8-K Training Guide - Intermediate Program - Week 1
Monday: Today begins the 8-week countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle, or whichever other 8-K race you have chosen as your training goal. In my Intermediate Training Program, Mondays are reserved for easy 3-milers combined with strength training. See Stretch and Strengthen. Don't overdo it! Your Monday goal is only to recover from the long runs scheduled for Sundays. Since the program begins today, you may not have taken such a long run yesterday. But you will at the end of this week.
Tuesday: Today's workout is 3 miles. Find a course of about this distance that you enjoy running. Measure it with a car speedometer if you don't already know mileages. Since the Tuesday workouts will increase in half-mile increments from 3 to 6 miles, you might want to take this into consideration when planning new courses. In fact, I would prefer that you develop several different courses for variety. Regardless of where you run, take it easy today. Run at an easy pace. If you can't converse with a running companion while doing this workout, you're overdoing it.
Wednesday: Today is the day of the week on which the Intermediates do speed training. On successive weekends, you will alternate between tempo runs (odd weeks) and interval running on the track (even weeks). If you don't understand the concept behind tempo runs, go back to the schedule screen for the Intermediate Program. Today's tempo run lasts 30 minutes. Run 5-10 minutes at an easy pace, then gradually shift gears and run 10-15 minutes accelerating to near 15-K pace, finally decelerating for the last 5-10 minutes. As the countdown to your 8-K race continues, I'll ask you to progressively increase the difficulty of your Wednesday runs, tempo and interval.
Thursday: Today's workout is 3 miles. Your Thursday runs will alternate between 3 and 4 miles as the program continues. This is partly for variety. As with Tuesday, run at a comfortable pace. The difference between Tuesday's run and Thursday's run, however, is that I suggest that you also do some strength training, similar to on Mondays. The best time to do this is after the run, rather than before.
Friday: Today is your rest day, and Fridays will always be rest days during the 8 weeks of our build-up to the Shamrock Shuffle, or whichever other 8-K you have chosen as the end of your program. Having only run four days for a total of about 12 or 13 miles so far this week, you may feel you don't really need a rest, but you will come to understand the importance of Friday rest days as the program continues and the mileage builds.
Saturday: Sixty minutes of cross-training. In this 8-week training program, Saturdays will always feature an hour of cross-training. What kind of cross-training should you do? I suggest swimming, cycling, walking or even some light jogging if you're a purist and don't want to do anything else but run. During the winter I also favor cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. (See my feature on Winter Training.) Regardless of your cross-training choice, it should be some form of aerobic exercise done at an easy level.
Sunday: This is the key day of our program for the Shamrock Shuffle. On Sundays, we run long. Four miles this first weekend may not seem long, considering the fact that you are an experienced runner, but over the next 8 weeks I will take ask you to gradually increase your long run distance to beyond your race distance. Run this workout at a relaxed pace, anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds slower than you plan to run in the Shamrock Shuffle itself.
Run Fast: Running fast doesn't take special talents. You don't need expensive equipment. You don't need to hire a coach or train on a track--although good coaching certainly can help, and tracks are where a lot of fast runners do hang out. Some skills are required, but the average runner can learn those skills. You don't need to participate in a 5-K race every weekend, although many runners enjoy racing. No, running fast requires mainly a change of attitude and a willingness to experiment with different workouts and training methods.
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.