Checking In 10/1/2022 (after a week of keto)

The keto diet‘s working very well. I’m feeling markedly better. Hunger is much less of a problem than it was before. My energy actually isn’t too bad, even with the expected tired stretches as my body exhausted its glycogen stores and adapted to ketone use. Not to mention, after my weight (despite a clean consistent calorie deficit) stubbornly refused to budge for months after climbing to the low 180’s… it promptly began a steady everyday slide downward and is now in the high 170’s for the first time since May, continuing to slide downward by a fraction of a pound every day.

Admittedly, ongoing sleep problems (terminal insomnia) and hunger pangs (the two were somewhat related) were my main motivation for trying keto in the first place, and it’s helped both a great deal. The earliest I wake up now is 3:00am-ish, and that’s still after a fair better amount of sleep compared to before. Often I wake up closer to 4:00am, definitely good enough. Even if a bit generally tired later in the day, I don’t feel sleep deprived at all, and have no trouble getting to sleep around 9pm.

Another obvious effect: Keto dramatically simplified my grocery shopping and meal planning. I eat a lot of beef, which isn’t cheap on the surface. But when the meat and eggs are most of what I need, I’m not buying anything other than brussels sprouts for side dishes. My daily food expenses actually got cheaper . I got take out a couple of occasional times during the early transition, but now I’ve locked into a consistent at-home diet.

The only carbohydrate food I have most days are the brussels sprouts I have at dinner or at work, and much of that is insoluble fiber.

There’s another key change I made last month: I got a 2nd gym membership, at a gym right near my work. Super convenient, and on weekdays I just commute there in the morning, work out, then go a block to work and park. Instead of the afternoon rush hour, I go back to that gym after work for a 2nd brief recovery workout, stretch etc, then commute home with the traffic having calmed down a bit.

This has helped a lot with training consistency, and has also cut costs for me on coffee as I’m just drinking the coffee at work instead of going out for it in the morning.

I’ve settled into a food, exercise, work routine that’s felt great and has been very easy to follow.

In the morning, unless I’m totally resting from exercise that morning (in which case I usually fast until lunch), I’ll poach a combo of a jumbo egg and about two eggs worth of egg whites in the morning, eating that before leaving. If I know I’m going to do a lot that day, and I’m up early enough, I may bake a salmon fillet and eat that instead. But usually it’s eggs.

I’ll go straight to the gym and, unless I do strength training that day, do an hour of easy cardio, then stretch and go to work. I’ve done the spin bike a lot, but also dabble with the ARC Trainer. I can also just walk on the treadmill if I want a super easy morning.

If I strength train first (and that’s always first when applicable), I do 45 minutes cardio afterward. Eventually I’ll see how doing a bit of running feels, maybe start with a bit of running until I hit high zone 2 then switch to other cardio for the rest of the hour.

But this is working very well, and I always get to work afterward feeling pretty good.

I eat the same wild tuna and sardines during the workday, one at lunch and one mid-afternoon. On busier days I’ll also have brussels sprouts at lunch. I put more coconut oil in my hot water and mix in more collagen peptides. I used to do plenty of walking and little runs on work breaks, but now I’ve cut down to a simple 20 minute walk at lunch, maybe a little 15 minute walk on break in the morning. I save my energy for the workouts.

I also switched to marine collagen from regular collagen, after learning that the regular stuff contains a good quantity of various metals, while the slightly pricier marine collagen is much closer to clear. It’s a much finer powder, and more than regular collagen it can kick-up like dust if you’re not careful handling it.

After work I go back to the gym and do easier cardio than in the morning. The gym has good rowing machines and I’ve gone to those, though I could also ride the spin bike or treadmill walk if desired. I stretch again afterward, then commute back home. This is more so to avoid the peak of the rush hour than because I need the work, though the extra cardio has felt good, and I imagine it’s beneficial after sitting all day at work.

