I've just spent the weekend mapping out my training for next year's World 24 hr Championships in Brugg, Switzerland - assuming I'll be selected.
There's about 33 weeks to go before the event and lots of hard training to do.
Basically my training is one of four types - cycling, strength, flexibility, running.
The cycling is very straight forward indeed. Hop on the bike and cycle for 45 to 60 minutes speeding up and slowing down (fartlek style) whilst listening to music or the radio or watching TV or a DVD. Easy (sometimes !!!)
Strength work can be broken down into three sub-types: core, upper body and legs.
Upper body work is mainly push ups and exercises for my shoulders which are a particular weakness of mine. I do three sessions of this per week. Core stability exercises take many forms but can include sit ups, crunchies, the plank, etc. Recently I've come across a post on Andy DuBois blog which has changed my understanding of these exercises.
Leg strengthening exercises include lunges, squats, step ups, etc. The composition and frequency of each session varies according to how many weeks there are before the major race.
Flexibility - just a few stretching exercises done almost daily.
Of course, the majority of my training will be running as 'running is the best form of training for running'. My running can be split into one of five types: long run, hill reps, tempo running, speedwork, steady running.
I plan to do two long runs per week, on consecutive days where possible. This week they will be 14 miles in length but will increase to somewhere between 25 and 27 miles in the middle of May. I also make the second of my two weekly long runs considerably harder than the first ... usually fartlek but sometimes much hillier or much faster (or hillier and faster occasionally).
Hill reps - there's a steep hill near where I live and I run up and down it a few times concentrating on form, not speed. I only use a 250m section and this week I'll do 8 reps but progress to 20 by mid to late February.
Tempo - continuous runs of 3 to 9 miles in length at a speed somewhere between 10k and half marathon pace.
Speedwork - intervals, fartlek and shorter races.
The above types of running account for four sessions per week. I run four consecutive days then have a day rest which means I'm running on 5 or 6 days per week and apart from that detailed above the rest is just steady running at about 8 minutes per mile (often with my clubmates from Otley AC).
One vital ingredient in my training plan is rest days. I mentioned earlier that every fifth day is free from running, well every tenth day is free from all forms of training. I feel that my body needs this time to recover from the hard work of the previous few days.
Most of what I've written about has been come about through a mixture of trial and error, listening to other runners, reading books and magazines ... and learning (not copying) from all these sources.
It's probably appropriate here to include a quote I found on (I think) Dean Karnazes website: "listen to everyone; follow no-one. We are each unique, what works for me may not work for you. Seek advice, listen, analyse, experiment and test new things. Then go with what works best for you."
The running book I'm currently reading is Running Anatomy by Joe Puleo and Dr. Patrick Milroy. It is helping enormously, particularly with strength exercises. It's published by Human Kinetics who have a list of fantastically useful books for athletes.