Spring Training - Novice Schedule, Week 7
Monday: With six weeks behind you, you now have completed half of this 12-week Spring Training program. Six more weeks to go! If you are planning to run a marathon, you will be ready at the end of that period to begin my 18-week marathon training program. If you are training with no immediate goal in mind, simply continue what you've been doing. Today is a rest today. It is also the beginning of another "stepback" week in which you do slightly less mileage than the week before. The long run at the end of this week is only 3.0 miles; the total mileage for the week is 10. Consider, however, the possibility of entering a 5-K race at the end of this week to test your fitness instead of doing just another three-miler. Variety is the spice of life.
Tuesday: Today's run is 2.0 miles, the fourth Tuesday in a row I've asked you to run this distance. (Next week, the Tuesday distance increases to 2.5 miles.) There should be no question about your ability to run this far now in a workout. The only question is, will you be able to run today's workout with a smile on your face, because you're well trained. Hopefully, the answer to that question will be, "yes!" Non-runners sometimes claim that they never see runners smiling and use that as an excuse not to do it. It's a lame alibi, but make them liars. Smile at everybody you see today. :-)
Wednesday: Three miles remains our standard distance on Wednesday. Are you getting a bit bored running this same 3.0 mile distance on this day week after week after week, not to mention on every other Sunday? Maybe it's because you always run the same course. If it's an out-and-back course, your options are limited, but if it's a so-called "loop" course that goes in a circle, running it in the opposite direction will result in a change of pace. When you finish, consider the fact that at 3.0 miles, you are only one-tenth short of 5 Kilometers. The standard 5-K race distance is 3.1 miles long.
Thursday: The standard advice given yesterday to vary your courses also works on Tuesday. If you run the same 2.0-mile course on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, you might consider doing something new. Running should be play. You should have fun doing it. Considering that goal, competing in running races can be intimidating at first, but I think you would enjoy doing just that.
Friday: Rest day. If you've been reading between the lines on the daily training guides this week, you'll notice that I've been nudging you toward the starting line of a 5-K race this weekend. If so, it is appropriate that you rest today, whether your race is Saturday or Sunday, or even if you don't race. Rest is always an important component of any training program.
Saturday: Walk for 50 minutes. It doesn't matter how far you walk or how fast you walk. I just want you out today stretching your legs and burning a few more calories. Do you plan to run a 5-K race tomorrow (what I've been hinting at all week)? Sometimes it helps to take a full day of rest before you race, particularly an important one. If the 5-K race I've suggested that you do is tomorrow (Sunday), you might benefit from a day off. If that's the case, schedule your walk for Friday and rest today. Similarly, depending on the local race schedule, it may be easier to find a 5-K race nearby on Saturday rather than Sunday. (That's true in Florida, where I have my second home; Chicago-area races are more often on Sundays.) Feel free to flip-flop the schedule: running on Saturday, walking on Sunday.
Sunday: This is the day I suggest you run a 5-K, and for many of you it may your first running race of any distance. Hey, no sweat. You've been doing 3.0-mile workouts for the last six weeks, and 5-K is only a tenth of a mile further. You'll simply be doing your workout in the company of a lot more people. I didn't put 5-K race in the full schedule, because I didn't want you to feel you were obliged to enter a race. Consider it merely an interesting option. One reason for doing an occasional race--even if you run no faster than you might in training--is to check out the sights and sounds of the racing world. Races are fun. If you plan to shift to marathon training at the end of this 12-week Spring Training program, doing an occasional race at distances between 5-K and 10-K will get you used to procedures around racing: everything from where you pin your number (on the front) to when you stop your watch (after you cross the line and everyone has taken your picture).
Running Tips: No matter how fit you may be from other physical activities, when you begin to run you're probably going to experience sore muscles. Even after running becomes easy, you're still going to experience sore muscles from time to time--particularly the day after a hard race. People get sore muscles for three reasons: 1.) They are not used to exercising; 2.) They are used to a different exercise; 3.) They push their regular exercise too hard. To relieve the pain of sore muscles, first use ice to reduce swelling. Heat, once pain has peaked, helps speed recovery by improving circulation. Massage and pain-relieving rubs may help. But if you want to become a runner, you may need to accept some soreness as a natural part of the conditioning process.
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.