Spring Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 4
Monday: Congratulations! You are about to begin your fourth week of Spring Training, which means you have three weeks behind you and nine ahead. It's always a good idea at the beginning of each workout week to take a few minutes to both evaluate running past and contemplate running future. You can do that while floating through a 3-miler today (assuming you run alone and don't have someone to converse with). This week your total running mileage will be about 25 miles, only a mile or so further than you did last week. The main difference is that last Sunday you ran a 6-miler; this Sunday, you'll run a 7-miler. Otherwise, this week's training schedule is the mirror image of last week's schedule. You will benefit from the cumulative effect of this training.
Tuesday: Four miles for today's workout. In my instructions leading to the weekly schedules, I suggest that most of the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday workouts should be at a conversational pace. Nevertheless, you might want to do your Tuesday runs somewhat faster than your Monday and Thursday runs, which are geared more to recovery. Speaking in terms of target heart rate, I normally suggested doing easy runs at a pace that would raise your pulse to between 65 to 75 percent of maximum. Thus, the Monday and Thursday runs could be done closer to 65 percent with Tuesday runs closer to 75 percent. In stopwatch times, it might be the difference between 8:00 pace and 7:30 pace. Don't agonize over hitting those numbers exactly if you're wearing a heart monitor or looking at your watch. Look to your own body for pace cues.
Wednesday: Run 4 hill repeats, being sure to warm up before and cool down afterwards. Olympian Marty Liquori lived and trained in Gainesville in a state that is flat as an alligator's profile. To do "hill" training, Liquori would run up the stadium steps at the University of Florida. He did this during the transition period between distance and track work (same as our plan). "When you run a lot of distance, your stride shortens," says Liquori. "Your leg muscles are not extending, so they become fairly weak. You go to a hill phase to make a transition, to force you to open up your stride by bounding up hills. You exaggerate knee lift and arm swing, push off with the toes and the calves. This strengthens your quadriceps and buttocks muscles before going back onto the track."
Thursday: Run 3 miles with strength training afterwards. If you're training for speed, you don't want to bulk up. Extra weight will slow you down. To avoid putting on body fat pounds, keep the poundage low. Personal trainer Cathy Vasto recommends lifting 50 to 60 percent of the maximum weight you can lift in a set of 12 repetitions. Two sets of 12 work well for most lifts. The reason for doing your strength training after you run, is that lifting can at least temporarily diminish your flexibility. You'll have a harder time running after lifting than before. To retain flexibility, do your stretching exercises between lifts.
Friday: Friday, like Monday, is another day when the workout never changes. It's "rest." Take the day off. How can doing no running be considered a workout? I count it as such, because your day of rest is designed with a purpose. It's to get you ready for your hard weekend workouts. You'll do tomorrow fartlek run at a higher quality level if you are well rested. Quality is the key to success, one reason I emphasize it in this Spring Training program. Rest is important to maintain quality.
Saturday: Today's fartlek run is 35 minutes, a slight increase from two weeks ago. In all honesty, does it really matter whether or not you run 35 rather than 30 minutes? At the risk of giving my secrets away, no. Most important is to have a plan. Balancing hard and easy days with rest is part of my overall plan. Once you complete this 12-week Spring Training program and hopefully move to other training programs--perhaps one for the marathon--you'll begin to understand the overall wisdom of the hard-easy approach. In the meantime, simply have faith. And enjoy the workout. Fartlek workouts can be challenging, but they're also fun.
Sunday: Run 7 miles. Regardless of the distance, you should be able to maintain about the same pace used for your previous workouts at 6 and 7 miles. Remember: the pace should be "conversational," meaning that if you are running with a friend, the two of you should be able to talk without undue strain. If you are wearing a heart monitor, your pulse rate should fall in the zone of 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. At the end of your workout, listen to your body. How did it feel? Legs tired? Out of breath? Some fatigue is normal, but you don't want to finish exhausted, otherwise you are training too hard.
Running Tips: The single most important piece of equipment you must purchase as a runner is a pair of shoes. With some exceptions, it doesn't matter how you dress. You can get by without a heart rate monitor, treadmill, or computer diary for recording your workouts, but you won't get very far without a comfortable pair of running shoes.
How to Improve: Running a marathon may be far from your thoughts, but when you do contemplate training for a 26-mile race, the best book to buy is Hal Higdon's Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. It will help get you to the starting line and, most important, get you to the finish line. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.