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8-K Training Guide - Advanced Program - Week 5

Monday: The countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle (or other 8-K) continues. The mileage also continues to increase in Week 6, actually the fifth week of your training. You will run 36 total miles this week with an 8-miler at the end of the week. You need this day of comparative rest. So run an easy 3-miler followed by your stretch and strengthen routine. Don't overdo the pumping-iron. There's a subtle difference between training and overtraining. If you don't do enough of the former, you won't be ready to run the race. If you do too much of the latter, you risk injury or excessive fatigue. This schedule should help you walk the tightrope between.

Tuesday: Now we're getting into the serious part of the training: 45 minutes for your tempo run. By now you should be getting the feel for how the tempo run works: 10-15 minutes of easy running leading up to 20-25 miles of harder running (near race pace) in the middle, then ease back for the last 5-10 minutes. The middle part isn't always done at the same pace and that pace doesn't have to be flat out. Think of the classic Bell curve that flattens out near its peak. If you do push really hard in the middle--and sometimes it's fun to do just that--it shouldn't be for too long a time. Usually I get up to over 90 percent of maximum in my tempo runs, but I don't hold it too long.

Wednesday: The progression of difficulty of your interval workouts at the track continues. Today, run 9 x 400 meters at 1500/mile pace with a 400 in between jogging and walking. Break the workout in the middle if you feel you need some relief. Taking a full lap of walking between the third and fourth reps and the sixth and seventh reps would be one approach.

Thursday: Five miles. And don't forget your stretching and strengthening routine. Here's a variation that you might consider for your stretching exercises. Do one or two of your stretches before starting to run. Then stop about a mile into the run for one or two additional stretches. Save the remainder of the stretches for the end of the workout, repeating some if you want. I wouldn't, however, recommend carrying your weights with you on the workout. You don't need to do lifts in the middle of the run.

Friday: When we started this training program, and I designated Friday as a day of rest, you might have been skeptical, thinking: "I don't need a day of rest." With three workouts 6 miles or more run in the last three days and a 5-miler and an 8-miler scheduled for this weekend, you may now begin to appreciate the benefit of regular rest.

Saturday: Five miles of pace training with at least three miles of that distance done at your race pace. That's asking a lot. Consider substituting a 5-K race for this workout to test your current level of fitness. Don't take the 5-K too seriously; use it as a step toward your ultimate goal.

Sunday: Eight miles capping a 36-mile week. Please note on the schedule that this workout is designated as a "3/1" run. That means that you run the first 3/4 of the run (6 miles) at your usual, comfortable, long run pace. Then in the last 1/4 (2 miles in this instance), you pick up the pace and finish faster than you started. I won't tell you how much faster; your body should tell you that. Don't turn this workout into an all-out sprint at the end, but give your fast-twitch muscles a workout. Also, you should continue to practice for race day, not merely strengthening your body and mind, but also all your systems, including clothing and particularly the shoes you plan to use. Don't overlook the small details, even making sure your race singlet and shorts fit comfortably and don't cause unnecessary chafing.

Run Fast: The most important day in any running program is rest. Rest days are as important as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.

How to Improve: Hal Higdon's best-selling Run Fast covers the type of training that will help you improve your performances at all distances, including the 8-K. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.

Advanced Training Program: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8