kim and dylan

The yearly training plan (YTP): What is it and why is it important to help you become a better athlete.

We’ve been talking lots about the weeks after a goal race, which typically aligns with the transition from fall to winter, as the time of the year when many of you are in a transition phase. Now is the time to digest all the hard work you’ve put in over the last few months, rest and make a plan to rebuild. 

One of our suggestions during this time was to sit down with your coach, set some goals and plan out the year, or at least the season ahead. Your goal race for the season should be the starting point for the yearly training plan. You should work backwards from there to develop a plan of attack. If you haven’t nailed down that goal race for the spring season, here are few races we love and would suggest checking out.  

West Coast:

East of the Rockies:

South of the Border:

Your YTP is not going to contain the details of every single day’s training for the entire year. Instead it’s a template that outlines different phases of training throughout the year. The focus of your training during a particular phase will depend on your racing schedule and your goals. This is important from a physiological point of view so that we can plan proper periodization into your training. You can’t go to the track every week and hammer out a set of intervals all year long and expect to continue to improve exponentially. Do this, and you’ll hit plateaus throughout the year. To avoid this, it’s important to plan those peaks and valleys out ahead of time.

A YTP is also a great way to avoid burnout or a sudden lack of motivation midway through the year. For example, knowing why you are going to spend several weeks in a base phase; building your volume, while keeping the workouts less intense, is important. If you hammer those workouts but don’t get in the volume intended it might hinder your ability to execute the training later in the year.

We all love racing. For many of us, that’s why we run. But planning your running week to week or even month to month, based on what the next race is on the local race calendar isn’t going to help you become faster season after season. But you’ll miss out on some important phases of your overall training plan and inevitably stop improving.  Your YTP will set you up for success so that you don’t just train from race to race. Along those same lines, the YTP is important to help you know which races on your schedule are peak races and which are just part of the training process and a stepping stone to that peak race. Understanding this can help prevent too many peaks and valleys in your emotions throughout a season.

So grab your coach, a coffee, a calendar and a pen and get to work on your YTP. If you’re not currently working with a coach, our team is always happy to help.


Last week we gave you some winter running tips including letting you know that we’re cool with you hitting the treadmill (aka the dreadmill) from time to time this winter. Well, mother nature hit the greater Vancouver area pretty hard last week. I know, I know, those of you east of the rockies are laughing right now. But, really, it snowed and it was cold. Dylan even broke out his Mizuno sleeping bag coat for practice on Tuesday night!

We are most often asked when is it too cold to run outside. There isn’t really a temperature that we set the limits at. You aren’t going to do damage to your lungs by breathing in the air at temps that most of us experience from coast to coast in Canada. If you dress appropriately you should be okay running outdoors at temps as low as -30C. Dylan has become super soft after moving to the west coast and won’t run outside if it’s colder than -5C. But, again, he is a wimp when it comes to the cold.
Our biggest concern when it comes to deciding whether to brave the elements or stay inside is the footing. If the ground under foot is terrible because of ice, black ice, any colour ice and you risk falling and busting yourself we think the treadmill is a pretty decent option. It’s also okay if there is a blizzard and you can’t see 5 inches in front of your face. Running outside might not be safe in those conditions, so break out a singlet and shorts and head inside.

Anywhere you can find a treadmill. Start with your local gym or your next door neighbour (if you live next door to Chip Wilson). But be aware most gyms have a 20-30 minute maximum use. Try to find one where there is no limit at all. But be warned many treadmills shut down automatically after 60 minutes. Dylan has learned this the hard way, by falling on his face when the treadmill stopped dead unannounced.

The same way you run when you are outside, one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. We recommend setting the incline to 1%. Although the research is mixed on this, we believe setting the treadmill at this slight incline best mimics running outdoors. And do not try to change your running gait in anyway. It might take a minute or two to find your groove on the tmill, and even though it might feel strange, your gait should be more or less the same as it is running outside.
It might get a bit boring, so load up your mp3 player (remember those!) with a good mix – we recommend Whitehorse and Arthur Oskan. Bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated. And a towel to wipe off the ridiculous amount of sweat that you will expire. If you need some variety, throw in a few hills periodically by changing the incline.

If it’s still winter next week we will try to come at you with some of our favourite treadmill workouts. We’ve done a few doozies in our day, like Dylan’s 20miler with 8*1mile @ 5:00 thrown in, done at 7,000ft elevation. That was just silly…

Well this may not apply to all members, some of you may be looking out your window right now at a winter wonderland, even in Vancouver this week; cue the winter training tips. If you’ve been hit with Snowmaggedon, don’t be discouraged, many great long distances runners have trained through a great Canadian winter. How does the saying go….’what doesn’t break you, will make you stronger’. Well that’s true and good motivation to get you through the winter, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you bound through the snow without setback. 

  • Be safe – Injuring yourself by slipping and falling is a concern when running in snowy and icy conditions. Sometimes road are cleared better than sidewalks and pathways, and you’ll be relegated to running on the roads. Try to find quite roads to run on.  Be sure to run against traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. Snow banks can get very high after a few snow storms and drivers may not be able to see you crossing the road. Pay extra attention at intersections and when drivers are turning right.
  • Footwear modifications – there are several options out there for providing better grip while running on snow and ice. A good pair of trail shoes can go a long way on icy pavement. Another popular option east of the Rockies is to use Yaktrax. Another is to put good old fashion 3/8″ sheet metal screws in the bottom of an older pair of runners. This is only recommended if your entire running route is going to be on packed snow or ice.
  • Plan your route – there are several things to consider when planning your run that you don’t really have to think much about during other times of the year. Since you may be relegated to running on the roads, try to plan a route that is in a low traffic area, this is one instances in which living in the ‘burbs may be an advantage. You should also plan out an approximate time or distance for your route, nothing worse than running too long or far in the cold. You should also be conscious of the wind direction. Start your run into the wind and try to finish with it at your back. If you run with the wind at your back during the first part of your run you’ll get hot and sweaty and then when you run into the wind during the second part of your run you’ll get cold very quickly.
  • Dress Appropriately – Layering is very important in winter. We recommend a wind proof outer-layer, and insulated and wicking mid-layer that moves sweats away from the skin. Your body temperature increases with running so dress for conditions that are warmer than it is. You should feel chilled when you go out, but your body temperature will increase and you’ll warm up quickly. Also wear a reflective outer layer if you run at night.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust – It’s better to adjust your scheduled training for the day, by either cutting it short, finding an alternative, or pushing your workout off til a better day, when the snow is too deep or the roads too slippery. It’s better to alter the schedule a little bit in this way, than try to push through and potentially end up slipping and falling and tweaking a muscle that then hampers you for weeks or months afterwards.
  • Aches & Pains – Speaking of tweaking a muscle, you have to read your body really well when running on snow and ice. There’s a good chance that you’ll be a bit sore the day after running on snow, especially loose snow. Running on loose snow is similar to running on sand, it requires the use of many more stabilizing muscles than running on solid surfaces. So, if you’re sore the day after running on loose snow, it may not be reason for huge concern, as you’re waking up some stabilizers that have been dormant for a while. But, if you feel a particular muscle getting tighter and tighter during exercise, this may be more serious and cause for concern. So, tread carefully…
  • Hit the Treadmill – This is always an option that we don’t want to deter you from. Sometimes the elements just aren’t worth braving, and a run on the treadmill is a better option. We’ll have more tips for treadmill running in the coming weeks.