Starting a Running Program

Week 2

by Patti & Warren Finke, Team Oregon
For many of us, our early exposure to athletic endeavors was in team competitive sports. Our regular day to day exposure is in viewing athletic competitions as a spectator. Unfortunately these experiences teach us little about training and nothing about lifelong fitness skills. Training should not be competitive and training harder or more is not necessarily training better.

The Third Commandment: Train Specifically

The amount of time you spend, (duration), and how hard you work, (intensity), are important in athletic training. But the ultimate result of the training is determined by the kind of training you do. This principle is called specificity. As you do the hard/easy cycles of training, your body adapts to the type of training you are doing. Lots of swimming will make you a better swimmer, not a better runner. To become a runner or a better runner, you need to run. The type of running you do to train will affect the kind of fitness you develop. If you are training to be a distance runner, (distances over 1500 meters), or to be aerobically fit; it is important that you run slowly. Slow running utilizes the specific energy systems needed to gain endurance and cardiovascular fitness. In addition, by slowing down only 5% you can run nearly twice as far before exhaustion. As coaches, this is one of the most difficult concepts for us to teach. If you slow down you can train more and get faster and stronger.

Cross training or adding other aerobic exercise to your program will not make you a faster runner. Doing other types of exercise may keep you motivated by adding variety or keep you healthy by changing the stress mode. You should add supplimental activities for these reasons, not to improve your running. Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises and as you get more fit you will find that the other kinds of aerobic exercise are easier.

As you do more running, you may wish to start competing in races. At that point adding a small amount of specific training at race intensity will improve your performance a few per cent. However, most of your speed comes from your endurance base which should be established by slow running.

The Fourth Commandment:

Lazy runners tend to be healthy runners. Your training plan should be the upper limit of your training. On days you feel tired or ill, it's all right to do less than you planned or to take an extra day of rest. Don't try to make up for these reduced or missed workouts by adding more the next day. On days when you feel especially good and think you could easily do more than your plan, resist the temptation. Stick with the plan.

Studies have shown that the worst indicator of your physical state is your mental perception. The way that you feel is heavily influenced by many psychological factors. We often talk to injured runners who say "...but I felt so good right before I got injured." Training programs should increase gradually, not more than 5% per week. This allows the body to adapt gradually. Your cardiovascular system trains rapidly (6 - 8 weeks), Muscles adapt in approximately 6 months, but connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments may take several years to gain full strength.

You should leave the workout feeling as if you could have done more and looking forward to the next workout. If you are totally exhausted, you will soon not want to workout anymore. The pleasant tiredness and sense of accomplishment at completing a workout are their own rewards.

Week Two Workout

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      4.8Km

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

4.8 Km workout
Warm up by walking 800 meters, 2 laps of the track
Complete 3200 meters or 8 laps of the track by alternating
200 meters of running with 100 meters of running as above.
Cool Down by walking  800 meters, 2 laps of track

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