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8-K Training Guide - Intermediate Program - Week 5

Monday: The countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle (or other 8-K) continues. The mileage continues to increase in Week 4, actually the fifth week of your training. You will run 23 total miles this week with a 6-miler at the end of the week. So you need this day of comparative rest. Run an easy 3-miler followed by your stretch and strengthen routine. Don't overdo the pumping-iron, any more than you would overdo cross-training on Saturdays. 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: 5 miles on today's mid-week workout. That's the same length as the Shamrock Shuffle. Eight kilometers is just short of 5 miles. Scheduling time for a run this long becomes as much a problem as doing the run itself. Including last Sunday's run and next Sunday's run, you will be doing runs of 5-6 miles on three out of eight days--four days if you count tomorrow's tempo run of 40 minutes, which will take at least the faster runners into that distance range. Given that level of stress, the 8-K will seem almost easy. That's the purpose of this training.

Wednesday: A slight increase in today's tempo run to 40 minutes. 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 8-K 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 that effort level too long.

Thursday: Three miles in addition to your strength training routine. And don't forget your stretching 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 all of the running you've been doing during the past week and with a 6-miler scheduled for this weekend, you may now begin to appreciate the benefit of regular rest.

Saturday: An hour of cross-training. While 60 minutes may seem like a lot if you're not used to alternate activities, this should not be a hard workout. Concerning time lengths: You don't need to do these workouts precisely the length of time I suggest. If you're a half mile from home when you hit 60 minutes, don't jump off the bike and use your cellular phone to summon your spouse or a taxicab. But you should be close to the prescribed distance.

Sunday: Six miles capping a 23-mile week. 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 that devoted 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.

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