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Once you have a base ... getting better is a matter of gradually increasing the stress. Remember:
Stress + Rest = Improvement
1. ADD DISTANCE or MINUTES: RULE OF THUMB: Never increase your mileage by more than approximately 10% per week. Example: Say you’re doing 3 miles 3 times per week or 9 miles/week. The next week you shouldn't do more than 10 miles in total. You can do that by adding 1 mile to 1 of your (3) 3-mile workouts. (3 miles 2 days and 4 miles one day). Or, you could run/walk 3 miles one day and 3 ½ miles the other 2 days.
2. ADD FREQUENCY: Walk/Run 4 days/week instead of 3. Or work up to 6 days/week Intersperse rest days in between.
3. ADD SPEED: Choose one day a week to go at a quicker pace (with an easy warmup and cool down). That includes entering a race, speed workouts, time trials ... these all qualify. Then be sure to take it very easy on your recovery days. Never put 2 speed days back to back. Spread them out throughout the week.
4. ADD DIFFICULTY: In addition to the examples above, difficulty can include hills or hilly courses, grass (like cross country courses), sand (loose sand is VERY difficult ... go a short distance only!), etc.
5. MIX IT UP: Don't do the same workout every day at the same pace. You will maintain your fitness, but you won't improve. If you average 3 mi/day; go 4 mi. one day and 2 mi. another.
IMPORTANT: Don't add all of these changes at once. You should introduce new elements to your training one (maybe two) at a time. Example: Don't jump your mileage up by 5 miles/week and start doing speed work 2 days/week all in the same week. You are asking for injury if you ignore this common-sense principle.
§ Races - start with 5Ks. Then set a goal 3+ months out to walk/run a 5 miler or 10K. Increase distance gradually.
§ First, learn to pace yourself so your first mile isn't faster than your last. THEN, work on getting that pace down a few seconds per mile. Learning pace is the toughest lesson!!!
§ You can usually race distances up to 2-3 times your average weekly workout ... but it won't be fun! Better to train up to the distance. Example: walk/run 6 miles at least once a week before you race 10K.
§ Distance intervals - use a track to alternate hard running/power walk with jogging/walking. Examples:
§ Push the straight-aways, easy pace the curves.
§ Pickup/hard 1/2 lap, recovery pace 1/2 lap.
§ Alternate full lap pickup; jog/walk easy 1/2 lap.
§ Push pace 1/2 lap, easy/recovery pace 1/2 lap, run a full lap, jog 1/2 lap, run 2 laps, jog full lap (this is called a ladder). Then repeat.
§ The same concept can be done off the track using city blocks or telephone poles or driveways, etc.
§ Timed intervals - use your watch. This is what we’ve been doing in First Strides NMB!
§ Pickup 30 sec, easy/recovery 30 sec. Continue this pattern for the middle 10 minutes of your workout.
§ Run 30 sec, jog 30 sec, run 1 min, jog 30 sec, run 2 min, jog 1 min ... (see the pattern?) Use the same or 1/2 the distance/time as your recovery jog/walk.
§ Hills - intervals. The steeper the hill, the shorter the interval. Attack hills at a pace that tires you, but doesn't stop you. Then recover slowly with shorter strides on the downhill ... but don't hold back and strain your knees.
§ Time trials - if you have a course you do daily, once a week push your pace and time it to see if you can go faster. Not every day ... just once every couple of weeks. Walk/Run your course at a sustained, quicker (not sprint) pace than you normally do it.
* A “track” is usually ¼ mile/400 meters. Our NMB Meadow Loop is 0.6 miles-just over double a school loop track.
Click the icon below to download the attached PDF.