of periodization or the training cycles of running.


2 previous blogs referred to in this episode:


What 2020 Has Taught me: 6 Lessons Learned



How Fast Should I Run I 3 Types of Runs




Click the video below to watch the LIVE within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group


Listen to the Podcast Episode during your next run!


Have you heard variety is the spice of life?  It is also the spice of running meaning you should be changing your focus depending on where you are in your training cycle or what part of the year you are currently training.


Essentially, what we will be talking about in this blog is planning for training.  


I believe a runner with a plan is a runner who is built for success!  Matter of fact, making a plan was one of the tips I shared in the last episode and was my 4th lesson learned in 2020!  If you missed that blog then click here


By the way, if you are reading this and didn’t know… all of the weekly blogs and podcast episodes get emailed out to everyone on my email list.  So if you are not getting these emails then make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter your email to get on the list and receive the next blog in your inbox!


Also I am more responsive and very active on Facebook or Instagram so shoot me a message in Facebook messenger (Duane Scotti) or a DM on Instagram @sparkyourtraining to get on the list!


What is a Training Cycle?

Training Cycles or periodization in your running is when we divide a training cycle whether it is 12, 16, or 20 weeks into phases, each with a specific goal so you don’t do the same type of workout all the time.

This can also be thought of as rest…easy running (base phase)… hard running (preparation)… Goal Race (peak)…rest & recover.


Training Cycles Running




This is an entire training period leading up to goal race.  E.g. 12 week training plan for a half marathon or a 16 week plan for a full marathon race.




This is a specific training phase for a specific purpose.  E.g. 3-4 weeks and each cycle has a different physiological goal and psychological benefit.  There are usually 4-5 mesocycles within a macrocycle or entire training period.

For example, in our 12 week Healthy Runner Half Marathon training plan you have a base phase period which is your foundation for your training.  Then you have a preparation or growth period which may include adding in speed work or increasing the intensity of the workouts from tempo to intervals on the track or going from long intervals to short intervals.  Finally we have a peak peak in your training and then taper just prior to your race. 


Why Do We Do This?


We do this to allow for adaption of our bodies, which is the key to improving your running fitness.  While you are running and training hard, you are actually tearing your muscle fibers.  When you rest and recover, those muscle fibers are healing and rebuild so it can handle similar stress in the future.  To put it in another way, training itself doesn’t produce adaptations, but it is the rest that follows training that allows your body to get stronger.


How Do We Implement This?


IIP Concept (Introduce, Improve, Perfect)


For your run plan a mesocycle can be a 3 weeks cycle of the same or similar workout to allow you to Introduce, Improve, and Perfect it before moving on to the next mesocycle goal.


Running example: Doing 3 weeks of a 25 min tempo or lactate threshold run before progressing or 3 weeks of 4 x 800 at 5k pace with a 3 min jog in between.


Strength training example: 6 weeks of foundation exercises that progress at week 7 to then progress and build that strength.


This allows for progressive overloading of the system with the same or similar stress.  This teaches the body and mind to adapt to the specific stress until it becomes not stressful- then you move to the next stress!


This is why I am not an advocate of doing a completely different HIIT workout for the sake of doing a variety of exercises because you get bored.  If you like a specific HIIT class or style I would recommend doing it for a couple of weeks in a row prior to completely switching it to different exercises. This will allow your body to improve and perfect that stress that it needs to grow and adapt.



This is the simplest to understand because most of think in weeks of training.  This is a series of days that make up a brief block of training time that typically lasts for 1 week.


In this blog we covered the training cycles of running or the concept of periodization.  Think about separating your yearly training into mesocycles first with a goal race in mind and then further separating that into mesocycles and microcycles to allow your body a chance to adapt and recover!  That is how you will hit that 5k, half marathon or marathon goal in 2021 and beyond!


Are struggling to get your workouts in and you know you should be strength training but you are not sure what to do?


Just because you are home, doesn’t mean you can’t work out!


