Spring Training - Novice Schedule, Week 11
Monday: You are now into the 11th week of my 12-week Spring Training program with two weeks left to go. Hopefully, you have begun to see some improvements in fitness since when you began a long, long time ago in a distant galaxy. Maybe you've lost some weight. If not that, you probably have built some muscle and lowered your percentage of body fat. You look better and feel better. Perhaps some friends have noticed the change in you. If not, sooner or later they will. Congratulate yourself on your perseverance so far. Today is a day of rest at the beginning of a week during which you will run four 3-mile runs for a total of 12 miles.
Tuesday: This is a stepback week, because the mileage of the long run at the end of this week is lower than those weeks before and after, but your Tuesday and Thursday workouts jump to their maximum level of 3.0 miles. By now, this should be a workout that you run with your hands tied behind your back, humming a happy tune and cheerfully greeting everybody you meet on the jogging path. Did you ever think that running could be this easy?
Wednesday: Your second 3-miler of the week. Try not to compare your time run today with that run tomorrow or on Sunday. That is the path to perdition. Treat each daily workout as a unique experience. Don't try to grade your workouts depending on how fast you ran. Some days you'll feel better than others, so it is only natural that you will run faster. And on other days, you may feel fatigued, causing your pace to drop. Don't worry. Enjoy today--and tomorrow--and each day after that.
Thursday: Your third 3-miler of the week. Are you planning to run today over the same course you ran Tuesday and Wednesday? I usually like to run different courses on different days, even if I'm running the same distance. That prevents me from comparing one day to another. Some stretching might be appropriate the end of today's workout. Stretching will help you maintain your flexibility, particularly after long workouts or after several days of steady training.
Friday: Today is a day of rest. If tonight is "Date Night" and you go out for dinner, as I often do with my wife Rose at the end of the week, pick from the menu well. A well-balanced diet for runners is to obtain 55 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from fats and 15 percent from proteins. Complex carbohydrates found in pasta, rice and fruit are the best. It's one reason why runners often wind up in Italian restaurants on Friday nights.
Saturday: A full hour of walking today, the maximum length of time in this Spring Training schedule. One runner posting a question to one of my Virtual Training boards wanted to know if "hiking" was an effective form of cross-training. It sure is--particularly since she was talking about hiking in the mountains and clambering over some pretty tough trails. I can't think of a better way to stay in shape, both physically and mentally.
Sunday: Three miles for the final workout of the week and the fourth workout at that distance. I hope you haven't gotten too bored. Usually I try to vary the workouts from day to day in most of my schedules: both distance and pace. But as this 12-week Spring Training schedules comes to near its end, a lot of progressions have come together. The main difference from this week and the next is the long run at the end. In this stepback week, you do a "short" long run. Next week you'll do a "long" long run.
Running Tips: To improve, vary your routine. Work a little harder one day, then make the next an easy day. Program in occasional rest days when you do no walking and jogging, or cross-training days when you do some other exercise. Test yourself occasionally to see how you're improving. It won't happen overnight, but you should begin to see a gradual improvement in your physical fitness.
How to Improve: Run Fast is one of Hal Higdon's most popular books, having sold over 50,000 copies so far. It is designed to help runners improve their 5-K and 10-K times, but the information you'll find in this handy book can help you with all of your training, from beginner to marathoner. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.