Spring Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 2
Monday: Evaluate how you felt after your last week of training. A lot of people play at running, working out three or four days a week, doing a long run on the weekends, entering an occasional race, sometimes gearing up for a marathon. For a while, they'll improve just on accumulated mileage, but after several years it becomes increasingly difficult to set Personal Records. To do that, you need to train. Training is when you follow a schedule, such as this one, where each day has a purpose. If the weather is bad, you still run. If you have important business, you simply rise an hour early to run. Why? Because I told you to! And if Hal tells you to run 3 miles today and afterwards do some strength training, please do it! Not this one workout, but the accumulation of workouts over a period of a dozen weeks, should make you a better runner.
Tuesday: Today's workout is a run of 3 miles, the same as last week on Tuesday and the same distance you did yesterday and will do Thursday as well. This workout shouldn't take a great deal of your time: a half hour or less if you run at a 10:00-mile pace or faster. But forget I said that! I don't want you to go out and time yourself for 3 miles. In fact, your course doesn't need to be precisely 3.0 miles. It can be about that distance. The easiest way to pick a course of 3.0 miles would be to get in your car and figure out how far you need to run to go about half that distance (1.5 miles), either from your home, from your office or from wherever you plan to run on Tuesdays. Then run this 1.5-mile course out and back. Don't wear a watch, at least for the time being.
Wednesday: Today's workout is to run 3 hill repeats, about the same length of time for each as it would take you to run a fast 400 on the track. In other words, if you run 400 repeats in 90 seconds, your hill repeats should take about that time too. Warm up before and cool down after. Because hills vary so greatly in their length and pitch, don't get too fussy about the precise details of this workout. More important is the application of energy you bring to hill training during the first half dozen weeks of this program. Finding a hill to train on is not always easy, particularly if you live in the flatlands. Jacksonville, Florida, where I have my winter training base, seems flat as a pancake. Runners there do their hill training on the high and steep bridges that cross the St. Johns River downtown. You can also do your hill training on a treadmill, if necessary.
Thursday: Run 3 miles and do some strength training afterwards. During the length of this 12-week program, you will run 26 separate 3-mile runs. That can get boring after a while, so consider using several different courses at this distance--and for other road distances. Tuesday I discussed how to find a 3-mile course, suggesting that you simply get in your car and measure approximately half that distance, then run it out and back. For a second course, you might measure a "loop" course, meaning you circle around without retracing your steps. But as you run this and other distances, consider utilizing completely different courses, perhaps one in a scenic area frequented by other runners. Be inventive. You might as well make running as pleasant as possible.
Friday: A day of rest. I've been focusing on course measurement for most of this week. You might even call this the "Theme for Week Two." So if you're looking for something to do with your extra time while not running today, go out and measure a series of courses from 3 through 8 miles. You'll use them during the remaining weeks of this Spring Training program.
Saturday: Each Saturday you will do either a tempo run or a fartlek workout. Since you did your tempo run last Saturday, this is the Saturday you run fartlek Fartlek is similar to tempo training in that it features a continuous run that starts and ends slow with fast running in the middle. The difference is that fartlek includes multiple changes of pace over varied (mostly short) distances. Run as you feel. Be creative. Pick out a tree and run hard to it. Ease back into a jog until rested, then pick out another landmark for your next sprint. Hard, easy, hard, easy. You define the tempo by how you feel. It's an enjoyable form of training that can either be your toughest or easiest workout of the week.
Sunday: Today's distance is 7 miles for your long run, a mile further than last week, although my goal is not to increase the mileage each week. Just cover the distance. I don't care how fast you run. In advising people training for a marathon, I usually recommend that they run 45 to 90 seconds slower than the pace at which they plan to run a marathon. But it's too early for you to think marathon pace--if you even plan to start training for a marathon at the end of this program. Don't sweat the small details. Simply go out and enjoy your run.
Running Tips: The magic workout? If I had to name one single type of training capable of converting a plodder into a runner, it would be interval training. Tom Ecker, an expert on coaching techniques from Iowa, once described interval training, as "the most effective single training system ever devised." The University of Oregon's Bill Dellinger states: "Interval training--if it's done properly--develops speed in a runner more quickly than any other form of training." Carefully structured into a well-designed workout regimen, interval training may not necessarily turn you into an Olympian, but it can make you a better runner.
How to Improve: Hal Higdon's How To Train offers training schedules and advice on everything from fitness walking to running the marathon. Plus there's information on nutrition and recovering from injuries. Add a copy of this book to your collection. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.