Once Vegas cools down I’ll resume running outdoors. While I’m going to stick to the 21 Day Cycle pattern for the above-mentioned cardio and strength training, I’m leaning more and more towards a traditional weekly schedule for runs, three dedicated days a week with a weekly long run.

These runs will still be in the evenings after work, for now. My preferred park locations open at 7am, I don’t want to have run-ins with Parks and Rec over parking at 6am, plus managing time and stretching is a lot easier at the gym than outdoors, and the parks aren’t as close to work.


My concern is how I’ll sleep once I go back to moderate late day workouts. They can interfere with your sleep, and though I’ve slept better I haven’t been working out more than 20-30 minutes in the evenings. But my sleep quality and consistency has improved a great deal with keto, and the hope is I’ll continue to sleep fine after those 45-90 minute sunset runs. If I have to build on doing the runs in the morning instead, then fine. But again, the gym environment in the morning is important, so they’d have to be on the treadmill. This has drawbacks and advantages.

Based on the reading I’ve done this summer as well as my own experience, as well as logistics required for the runs, I plan to do my weekday runs Tuesday and Thursday evening, with the long run being Saturday or Sunday depending on not just logistics but how my body responds overall:

Do I feel better going long Sunday, going back to work the next day, then having a run the next day? Do I get up early and ready to run on Saturday morning after the workweek ends? Do I need that weekend off day after a long run? How I respond will mostly dictate where in the weekend that long run goes, though logistics often will push it around anyway. For example, maintaining the 21 day cycle, a strength workout falling on Saturday will probably require I do the long run Sunday.

Speaking of strength training, the new gym has far more variety in equipment than Planet Fitness. Also, though it gets a good crowd in the mornings, it’s fairly easy to get my Full Fourteen in during mornings.

If keto has had one clear effect on my fitness, it’s that bench presses and other lifts got harder at the same weight. This is almost certainly because of glycogen depletion and those muscles still transitioning to fat/ketone driven fueling.

I paused all my weight/rep progressions anyway when I started at this gym, while getting used to the new equipment and layout. I restarted my progression at new weights once I got the hang of it, and I’ll take it from there. If any of my lifts flat-line at a given weight for weeks or months, it’s no big deal right now.

Since I’m still ramping up long run workouts, diet and workout routines on weekends remain a work in progress. I mapped out workable diet plans for both the long and total rest days, and need to see how keto and my energy handle the longer workouts. I had during the first week cycled some carbs around these long workouts, but I went net-carb-cold turkey mid-last-week (15-20g net per day) and feel real good in that state. So I need to give the long workouts a shot and react to that.

I’m running several 10Ks this next month, all on consecutive weekends. I’ll probably treat these as supported workouts, strong steady efforts, and then run the last 2-3 miles of each depending on how I feel.

That is all for now. So far, so good.

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An Example of Workout Order Logistics

The order in which I do my Full Fourteen strength exercises isn’t necessarily dictated by appropriate muscle group. Often I order them based on the equipment available at the time, and I’ll bunch exercises together based on the equipment used. This makes my workout more efficient, and isn’t really any trouble.

I like to get to the gym on weekday mornings, or during a time on the weekend when I know the gym usually isn’t busy. Still, it often does get a bit busy, and so to minimize any disruption either way I order my exercises according to what best makes sense.

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Going Full Keto

Surprise: I decided to start practicing keto this week.

Others have described the basics of the keto diet better than I ever could, but I’ll summarize:

You cut out almost all of your carb intake, outside of insoluble fiber. Instead, you eat a decent amount of protein, and a lot of dietary fat.

During exercise your body typically looks to burn glycogen (sugar) first, then fat. When you deprive your body of glycogen, your body adapts to produce ketone bodies from your dietary and stored fat. These ketones can mostly stand in for the glycogen you would get from consumed carbohydrates. This state of primary ketone production is called ketosis. The Keto diet (obviously) gets you into ketosis.