If you are looking for more direction and guidance, The Healthy Runner Strength program will do just that and is for the dedicated runners like yourself who wants to level up and continue moving forward during winter


Get the workout plan, exercises, and structure to improve YOUR confidence and strength for running. 


What is the Healthy Runner Strength Program?


This program is a self-paced 12-week step-by-step video/spreadsheet training program focused on IMPLEMENTING life-changing run specific workouts to improve your strength and confidence for your running.


Healthy Runner Strength program is perfect for you if:


  •   You are new to running and don’t know what exercises you should be doing for running to prevent injuries


  •   You are an experienced runner and you always wanted to get faster and now you finally have the time to focus on your weak points (your strength) so all of those spring miles will be easier on your legs!


If you are ready to commit to getting stronger in 2021 click the link to learn more below. 


Healthy Runner Strength Program


Improve Your Confidence & Strength For Running

Imagine you running without having to think or spend time wondering what you need to do for workouts to stay sane and run this winter so you can feel good about yourself again…

The NEW Healthy Runner Strength program will do just that and is for the dedicated runner who wants to level up over these next 3 months and continue moving forward!⠀⠀

Get the workout plan, exercises, and structure to improve YOUR confidence and strength for running

CLICK HERE to learn more!




Our Healthy Runner Facebook community will be growing in leadership as we will have our Healthy Runner team of coaches contributing more content and assisting as moderators within the group.


New Programs Coming in 2021


Popular Team Healthy Runner Half marathon program launches January 15th and will start February 1st so keep your eye out for that info coming soon in 2021!


Healthy Runner Episodes Booked in 2021:

  1. Harrison and Mo Crum from Marathon Training for Beginners
  2. Jen Giles is a registered dietitian to share helpful info on nutrition for runners
  3. Dr. Petrigliano is a Professor, Chief of Orthopeadic surgery Keck Medicine of USC.  He serves as the head team physician for the LA Kings hockey team and a team physician for USC Athletics. He will be discussing early OA in runners knee’s and management strategies
  4. Let’s GET AFTER IT with Olympian Carrie Tollefson


Carrie is a five time NCAA champion, three time National champion, and represented the United States in the 2004 Olympic Games.  Carrie brings her fitness expertise and bubbly personality to her widely popular C Tolle Run podcast and I am more than humbled to have her come on Live within our community!


We will be chatting about:

⁃            Life after the sport

⁃            Running and training through pregnancy

⁃            Trying to run fast in a different way

⁃            Staying fit while not putting in tons of mileage


Here’s to a fantastic, SPARK filled 2021. Happy New Year, my Running Friends!


You can listen to all the information in this episode on the Healthy Runner Podcast…available wherever you get your podcasts!



Here is what other runners are saying about the podcast



Thank you (running friends) for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoy the podcast episode!

Warmest regards,


– Duane


Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS



⚡️ SPARK Physical Therapy and the Healthy Runner Podcast  Helping Active Adults Be Able To Run Without Aches and Pains So You Can Feel Good About Yourself Again…

[Even If You Don’t Think You Are A Runner]

If you are a runner and frustrated with your nagging aches and pains and have been told to stop running, we can help you.


Health for Runners BY Runners ‍


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You can teach an old dog new tricks!!!  I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach.  I am soooo glad I made the investment in me!  I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier!  The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching.  I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong.  I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot!  The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally.  I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age.  Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!

Gina J.

My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.

I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.

I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!

Katja L.

Wanting to run more consistently, and to increase my long run distance and total weekly mileage, I was concerned about hip pain due to hip alignment issues. This is an issue I had when I trained for my first half marathon several years ago. Having listened to the Healthy Runner podcast for the past couple years, I knew Duane Scotti could help. I signed up for the four-month strength and running training program and am extremely happy with the results.

The program Duane and Coach Whitney developed for me was exactly what I needed. It was tailored to my needs and to my target race. Coach Whitney was very helpful, and with the biweekly coaching calls, we were able to fine tune the program based off my performance and feedback.

At the end of the program, I completed a 10K trail race feeling strong and pain free.

I highly recommend Duane Scotti and the Healthy Runner training programs.

Roger S.

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