Hal Higdon: Base Training--Advanced: This Base Training Program for Advanced runners was designed to bridge the three-month gap between my Winter Training Program and the start of my 18-week training programs leading to a fall marathon. Its goal is to show very experienced runners how to develop a base to help them achieve peak performance. Although it works best in spring, you can use it any time of year you want to focus on fitness and conditioning. Regardless of when you use this program, each day I will send you email messages telling you how to run and offering training tips. For more information and direction, visit halhigdon.com.
This Base Training schedule is for Advanced runners seeking to fine-tune their training by focusing on speedwork during a time period outside my 18-week marathon training program. If you can improve your speed at distances from 5-K to 10-K, it should make you a faster marathoner too. Once you achieve a speed base during one period of training, then you can shift to increased mileage during another period of training. This is known as periodization--and it works! During the next 12 weeks, Monday workouts are always the same. Use Monday as a day of comparative rest by running an easy 3 miles, then adjourning to the gym for 15-30 minutes of strength training and stretching. (This might be a good workout to do in a health club, since you can do your 3-miler on a treadmill before heading to the weight room.) Wednesday and Friday workouts will be about the same--but, unlike the schedules for Novice and Intermediate runners, there is no weekly day on which you do no running. I will suggest that you take a day off from time to time, particularly if there is a race scheduled on the weekend, but otherwise, this program features seven days of running a week. It's a no-holds-barred program, so get ready to run! Are you up to the challenge?
I've reserved this day toward the beginning of the week for some of your hardest training. The hard days of the week will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with long runs on Sundays. In between will be easy days. For the first 6 weeks of the 12-week program, you will run hills on Tuesdays. Then in the second 6 weeks, you will shift to the track. Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance. Run up hard, as hard as you might doing a 200 or 400 repeat. Then turn and jog back down. Since today's workout is listed as 5 x Hill, repeat your uphill run five times. Be sure to warm up by jogging a mile or two before and cool down with the same distance after.
Tuesday and Thursday workouts form a tough one-two punch in this Advanced schedule--but that's what it takes to make you a faster runner. In between, you get to run easy. Jog an easy 3 miles today, then do some stretching, spending more time on this than you normally might do because speedwork (like you did yesterday) has a tendency to tighten your muscles. You can also do some lifting today. Check the Stretch & Strengthen screens on halhigdon.com for suggestions as to which exercises to do.
In this Spring Training program, Thursdays and Saturdays feature tempo runs and fartlek workouts, alternating between each from week to week. I do this mainly to provide some variety to the program. On this first Thursday, do a tempo run of 40 minutes. A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A tempo run of 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to 15-20 minutes near the middle, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes.
Friday in many of my training programs for different distances is a day of rest, to allow you to gather strength for a weekend of hard running. However, I expect more running from Advanced runners such as yourself. In this program, Friday is a day of relative rest. That means you run an easy 3-miler like you did on Monday and Wednesday, then follow it up with some strength training and stretching. Consider Friday your swing day. If you feel extra fatigued from workouts done earlier in the week, take a total day of rest. Total rest is always an option if you feel too tired.
Each Saturday you will do either a tempo run or a fartlek workout, alternating those same workouts on Thursdays. Since you did a tempo run two days ago, you run fartlek today: 30 minutes. Fartlek is similar to tempo training in that it features a continuous run that starts and ends slow with fast running in the middle. The difference is that fartlek includes multiple changes of pace over varied (mostly short) distances. Run as you feel. Be creative. Pick out a tree and run hard to it. Ease back into a jog until rested, then pick out another landmark for your next sprint. Hard, easy, hard, easy. You define the tempo by how you feel.
Today is your sorta long run of 6 miles. If 6 doesn't seem that long to you, it shouldn't. Sunday runs will vary between 6 to 10 miles, and you'll also be doing some racing on five weekends. The important thing is not to do a lot of miles on these Sundays, but rather to run just a bit further than you do during the rest of the week. Save the long runs up to 20 miles for when you begin to train for the marathon. Incidentally, if you would rather run long on Saturday and do your tempo runs and fartlek training (or racing) on Sunday, be my guest. It's usually a bit easier, however, to go from fast to slow on successive days than slow to fast. Also, if you notice the time estimates, that is exactly what they are: estimates, assuming that you will average 8:00 per mile when you train.