Why do this? Isn’t any low-carb type of diet bad for endurance training?

So I have several reasons for doing this.


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Improving the 21 Day Cycle, and using Workload Ratio to plan training

Since adopting the 21 Day Training Cycle in late July, I’ve made some adjustments.

First of all, it makes more sense to not run or aerobically train on the strength training day. The swolework is already fairly challenging, and my body has lately responded better to an easy day of strength training with no running/cardio every three days than it has from running or cardio every day.

Secondly, continuing my research on training monotony, I’ve noticed that monotony scores are helped by not having any other training on the strength days. Monotony has gone up as I’ve gotten back to regular training, and it indicates that aerobically training everyday would probably be unsustainable. With every three days being only strength training, the monotony stays closer to normal.

This also indicates it may be sensible to make an otherwise do-able 2nd day run shorter, in order to vary that week’s training stress and reduce overall training monotony.

Conversely, it’s often a good idea to make the 3rd day workout longer, or add a 2nd cardio session elsewhere in that 3rd day, to increase the variance between days and reduce overall monotony.

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Building The Full Fourteen Strength Workout

I took some time off from strength training, somewhat inadvertently. Following my 3 day and 21 day training cycles, I had a tough couple weeks with coming off antibiotics and ramping up run training.

So scheduled swolework days would come up and I’d make the judgment call to skip them. After a bigger 8/6/22 workout (which itself came after a 5 day break), I went two weeks until my next strength workout.

I’m not oblivious. During that time away, I realized my rotating strength workouts had become somewhat demanding. This was fine when I was not seriously run training following Vancouver 2022.

Now that I’m getting back to longer aerobic runs, the strength training sessions were a little too much. I wanted to scale back strength training but not train too infrequently, or go too long between training muscle groups.

So I made an adjustment

Right before my 8/21 workout, I decided to keep my current 3 day micro-cycle (strength + maybe cross train, running 2nd day, tougher running 3rd day, repeat). But instead of cycling between two workouts with 4-sets per group, I would do one set of every exercise. This reduces the demand a great deal, but also allows me to train everything more frequently.

Plus, with running now once again taking focus, strength is secondary and this volume better reflects that. I won’t get so tired or sore that it impacts my running, and reduces chances of having to skip workouts. Why skip what should be more easily attainable? Even if I dread an exercise, it’s just one set! I can do that!

I would maintain the overload progression I’ve been following to good results: Progressing from 8 reps to 12 reps over multiple workouts, then increasing the weight, dropping back to 8 reps, repeating. But now, it’s just one set, of every single exercise.

I did my central seven exercises, with some revisions. In my last such workout, I incidentally tried Overhead Squats with dumbbells instead of on the Smith rack. Since that felt considerably better, I decided going forward to do overhead squats that way. I also re-added Russian Twists, which would give my obliques some neglected work.

It went fine.

The 8/21 workout was fairly simple and went great, before I got on the spin bike for some low aerobic work.

Garmin Connect’s strength heat-map shows muscles worked. Red sections indicate groups that were primary movers in the workout. Yellow sections indicate secondary movers. Gray sections are untouched.

This workout was a nice snapshot of all the muscle groups I had been working over the last couple months. Everything from both workouts was for the first time together on one chart. (The exception is the obliques, as I hadn’t been doing Russian Twists in a while before this workout.)

It also provided a clear picture of what muscle groups were missing work. The workout was so easy, and I had only done 8 exercises, with plenty of room for more.

Connecting the missing links.

I decided to research a bit and try to get the whole picture red or yellow in one workout. I wanted every muscle group to work in at least one exercise. And then one set of all that can be my go-to total body strength workout.

In Garmin Connect, I’d go back to a prior workout that worked few muscle groups, then edit in different exercises to see the heat-map change. Then I’d delete them. This allowed me to find do-able exercises that would hit the different muscle groups.

