Spring Training - Novice Schedule, Week 1
Monday: In this Spring Training schedule for novice runners either starting to run or hoping to lay down a base of fitness to get ready for my 18-week marathon training program, Monday is always a day of rest. Count on it! Rest is important for recovery after the weekend's workouts. So take the day off. Friday is also a day of rest. In this program you will run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Saturday is a day for cross-training: walking in this novice program. So begin this Monday by contemplating the training that will begin tomorrow.
Tuesday: Run 1.5 miles. Over the next 12 weeks, you will progressively add a half mile to your Tuesday workouts every third or fourth week so that by Weeks 11 and 12, you will be up to 3.0 miles for this mid-week workout. If even running 1.5 miles seems a strain for you, don't hesitate to mix in walking breaks.
Wednesday: No rest for the wicked. Run 3.0 miles, twice what I asked you to run on Tuesday and equal to the length of your longest run of the week on Sunday. The training dose of 3.0 miles each Wednesday will not change. You will still be running 3.0 miles on Wednesday of the final week, Week 12. This is not without purpose. While this schedule becomes increasingly more difficult (or at least has an increasing number of miles), it would be too stressful to increase mileage each day of the week. By the time you get to Week 12, you'll consider this as an "easy" day. If covering 3.0 miles for a midweek workout seems too difficult at this point in your training, feel free to take some walking breaks. In fact, you can walk the entire 3.0 miles, and I won't get mad.
Thursday: Run the same distance that you did on Tuesday: 1.5 miles. Again, remember the walking-break option I suggested for your "runs" the previous two days. If your long-range goal is a marathon, you probably will take walking breaks both in training for that 26-mile 385-yard race and in running the actual distance.
Friday: Friday in many training programs for different distances is a day of rest, to allow you to gather strength for the weekend. So take today off.
Saturday: On many of my training programs for distances from 5-K to the marathon, Saturday is designed as a cross-training day. "Cross-training" is usually designed as an endurance, or aerobic, activity that you do instead of running. This could be biking or swimming or (in winter) cross-country skiing, but it also could be walking. In this Spring Training program, all of the Saturday workouts are scheduled as walks. Begin with a 30-minute walk today. At the end of the program, I'll have you up to an hour's walk on this day.
Sunday: Today is your "long run." Even for a novice or beginning runner, 3.0 miles (today's workout) may not seem that long. But over the 12 weeks of this program, the distance for your Sunday run will increase to 6.0 miles in the final week. That's the same distance that novices run in the first week of my 18-week marathon training program. They (or you if you continue) end that program with a 20-mile run as preparation for the longer marathon. The distances are higher in that latter program; the approach is the same. Incidentally, if you would rather run on Saturday and walk on Sunday, be my guest.
Running Tips: Every runner experiences what might be described as "Start-Up" problems. Many have "Restart" problems. Former runners (who stopped for one reason or another) want to get back to their old running routines. They too need help. Don't be afraid to ask for it.
How to Improve: Hal Higdon's Smart Running is a collections of questions and answers from his on-line Ask The Expert column. It covers everything you wanted to know about running, but were afraid to ask. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.