Runners World Articles: Archives - May 2002
Time to Spring Ahead
Heres a simple 6-week program to make you fit and fast by
I dont know about you, but every spring my running feels
a bit rusty. Even if you run through the winter, chances are the
cold weather and the short days set your fitness back a bit. Maybe
a lot. And now, like me, youre looking to recapture the old
No problem. Follow my 6-week, spring-training plan, and youll
be fitter, faster and maybe even slimmer before your
first summer barbecue.
TIPS TO RUN OFF THE RUST
Take control. You have complete control over how you feel
during and after every run. If you start slowly, and take enough
rest between your runs, your progress will be steady and pain-free.
Run too much too soon, and youre bound to encounter setbacks
in the form of increased fatigue, injuries, and burnout. So force
yourself to be diligent but conservative with both your mileage
and your pace.
Dont listen to your body. Spring fever has a bad habit
of making us all feel like we can simply head out the door and pick
up where we left off with our running. And your body buys into this
lie by actually feeling pretty good during your first week or two
of regular training. But dont get lured into believing these
tempting signs. Stick with a 6-week plan that includes gradual mileage
But do listen to aches and pains. Shins feeling tender?
Knees starting to ache? Now you can and should listen to your body.
At the first sign of an ache, pain, or illness, take a day off,
then go a bit shorter the following session. This way youll
head off problems before they arise, and avoid the prolonged layoffs
necessary with full-blown injuries.
Forget about how far youve fallen. Dont dwell
on you previous PRs (personal records) and pact training paces.
Instead, think about where you want your running to go next. Maybe
youre looking forward to a great summer-racing season. Or
maybe you just want to get in good enough shape to keep up with
your kids at the beach. Whatever your goal, shoot for it. Dont
worry about the past.
Gear up. If its been a while since you bought a new
pair of running shoes, make the investment now. Worn-down shoes
increase you injury risk. (You should typically buy new ones every
500 miles.) While youre at it, buy a pair or two of running
shorts and some shirts. Youll look good in the new duds, which
will get you out the door that much easier.
Weeks one and two: Command consistency.
The most important factor during these first 2 weeks is reestablishing
a regular running routine, which, for now, means running at least
three to four times a week. An every-other-day running schedule
works well. The lengths of your runs should vary based on the shortest
and longest distances youve been able to run in the past month.
Keep these runs easy by beginning each a bit slower than you plan
to finish it, and ending each while youre still feeling good.
Weeks three and four: Increase the distance.
Once youre running regularly, its time to add a little
distance to increase your endurance. During week three, pick one
of your regular runs and extend it by 10 minutes. Keep the pace
nice and easy. For week four, do this longer run twice. During week
five, add another 10 minutes to your long run, and do it twice in
Weeks five and six: Sprinkle in some speed.
For the final 2 weeks, turn up the intensity by throwing in some
regular speedwork in the form of pickups. These are
short segments of slightly faster-paced running interspersed throughout
a regular run. In the middle of a run, eyeball some landmarks
trees, telephone poles, buildings and run to them at a quicker-than-normal
pace. Vary your choices so that the distances of the pickups vary
in length taking you from 30 seconds to 2 minutes to cover
and modify your pace to match the distance. Build up to six
pickups within one run per week.
To accommodate this speedwork session, you might want to add another
day of running to your routine. Regardless, make sure that you follow
your speed day with either a day off or an easy run.
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