Training


Spring Training - Advanced Schedule, Week 11

Monday: You are now into the 11th week of my 12-week Spring Training program with two weeks left to go. And these are two important weeks, since I'm going to send you to the starting line--twice! At the end of this week, I'd like you to run a 5-K. At the end of next week, I'd like you to run a 10-K. I want you to run them hard. I want you to take them seriously! Begin the week with your usual 3-mile run followed by strength training. "There is little doubt that some form of resistance training is beneficial to all runners, increasing in importance with the speed of the race," says exercise physiologist and Olympic champion Peter Snell, Ph.D. "Runners are able to incorporate hill training in their workouts to provide resistance in a highly specific form. Weight training is not likely to produce further increases in maximum oxygen uptake in runners, but may improve muscle endurance."

Tuesday: On the track today, run 16 x 200 meters at a pace near to your 800-meter race pace. You should hit times close to those you hit for this workout previously, but don't get too hung up on the numbers. Jog or walk 200 between each rep. Remember to warm up by jogging a couple of miles, stretching, and doing some strides. Cool down afterwards as well. This Tuesday interval workout is key to your improvement. Hopefully you have already begun to feel faster. This is the last time in this program when I'm going to ask you to run 200s on the track. If you pace yourself correctly through this workout, the last one should be a burner. Three weeks before the 1984 Olympic Games, I watched Seb Coe run 20 x 200 in 27-28 seconds with about 30 seconds of jogging between on the York High School track in Elmhurst, Illinois. Seb ran the last one under 23 seconds and went on to capture the gold medal in the 1,500 meters and the silver medal in the 800 meters. Think of Seb while you're running these reps, and, whether or not you match his times, try to achieve the same level of effort.

Wednesday: Three miles for today's run. By now, this should be a workout that you run with your hands tied behind your back, humming a happy tune and cheerfully greeting everybody you meet on the jogging path. Don't push the pace too hard today, because you have a tempo run scheduled tomorrow with a race on the weekend. Consider today as prelude to all that--and do a good job stretching.

Thursday: The tempo run for today is 30 minutes: short and sweet. What is the ideal length of time for a tempo run? I sometimes prescribe tempo runs as long as an hour for marathoners. The Kenyans achieve success by doing hard tempo runs for even more than that length of time, but most runners would break down if faced with this level of stress. At the other end of the spectrum, 30 minutes seems the mininum. Given 10 minutes or more to warm up and about as much time to cool down, that doesn't leave much time for the hard running if you do much less than 30. On balance, 45 minutes seems to me the optimum distance. Run much longer than 45 minutes (5 or 6 miles of running for most runners) and the quality of the workout begins to suffer because of the sheer quantity of the miles run. Since quality is of prime consideration in this training program, I'd rather not see you push beyond 45 minutes. Today's tempo run is set at 30 minutes, because you have an important 5-K race scheduled this weekend and I don't want you going into it overly fatigued.

Friday: Today is a day of relative rest. Jog 3 miles or take the day off entirely. If tonight is "Date Night" and you go out for dinner, as I often do with my wife Rose at the end of the week, pick from the menu well. A well-balanced diet for runners is to obtain 55 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from fats and 15 percent from proteins. Complex carbohydrates found in pasta, rice and fruit are the best. It's one reason why runners often wind up in Italian restaurants on Friday nights.

Saturday: If you took yesterday off, you might want to take a light workout today. That's a routine I prefer. I want to make sure I'm race-ready by resting a day or two before an important competition, but I find that I can calm my pre-race jitters by doing some running the day before, often the afternoon before. My pre-race-day workout usually is to jog a mile or so to some grassy area. This is easy when I'm at home, since I live only a half mile from a golf course. Then I do some stretching followed by 3-4 100-meter strides. In case, you've forgotten what a "stride" is, it's a sprint over a short distance done at race pace (which for you would be the pace you plan to run your 5-K). I'll do some more stretching before I jog home. Less important than what works for me is what works for you! Use this Spring Training program to figure out all your racing systems, including pre-race activities.

Sunday: Race day. Find a fast 5-K and race it hard. No 5-K in your immediate area this weekend? Maybe you need to jump in a car and find one. I've chosen 5-K and 10-K races for the end of this Spring Training program, because 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters are standard and popular distances. They run them in the Olympics. In fact, you might even consider running these races in track meets, although not everybody enjoys running 12.5 or 25 laps around a 400-meter track in competition. I've found that if you want to succeed at anything at the top level, you have to take things seriously. While this may not be the peak 5-K for your career, for this year, or even for this season, you want to take measure of your worth. Afterwards do the usual job of reading your body: Any extra fatigue? Did the race go well--or do you feel like you could run even harder? It's usually a good idea to not push yourself too hard in workouts, but when it comes time to racing, "faint heart never won fair lady." I believe it was Willie Shakespeare who said that first, and the advice rings true today. But don't relax too much after today's 5-K race. I have a 10-K scheduled for you at the end of next weekend.

Running Tips: To improve, vary your routine. Work a little harder one day, then make the next an easy day. Program in occasional rest days when you do no walking and jogging, or cross-training days when you do some other exercise. Test yourself occasionally to see how you're improving. It won't happen overnight, but you should begin to see a gradual improvement in your physical fitness.

How to Improve: Run Fast is one of Hal Higdon's most popular books, having sold over 50,000 copies so far. It is designed to help runners improve their 5-K and 10-K times, but the information you'll find in this handy book can help you with all of your training, from beginner to marathoner. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.

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