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Base Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 8

Monday: Three miles of easy running today followed by your strength training. This is your eighth week of training in my 12-week Base Training program, and you have reached what will be the peak in total weekly mileage: 30. You'll also run 29-30 miles in Weeks 10 and 11 with the mileage slightly down in Weeks 9 and 12, because those are race weeks. But as I've emphasized time and time again, high mileage is not the high priority in this program. It's what you do with those miles that count. Quality. Quality. Quality! I'm going to ask you to push a bit on a couple of days this week, so that makes this day of relative rest particularly important in the scheme of things.

Tuesday: Following your day of rest, it's time to get back to business; five miles is scheduled for today's workout. As with our previous Tuesday workouts, run this at a slightly higher effort level than yesterday's 3-miler. The fact that you're going two more miles raises the stress anyway, but move at a slightly faster pace. That doesn't mean you can't hold a conversation with a partner while running, but allow yourself the luxury of getting slightly out of breath. Important to success in any sport is a distance base, and that is one of the purposes for running a bit longer today. Melvin H. Williams, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Old Dominion University and a top-ranked masters athlete, was never a distance runner in high school, but he ran to get in shape for other sports. "All of that background running helped to lay a groundwork of base training that I took advantage of immediately when I got serious about being a runner," says Dr. Williams.

Wednesday: Last week I had you run an interval workout that consisted of repeat 200s. This week the workout recipe is: 6 x 400, jogging and/or walking 200-400 between. Run these 400s at about the pace you would run in a 1,500 or mile race. Mike Barnow, a coach from Irvington, New York, usually recommends that runners carefully pace themselves during their speed workouts with their goal being to run the later repeats somewhat faster than the earlier ones and also run faster at the end of each rep than at the start. "Don't beat yourself up at the beginning of your speed workouts on the track," advises Barnow. "I would rather have an athlete run a few seconds slower during the early portion of a repeat, but be able to finish strong. The goal is to maintain good form, rather than become so fatigued that you break down.

Thursday: Today's recovery workout after yesterday's hard track workout is 3 miles plus strength training. Don't be tempted to run further. Stay at 3 miles. The same with your strength training: Go slow and remain in control. "You’re not trying to see how fast you can get in and out of the weight room," says personal trainer Cathy Vasto. "You’re trying to win your race on the road." At this point of your training you have begun to achieve a higher level of fitness. You're probably asking yourself, why don't I go farther or do more than the coach says? That's not always a good idea. I'd rather have you do less than you're capable of running at this point. Doing too much can sometimes lead to injury, something I would just as soon have you avoid.

Friday: Rest. Friday is Date Night in the Higdon household. Rose and I usually like to go out for dinner and maybe take in a movie, or rent a video. Assuming you're going out for dinner tonight, do you pay attention to your diet? Frequently, when people become runners, they find that they begin to eat differently. This is partly conscious and partly subconscious and reflects the fact that carbohydrates are the most efficient form of energy. People who embrace fitness routines discover this through their reading, but often it happens naturally. Runners crave carbs; their bodies tell them that breads and grains and fruits and vegetables are the best foods for fitness and for good health. You'll often find us in an Italian restaurant the night before long workouts or marathons. I'm lucky in that I don't have to eat out to get spaghetti; Rose is of Italian-American descent.

Saturday: Tempo run today: 40 minutes. Begin at an easy pace, then 10-15 minutes into the workout gradually pick up the pace so that about 25-30 minutes into the workout you are cruising along near 10-K pace, then gradually decelerate to the finish. Concentrate on how you're running--particularly during the fast part of the run. Associating (paying attention to what you're doing) can help you run faster than dissociating (letting your mind wander). In research at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Hein Helgo Schomer, Ph.D. had coaches accompany a group of mid-pack runners during workouts, pedaling beside them on a bicycle. "The coaches reinforced associative thoughts," commented Dr. Schomer, "praising the runners and reminding them to monitor body signals." Before coaching, the runners used association only 45 percent of the time. By the fifth week, they were associating 70 percent of the time, and their average training intensity also rose. Runners later commented that the mental-strategy training program inspired them to run harder workouts.

Sunday: Eight miles today, finishing a fairly intensive week, one of your toughest so far. Running with friends can aid with your training, both in helping you maintain the pace and in helping to break some of the monotony of what, admittedly, is a repetitive exercise. I usually enjoy Sunday-morning runs at Indiana Dunes State Park with fellow members of the Dunes Running Club. Usually I train alone, and this is one of the few days of the week when I have company. But friends can get you in trouble, particularly if they force you to run faster or slower than you want. Don't be afraid to bid them good-bye, either at the beginning or in the middle of your workout. Speed up or slow down, but be your own man--or woman.

Running Tips: Run at a time convenient for you, a time when you will feel comfortable running. The majority of runners run in the morning, because that guarantees that nothing will interfere with their workout that day. Also, during warm-weather months, it is cooler during the early hours. Nevertheless, a fair number of runners run during their lunch hour. During the winter up north, I usually run midday because the sun is up, and it's usually somewhat warmer. A certain percentage prefer running late afternoon, using running to relax after a stressful business day. And a few run in the late evening after dinner. In families where both the husband and wife run, they often need to run separately, rather than together, so one of them can mind the kids. Pick the time that is most convenient for you--and for others around you. There's also nothing that says you can't run at different times on different days depending on your schedule.

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