Spring Training - Intermediate 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. If your racing has not yet improved, maybe it soon will. Congratulate yourself on your perseverance so far. Today is a day of relative rest (3 miles plus strength training) at the beginning of a week during which you will run a total of 12 miles and have some of your toughest workouts so far.
Tuesday: Five miles for today's run. 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. Don't push the pace too hard today, because you have a tough workout on the track scheduled tomorrow. Consider today as prelude to Wednesday's interval workout.
Wednesday: On the track, run 12 x 200 meters at a pace near to your 800-meter race pace. You should hit times close to those you hit for this workout in Weeks 6 (8 x 200) and 8 (10 x 200), but the increase in reps will make this a much more difficult workout, so don't get too hung up on the numbers. Jog or walk 200 between each rep. Remember to warm up by jogging a couple of miles, stretching and doing some strides. Cool down afterwards as well. This midweek interval workout is key to your improvement. Hopefully you have already begun to feel faster.
Thursday: Three miles easy followed by strength training--and don't forget to stretch. "There is little doubt that some form of resistance training is beneficial to all runners, increasing in importance with the speed of the race," says exercise physiologist and Olympic champion Peter Snell, Ph.D. "Runners are able to incorporate hill training in their workouts to provide resistance in a highly specific form. Weight training is not likely to produce further increases in maximum oxygen uptake in runners, but may improve muscle endurance."
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 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: The tempo run for today is 45 minutes--and, although I sometimes prescribe tempo runs as long as an hour for marathoners, 45 minutes seems to me the optimum distance. Run much longer than 45 minutes (5 or 6 miles of running for most runners) and the quality of the workout begins to suffer because of the sheer quantity of the miles run. The Kenyans achieve success by doing hard tempo runs for an hour or more, but most runners would break down if faced with this level of stress. Since quality is of prime consideration in this training program, I'd rather not see you push beyond 45 minutes.
Sunday: Eight miles for today's long run, which produces 30 miles for the week, nearly a third of your total. But high mileage is not what this Spring Training is about, as I believe you already have come to understand. Given the fact that this is at the end of your workout week, monitor your body signals throughout this run. Any extra fatigure? Or do you feel like you could run even harder. It's usually a good idea to not push yourself too hard, but if you want to pick up the pace for the last 2 miles of this 8-mile run, I won't stick out my leg to trip you. Finishing fast will convert this into a classic 3/1 workout, where you run the first 3/4 of the workout at cruise pace, then push the final 1/4. This is a maneuver I only recommend for very experienced runners--and not every weekend. If you continue on to my marathon training program, you'll see that I use 3/1 long runs for some of the Intermediate and Advanced schedules.
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.