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Chasing Potential - Miami Peak Week

 Thursday, January 19, 2017

Peak Week. It's a term used for the highest volume week of a training cycle. Back in my younger (pre-baby) days, peak week for a marathon was 60-80 miles, which was very similar to my regular weekly mileage in my college years. Now, I'm still in rebuilding mode, so my peak week for the Miami Half Marathon came in just shy of 40 miles. It didn't help that I had the stomach flu just before the week began, and it swept through most of my family. My peak week started with very little mileage as I (and my kids) were recovering, but I pulled it together and still had a decent week. I expect my volume in future half marathon & marathon cycles to be higher, but I have to work with where I'm at for now.

When is Peak Week? For a half marathon, I recommend a two-week taper, so peak week begins three weeks before race day. For marathoners, I back that up another week. Peak week begins 4 weeks before marathon race-day in most cases, to allow for a 3-week taper. The first week of a marathon taper is still pretty high in volume, with the taper following the following mileage (as a % of peak volume): 80% - 60% - 40%. For a half marathon, the taper mileage is closer to 75% - 50%. Of course there is individual variation, but this provides a starting framework for building out the taper phase. The taper has to be long enough (and easy enough) to allow for full recovery from the stress of peak week and the weeks leading up to it. However, some intensity should be maintained through the taper so fitness is maintained, and you can enter race-day feeling sharp. 

Here is what my Peak Week workouts from Coach MK Fleming entailed:

  • Monday - Rest day + Core Special: Nailed it! 
  • Tuesday - 3-5 Mile Recovery Run at HR < 120: Ran 3 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. First run in a few days, so I was happy just to get it done. 
  • Wednesday - Green Light, Red Light: 1 mile warm-up, 3x (2k @ RP / 1K float), 1 mile cool-down: 7 miles in 58:23 on the treadmill. Ran my 2K repeats at 6:22-6:27 pace, which is right on my goal RP (race pace) for the half marathon. It wasn't easy, but after a tough weekend, it felt great to get it done. 
  • Thursday - Recovery Hour: I only ran 30 minutes (3 miles), but this was a 'make-up' run from when kids were sick on Monday, so 30 minutes was better than nothing!
  • Friday - Stride Sandwich 80: 80 minutes with 8x30sec strides in the middle: 9.20 miles total, at 8:47 pace. Did my 8x30 sec hard in the middle at about 6:00/mile pace. That's a fast but controlled pace for me now. My HR cap for the rest was 140, and I was heavily caffeinated, so it was hard to stay under that. Caffeine elevates HR, so I should probably avoid having much of it before easy runs if I want to run faster! I do love coffee a little too much. 
  • Saturday - Easy 14: Ran outside, with a wind-chill around 0F and sunshine. The trails were mixed with snow & ice, and I bundled up so I would still sweat since I'm working on 'heat acclimation' for Miami. It was a tough day, as the extra layers and trail conditions made 14 miles feel like 20. My 9:34 pace for 14 miles isn't fast for me, but I was sore for days after!
  • Sunday - 3-5 mile Recovery Run: 3 miles was enough for me today, at roughly 10:00 pace on the treadmill. Wearing long sleeves & tights to try to make my self sweat for heat acclimation!

I'm well into my taper phase now for the Miami Half Marathon. It will be my longest race in nearly 3 years, and a great chance to test my winter fitness while I spend a "working weekend" leading our Life Time Run travel group. That sounds like the best kind of working weekend to me! I'll post a recap after the race so you can get the inside scoop on the Miami Half Marathon. #nopressure

Last blog post: "Preparing for a Warm Race in the Winter" 

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Rebekah Mayer, National Run Training Manager at Life Time Fitness. Follow me on Instagram at rebekah800, on Twitter at @rebekah_mayer and our team at @lifetimerun. Find us on Facebook at