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8-K Training Guide - Novice Program - Week 1

Monday: Today begins the 8-week countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle, or whichever other 8-K race you have chosen as your training goal. No running today! Mondays are reserved for stretching and strengthening, mostly to offer an easy day to recover from the long runs scheduled for Sundays. Since the program begins today, you may not have taken such a long run yesterday. If so, contemplate your first running steps that begin tomorrow.

Tuesday: Today's workout is 2 miles. These may be your first running steps, if you are a complete novice. Regardless of where you run, take it easy today. Run (or walk) at an easy pace.

Wednesday: Thirty minutes of cross-training serves as a break from the running you'll be doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays in this program. As the countdown to your 8-K race continues, I'll ask you to increase your Wednesday commitment gradually to 45 minutes. What type of cross-training? That's up to you. I would recommend cycling or swimming or walking, maybe even coupled with some light jogging if you're up to it.

Thursday: Today's workout is 2 miles--and your Thursday runs will remain at 2 miles throughout the 8-week program. As you did Tuesday, run at a comfortable pace. The difference between Tuesday's run and Thursday's run, however, is that I suggest that you also do some stretching and strength training, similar to Monday. The best time to do this is after the run, rather than before.

Friday: Today is your rest day, and Fridays will always be rest days during the 8 weeks of the build-up to your 8-K. Having only run two days for a total of 4 miles so far this week, you may feel you don't really need a rest, but you will come to understand the importance of Friday rest days as the program continues and the mileage builds.

Saturday: Thirty minutes of cross-training. In this training program, Saturdays will always feature some form of cross-training with a build-up from 30 to 40 to 50 to 60 minutes as the program continues. What kind of cross-training should you do? In the instructions to Tuesday's workout, I suggested swimming, cycling, walking or even some light jogging. Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing also works well if there's snow on the ground. Regardless, the cross-training you choose should be some form of aerobic exercise done at an easy level.

Sunday: This is the key day of our program for the Shamrock Shuffle. On Sundays, we run long. Two miles this first weekend may not seem long, particularly if you have a previous background as a runner, but over the next 8 weeks we will take you to 4.5 miles before your 8-K race. That's far enough. I'm confident that you will be able to run the extra half mile or so on the climactic weekend. Have faith.

Run Fast: Running fast doesn't take special talents. You don't need expensive equipment. You don't need to hire a coach or train on a track-although good coaching certainly can help, and tracks are where a lot of fast runners do hang out. Some skills are required, but the average runner can learn those skills. You don't need to participate in an 8-K race every weekend, although many runners enjoy racing. No, running fast requires mainly a change of attitude and a willingness to experiment with different workouts and training methods.

How to Improve: Hal Higdon's best-selling Run Fast covers the type of training that will help you improve your performances at all distances, including the 8-K. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.

Novice Training Program: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8