Starting a Running Program

Week 3

by Patti & Warren Finke, Team Oregon
One of the most frequently asked questions by runners is "How do I get faster? Reading the common sources of running information, one could easily think that speed and speed work are the foundations of fast running. The real foundation of running and the sources of the majority of speed is endurance.

The Fifth Commandment: Train Seasonally

While building an endurance base is the most important aspect for beginning runners, it is clear that you don't just increase your mileage forever. As you become a more experienced runner and want to race, you will need to extend the hard/easy system to seasons throughout the year. No one can maintain peak shape , train at maximal levels and race all year round. Elite and professional runners plan very carefully for their racing seasons. They begin by first building base, then adding specific sharpening or speedwork, allowing some rest by tapering, racing and finally a period of resting and rebuilding. This comprises a single season. Many runners do two racing seasons a year.

Building base means increasing mileage slowly and carefully to the levels demanded by your goal event/s. Mileage should be added at a rate of not more than 5% per week. As you may have noticed by the scheduled workout, one day a week is longer than the rest (the extra long day), this is followed by two easy days, a hard day ( typically longer), an easy day, a hard day and an easy day. The miles should first be added to the extra long day, then to the midweek longer runs and finally to the easy day. The base building period may be from 2 - 6 months depending on the starting place and the final goals.

Speedwork is a sharpening technique that is only used for short periods of time ( 8 - 12 weeks) to prepare for racing. You should rest (taper) before the race. After the racing period, there should be a period of reduced training, rest and recovery leading to another sequence of base and strength building. The rest periods are for both physical and psychological recovery.

The Sixth Commandment: Separate speed and distance training

Earlier we discussed the Hard/Easy system and pointed out that workouts could be hard or easy based on both their intensity, (speed), and their duration, (distance). Because of the physiological requirements for distance running, it is possible to train endurance and speed separately. Most endurance and speed benefits are obtained from large amounts of low intensity training. This is why a beginning runner should concentrate on building a base of easy running. Once a base is built and the runner wants to optimize speed, it can be done with small amounts of high intensity training. This is good news for the athlete because workout programs can be devised which are effective but do not have the high injury risk associated with large amounts of high intensity training.

A good rule of thumb to use for devising training programs is never to mix speed and distance unless it is in a race. Train them separately by alternating easy days, (<10% weekly mileage, < 80% effort), with hard days that are longer, (> 20% weekly mileage), but still at an easy pace, (< 80% effort) or fast days, (90% effort), that are at an easy distance, (<10% of weekly mileage).

The Seventh Commandment: Get a Coach

To remain injury free, to run your best and to continue to enjoy your running, you need to educate yourself on the techniques of training and the responses of your body so that you can coach yourself. There are large numbers of running book and magazines filled with good information and some that's not so good. If you cannot follow the rules, are continually getting injured, are having trouble staying focused or motivated, hire a coach. A coach should have some credentials such as education in training, not just be a fast runner. You should decide what you want from a coach and write it down before you talk to prospective candidates. The coach should be able to help you set up a program that works for you based on your needs, goals and ability. The coach's primary goal should be to keep you healthy and motivated.

Week Three Workout

To be done on a 400 meter or 1/4 mi running track to quantify the actual distance covered.
Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7
Easy    Easy    Hard    Easy    Hard    Easy    Hard

  0       0     3.2Km     0     3.2Km    0      6.4Km

3.2 km  workout
Warm up by walking 800 meters or 2 laps of the track
Complete  1600 meters or 4 laps of the track by 
alternating 300 meters of running (a straight, a curve
and a straight of track) with 100 meters of walking
(curve of track). Cool Down by walking   800 meters,
2 laps of track

6.4 km  workout
Warm up by walking 800 meters or 2 laps of the track
Complete 4.8 km or 12 laps of the track by alternating
300 meters of running (a straight, a curve and a
straight of track) with 100 meters of walking (curve
of track). Cool Down by walking 800 meters, 2 laps of
track.

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