8-K Training Guide - Intermediate Program - Week 8
Monday: It's time to taper. In this situation, it's a matter of listening to your body to determine whether or not a bit of rest would help with your final push. In my marathon training program, I ask runners to spend the last three weeks of an 18-week program tapering and regaining strength so they can run the race. In an eight-week 8-K program it seems appropriate to taper the final week. If yesterday's 7-miler seemed difficult to you, that's because it came at the end of a hard week of training. The Shamrock Shuffle will come at the end of this easy week of training, and I think you'll find being rested will allow you to both finish and enjoy what is a truly great race. Today is the day you stretch and strengthen after a 3-mile run. But don't pump iron too hard; you should taper your strength training too.
Tuesday: In keeping with the tapering theme of this week, run 3 miles today. As with previous Tuesday workouts, keep a comfortable pace.
Wednesday: Today's interval workout takes a drop down: 4 x 400 meters with a 400/walk/jog between. Keep the pace of the repeats consistent, however: 5-K pace. Usually in any taper, I tell runners to maintain the quality (i.e., pace) of their previous workouts, while cutting the quantity (i.e., distance).
Thursday: The 1-3 miles run today is a cutback from the usual 3-4 miles I ask you to do on Thursdays. Any miles you run at this late stage in your training will not get you in better shape and could tire you out. So run mainly to loosen up--and keep from going crazy! Also, skip the weights today. For those of you preparing for an 8-K race not scheduled for Sunday, juggle the workouts accordingly. Today might be a day of complete rest if you're racing on Saturday.
Friday: Rest for the weekend's race. If you're nervous about taking two days off before a Sunday race, it's okay to go out and do some light jogging coupled with stretching. Often I'll throw in 3-4 easy strides of about 100 meters near race pace just to loosen my legs, but this works only for experienced runners.
Saturday: A day of rest. Pick as food choice for dinner something that will be easily digested. Tonight is probably not the night for prime ribs or chili and beans. Get a good night's sleep, but don't worry if you have a hard time getting to sleep because of nervous anticipation. That's natural. The sleep that you stored up during the week will send you to the starting line well rested.
Sunday: This is the day you prepared for: the Shamrock Shuffle. You'll be one of 15,000 people standing on the starting line in Grant Park just east of Chicago's Loop skyscrapers. It's an impressive sight. While this might sound intimidating to some, you know that the excitement of being among a crowd of runners with a shared goal and shared interests will help carry you to the finish line. Before you know it, you'll be past the 4-mile mark program coming through the Loop and heading for the finish line. Smile when you cross that line. It will be a great experience, but one I know you will want to repeat again. For some of those following my novice schedules, this will be the only road race they may run during their lifetimes. For others, particularly those living in the Chicago area, it will be the only race until they do until The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon later in the fall. Maybe you didn't set a PR for your running career, but you certainly set a 8-K PR for this year, or this week, or that day. That's fine. Take and enjoy your victories when you get them. But for many in the intermediate and advanced programs, this 8-K will be a springboard to other races, perhaps to a marathon. If so, be sure to check my Marathon Training Guide for an 18-week program to prepare you for that popular race.
Run Fast: Beware overtraining. If you train too hard, you may compromise your performance because of excessive fatigue--or you may even become injured. Warning signs for overtrained runners are restlessness at night, a slightly elevated pulse rate just before rising, or dead legs and a general feeling of fatigue. Race times suffer, too. You're likely to catch colds because of lowered resistance. A certain amount of muscle soreness and stiffness is a natural part of the training process, but if symptoms of fatigue persist for more than two or three days, don't take an aspirin or see a doctor as you might for that cold. The best advice is simply to cut mileage until you recover your pep.
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.