Spring Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 3
Monday: Today being Monday, it's your day to run 3 miles and follow it up with some strength training. Most training programs are progressive, meaning you gradually increase mileage over a period of weeks and months. This program is somewhat different, since the goal is to improve speed more than endurance. You'll run 24 total miles in this third week of the 12-week program and will reach a maximum of 30 miles in the eleventh week Very little difference, a mileage increase of only about 30 percent. Most important is that you increase the quality rather than the quantity of your training. Quality should always be on your mind, particularly on those days when you do speedwork.
Tuesday: Run 4 miles. This is an increase of 1 mile over last week, an insignificant increase. Although I told you in the instructions for Monday that increasing mileage is not the main goal of this program, there will be some minor mileage increases as the weeks go on. Since you don't have to worry about strength training following today's workout, feel free to run today's workout at a somewhat faster pace than usual. Notice I said "somewhat." You want to leave some fuel in the tank for tomorrow's hill workout, since I'm also planning an increase in the number of repeats you'll do.
Wednesday: An increase of one "hill" for today's speed workout. Well, actually it's the same hill. You simply need to run it four times instead of the three you did last week. Thus, today's workout is 4 x Hill. (Maybe I ought to do a T-shirt with that on the front and on the back, "It's a runner's thing.") Warm up adequately for this workout by jogging a mile or two. Then take 4-5 minutes to do some quick stretching exercises as part of your warm-up. Then head up the hill at what might be the equivalent of 1500/mile pace (the speed you would run in a race that long). At the crest, slow down. Walk as you turn to head back down the hill. (Watch out for cars if you're doing this on a road.) Jog slowly down. Walk at the bottom of the hill. Then repeat. After you are finished, jog about a mile to cool down. Hill workouts are particularly effective for strengthening the quads. Strong quads equal speed. This will improve your ability to lift your knees, particularly at the end of a race.
Thursday: Run 3 miles and do your strength training as well. Don't forget to smile at other runners who pass you during your workouts. Non-runners sometimes use as one of their excuses for not running the fact that they never see runners smiling while they run. This is far from being true, but my response always is to ask them in reply, "Did you ever see anyone smiling during sex?" No matter whether their answer is "yes" or "no," I've got them!
Friday: Rest day. Review what you have accomplished so far. Does running fast seem any easier? If you hadn't been doing any hard training leading up to this 12-week program, you may have experienced some sore muscles after adding speedwork. You're most likely to feel the effects of speedwork in your calf muscles. For this reason, it's important to stretch those muscles. Hopefully the sore muscles you may have suffered after your first-week workouts have begun to feel better--and stronger. It may be difficult for you to sense any change from the way you feel today and the way you felt before you began, but I'm hoping that the speed training you do while following this program will result in improved performances later during the racing season, both in short races and long.
Saturday: Since we're alternating between tempo runs and fartlek on these Saturday runs, today's assignment is to do a tempo run of 35 minutes, a slight increase from the 30 minutes done two weeks ago. Add a minute or two to each of the three increments: 1) lead-in, 2) speed segment, 3) fade out. You don't have to be right on the minute in shifting from slow to fast to slow. Let your body dictate when you are ready to accelerate and ready to decelerate. In fact, if you're doing a tempo run right, the pace changes should be almost imperceptible.
Sunday: Six miles today. Don't try to compare the time it took you to run this distance two weeks ago with what you do today. You might run slower or you might run faster, but times don't mean much at this point in your journey. Most important is that you cover the distance and cover it with a reasonable level of comfort. There is a cumulative effect from all the miles you run in training that is often difficult to measure, but your fitness level should be increasing.
Running Tips: Runners are not immune to the health problems of others. Even for those who have been running for several years, it's a good idea to see your doctor and get a physical examinations, particularly if you have not had one in several years. The exam probably should include an exercise stress test (usually done on a treadmill) to ensure that you have no cardiovascular problems that might surface if you exercise too hard. Getting medical clearance is especially important if you are a current or former smoker, if you are overweight, or if there is a history of heart disease in your family. Be safe: schedule a physical examination today!
How to Improve: Hal Higdon's Beginning Runner's Guide is a handy booklet for those taking their first running steps. Everything you need to know about starting to run: From your first steps to your first 5-K. Shoes. Clothing. Form. Breathing. Stretching. Goal setting. Nutrition. Weight loss. Training. You too can become a runner today! And it costs only $4.50. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.