Spring Training - Advanced Schedule, Week 12
Monday: Twelfth Week! Let's see: wasn't that a play by William Shakespeare? No, I guess I'm thinking of Twelfth Night. But you're almost at the end with a lot of running behind you--or a lot more ahead if you plan to use this training program as a springboard to my 18-week marathon training program, or any other program designed for racing or fitness. In this ultimate week, begin with your usual Monday 3-miles-plus-strength-training routine and contemplate how far you've come. How did your 5-K race go over the weekend? Hopefully you can build on that success as we continue one more week. I have scheduled a 10-K race at the end of the week as a final test of your progress.
Tuesday: Today is your final day at the track, at least during this program. Run 10 x 400 meters. You should know the routine by now. Typically when I design training programs for myself, I like to end with somewhat of a flourish. I like to be able to hit my best times and feel best at the end. Accomplishing this often is as much psychological as mental. So go to the track today planning to run fast. Get some positive vibes going. What can you expect from the six hill workouts and six interval workouts you ran during the last twelve weeks? In an article in Runner's World, Ohio State University's David R. Lamb, Ph.D., suggested that the biggest benefit was improved running economy. "If you want to improve your economy at your race pace," Dr. Lamb wrote, "you must (train) at or near that pace." Practically every coach would agree with Dr. Lamb.
Wednesday: After yesterday's hard track workout, everything the rest of the week is taper. Run your 3 miles today at an even easier pace than usual. Throw some walking breaks in if you like. Take time to smell the flowers or watch the sunset. Stretch afterwards, but don't push past or even to the edge of pain. This is true any time you stretch, but particularly in this last week you want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h muscles, not tear them.
Thursday: Thirty minutes of fartlek today. Hopefully you are now at a level of fitness so that you can do these pace changes without too much stress. An important skill in training is determining your red line: the point on the tachometer where everything explodes if you push past it and hold your foot down on the accelerator too much longer. Today, you definitely want to stay well under that red line--and quit earlier than you otherwise might during a fartlek run.
Friday: Three miles today, but please notice that I have eliminated the strength training segment of this Thursday workout. And if you feel you need a full day of rest, take that too. That is because you will be doing a climactic 10-K race on the weekend and probably want to do well. And I want you to do well to prove the benefits of your training under my direction. So that's why I've asked you to taper. Even taking as small an element as 15 minutes of strength training out of your schedule should permit you just enough extra "rest" to allow you to perform at maximum efficiency. Remember this in the future when you prepare for other important races outside this training program. Even during your 3-miler, you might want to cheat on the pace: slowing down a bit to conserve some energy, even take a walking break or two. Don't overlook that strategy even though it's relatively easy for you as an advanced runner to run this distance.
Saturday: Continuing your taper, make this another day of rest. If you're feeling frisky, you might want to do some light jogging Friday or Saturday. My pre-race tapering routine usually includes one day when I do some easy strides of 100 meters near race pace--anywhere from four to eight strides. I prefer doing them the day before the race mainly to get my mind ready along with my body, but you need to figure out the routine that works best for you. Experiment with different approaches to achieve this end. If you plan to to race on Saturday rather than Sunday, you may need to juggle some of the workouts over the last two or three days. Make sure you go to the starting line refreshed.
Sunday: Our 12-week Spring Training program ends today with a 10-K race--and although I generally believe in allowing runners a lot of flexibility in picking their race distances, I would prefer that you do choose 10-K rather than some shorter or longer distance. This is particularly important if you plan to shift from this program to a marathon training program, because the 10-K is a better predictor distance for the marathon than shorter races. One simple formula suggests that you multiply your 10-K race time by 4.66 to predict your marathon time. Running a fast 10-K at this point will give you at least some idea as to what pace you should train while getting ready for a marathon. If you plan to move from this 12-week Spring Training program to my 18-week marathon training program, I'll continue to offer you advice on becoming the best runner that you can be.
Running Tips: People differ in their ability and in their fitness level. Not all programs work equally well for everybody. If the progression in this 12-week Spring Training program seemed too hard for you, consider going back and repeating several of the weeks. Stretching this program to 18 weeks would make it easier to accomplish, for example. Only you can judge whether you are pushing too fast or too slow, but it's best to err on the conservative side.
How to Improve: Planning to run a marathon? You won't find a better training schedule than the 18-week program available on this web site. But sometimes it's a bother to go on-line to check your training plan. (Paper still does serve a purpose.) Consider ordering a copy of Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide. It's a simple and convenient, 48-page booklet that reprints my on-line schedules for novice and advanced runners. It costs only $4.50, and you can obtain a free copy by ordering Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. To order an autographed copy of these and other of my books, go to Books by Hal Higdon.