This six-week schedule, developed by the experts at Runner's World, can help beginners prepare for the New Balance Falmouth Road Race. It is designed to provide beginners the endurance they need to go the seven-mile race distance. The plan features four days of easy running, two days of rest, and some very short doses of faster running and gentle pickups. Not the right plan for you? Check out Runner's World's training plans for intermediate and advanced runners.
2 MILES EASY 4 x 1-MINUTE AEROBIC INTERVALS 2 MILES EASY Run two miles at your easy pace. This should be a comfortable pace that feels easy enough to carry on a conversation. Then ramp up to one-minute intervals. Push the pace a bit, but don't run all out. After each one-minute bout of fast running, jog slowly until you feel rested enough to speed up again. Finish with two easy miles.
Ideally, you should do no exercise at all. But it's okay to go for a short easy run, or cross-train with a no-impact activity like stretching, yoga, or swimming. Bartender Tommy Leonard started the Falmouth Road Race in 1973, inspired by the Olympic Marathon victory of Frank Shorter in Munich the year before. Several famous duels to the finish between Shorter and four-time Boston Marathon Champion Bill Rodgers helped the field explode to 5,000 by 1979. And over the years, the race has become a destination for elites and recreational runners alike. Grete Waitz, Alberto Salazar, Khalid Khannouchi, Catherine Ndereba, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Olympic Marathon Trials Champion Meb Keflezighi are among those who have raced here. Mix in the lure of a warm summer day on Cape Cod, and it's no wonder roughly 65 percent of the field is repeat runners.
4 easy miles 3 gentle pickups Maintain your easy, conversational pace for four miles. Then do three gentle pickups. Gradually increase your pace over 100 meters until you're running at 90 percent of all-out effort, hold it there for 10 to 20 meters, then gradually decelerate. Walk in between the pickups to recover. At the end of each easy run, you should feel like you have enough energy to run another mile. If you feel exhausted, drained, or achey, then it's best to back off your pace.
Long runs help you develop the physical endurance you need for the race, but they also help prepare you psychologically for spending hours at a time on your feet. Use these workouts to figure out what strategies help you stay mentally strong. Good music may help you stay psyched up, running with others may make the miles roll by faster. Mantras that are short, inspirational, and meaningful can help you stay positive, even as your body fatigues.
It's important to take these easy runs at a comfortable, conversational pace. If you're huffing and puffing, you're going too hard. Just run at a pace that feels like you could sustain forever. If you'd like to nail down the training pace that's appropriate for your current level of fitness, the best thing to do is run a 5K and plug in your time to the training calculator at runnersworld.com/tools. To find an event near you, go to runnersworld.com/racefinder. Just over a mile into the Falmouth Road Race, you'll pass the Nobska Point Lighthouse. Built in 1829, it served as a beacon to sailors, whalers, and vessels crossing the Vineyard Sound.
Even if you usually run with headphones, it's probably a good idea to leave them at home for the race and many of your training runs. With some 12,800 runners in this year's race, plus some 30,000 spectators, it's going to be particularly important to stay aware of your surroundings and other runners. You don't want to collide with another runner at an aid station or cause a pileup of your own! Above all, you don't want to miss out on the festive atmosphere of the legendary event. There are three official bands on the course, and scores of other unofficial entertainers.
4 easy miles 3 gentle pickups Maintain your easy, conversational pace for four miles. For pickups, gradually increase your pace over 100 meters until you're running at 90 percent of all-out effort, hold it there for 10 to 20 meters, then gradually decelerate. Walk in between the pickups to recover. Cramps in the calf are common as you ramp up mileage, and during a race the pain can stop you dead in your tracks. Here's how to release it when you're on the run. Step to the side of the road and raise the ball of the cramped leg's foot while keeping the heel on the ground. For a deeper stretch, lean forward, keeping the knee of the leg being stretched straight, the opposite knee bent, and both feet flat on the ground. Hold for two seconds; repeat 10 times or more, as necessary.