Thursday, March 19, 2009

Training for Runners for Improved Performance & Injury Prevention - Part 4: The Plan

This piece is about setting your goal and developing your training plan. My wife has always trained for her races using Hal Higdon's programs. I like the way she approaches her races cause she plans everything well out in advance. She decides which race to run and how much time she needs to train.

Training for that race all depends on how experienced you are at running. Hal's 12 week training regimen for a 1/2 marathon begins with short runs at 2 or 3 miles and then progresses to the 13.1 race. If you have not run 2-3 miles on a regular basis or not at all then you need to have more time to train. My wife took the best approach by planning 24 weeks ahead of time. This way she began with a 5 k training program to help her prepare for the 1/2 marathon training program. The next thing she did was to plan out her week to see which days she would have available to perform her workouts/runs.

Hal Higdon's Program Runs Like This

Day 1-Stretch and Strengthen

Day 2-Run

Day 3-Run or Cross Train

Day 4-Run and Strength

Day 5-Rest

Day 6-Cross Train

Day 7-Long Run

This method seems to work on the running aspect and I am very pleased that Hal put in time to work on strength training.

My suggestions would be to make sure that you perform some other form of training on your cross training days other than running. This is time for you to work on your cardiovascular endurance without putting the wear and tear on your joints that long distance running does.

Ideas for cross training:

  • Elliptical with a high stride or incline (don't use an elliptical that has no adjustment to the stride length, this will hurt your running form)

  • Stairmaster or Stepmill (I love the step mill, does not let you cheat!)

  • Kettlebell swings (you know I would throw this in here!)

  • Walking on a treadmill (chose an incline over 5.0 and really work on good form!)

  • Versaclimber (provides a terrific workout!)
You should try to Running intervals on at least one if not both of your shorter runs. This is a way to push your aerobic threshold without the wear and tear once again on the joints. This will help you to be able to push through when you hit your "wall" on your long runs.

Start by running at a level of 3-4 out of 10 on your exertion scall for 2 minutes, then perform 1 minute at a 7-8 out of 10. Keep with the 2/1 ratio until you feel yourself needing more of a challenge then go with a ratio of 1/1 and then move on to 1/2.

Please oh please make time for strength training! You will be surprised about the type of results you get when you perform at least 10-20 minutes of strength exercises 2-3 times a week while you are training and how much it will help your runs and also staying injury free. I will work on this more in the next section.

Here is the important point that most of you runners are going to hate. Your running form is more important to you than your time. So during your long runs if you hit your wall and your running form gets "sloppy" take time to walk and really work on recovering and working on your form. This will allow a little time to recover and allow your body to remember how to properly run. When people keep running during those sloppy moments is how bad habits develop. This will slow you down and set you up for injury.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know or send them to

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