Training


Spring Training - Advanced Schedule, Week 2

Monday: Evaluate how you felt after your first week of Spring Training. Good? Okay? Awful? If the last, you might want to reevaluate whether you should be following this advanced schedule rather than remaining an intermediate runner. It's not going to get easier! 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. And you need to train with a purpose. 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 to run 6 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. They make do, and so should you. You can also do your hill training on a treadmill, if necessary.

Wednesday: Four miles running plus stretching. The running segment of today's workout is a mile further than last week and the mileage on Wednesdays will build during the first four weeks of the program, peaking at 6 miles. In the fifth week, you will begin racing, at which point I'll have you cut your Wednesday mileage back to 3 miles for the rest of the 12-week program. Don't forget to stretch after you run!

Thursday: Forty minutes for your fartlek run today. I'll continue to ask you to alternate fartlek and tempo runs on Thursdays and Saturdays. You'll notice one difference in the recipe for both workouts as the program continues: the time length of the workouts on Thursdays increases to a maximum of 45 minutes; the time length of the workouts on Saturdays remains at 30 minutes. This is because the Saturday hard runs are coupled with sorta-long runs on Sundays. If you're not sure how to do a fartlek run, check the directions on the introductory screen. There is an entire chapter on fartlek training in my book Run Fast.

Friday: A day of relative rest. Run 3 miles and do some strength training afterwards. During the length of this 12-week program, you will run 36 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. When you have time, it's fun to run in a scenic area frequented by other runners. Be inventive. You might as well make running as pleasant as possible.

Saturday: Thirty minutes for today's tempo run. Since this workout is programmed 10-15 minutes shorter than most of the tempo and fartlek runs that you will be doing on Thursdays, this offers you an opportunity to run at a faster pace in the middle of the workout. Instead of peaking two-thirds into the run at somewhat slower than 10-K pace, you might want to peak at 10-K pace, or somewhat faster. Since in tempo running, you normally listen to your body's signals as to how fast you should be running, maybe this extra bit of instruction is unnecessary. Tempo runs are like "swing" workouts that allow you to adjust the degree of difficulty depending on how you feel and how hard you've run other workouts during the week.

Sunday: Today's distance is 7 miles for your sorta-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.

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