  • I decided to re-introduce deadlifts, which I’d done in prior workout plans months ago. This addresses missing red work for the lower back core muscles. I injured my lower back doing them last December, so I had avoided them since. Some helpful feedback (from the Manosphere of all places) recently fixed my form issues that contributed to that injury. I decided to start deadlifts at a definite sub-max weight and progress from there. I also decided to avoid the Smith rack (where I suffered the December injury). Instead I’ll use dumbbells (DB’s), which I’ve done before with good results.
  • I mentioned re-adding the Russian Twists. I do these with one of the DB’s from my bench presses, so they’re done at half those exercises’ weight. This reds the obliques, so they’re staying in. I do these on the decline or flat bench after those bench presses.
  • I re-added triceps extensions on the cable deck. I had removed these, as my other upper body exercises were already involving triceps as secondary movers. However, I wanted one set of red primary exercises for triceps, so the extensions are back.
  • I re-added work on the hip abduction machine (your legs are in weighted clamps and you press them outward). They’re usually a skippable isolation exercise. But the abductors are a hard muscle to red out otherwise, and hip abductions are a red exercise for those. Abductions are not hard to do with considerable weight and proper form.
  • The hardest heatmap group to find exercises for is the neck. Exercises you think impact that group (like shrugs or neck extensions) don’t impact them on the Garmin heatmap. Randomly I thought of the levator scapulae muscles. I found a Garmin option for the Levator Scapulae Stretch (a neck stretch against resistance from your arms). It turns out that exercise turned the muscle group red! So I’m doing those now (no weight added).

I gave this a try this morning.

This morning I knocked out a total body strength workout. I did 1 set of 11 reps for all twelve (12) exercises, in this order.

Shown are the scheduled exercises for my 8/24 swolework session. Notice I messed up and accidentally did 12 incline bench presses. Whoops!

This workout, tough but do-able, only took 21 minutes.

After I finished, I updated Garmin Connect and then realized I hadn’t done or programmed anything for calves. Calves however are pretty easy to program. I just did a quick set of standing bodyweight calf raises, to get to 13 exercises total.

My heatmap for this morning’s workout then looked like this.

So, cool. I managed to work every single muscle group. And, a few of them are yellow. So, I now want to make the whole chart red. This ensures every muscle group Garmin calls out is a primary mover in at least one exercise. This is a total body strength training workout should do.

I had good energy in this workout (at 7am, despite no coffee, I might add!). There’s certainly room to add more exercises. (I’m currently not concerned about keeping these workouts to 20 minutes. It’s a total body workout rather than a split routine. These can now go 30 minutes if needed.)

The muscle groups in question:

  • The forearms
  • The hip flexors
  • The hip adductors (inner thigh and groin muscles).

It would be easy to just do specific isolation exercises for those groups. But finding other compound exercises that worked with other muscle groups would be more productive and better for run fitness. Isolation is better suited to bodybuilding, which needless to say isn’t a high priority goal of mine.

So I went to work:

I programmed a new total body strength workout, that would work every muscle group as a primary mover.

If you create a strength workout manually in Garmin Connect, you won’t get a heatmap for exercises. I just figured out that doing a super quick set and saving it on my watch allows me to freely edit that workout with a full heatmap.

So I did a couple squats, saved that “workout”, and went to town in Connect on swapping in/out different exercises.

The Hip Flexors

The Flexors are a hard muscle group to program. We use them a lot in our lives, but isolating them as a primary mover is another matter entirely.

Initially I was at a loss for what exercises to consider. But then I randomly thought of burpees, the classic ‘squat to full plank, do a pushup, jump back to plank, tuck jump straight up and back down to squat, repeat’. I entered that as a lone exercise, and found myself a mother-lode exercise:

The burpee works so many muscles. It does in one set what bench presses, squats, and calf raises would do. Plus it works anterior hip flexor muscles as a primary mover, not the easiest group to program. It does all that in one exercise.

