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15-K Training Guide - Advanced Program

Use the interactive version of my 15-K Advanced Program

Introduction: The above schedule is for advanced runners training for a 15-K or 10-mile race: individuals who compete regularly in races that far or beyond and who want to improve their performances. You should be capable of running 30 to 60 minutes a day, five to seven days a week and have a basic understanding of how to do speedwork. If that sounds like too much training, and this is your first 15-K race, you might be more comfortable using one of the programs designed for novice or Intermediate runners. All of my programs are available from TrainingPeaks in interactive versions, where I send you an email daily telling you what to run and offering tips in your training.

10-Mile Training: The difference between 15-K (9.3 miles) and 10 miles is minimal. You can use these same programs to train for a 10-mile race.

Runs: The runs of 3-5 miles on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are designed to be done at a comfortable pace. If you can't carry on a conversation with your training partner, you're running too fast. For those who use heart monitors to measure their level of exertion, you would be running between 65 to 75 percent of maximum.

Rest: Rest is an important part of your training. On Fridays you are offered the option of resting or taking an easy 3-mile run. Be realistic about your fatigue level and don't feel guilty if you decide to take a day off. Specifically, consider scheduling at least one rest day during the stepback weeks. (See below.)

Tempo Runs: A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 15-K race pace. In this program, tempo runs are scheduled for Tuesdays. A Tempo Run of 30 to 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, accelerating for 10-20 minutes near the middle, then 5-10 minutes easy toward the end. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed (near your 15-K pace) coming about two-thirds into the workout. (You don't need to maintain peak speed for the entire middle of this workout, since that would involve too much stress.) You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track.

Speedwork: If you want to race at a fast pace, you need to train at a fast pace several days a week. Interval training where you alternate fast running with jogging or walking is a very effective form of speedwork. The training schedule begins in Week 1 with 400 meter reps (repeats), but alternates with 800 reps in succeeding weeks. Run the 400s at about the pace you would run in a mile or 1500 race; run the 800s at about the pace you would run in a 5-K race. Walk or jog between each repeat. Although the best venue for speedwork of this sort is on a 400-meter track, these workouts can be done on the road or on trails, either by using measured courses or by running hard approximately the length of time you would run a 400 or 800 on the track. For instance, if you normally run 400s in 90 seconds, do fast reps at that length of time and don't worry about distance. For more information on speed training, see my book, Run Fast.

Warm-up: Warming up is important, not only before the race itself, but before your speed workouts above and pace workouts below. Most novice runners do not warm up, except in the race itself. This is okay, because they're more interested in finishing rather than finishing fast. As an advanced runner, you have a different goal, otherwise you wouldn't be using this program, so warm up before you run fast. My usual warm-up is to jog a mile or two, sit down and stretch for 5-10 minutes, then run some easy strides (100 meters at near race pace). And I usually cool down afterwards by doing half of the warm-up.

Stretch & Strengthen: Also important as part of the warm-up is stretching. Don't overlook it--particularly on days when you plan to run fast. And on some of the easy days (such as Mondays and Thursdays), you might want to extend your stretching beyond what is normally needed for a warm-up. Strength training is important too: push-ups, pull-ups, use of free weights or working out with various machines at a Fitness Center. Runners generally benefit if they combine light weights with a high number of repetitions, rather than pumping very heavy iron. Mondays and Thursdays would be good days to combine stretching and strengthening with your easy run, however, you can schedule strength training on any day that is convenient for your business and personal schedule.

Pace: A lot of runners look at my training schedules and ask, "What do you mean by 'pace?'" I mean "race pace," the pace at which you expect to run the 15-K. Saturday workouts include some running at race pace to get you used to running the pace you will run in your race. However, somewhat like in the tempo runs, you want to start and finish easy. Obviously, you need to run on a course that has been pre-measured. If you can't find an accurately measured course or don't own a GPS watch, use your car odometer to at least approximate the mile splits (realizing that car odometers are invariably somewhat inaccurate).

Racing: As an advanced runner, you probably enjoy racing. I have suggested running a 5-K race in Week 4 and a 10-K race in Week 7, but there is nothing magic about those dates or those distances. Your local racing schedule will probably dictate what you can run and when you can run it. I wouldn't take these races too seriously, since your main goal is to run a fast 15-K at the end of the program.

Long Runs: As an experienced runner, you probably already do a long run of around 60-90 minutes on the weekends anyway. The schedule suggests an increase in distance as you get closer to race date: from 5 to 13 miles. Don't get hung up on running these workouts too fast. Run at a comfortable, conversational pace 15 to 90. If Sunday isn't a convenient day for your long runs, feel free to do them on Saturday--or any other day of the week for that matter.

This 15-K training schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. Also, consider signing up for the Virtual Program available from TrainingPeaks for more detailed information on what to run each day and tips for your training.

Training for a peak 15-K performance

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the Advanced schedule.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 3 m run + strength 30 min tempo 6 x 400 mile pace 3 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 5 m run
2 3 m run + strength 35 min tempo 3 x 800 5-K pace 4 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 6 m run
3 3 m run + strength 40 min tempo 7 x 400 mile pace 5 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 7 m run
4 3 m run + strength 30 min tempo 4 x 800 5-K pace 3 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 5-K Race
5 3 m run + strength 40 min tempo 8 x 400 mile pace 4 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 9 m run
6 3 m run + strength 45 min tempo 5 x 800 5-K pace 5 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 10 m run
7 3 m run + strength 30 min tempo 9 x 400 mile pace 3 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 10-K Race
8 3 m run + strength 40 min tempo 6 x 800 5-K pace 4 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 12 m run
9 3 m run + strength 45 min tempo 10 x 400 mile pace 5 m run + strength Rest or 3 m 3 m pace 13 m run
10 3 m run + strength 30 min tempo 3 x 800 5-K pace 2 m run + strength 1-2 m run Rest 15-K  Race

15-K Training: Novice | Intermediate | Advanced



Click here for the TrainingPeaks interactive Advanced 15-K program