Training


Spring Training - Intermediate Schedule, Week 7

Monday: Assuming you ran a 5-K race yesterday, you may want to take a day off. Never be afraid to program in an extra day of rest if you feel your body needs it. Don't be a slave to any training schedule, this one or any other. Having said that, if you take too many days off you will compromise your training program. Balance is essential in any program for success. You don't want to do too much, and you don't want to do too little. Today's scheduled workout is to run an easy 3 miles followed by strength training. With six weeks behind you, you now have completed half of this 12-week Spring Training program. Six more weeks to go!

Tuesday: Today's run is 4 miles, a mile less than your peak Tuesday runs of 5 miles. Why pick this particular distance? Does it really matter that much whether or not you run 4 or 5 or even 6 miles today? Probably not. One reason I schedule changes in distance is for variety, so you won't be running the same distances day after day after week after week. Since experienced runners such as you often have set courses for different distances, this may even force you to select another route for your run: Park A vs. Park B. It's a mind thing. The difference between doing 4 and 5 miles may also result in an almost imperceptible pace change, which is also good. Final Tuesday instruction: Smile at everybody you see on the jogging path today. Give them a cheery "Good morning" or "Good afternoon." If someone offers you a similar greeting, it may be because they're following my training program too. :-)

Wednesday: With a base of six weeks of hill training behind you, head for the track today. Finding a track on which to run is not always easy, since many school tracks are closed to outside runners, either actually or psychologically. (Many runners feel uncomfortable running on a track when it is being used by teams and, when it is not, the gate to the track often is locked.) When I'm in what I call my "winter training quarters" in Florida, I often train Wednesday evenings with the group from the Jacksonville Track Club that uses the Bolles High School track. Summers, I often run at the Elston Junior High track in Michigan City, Indiana. In between those seasons, I sometimes have to scramble if I want to train on a track. Today's track workout is 8 x 200 meters, jogging and/or walking 200 between. Run the 200s at about the pace you would run in an 800-meter race. In other words: very fast! When you run this fast, you need a very thorough warm-up to prevent injury. Jog a mile or two, stretch, then run 3-4 strides at close to the pace you plan to run your repeats. Don't forget to take a few minutes to cool down afterwards.

Thursday: Three easy miles plus strength training. Since yesterday was your first day at the track, you may experience some unanticipated muscle soreness. This is natural, and it's also why I schedule an easy workout for you the day after a hard day. Tomorrow being a day of complete rest, you'll have even more time to recover from Wednesday's hard workout before facing the weekend. While doing your strength training routine and moving from exercise to exercise, don’t rush and don’t waste time chitchatting with friends. Stay focused on your workout by stretching in between. "It’s very important while strength training to have a stretching routine," warns personal trainer Cathy Vasto. "You don’t want to lose your flexibility, which can happen if you forget to stretch. Eccentric contractions (which occur when lowering the weights) actually can tighten the muscles." Stretching while strength training provides a double dose of conditioning in a minimum of time.

Friday: Rest day. Rest is always an important component of any training program. On this particular Friday following your first day at the track, it will provide just that extra dose of recovery necessary for you to have a good weekend of workouts. Remember, the focus on this training program is quality more than quantity. You can't achieve quality in your workouts unless you come into the days you run hard well rested. You'll be able to accomplish tomorrow's fartlek workout much more successfully if you are rested and ready to rip! This means getting a good night's sleep tonight too. Social considerations aside, you probably don't want to hang out all night at the bars, then be forced to get up the next morning and train hard. What's important in life to you? Make that decision and follow up on it.

Saturday: Today's fartlek run is 40 minutes. There are two ways to do fartlek. One is to have a pre-planned course and routine where you speed up and slow down at the same places every time you run fartlek. This is okay, since establishing a regular routine sometimes can ease the task at hand. However, when I run fartlek, I prefer to run by instinct. I usually pick different landmarks for pace changes. When I run on Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida, I often select dry or wet spots as start and end points for my fartlek sprints. Since the beach changes continuously as the tide ebbs and flows, that guarantees that I never do one fartlek workout the same as the one before.

Sunday: Run 7 miles today. One reason for accumulating a certain total of miles is calorie burn. It will help you maintain or lose weight. Let's consider briefly the subject of calorie burn: You burn the same number of calories (about 100) walking a mile as you do running a mile. That seems unfair, but calorie burn is related to foot-pounds: how many pounds you push over so many feet. Since you lose 1 pound for every 3,600 calories burned, you should be able to lose a pound every second or third week following this program, assuming your eating habits don't change. You can lose weight faster by combining diet and exercise, which is the best way to lose weight as well as keep it off.

Running Tips: No matter how fit you may be from other physical activities, when you run faster than usual or shift to a different form of training, you're probably going to experience sore muscles. Even after running becomes easy, you're still going to experience sore muscles from time to time--particularly the day after a hard race or hard workout. People get sore muscles for three reasons: 1.) They are not used to exercising; 2.) They are used to a different exercise; 3.) They push their regular exercise too hard. To relieve the pain of sore muscles, first use ice to reduce swelling. Heat, once pain has peaked, helps speed recovery by improving circulation. Massage and pain-relieving rubs may help. But if you want to become a runner, you may need to accept some soreness as a natural part of the conditioning process.

How to Improve: Hal Higdon's Smart Running is a collections of questions and answers from his on-line Ask The Expert column. It covers everything you wanted to know about running, but were afraid to ask. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.

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