So I definitely will add burpees, which I’ve done many times before. I won’t have trouble doing one set of 8-12.

Now, I could subsequently remove my bench presses, since this uses the pecs as a primary mover. But I still want to improve my incline/decline bench weights, as well as build my overhead squat. So I’m leaving those bench presses in. My chest will just get 3+ sets of work every workout at different angles, as will my quads and glutes. Plus, the overhead red-works my deltoids and traps (shoulders).

The one set each of those exercises isn’t a killer, and fronting those with burpees won’t be a problem.

So that only reds out the hip flexors and calves. It also eliminates the need for the hanging leg raises, which red-worked the abs and quads. The raises were always a secondary priority, and finding the captain’s chair free is often a pain anyway. That eliminates a hassle at the gym.

The Forearms

I always do Hammer Curls, a stiff-forearm bicep curl that along with biceps work the forearms as a secondary mover. I really didn’t want to waste time on separate forearm curls or similar.

It was while separately considering Farmer’s Walks (walking the gym while carrying weight at your sides, akin to carrying groceries into the house), seeking out an alternative to obliques and hamstrings, that I found the Farmer’s Walks actually red-work the forearms as its primary mover.

Yes, you are carrying weight with your legs. But your leg, shoulder and back muscles are actually secondary movers. It’s the forearms that do the bulk work holding and balancing the weight. So the rest of your body can capably walk with it.

This seems a lot more cumbersome than simple forearm curls. But its total body engagement is closer to what I’m looking for. Plus, it’s essentially a dynamic cousin of the deadlift. Most of all, it’s one of the more functional exercises you can do. Think about how often you’ve got to carry stuff this way in everyday life (e.g. I mentioned carrying groceries).

No matter how crowded the gym gets, walking across with a pair of weights has never been a problem. So Farmer’s Walks are definitely going in.

The Adductors

There’s pretty much no other exercise aside from the Adductor Machine that works the inner thighs as a primary mover, without being cumbersome and needlessly redundant. Doing burpees on the floor is fine, but I’m not doing clam-shells or weird squats/planks on the floor just to red out one muscle group, when I can just get on a machine and knock out one easy set in seconds.

I’ll just use the adductor machine, before moving to the abductor machine.

The Full Fourteen

From all this I have put together a sequence of what is now fourteen exercises. Below is the Full Fourteen, a total body strength workout (including sample reps and weights). All listed exercises are just one set, with at least 60 seconds rest (longer is OK as needed).

Entry of all these exercises into a sample Garmin Connect workout confirmed that every muscle group is red-worked.

Garmin Connect estimates this workout would take about 21-22 minutes if done efficiently. I’d imagine some breaks would run a bit longer as needed, so it’s more like 22-25 minutes, certainly less than 30 minutes even with some challenges.

Let’s do it.

This going forward will be my total body strength workout, done on schedule every three days (barring races or race taper timing requiring a day off).

I will follow my 8-12 rep and weight progression normally, and see how far I can go with all of the above. For new exercises, I’m using a known-do-able weight and will just progress that the same as the other exercises. This last workout was 11 reps of everything. So the next workout will start with sets of 12 reps. If everything’s fine, I’ll increase exercises’ weight by 5-10 lbs and go back to 8 reps.

Go ahead and give it a try.

Obviously, you’re free to take this template and use it as a workout yourself. Google and research any exercises as needed. From my experience, these are easily do-able exercises in a gym for most people.

Eventually, I will devise a total body-weight strength workout equivalent, and will post it here.

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On planning (and adjusting) training schedules using Training Monotony and TRIMP

The 21 day cycle has worked okay for me so far. However, the runs have been short due to a rash on my right arm that required I go to Urgent Care for a prescription. The rash is doing better, though the RX as it does has messed with my body a bit. I also had a dinner for my dad’s birthday. I also had a car issue to sort out ahead of registration renewal.

