Base Training : Spring Training

About the Spring Training Program

Most training programs—mine and those of other coaches—are goal-oriented. You train for 12 weeks and show up at the starting line of a half marathon. Or train a half dozen weeks more and run the classic 26 miles 385 yards.

But what happens if that goal vanishes, your goal race canceled because of the pandemic?

Unfortunately, that has happened to a lot of us this last year of sorrows. The Boston Athletic Association postponed its marathon from April to September, then cancelled until April 2021, then finally to October. Many other races from 5K to 50K did the same. As I write this, I am worried about the Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons as well as a lot of smaller races at various distances from 5K and up. Yes, you can continue to follow the training programs leading to those races, but motivation becomes difficult without a shining light at the end of the training tunnel.

Here is my newly created Spring Training Program. No race goal, but following this 10-week program (also available in an interactive version through TrainingPeaks) will provide structure to your training until the pandemic slides into our rear vision mirrors.

Use our app for your next training program.

This plan is not available in the RunWithHal app, but you can still get the interactive version through TrainingPeaks. Or, explore more training options in the app:

At a glance

Author: Hal Higdon Length: 10 Weeks Typical Week: 4 Run, 2 X-Train, 1 Day Off Longest Workout: 90 minutes

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Hal on his Spring Training Program

The Pattern: My Spring Training Program features 10 weeks of training, but broken into five 2-week segments. Here’s the pattern. You train for one week, then move to a second slightly different week of training. Then back to another 2-week segment with a little bit harder training, but not much. Remember, with no race goal, we can live in the moment: training for fitness, rather than to achieve a PR or BQ or other goal.

Time-Based: Rather than telling you how many miles (or kilometers) to run each day or week, I suggest that you think in minutes. If Saturday’s long-run workout is 60 minutes, some runners may be able to cover 10 miles in that hour; others will be able to complete half that distance. Don’t sweat it. That’s okay. We’re all in this together.

Strength Training: Many who consider ourselves pure runners sometimes think, we really should try strength training some time. Now is that time! My Spring Training Program suggests gym workouts two days a week. Run for half an hour, then stop at the gym. Or devote a full day to strength training. I usually recommend light weights and high reps, but you need to determine what works best for you, sometimes with the aid of a personal trainer.

Cross-Training: Looking for a slightly different aerobic activity than running, I favor bike riding. But the third triathlon discipline, swimming works well too. In Florida I have access to a chest-deep pool so after my gym workout I both swim laps and run laps. Don’t overlook walking on cross-training days.

Speedwork: I was a track athlete before switching to the roads. I’m used to running in circles on a track. Not all runners are. One advantage of running at a track is that you can stash your bottle of fluids beside the track and grab a cooling drink every lap or two. A very important option in the summer.

Long Runs: Once you reach an hour, you enter long-run territory. Although this is not a progressive program, the long run in Week 1 is just under an hour (50 minutes) leading to a long run of 90 minutes in Week 9.

Time Trials: With very few races available during the pandemic, you need to create your own. I suggest a time trial every other weekend, beginning with 1500 meters (the metric mile) and continuing with 3000, 5000, 8000, and 10,000 time trials every other week. But don’t kid yourself; time trials are not easy to run without dozens of runners around you and crowds cheering. You need to focus to stay on pace.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Rest 30 min run strength 30 min bike Interval 6×400 Strength 50 min long run Cross
2 Strength 45 min run Cross 30 min run strength 30 min tempo Rest Time trial 1,500
3 Rest 30 min strength 35 min bike Interval 7×400 Strength 60 min long run Cross
4 Strength 45 min run Cross 30 min run strength 35 min tempo Rest Time trial 3,000
5 Rest 30 min run strength 40 min bike Interval 8×400 Strength 70 min long run Cross
6 Strength 45 min run Cross 30 min run strength 40 min tempo Rest Time trial 5,000
7 Rest 30 min run strength 45 min bike Interval 9×400 Strength 80 min long run Cross
8 Strength 45 min run Cross 30 min run strength 45 min tempo Rest Time trial 8,000
9 Rest 30 min run strength 50 min bike Interval 10×400 Strength 90 min long run Cross
10 Strength 45 min run Cross 30 min run strength 50 min tempo Rest Time trial 10,000

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