Since my last post I have been thinking a lot about training plans and training philosophy. So I thought I would give some background on my basic training philosophy. Any training schedule contains some variation on four phases: base, build, peak, and taper. Within each phase are cycles. Most running cycles last 4 to 6 weeks. The point of the cycles is to allow regular recovery periods within a training schedule. Numerous studies of human physiology have shown that rest/recovery is vital to improvement. Thus most plans dictate a down week every 4th to 6th week (depending on the phase and plan) with a lighter load which allows muscle recovery.
My basic training philosophy is that every week should contain at least base run of medium distance, a speed/hill workout, and a long run. The idea is that every run you do should have a purpose. For example in my running plan for this week I did a base run, a tempo run, a speed workout, and a long run.
Simply put these elements get longer each week (except the recovery week where they scale back). I have never lived by the 10% increase per week rule. Instead I usually build up mileage in increments of 5 miles per week (or roughly the number of days you run a week). Furthermore I will often stay at a weekly mileage total for two weeks before increasing mileage (e.g. wk1: 30 wk2: 35 wk3: 35 wk: 40).
Finally and most importantly I try and mix up my workouts so I am not doing the exact same thing every week. For example if my speed workout one week was 8×400m my next speed workout might be 200-300-400-500-600-500-400-300-200. That way I am staying mentally fresh and getting a breadth of speed work.