Basically, life intervened, and I had to patch a reduced schedule this week with work break runs. I’ve back-loaded my strength workouts to Friday and Saturday. After that, my 3 day cycle goes back to normal by Monday (which incidentally is the next scheduled quality-run day).


I ended that 21 day cycle post mentioning Training Monotony. That’s the subject I’ve been personally focused on the last week or so.

Training Monotony is a metric devised long ago by Carl Foster. Training Monotony measures how variable your workouts are within a training week or similar period. The concept is that the more day to day consistent your workout volume is, the higher your monotony.

High Training Monotony can be a problem in one of two ways. 1) Either you do a lot of hard workouts with insufficient easy days or rest, an overtraining or burnout risk. 2) Or you do a lot of easier workouts without a mix of more challenging workouts. This in turn stagnates or decreases your fitness.

Though poo-poohed by some writers (and I’d imagine given their plan layout that the Hansons have a problem with the monotony concept as well), Training Monotony is worth exploring. Honestly, most coaches and training plans do shove a lot of volume down your throat that for many just runs you into the ground (and possibly injure you) more than prepare you for your training goals. Elite athletes and teams get around this by being 99th percentile strong and resilient, and/or through covert systematic doping. For most of us, the relentlessly high training volumes most top coaches swear by are largely unsustainable long-term.

Conversely, you can get into a pattern of easily do-able workouts. This eventually stagnates your progress. Your body grows accustomed to the regular stress, and ceases to progress.

For basic examples, Jonathan Savage aka Fellrnr has done a great job of providing some himself, as well as providing a separate illustration of what it measures and is designed to deter.

Basically, the Training Monotony number is the volume of your week’s training divided by the standard deviation of all the days collected in the data sample. Standard deviation is a pain to calculate, so I just have Excel do it.

You can measure your volume by mileage or rate of perceived exertion. But because Runalyze provides it to me for every kind of fitness activity I do, I’ve been using TRIMP.

TRIMP is short for Training Impulse. This measures your effort based on heart rate (% max), and number of minutes doing the activity.

For example, a 1 mile easy run for me is worth about 15 TRIMP. A walk during a work break is about 6 TRIMP. A full strength workout is about 10-12 TRIMP, depending on what I’m doing. A 45 minute spin bike session is about 30 TRIMP. In planning a week’s workouts and measuring likely training monotony, I’ve been plugging in TRIMP approximates for the expected activities. If adjusting the schedule in midweek I use the actual TRIMP from completed days.

You want the Training Monotony ratio not to be any higher than 1.50. Your volume, divided by the standard deviation, needs to be 1.50 or lower. If your volume doesn’t deviate much day over day, you get an unacceptably higher number like 3.00 or more.

Why it’s unacceptable depends on how you get there:

If these are all hard workouts, you won’t recover between them. You’re going to burn out, if not stagnate and see diminished progress.

If these are all easy workouts, your fitness is going to stagnate, and certainly won’t improve much.

So you would combine monotony with total volume to get a better idea of which side you’re on. If you’re running 1 mile a day, 7 miles a week, you’re probably on the stagnate/unimproved end. If you’re running 10 miles a day, 70 miles a week, you’re probably on the stagnate/burnout end)

Going a bit over 1.50 isn’t a killer (consensus is it’s above 2.00 that you’ve got a clear problem), but eking over 1.50 is like drinking alcohol when you’ve got health problems: If you can’t outright avoid it, don’t make a habit out of it, and definitely avoid doing it on consecutive weeks.

Conversely, you usually don’t want it to be too low, below 1.00. This can happen if, say, you have multiple long workouts in a week, or too many rest or easy days. Either you’re losing opportunities to improve fitness on the rest days, or the workouts are too long and the training week is not as productive as reducing the daily workout volume and training more often.

Exceptions are understandable and okay for unusual situations, if you just ran a half marathon and took lots of days off to recover afterward, or if you had to take unplanned off days, etc. But as a practice during serious training you want to keep monotony between 1.00 and 1.50.

