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8-K Training Guide - Novice Program - Week 5

Monday: The countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle (or other 8-K ) continues. The mileage also continues to increase in Week 6, actually the fifth week of your training. You will run 8.5 total miles this week with a 4-miler at the end of the week. So you need this day of comparative rest. Today is the day you stretch and strengthen. Don't overdo the pumping-iron, any more than you would overdo cross-training on Wednesdays or Saturdays. There's a subtle difference between training and overtraining. If you don't do enough of the former, you won't be ready to run the race. If you do too much of the latter, you risk injury or excessive fatigue. This schedule should help you walk the tightrope between.

Tuesday: This is the third week that you will do a 2.5-mile run on Tuesdays. By now, you're used to the routine--and should be used to the distance. Adding a half mile next week shouldn't be a problem for you. In the meantime, if you feel comfortable running this distance, feel free to run a bit faster today, at least toward the end of the workout. Remember, this is half the distance you will cover in the 8-K itself.

Wednesday: A small but subtle bump in time for the mid-week cross-training workout: 40 minutes, up from 35 minutes the last two weeks. You don't need to do these workouts precisely the length of time I suggest. If you're a half mile from home when you hit 40 minutes, don't jump off the bike and use your cellular phone to summon your spouse or a taxicab. But you should be close to the prescribed distance plus or minus.

Thursday: Two miles. The distance doesn't vary on Thursdays. And don't forget your stretching and strengthening routine. Here's a variation that you might consider for your stretching exercises. Do one or two of your stretches before starting to run. Then stop about a mile into the run for one or two additional stretches. Save the remainder of the stretches for the end of the workout, repeating some if you want. I wouldn't, however, recommend carrying your weights with you on the workout. You don't need to do your lifts in the middle of the run.

Friday: When we started this 8-week training program and I designated Friday as a day of rest, you might have been skeptical, thinking: "I don't need a day of rest." With the mileage up to 4 miles this weekend, you may now begin to appreciate the benefit of regular rest.

Saturday: Fifty minutes of cross-training. While 50 minutes may seem like a lot if you're a beginner, and that's twice as much as I asked you to do five weeks ago, this should not be a hard workout. Save your energy for tomorrow's long run.

Sunday: Four miles, capping an 8.5-mile week. You should continue to practice for race day, not merely strengthening your body and mind, but also all your systems, including clothing and particularly the running shoes you plan to use. Don't overlook the small details, even making sure your race singlet and shorts fit comfortably and don't cause unnecessary chafing.

Run Fast: The most important day in any running program is the day (or days) set aside for rest. Rest days are as important as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.

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