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8-K Training Guide - Novice Program - Week 8

Monday: In my marathon training program, I ask runners to reserve the last three weeks of an 18-week program for tapering so they can regain strength for the race. In an eight-week 8-K program, it seems appropriate to taper the final week. If yesterday's run of 4.5 miles seemed difficult to you, that's because it came at the end of a hard week of training. The Shamrock Shuffle will come at the end of this easy week of training, and I think you'll find being rested will allow you to both finish and enjoy what is a truly great race. Today is the day you stretch and strengthen. But don't pump iron too hard; you should taper your strength training too.

Tuesday: Run 3 miles today. As with previous Tuesday workouts, keep a comfortable pace.

Wednesday: Thirty minutes of cross-training will do quite well today, thank you. Go for a bike ride. Swim a few laps in the pool. Take a gentle walk rather than the brisk one I suggested last week. Don't look at your watch to make sure you worked out for exactly 30 minutes. Just listen to your body signals and quit early.

Thursday: The 2 miles run today is the same as previous Tuesdays, but cut back on the strength training today if you plan to run the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday.

Friday: Rest for Sunday's race today and tomorrow. Pick as food choice for dinner something that will be easily digested. Tonight is probably not the night for prime ribs or chili and beans. Get a good night's sleep, but don't worry if you have a hard time getting to sleep because of nervous anticipation. That's natural. The sleep that you stored up during the week will send you to the starting line well rested.

Saturday: Today is a day of rest for those running the 8-K.

Sunday: This is the day many of you prepared for: the Shamrock Shuffle. You'll be one of 15,000 people standing on the starting line in Grant Park. While this might sound intimidating if this is your first major race, you'll discover that the excitement of being among a crowd of runners with a shared goal and shared interests will help carry you to the finish line. Before you know it, you'll be past the 4.5-mile mark (your longest run in this training program) and in sight of the finish line. Smile when you cross that line. It will be a singular experience, but one I know you will want to repeat again. The Shamrock Shuffle is behind you. For some of you, it will be the only road race you may run during your lifetime. For others, particularly those living in the Chicago area, it will be a prelude for The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon later this year. If so, be sure to check my Marathon Training Guide for an 18-week program to prepare you for that popular race. Others may want to drop down in distance to a 5-K or 10-K. I hope this training program was useful in preparing you for the Shamrock Shuffle.

Run Fast: Beware of overtraining. If you train too hard, you may compromise your performance because of excessive fatigue--or you may even become injured. Warning signs for overtrained runners are restlessness at night, a slightly elevated pulse rate just before rising, or dead legs and a general feeling of fatigue. Race times suffer, too. You're likely to catch colds because of lowered resistance. A certain amount of muscle soreness and stiffness is a natural part of the training process, but if symptoms of fatigue persist for more than two or three days, don't take an aspirin or see a doctor as you might for that cold. The best advice is simply to cut mileage until you recover your pep.

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.

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