As the Simplifaster link above discusses, worrying about Monotony can seem much ado about nothing, that it’s an older traditional metric first used with racing horses, and that advances in training have theoretically rendered the concern obsolete.

However, looking back at prior years’ training (and without getting into a granular breakdown and collection of graph images), I see that times my training was productive often had more of a 1.30-1.40 monotony, and that training that didn’t pan out often cruised around 1.60-1.80, often exceeding 2.00. I see some loosely correlative evidence in my own training that worrying about it, at least in my case, can have some merit.

Someday I’ll probably write a granular breakdown post with all those old tables, graphs and images. It’s just not going to be now. However, I’ll show a sample of what I do now to plan training and keep Monotony at a proper level. This is using the Electric Blues “Daniels Tables” Excel spreadsheet, which has a section to enter in training volume, and shows percentage breakdowns by workout type.

A sample week of training using TRIMP values, entered in the Electric Blues spreadsheet, with Training Monotony measured in the bottom right.

I’ve been entering in TRIMP values for planned workouts in a given week. I also entered in an equation in the bottom right corner to quickly measure the Monotony for that week. I can immediately see if the Monotony goes under 1.00 or over 1.50 after making a speculative entry.

While a side topic, I do try to maintain 80/20 training principles. You’ll notice the easier Recovery & Aerobic training is around low 80’s%. Harder training for me now is any intense running. This is not just zone 3 and above. Harder zone 2 counts right now as I work back into regular running shape. I also include any strength training (the 10’s in the sample are strength workouts).

‘Aerobic Zone’ I use for easier zone 1-2 runs and cross training like the spin bike, elliptical or ARC Trainer. Warmup/Recovery I mostly use for walking, which does count and registers TRIMP scores that are part of my volume.

I not only plan weeks ahead but put the current week’s completed volume in, to compare with my remaining schedule. I want to make sure the Monotony stays on track, or if I need to make an adjustment.

The sample above is the current week. I had to make several adjustments to the remaining schedule, As mentioned earlier, this has been an unusual week with multiple distractions. I had wanted to do more Friday. The strength workout that day was originally scheduled for Wednesday. As I rearrange the schedule, I make other adjustments to re-balance the monotony.

I quickly noticed the longer the long workout is, the lower the training monotony goes. A more demanding long workout increases the standard deviation. At the same time, the long run’s ability to lower Monotony is obviously limited by how long and intense of a workout you can do.

For example, it doesn’t do good to plan 150 TRIMP worth of training, if doing 80 is currently too hard. Personally, I just did about 200 TRIMP in a 2 hour 45 minute hour workout. This was a 45 minute run and 2 hours on the spin bike. S,o in this case, I know the 105 TRIMP long workout in the sample above is well within reach. For me, 105 TRIMP is either about 7 easy running miles, or 5ish tempo or interval miles.

I also notice that if you add any volume to harder training days, it reduces the increase in Training Monotony. If you put it in an empty or lighter day, the Monotony goes up.

It also creates a monotony problem if you have to shorten that long workout. The deviation between workouts decreases, and the monotony could surge. You could just cancel the workout when this happens, though of course long workouts are important.

If measuring by TRIMP, cutting a long workout short because it’s TOO hard can actually even things out. A shortened workout could produce an average heart rate so high it produces the same TRIMP. If pressed for time, you can turn a long run into a shorter tempo or interval run resulting in the same TRIMP.

All of this is infancy-stage experimentation and research for me right now. The goal is to create sustainable consistent 21 day cycles, not to mention training weeks, that are better repeatable than some of the training approaches and plans I’ve previously struggled with.

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The Working Class 21 Day Training Cycle

After a few weeks of training daily, lots of strength training, lots of 45-60 minute cross training sessions, several short treadmill runs and work break runs… I’m feeling pretty worn out, clearly needing a break from what I’ve been doing, but obviously not wanting to take a full training break after having just come back from a long training break following Vancouver 2022.

