Spring Training - Novice Schedule, Week 9
Monday: Eight weeks down and four weeks remaining in our 12-week Spring Training program. You're two-thirds of the way toward your goal, which presumably was to finish this program, whether motivated from a desire to get into shape or to achieve a level of fitness so you can shift into my 18-week marathon training program. Regardless of your goal, it is now in sight. Think about this as you accept today as a day of rest following your 5-miler over the weekend. This is a stepback week as I allow you to cut back a bit before the next push upward in mileage. Total mileage for the week is 11.
Tuesday: Today's workout is 2.5 miles, so you should have no trouble cruising the distance. How is your running form? Usually I tell beginners not to worry about form; just get out and run. But once runners attain a base level of fitness, how they run is worth some consideration. For the rest of the week, I'm going to sneak some tips on running form into the daily instructions. As you run 2.5 miles today, consider your posture. You should run upright. Your back should be straight, roughly at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Ignore anyone who tells you to "lean into it," even when running uphill.
Wednesday: Today being Wednesday, you know I'm going to ask you to run 3.0 miles. Here's another tip on form related to head carry that you can consider while running that 3-miler. Look straight ahead. Unless you are enjoying the scenery, your eyes should be focused straight down the road on a point moving about 10 meters in front of you. Try to run in a straight line.
Thursday: The Thursday run increases from the 2.0 miles you ran a week ago to 2.5 miles today, all part of our gentle mileage buildup. Continuing the discussion on running form, swing your arms naturally. The angle at the elbow between your upper and lower arms should be about 90 degrees. Your hands should be loosely cupped, about belly level. Let your arms swing in rhythm with your legs. The legs should control arm swing, not the other way around.
Friday: This is your usual end-of-week day of rest, and it's interesting how running often forces people to change their lifestyles. Last week, we talked briefly about the fact that runners usually modify their diets, eating more carbohydrates than they might have before. Typically, they change their drinking habits too, realizing that moderation is the key. Rarely do I see runners drinking alcoholic beverages other than wine or beer--and usually not much of that. That's because when you start to run, you quickly realize that it's no fun to run with a hangover. Thus does running create positive habits for those who pursue it.
Saturday: Although this is a stepback week with a relative "short" long run scheduled for tomorrow, your walking distance goes up. Or at least the time you walk goes up to 55 minutes. Presumably you could walk slower and cover less distance, but the goal on walking days is never a precise time or any specific distance. The goal is merely to get out into the fresh air and stretch your legs. I won't offer you any tips on walking form; just get out and do it!
Sunday: Run an easy 3-miler today. At least running this distance should be easy at this stage in your training. If not, maybe you are pushing the pace too hard. One final word on form, and it concerns footplant. The most natural landing is mid-foot, the ball of the foot landing first, the heel contacting the ground a fraction of a second later. The toes push off a fraction after that. Some runners land further forward, or backward, than others, based on what feels natural to them. Attempt to modify this natural gait at your own risk.
Running Tips: Frequently when people start to run, their first steps look and feel awkward. This is natural. You wouldn't expect to go out and hit a hole-in-one the first day you played golf. So take your time learning to run correctly. After you have been running for a while, your running form will begin to improve somewhat as you condition your body. A good coach may be able to suggest some form improvements (as I have attempted to do this week), but most runners develop the form best suited for them without much prompting.
How to Improve: Hal Higdon's Beginning Runner's Guide is a handy booklet for those taking their first running steps. Everything you need to know about starting to run: From your first steps to your first 5-K. Shoes. Clothing. Form. Breathing. Stretching. Goal setting. Nutrition. Weight loss. Training. You too can become a runner today! And it costs only $4.50. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.