Spring Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 1
Monday: This Spring Training schedule is for intermediate runners seeking to fine-tune their training or improve their basic speed before beginning my 18-week marathon training program. Monday workouts are always the same. Use Monday as a day of compative rest. Run an easy 3 miles, then adjourn to the gym for 15-30 minutes of strength training. Rest is important for recovery after the weekend's workouts. Friday is also a day of rest. In between, you get to do some good running, including speedwork on Wednesdays. Your toughest training occurs on the weekends. So begin this Monday with an easy 3-miler, contemplating while you run the training ahead of you.
Tuesday: Run 3 miles. Over the next half dozen weeks, you will progressively add a mile to your Tuesday workouts every week until you are running 6 miles in the sixth week. That's when the racing begins. In the second 6-week cycle, you will alternate 4, 5 or 6 mile runs on this day. It is all part of a gradual build-up, but the emphasis is as much on speed as on distance.
Wednesday: I've reserved this day right in the middle of the work week for some of your hardest training. For the first 6 weeks of the 12-week program, you will run hills. Then in the second 6 weeks, you will shift to the track. Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance. Run up hard, as hard as you might doing a 200 or 400 repeat. Then turn and jog back down. Since today's workout is listed as 3 x Hill, repeat your uphill run three times. Be sure to warm up by jogging a mile or two before and cool down with the same distance after. That will give you a workout today of about 4.5 miles--but counting mileage is not important. More important is the quality of what you do, not the quantity.
Thursday: Run the same workout that you did on Monday: 3 miles. Follow that run by doing some strength training for about 15-30 minutes. Check the screen "Stretch & Strengthen" on my web site for suggestions as to which exercises to do. Put together a regular routine that you can use each Monday and Thursday. This might be a good workout to do in a health club, since you can do your 3-miler on a treadmill before heading to the weight room.
Friday: Friday in many training programs for different distances is a day of rest, to allow you to gather strength for a weekend of hard running. In this intermediate program, you will get two days of tough training on Saturdays and Sundays, so take today off.
Saturday: In this Spring Training program, Saturday workouts alternate between tempo runs and fartlek workouts. On this first Saturday, do a tempo run of 30 minutes. A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A tempo run of 30 minutes would begin with 10 minutes easy running, build to 10-15 minutes near the middle, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track.
Sunday: Today is your "long run" of 6 miles. If that doesn't seem that long to you, it's not. Sunday's runs will vary between 6, 7 and 8 miles. The important thing is not to do a lot of miles, but rather to run a bit further than you do during the rest of the week. Save that for when you begin to train for the marathon. Incidentally, if you would rather run long on Saturday and do your tempo runs and fartlek training on Sunday, be my guest. It's usually a bit easier, however, to go from fast to slow on successive days than slow to fast.
Running Tips: People often start to run with their eyes on the marathon, the classic 26-mile 385-yard distance. There are hundreds of marathons in the United States and hundreds of thousands of runners who successfully complete them each year. You don't need to run a marathon to call yourself a runner, but it's a challenging goal and one that can motivate you.
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.