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8-K Training Guide - Intermediate Program - Week 3

Monday: Last week you ran 20 total miles with a long run on the weekend (yesterday) of 5 miles. This week you'll actually run less: 17 miles total and 3 on the weekend. That's because this is a "stepback" week, a concept I also use in preparing runners for the marathon. This is a progressive program, but it goes up in steps: two weeks of progressively longer training followed by a third stepback week where you gather strength for the next upward push. A stepback week is an "easy" week. Trust me; it works. Regardless of the plan for the full week, this is your day for a 3-miler followed by stretching and strengthening.

Tuesday: Despite this being a stepback week, the mileage for today's run goes up another half mile from last week. Run 4.0 miles. Your fitness should have begun to improving in this third week of your training. Given the relatively short distance, if you're tempted to pick up the pace toward the middle, by all means do it.

Wednesday: Even though this is a stepback week in terms of running mileage, I'm bumping your tempo run up to 35 minutes, a nudge more than you did two weeks ago. Begin with 5-10 minutes of easy running followed by 15-20 minutes where you gradually accelerate to near your 8-K race pace, then cruise home during he last 5-10 minutes. Let's see: Does that add up to 35 minutes? Well, it's close. A tempo run is an intuitive type of workout. Don't get hung up on the exact time--or the exact pace for that matter. You should also finish refreshed. This type of workout is best done in the woods, although you can run tempo runs on the road or even on the track if those venues are more convenient for you.

Thursday: With this a stepback week, the Thursday mileage takes a slight dip back to 3 miles. Couple that with stretching and strengthening. Need more rest? Don't be afraid to run today's workout at a slower pace. Nobody is going to be standing by the side of the road timing you on these workouts. Experienced runners learn how to "listen to their bodies" when it comes to deciding both how fast and how far to run on any given day. Even though this is a well-structured program, there is room to vary workouts.

Friday: During a stepback week, you may not think you need a day off on Friday. And maybe you don't considering the fact that I'm not going to ask you to run that far this weekend. But a plan is a plan. Less important than what you do on any one day is what you do over the entire length of the training program. And regular rest is a regular an important part of that program. Having said that, I concede that it doesn't matter that much which days you rest and which days you run, to a point. If your family or business schedule dictates a different workout mix, be my guest in making changes--but don't change too much or you defeat the entire purpose of this Shamrock Shuffle training program.

Saturday: Sixty minutes of cross-training. Even though your running mileage declined during this stepback week, your time spent cross-training remains the same. This is not without purpose. It's easier to progress up in one area of your training while cutting back slightly or holding in the other areas. Don't push yourself too hard on this cross-training day.

Sunday: Three miles for today's "long" run. Not much, you say, having experienced the heady feeling of running 5 miles last weekend. Nevertheless, when you pass 3 miles in the 8-K race, you will be more than halfway home. Use today's workout to mentally rehearse how you are going to run those first 3 miles. That may include programming a water break mid-way through this and other long runs. Note also the fact that 3 miles is almost the same as 5 kilometers. Consider entering a 5-K race this weekend as an even better rehearsal for your race at 8-K five weeks from today.

Run Fast: One advantage of a class situation is the group support you get from others of equal ability. This certainly is true with the marathon class I teach in Chicago, but it's also true at every level, from novice to intermediate to advanced. One reason why the Kenyans have been able to dominate the world distance running ranks recently is that they train together and push each other every day in practice. Top runners gather in cities like Eugene, Boulder, Albuquerque and Jacksonville for mutual support. Group dynamics can be very important in achieving success. If you have the opportunity to join a class, or hire a coach, or train with other runners, do so. You all will run better-and faster!

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.

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