Spring Training - Advanced Schedule, Week 6
Monday: While running your 3-mile easy run today, evaluate how your 5-K race went over the weekend--assuming you ran one. Did the results reach your level of expectation? If not, don't be discouraged. The weekend's race was designed as more of a test of your fitness, not as a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games. Races offer an opportunity to push yourself beyond your normal training level. Too much racing can result in staleness, but occasional races can help you fine-tune your speed. If you feel fatigued following your race, feel free to take today off, shifting the strength training you might have done today to Wednesday. I'll have another race (8-K) scheduled in two weeks, so keep that in mind as you continue to move forward with your training.
Tuesday: Today is Tuesday, so that means you probably are going to be asked to run hills. Let me check the schedule. Yep, that's correct. Hal told me to do it! Run 10 x hill. After six weeks in the program, this is your final hill workout. The peak of the peaks you will ascend, so to speak. Next week on this day, you switch to the track and begin doing some interval training. Combining hill training with interval training in this manner was an approach pioneered by the New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, whose runners included Olympic champions Murray Halberg (1960: 5,000) and Peter Snell (1960, 64: 800, 1,500). Jog a mile or two to warm up, then stretch, before tackling the hill. Cool down with a mile jog and do some more stretching afterwards.
Wednesday: Today's workout is 3 miles followed by extra stretching. And if you used Monday as a rest day following your race, include the strength training that you skipped. I've been running a long, long time and have finished more than 100 marathons, and I find 3 miles a comfortable distance for recovery workouts. In Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where I now have a second home, I run from the Lodge & Club on the Atlantic Ocean shore to the Inn & Club: 1.5 miles down the beach. Often I run barefoot at low tide on this perfect running beach, splashing along the water's edge, dodging jellyfish marooned on the sand. I walk a minute or two, then run back. Usually, I find myself running faster on the return journey than going out. That should not necessarily be your goal, but you might want to do this 3-miler at a pace slightly faster than your easy 3-milers on Monday and Friday.
Thursday: Forty-five minutes for today's fartlek run. Is there a best time of year, time of week, time of day for speed training? In producing training schedules, I usually make judgments slotting hills and track work for advanced runners on Tuesdays and tempo runs and fartlek for Thursdays and Saturdays--but this may not always work best for you. Weather also may dictate when you can run fast. So will availability of training facilities. Most runners probably would fare best running their fastest runs later in the day when they are not stiff following a night's sleep, but work and family obligations dictate when to run. Do whatever works best for you, and don't be afraid to modify my schedules to suit your own purpose.
Friday: Today is a day of relative rest leading to the weekend. Run 3 miles and do your strength training. Learn to breathe right when you do your lifts. The worst mistake you can make while lifting is to hold your breath, warns personal trainer Cathy Vasto. That simply tightens the muscles that you want to keep loose. Inhale while you prepare to lift the weight, then exhale while lifting it, inhaling again while lowering it. "The best way to breathe is naturally," says Vasto, "so that you’re not even aware you’re doing it."
Saturday: Thirty minutes of fartlek is the drill today. This is the second fartlek workout for this week, so if you would rather run a tempo run, do that. Or consider making this a fartlek run that features shorter or longer speed bursts than you ran Thursday. Here's some background on fartlek training from my book Run Fast: "Fartlek was first used successfully by the two great Swedish milers of the 1940s, Gunnar Haag and Arne Anderson. It consists of fast, medium, and slow running over a variety of distances, depending on terrain. In a typical fartlek workout, you pick some landmark such as a tree or a bush and sprint to it, then jog until you've recovered. Select another landmark a shorter--or longer--distance away, and run to it at a faster--or slower--pace. The distance and pace are up to you. The most important skill for this drill is listening to your body. Sometimes you may want to jog more. Add some sprints and strides, and maybe even walk, as the mood develops." Run as you feel. You probably already knew how to do this workout, but sometimes it's a good idea to review different training techniques.
Sunday: Ten miles for today's sorta-long run, and this is the maximum distance I will ask you to run during this program. I have 10-mile workouts scheduled for the three weekends when there are not races as we move toward the end of my 12-week Spring Training program. If you use this program as a springboard to my 18-week marathon training program, you will discover that 10 miles is the distance you will run at the end of the first week. Enjoy today's workout. If you didn't enjoy running long workouts such as this, you probably wouldn't be an advanced runner--right?
Running Tips: In colder weather, nylon tights will keep you running without limiting your ability to move fast. They are generally more comfortable and practical than the old floppy sweat pants runners once wore when I started running long before the Lycra Age. And actually they will not slow you down that much, if any. At least one study I saw suggested that tights allowed runners to run faster because they improved aerodynamics. I don't know about that one, but I do know that at a certain temperature level, I will race in tights vs. shorts. The temperature dictating this switch is about 35 degrees, but wind chill and wet affects my decision. Other runners may have different comfort levels. Experience will tell you how to dress for different weather conditions.
How to Improve: Planning to run a marathon? You won't find a better training schedule than the 18-week program available on this web site. But sometimes it's a bother to go on-line to check your training plan. (Paper still does serve a purpose.) Consider ordering a copy of Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide. It's a simple and convenient, 48-page booklet that reprints my on-line schedules for novice and advanced runners. It costs only $4.50, and you can obtain a free copy by ordering Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. To order an autographed copy of these and other of my books, go to Books by Hal Higdon.