Motivated by Kevin Beck’s 21 day cyclic training approach, though obviously not wanting to mirror high volume that I’m obviously not running nor in the condition to run… I decided to borrow from both him and Budd Coates to create my own 21 day cycle.

The Working Class Runner 21 Day Training Cycle

In Running On Air, Coates built training schedules using a 3 day alternating easy-medium-hard workout pattern. Similar to this, I patterned this 21 day schedule around big workouts every 3 days, the surrounding days easy, and a relatively easy strength workout coupled with easy training on days after the toughest, longest workouts.

Long Run: However long your longest workout needs to be, that’s the long run. I’d like to get this to a minimum of 2 hours. But it can be 60 or 90 minutes if that’s longer than my midweeks.

Notice that there’s only long runs every three weeks, and on that week they happen on back to back weekends within six days of each other. Then there’s not another long run for 15 days.

This patterning combines a bunching of long workouts with an extended break from long runs for a couple weeks while focusing on more medium-long workouts and strength training.

60-90min workout: These can be regular 60+ minute runs, or quality workouts like intervals or tempo work, or any mix of the above. But they need to be runs and they need to be 60-90 minutes, the sweet spot for aerobic endurance fitness growth.

Initially, they should just be regular easy runs, and if you can’t go 60 minutes then go however reasonably long you can at first, until 60 becomes do-able.

easy: These are either very short runs, no more than 30 minutes, or can be easy aerobic cross training for 45 minutes or more.

If an easy day falls on the weekend, you can go long on cross training, 2+ hours. On weekdays, keep it to 60 minutes.

But even on weekends, easy runs cannot go longer than 30 minutes. This is meant to be an active break, and the runs are best done as recovery runs, perhaps light work on technique or hills.

strength + easy: Here in addition to easy runs or cross training, you do strength training, no more than 20-30 minutes. I have two designated 20 minute workouts I can rotate between.

On the 2nd week, with three strength workouts, I actually would split into three separate 15 minute workouts, to make sure I do every exercise once per week. But it’s no problem to just rotate through two separate workouts and have them flip flop in order every 3 weeks.

I would keep weekday cross training to 45 minutes rather than 60 minutes, to keep the workout at about an hour. On weekends (or any day with more free time) it’s okay to cross train a full 60 minutes if desired.

Again, keep any running to 30 minutes or less, and that remains true with the strength workout. This will make these training days a bit longer than the other easy days.

When races and life intervene: If on a given day or weekend you have a race and it doesn’t line up perfectly with planned workouts, go ahead and turn the 2 days before and after the race into easy days. Don’t strength train within 3 days before the race, but feel free to strength train the day after the race or beyond if you’re up to it.

If an event in your life comes up and it interferes with a workout, it’s no problem to skip it. If you want to try and do a workout off-schedule the day after (leaving only one easy day before the next workout or long run), keep it to 60 minutes max.

The next easy day, you are allowed to skip the run or cross training if desired. If the next big workout is a long run, you can also skip strength training and just make the next one. If it’s not, it’s optional whether or not to make up the strength training displaced by your postponed workout. However, if possible, you are also allowed to switch your strength training to the day of the event postponing your workout.

If you need to take multiple days off in a row: Just do it, and don’t worry about it for now. If it creates a problem, it would have created a problem on any training schedule. Usually, though, a couple or few missed days shouldn’t derail you badly. Just get back to the schedule when you can.


So this 21 day cycle is the training template I’ve settled on going forward. Barring any random lumps in my schedule, I can follow this cycle without an issue through summer into fall racing season.

The goal with this was to refine everything I’ve been working on into a sustainable routine of training, demanding enough to build my fitness but not so demanding it burns me out.

Along with this cycle, I’ve also been focusing on adjustments for training monotony, but that’s another post for down the road….

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