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8-K Training Guide - Advanced Program - Week 1

Monday: Today begins the 8-week countdown to the Shamrock Shuffle, or whichever other 8-K race you have chosen as your training goal. In my 8-week Advanced Training Program, Mondays are reserved for easy 3-milers combined with strength training. See the screens: Stretch and Strengthen. Don't overdo it. Your Monday goal is only to recover from the long runs scheduled for Sundays. Since the program begins today, you may not have taken such a long run yesterday. But you will at the end of this week. This week's schedule has you running 28 total miles with a long run of 6 miles on the weekend.

Tuesday:  Today is the day of the week on which the Advanced runners do tempo runs. On successive weekends, you will progress from 30- to 50- or 60-minute tempo runs. If you don't understand the concept behind tempo runs, go back to the screen for the Advanced Program. Today's tempo run lasts 30 minutes. Run 5-10 minutes at an easy pace, then gradually shift gears and run 10-15 minutes accelerating to near 10-K pace, finally decelerating for the last 5-10 minutes. How hard should you do your Tuesday tempo runs? I want you to finish feeling refreshed, rather than fatigued. Leave something in the bank, because Wednesdays are reserved for speedwork at the track.

Wednesday: Head to the track. That's the best place for running the 400-meter interval workouts I'm asking you to do on Wednesdays. Today's workout is 6 x 400 meters run at your 1500 or mile pace. Jog and/or walk 400 between each fast repeat. Be sure to warm up by running a mile or two and doing some stretching before the hard central part of your workout, then cool down with a mile or two after. If you feel running speedwork on successive days (Tuesday-Wednesday) is too difficult, feel free to flip-flop the Wednesday and Thursday workouts. But for an Advanced runner, running successive "hard" workouts can help get you in shape--as long as they aren't too hard.

Thursday: Today's workout is 4 miles. Your Thursday runs will vary from 3 to 6 miles as the program continues. As with the Monday runs, run at a comfortable pace. And make this your second strength training day of the week. The best time to do this is after the run, rather than before.

Friday: Today is your rest day, and Fridays will always be rest days during the build-up to your 8-K. For an Advanced runner such as you, "rest" is a relative term. Three miles at an easy pace can qualify as "rest." Or take the day off and do no running. This puts some of the coaching burden on you to determine whether you would benefit more from a few more miles or from the extra recovery you would get by taking a full day off. Remember: More is not always better. Be conservative when it comes to making this decision.

Saturday: On Saturdays, Advanced runners do "pace" runs. What is "pace?" It's the pace you expect to run in the 8-K itself. If you run an 8-K in about 30 minutes, or near 6:00 pace, that would be the pace you would aim for in pace workouts. But don't run the entire workout at race pace, only a portion of it. Today's workout is 4 miles with half that distance (2 miles) run at race pace. This is similar to the tempo runs with a subtle difference. In pace runs, I'd like you to run exactly at race pace. If possible, find a course that has exactly-measured miles. You need to accustom your muscles to running the pace you will be running in the race itself.

Sunday: This is the key day of our program for the Shamrock Shuffle. On Sundays, we run long. Six miles this first weekend may not seem long, considering the fact that you are an experienced runner who may have trained at much longer distances while training for marathons, but the value of this workout comes not from the total distance, but how that distance fits into the overall pattern of what you run all week. Could you achieve a higher level of fitness by running longer than the maximum 8- miles I'm going to ask you to cover in a single workout? Perhaps, but too much overdistance might compromise the speed workouts prescribed for other days of the week. So for today, relax and run the distance I tell you. I'll have some interesting variations to throw at you in succeeding weeks. Pace doesn't matter. Run this workout at a relaxed pace, slower than you plan to run in the actual race.
Run Fast: Running fast doesn't take special talents. You don't need expensive equipment. You don't need to hire a coach or train on a track--although good coaching certainly can help, and tracks are where a lot of fast runners do hang out. Some skills are required, but the average runner can learn those skills. You don't need to participate in a 15-K race every weekend, although many runners enjoy racing. No, running fast requires mainly a change of attitude and a willingness to experiment with different workouts and training methods.

How to Improve: Hal Higdon's best-selling Run Fast covers the type of training that will help you improve your performances at all distances, including the 8-K. To order an autographed copy of this and other books by Runner's World's best writer go to Books by Hal Higdon.

Advanced Training Program: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8