The one plan fits all programme

The one plan fits all programme

You can use this One Plan Fits All programme if you want to race well over a range of distances throughout the year without worrying about following a 24 week programme for a single race. It incorporates what I call the Law of 3 and the Law of 6 . It uses shorter time frames and can be used with just minor alterations to prepare for  distances ranging from 12km to the marathon.

But first let me explain what I mean by the law of 3 and 6. 


The law of 3

Most of us adapt to a particular session after doing it three times. So for example, you will only start to feel the benefit of a new session such as hill sprints or intervals on the track after having done at least 3 such sessions. You will normally find that after having done 3 sessions, you can then either do them quicker, or you can increase the number of repeats.

The same applies to your weekly mileage and it will normally take about 3 weeks to become accustomed to maintaining a higher mileage. So if you want to increase your weekly mileage from 60km to 70km, then to 80km, you would do at least 3 weeks at 70km before moving up to 80km a week. You could also insert a recovery week between the two phases.

 The Law of 3 also applies to long runs. During your buildup you should ideally complete 3 runs at a certain distances before trying to move up in distance. Let’s say you are a typical club runner who does a weekly Sunday 20km run. You are training for a marathon and want to complete 3 runs of 32km before the race. You could move your long run up to 24km and do 3 such runs. Then having done this you could do 3 runs of 28km, followed by 3 runs of 32km.

But once you start running distances in the 28km range you would be well advised to alternate such runs with shorter runs of 24km. So the pattern of long runs may look like this: 24km, 24km,  24km, 28km, 24km, 28km, 24km, 28km, 24km, 32km, 24km, 32km, 24km, 32km with the last 32km run being 3 weeks before the marathon. Or you could do a 3 week cycle of 24km, 28km, 32km which you repeat 3 times.

 Comrades runners should also do a minimum of 3 long runs in the 56-60km range. And before tackling these ultra long training runs, a wise runner would first try do 3 runs over 40-42km.

-3 weeks is also the ideal taper period for either a Marathon or the Comrades.


The law of 6

While most coaches agree that 24 weeks is the ideal duration for a training buildup, the reality is that most of us have to balance work and family responsibilities and cannot cope with more than 6 weeks of sustained training. But the good news is that significant improvement can be seen after just 6 weeks.  There are 5 key sessions in your training (See The Intensity Pyramid) and each 2 week cycle has 3 key sessions of which one is the long run.

 So over a 6 week period you will have completed each of the quality key sessions 3 times and the long runs 6 times.This time frame is long enough for you to improve your running, and short enough for you to cope with the added stress of hard training. But if you want to increase the duration of the 6 week cycle you could  introduce step-cycles (See You gotta get a plan) so that you do a 3 week cycle, followed by a recovery week, then another 3 week cycle and so on.

Regular runners who want to race distances up to 21km can usually consider their regular running as being sufficient basework and can embark on the 6 week cycle. Those training for a marathon would benefit from first doing 6 weeks of easy basework followed by 6 weeks of conditioning and then a 3 week taper.


The Programme

The key sessions for this programme are: track (repetitions/VO2max), hill sprints, tempo runs, marathon pace (aerobic runs) and long runs.

This 2 week cycle can be repeated 3 times. 10km runners will not do more than 12km on their aerobic runs or 16km on their long runs; half marathon runners can do between 14-16km on their aerobic runs and between 20 and 24km on their long runs; marathoners can do do 16km on their aerobic runs and 24-32km on their long runs. All quality sessions should be preceded by an easy 15min jog to warm up as well as between 4-6 strides of about 80m and some stretching.  After each quality session a warm down jog of 15min can be done followed by stretching.


Weeks 1, 3 and 5

Mon:                 Rest

Tues:                Track (Repetitions: Do 4-10 X 400m with 400m jog on weeks 1,3,5;  3-5 X 1000m with a 400m jog on weeks 2,4,6)

Wed:                Easy run 4-12km           

Thurs:               Marathon pace/aerobic run 12-16km       

Fri:                   Easy run 4-12km           

Sat:                  Easy run 4-12km

Sun:                 Long run 16-32km


Weeks 2, 4 and 6

Mon:                Rest

Tues:                Hill sprints 4-10 X (about 300m and duration of sprint between 60seconds and 90 seconds)

Wed:                Easy run 4-12km

Thurs:             Tempo run of 5km or 8km. (5km for those training for 5-10km; 5 or 10km for 21km and marathon)    

Fri:                   Easy run 4-12km

Sat:                  Easy run 4-12km

Sun:                 Long Run 16-32km

Repeat the 2-week cycle three times


3 week taper

First week:

Mon:                Rest

Tues:                Track (3 X 1000m, jog 400m)      

Wed:                4-12km easy

Thurs:              Track (6 X 400m, jog 400m)       

Fri:                   4km easy

Sat:                  5km or 10km time trial or race

Sun:                 12km easy


Second week:

Mon:                 Rest

Tues:                Track (4 X 800m, jog 400m)

Wed:                4-12km easy

Thurs:             Tempo 5km or 8km       

Fri:                   4-12km easy

Sat:                  Track (3 X 1000m, jog 400m)

Sun:                 12km easy


Third week:

Mon:                Rest

Tues:                Track  (4 X 800m, jog 400m)

Wed:                6-8km easy

Thurs:             Track ( 4 X 400m, jog 400m)       

Fri:                   Rest

Sat:                  4km jog with 4-6 strides of 80m

Sun:                 RACE

Coach Neville

For the past 22 years I have helped hundreds of runners achieve their dreams, using the Recovery Based Training System I have developed. 

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