Sharpening Period

Hello super runners, this week I want to reflect on an important specific training period, which is the last phase in marathon training called the Sharpening phase. Some of you who are training for the Philly marathon should be in this phase with just four weeks left of hard training. The specific purpose of the sharpening phase is to elevate your training to the peak level. This phase introduces the body to race-specific MRP or marathon race pace.

Sharpening Summary:

The sharpening period is the final stage that prepares you to run at your peak level.  The result of the training cycle is to run at the race pace goal through the entire race. The sharpening period is the time to focus on running your goal race pace. You are in the stage that will prepare you for the predicted race time finish.

Example: Day-1 easy run/ Day-2 Tempo run race pace/ Day-3 rest or cross train/ Day-4 speed work/ Day 5 easy run/ Day 6- long run threshold or tempo or progressive.

The sharpening period in theory is close to the race time so that you hit your peak in training at the same period of the race. Runners need to be at their peak at race day to accomplish their goal. If there is any science involved in racing it is the timing of the peak. The negative part is that sometimes it is not easy to achieve your peak the day of the race. Many times athletes achieve peak during there training before the race and are flat during the race time. This is just a fact that we have to live within the world of running. I have personally experience this situation many times. The only way we can avoid this is to use the three-phase training system ending with the sharpening phase and hope for the best. Simply stated we are trying to time our training so that our peak or best fitness level is activated on race day, and that should be at the end of our sharpening period.

The sharpening period should be around six weeks long with the last day ending on race day. The last weeks of the sharpening period should focus on running your goal race pace. For example if a runner is training for a seven-minute race pace ending in a 3:08:00 marathon time, then tempo runs consisting of seven-minute pace should be the goal in the sharpening period. The best way to activate you MRP is to run a specific distance at your predicted pace. I have found that mid-week tempo runs are the best in accomplishing this. Simply pick a distance such as 10 miles and run four to six miles in the middle of the 10-mile at your goal pace.

Keep up the training my friends and your goal race pace can be accomplished!

My mentor in the marathon said it best: “Winning is a nice reward-don’t get me wrong-but glory isn’t the payoff. This may sound cliché’, but the reward is living the life-style and embracing the journey. It’s not only about finishing, it’s about moving forward. It was a lesson I took to heart, and I was glad I did.”

——-Bart Yasso

Happy Running!

John K Carlson, V.P.
RRCW