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8-K Training Guide - Intermediate Program

Intermediate runners: Training to Improve Your 8-K Time

Introduction: The following schedule is for Intermediate runners: individuals who want to improve their performances at the increasingly popular 8-K distance. What defines an Intermediate runner? You should be running five to six times a week, averaging 15-25 miles weekly training. You probably also should have run a half dozen or more races at distances between the 5-K and the Half-Marathon. With that as background, you now need a somewhat more sophisticated schedule so as to improve. If that doesn't sound like you, you might be more comfortable using one of my programs designed for novice or advanced runners. All my interactive training programs where I send you daily emails are available through TrainingPeaks.

Below is your training schedule.

Runs: The runs of 3-6 miles on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are designed to be done at a comfortable pace. If you can't carry on a conversation with your training partner, you're running too fast. For those who use heart monitors to measure their level of exertion, you would be running between 65 to 75 percent of maximum. In other words, run easy. If you want to run with others, be cautious that they don't push you to run faster than planned.

Rest: Rest is an important part of your training. Friday is always a day of rest in the Intermediate program. Be realistic about your fatigue level, and don't feel guilty if you decide to take an additional day off. (Best bet is Monday.) Specifically consider scheduling at least one extra rest day during the stepback weeks.

Tempo Runs: A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near race pace. (Notice I said "near" race pace. You don't want to go faster than your 8-K race pace.) In this program, tempo runs are scheduled for every other Wednesday, alternating with interval training on the track. A tempo run of 30-40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, then acceerating to 10-20 minutes near the middle, then a 5-10 minute slowdown toward the end. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track.

Speedwork: If you want to race at a fast pace, you need to train at a fast pace. Interval training where you alternate fast running with jogging or walking is a very effective form of speedwork. The training schedule includes interval training featuring 400-meter reps (repeats) every other week, alternating with the tempo runs discussed above. Run the 400s at about the pace you would run in a 5-K race. Walk or jog between each repeat. Although the best venue for speedwork of this sort is on a 400-meter track, these workouts can be done on the road or on trails, either by using measured courses or by running hard approximately the length of time you would run a 400 on the track. For instance, if you normally run 400 reps in 90 seconds, do fast reps for that length of time and don't worry about distance. For more information on speed training, see my book, Run Fast.

Warm-up: Warming up is important, not only before the race itself, but before your speed workouts above and pace workouts below. Most novice runners do not warm up, except in the race itself. This is okay, because they're more interested in finishing rather than finishing fast. As an Intermediate runner, you have a slightly different goal, otherwise you wouldn't be using this program, so warm up before you run fast. My usual warm-up is to jog a mile or two, sit down and stretch for 5-10 minutes, then run some easy strides (100 meters at near race pace). And I usually cool down afterwards by doing half of the warm-up.

Stretch & Strengthen: Also important as part of the warm-up is stretching. Don't overlook it--particularly on days when you plan to run fast. Strength training is important too: push-ups, pull-ups, use of free weights or working out with various machines at a Health Club. Runners generally benefit if they combine light weights with a high number of repetitions, rather than pumping very heavy iron. Mondays and Thursdays would be good days to combine stretching and strengthening with your easy run, however, you can schedule Stretch & Strength workouts on any day that is convenient for your business and personal schedule.

Cross-Training: On the schedule, this is identified simply as "cross." What form of cross-training works best for runners preparing for an 8-K? It could be swimming, or cycling, walking, other forms of aerobic training or some combination that could include strength training. And feel free to throw in some jogging as well if you're feeling good. What cross-training you select depends on your personal preference. But don't make the mistake of cross-training too vigorously. Cross-training days should be considered easy days that allow you to recover from the running you do the rest of the week.

Stepback: Please notice that the mileage is slightly reduced during Weeks 3 and 6. These are "stepback" weeks in which you relax your training--again slightly--to gather yourself for the next push upward in difficulty. I use stepback weeks in my marathon training programs and find that they provide not only a physical, but also a mental break.

Long Runs: As an experienced runner, you probably already do a long run on the weekends anyway. This schedule suggests a slight increase in distance as you get closer to race date: from 4 to 8 miles. Don't get hung up on running these workouts too fast. Run at a comfortable, conversational pace.

Here is your 8-K training program. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your own particular schedule. Or sign up for the interactive  version of this Intermediate 8-K Training Program, where I send you daily email messages telling you what to run, along with other tips about your training. It is available through TrainingPeaks

Run the 8-K
Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Miles
1 3 m run + strength 3 m run 30 min tempo run 3 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 4 m run 16
2 3 m run + strength 3.5 m run 6 x 400 5-K pce 4 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 5 m run 20
3 3 m run + strength 4 m run 35 min tempo run 3 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 3 m run 17
4 3 m run + strength 4.5 m run 7 x 400 5-K pace 4 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 5 m run 22
5 3 m run + strength 5.0 m run 40 min tempo run 3 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 6 m run 23
6 3 m run + strength 5.5 m run 8 x 400 5-K pace 4 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 4 m run 22
7 3 m run + strength 6 m run 45 min tempo run 3 m run + strength Rest 60 min cross 7 m run 25
8 3 m run + strength 3 m run 4 x 400 5-K pace 1-3 m run Rest Rest or 60 min cross 8-K 

8K Training: Novice | Intermediate | Advanced

Click here for the TrainingPeaks interactive 8-K programs