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8-K Training Guide - Advanced Program - Week 3

Monday: Last week you ran 32 total miles with a long run on the weekend (yesterday) of 7 miles. This week you'll actually run less: 26 miles total and 4 on the weekend. That's because this is a "stepback" week, a concept I also use in preparing runners for the marathon. This is a progressive program, but it goes up in steps: two weeks of progressively harder training followed by a third stepback week where you gather strength for the next upward push. A stepback week is an "easy" week. Trust me; it works. Regardless of the plan for the full week, this is your day for a 3-miler followed by stretching and strengthening.

Tuesday: In keeping with the stepback theme for this week, we drop today's tempo run back to 30 minutes: 5-10 minutes for the easy, warm-up phase; 10-15 minutes at a faster pace; and 5-10 minutes cool-down. A tempo run is an intuitive type of workout. Don't get hung up on the exact time--or the exact pace for that matter. You should also finish refreshed. This type of workout is best done in the woods, although you can run tempo runs on the road or even on the track if those venues are more convenient for you. Don't press the pace too much; remember that this is supposed to be an easy week.

Wednesday: Today's interval workout takes a step backward too: 5 x 400 meters with the fast reps at 1500/mile pace, the interval 400 laps between jogging and/or walking. The way I often do this is to walk for about 100 meters after finishing the rep, then jog 200 along the backstretch, then walk 100 before beginning the next rep. How are your workouts going? For many people who lead "Normal Lives" and work during the week, the toughest thing about this type of training is finding time to do it.

Thursday: Keeping with the stepback theme, the Thursday mileage also slides backward a nudge: 3 miles coupled with stretching and strengthening. Need more rest? Don't be afraid to run today's workout at a slower pace. Nobody is going to be standing by the side of the road timing you on these workouts. Experienced runners learn how to "listen to their bodies" when it comes to deciding both how fast to run on any given day. Even though this is a well-structured program, there is room to vary workouts.

Friday: During a stepback week, you may not think you need a day off on Friday. And maybe you don't considering the fact that I'm not going to ask you to run that far this weekend. But a plan is a plan. Less important than what you do on any one day is what you do over the entire 8- or 10-week period of the training program. And regular rest is an important part of that program. Having said that, I concede that it doesn't matter that much which days you rest and which days you run, to a point. If your family or business schedule dictates a different workout mix, be my guest in making changes--but don't change too much or you defeat the entire purpose of this Shamrock Shuffle training program. The training schedule suggests that you either rest or run 3 miles today.

Saturday: Even in a stepback week, some workouts continue an upward progression. This is true with today's pace run, which bumps to 5 miles with two of those miles done at race pace.

Sunday: Four miles for today's "long" run. Not much, you say, having experienced the heady feeling of running 7 miles last weekend. Nevertheless, when you get this far in the race, you will be almost home. Use today's workout to mentally rehearse how you are going to run those first 4 miles. That may include programming a water break mid-way through this and other long runs. Consider also the fact that 4 miles is somewhat further than 5 kilometers. You might want to enter a 5-K race this weekend as a rehearsal for your race at 8-K five weeks from today.

Run Fast: One advantage of a class situation is the group support you get from others of equal ability. This certainly is true with the marathon class I teach in Chicago, but it's also true at every level, from novice to intermediate to advanced. One reason why the Kenyans have been able to dominate the world distance running ranks recently is that they train together and push each other every day in practice. Top runners gather in cities like Eugene, Boulder, Albuquerque and Jacksonville for mutual support. Group dynamics can be very important in achieving success. If you have the opportunity to join a class, or hire a coach, or train with other runners, do so. You all will run better-and faster!

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