Hi Eric -
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the training program you set out in your book. I am a couple of weeks away from finishing phase 2, in the best shape of my life, with a transformed stride and running experience (injury-free to boot). I am eager to see the results of my one-mile and 20 minute tests after seeing the results after just phase one (mile time reduced from 9:00 to 6:45!). It has sure been a great way to usher in my 40s (born in 1975)!

My goal remains breaking 20min in a 5K that given the weather in Chicago probably won't happen until April.

My question is should I return to phase 1 or keep repeating phase 2? Or a combination of both. I don't want to lose my endurance base (my long runs in phase two are still around 90min).


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Hey Scott - thanks for the great update on your training and great improvements.  Bring on the sub-20 5K!

I would definitely go back to Phase 1 and try to sequence this with when you want to be in peak form come Spring - ending with Phase 2 1-2 weeks prior to your 'A' priority race.

Starting now would land you five months later in April which could be perfect.

Keep in mind that endurance and efficiency comes from phase 1, so this is a vital part.  Continuing with Phase 2 will only create overtraining and a plateau. AND, as you head back to Phase 1, you are starting much faster, so much of this development will be done faster, creating more challenge and continuing to help you make great performance gains.

DO NOT see it as a path of losing fitness.  Performance requires a process and cycle and losing a little top end fitness is necessary and expected, and part of the long term growth for you.

You can't be in peak form ALL of the time or it would not be peak form.  You might not need to go back to Week 1, as the sequencing might put you at week 5 of phase 1, which is OK.  But do not make the mistake of avoiding to continue to build your engine and foundation base - so important for short and long term health and growth.

Hope this helps.

Nice work!

Glad I found this topic. I face a similar scenario and have a similar question.

I had planned on redoing the TCI program this season leading up to my first full marathon in late October. I had planned on building my mileage for another couple of months before starting phase I, but after reading this and another recent reply by Eric, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to start phase I now, try for a 5K PR after phase 2 in early June, then start from the top again at a higher weekly mileage. I could time it to where I could complete almost complete the TCI program a second time a week before my marathon. Would this be a good plan, Eric, or would it be too much? Also, if I had to cut a few weeks  during the second go around in order time things right, which ones would be preferable to cut out?

Based on this scenario, how much time would there be between the June Phase 2/5k focus and your marathon?

It would be about 18 weeks between the 5K and the marathon.

OK, I would do this:  

  • The week after your 5k, take this as a rest/transition week of reduced running and everything easy.  
  • Use the 5K race as your 20 min test for updated HR zones.
  • After the rest week, begin week FIVE of Phase 1.
  • In week Five, do your One Mile Test in replace of one of the quality workouts of the week for updates SP zones.
  • Then  carry on with the program thru Phase 2, up to the race.
  • This will leave you with one extra week before the marathon, and repeat the last week of the program on race week, or touch base with me when you get there.

Make sense?


Perfect sense. Thanks a ton, Eric. I'm psyched!


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