This is the workout regime for people that have run or have the capability to run under three hours. It is necessary to be honest in your assessment of your capabilities. Just as one would never dare to attempt a double back flip off a 30 meter platform when one has only jumped feet first off the diving board. It is not advisable to jump into this training program unless you have a very serious running background.
To review, there are three main components to running. Strength, speed and endurance. We have focused on the endurance side during the base training phase. We will still be supplementing the endurance portion with the Long runs that we continue to do. During the week we will be focusing on increasing speed and strength. There will be different workouts to choose from as not everyone will have access to hill training, or a track.
Now most of the information I have provided on this and other pages have been around for a very long time. I am also aware that very experienced runners may think this site is simplistic because I am not using proper terminology. For example using terms such as aerobic conditioning and anaerobic conditioning. One reason,besides trying not to make the terminology too confusing, is many running programs are based on finding the proper training is a balance between aerobic conditioning and anaerobic conditioning. While I agree with most of the premise, I feel, however, that proper training is a proper mixture of endurance, speed and strength. Now strength is gained from both types of workouts. I think for advanced runners one can focus almost solely on this part of the triangle in a portion of workouts and see great improvement in their overall conditioning.
For those that would appreciate reading about even more advanced concepts, I suggest you read the writings of one of the greatest coaches of all time, Arthur Lydiard. Many of the principles developed by Arthur Lydiard in the 60's have with stood the test of time. If one wants more advanced information then what this site provides, I suggest you go here and also browse around other portions of Lydiard’s site.http://www.lydiardfoundation.org/training.aspx
In fact, in the previous decade when many coaches thought that American runner would be better served by more intense and less emphasis on base or Long distance work we saw a decline in the prominence in the middle and Longer distances. This appears to have turned around. For runners in the Elite category, it is necessary to get out of the mind set that the Kenyans and others have a"natural" advantage. American Runners in the 70s such as Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, and Alberto Salazar prove that is not a correct assessment. Those runners also prove that one has to put the mileage in to take successful running to a higher level. So it is about hitting that balance.
Running, like life, is all about balance. Sometimes us humans have this propensity that more is always better. There have been more than a few runners that once they figured they could handle 80 or even 100 miles per week thought that if they did 120 or even 140 miles or more week, every week that they would be even get better. Do not fall into this trap. It is one that has ruined more than a few good runners. Unless one is training for Ultra marathons, one would be better served doing light cross training as opposed to piling on more and more miles.
Many concepts presented here are used in most training programs. One feature that may be different is my approach to speed workouts. Many marathoners notion of a speed workout is doing repeat miles. My thoughts that if one wants to run faster then one actually should focus on the shorter distances to get max benefit. I am much more inclined to have people run 220s and 440s (200/400m) as opposed to mile and 2 mile workouts. (1500/3000m). Some advocate running longer distances at marathon race pace to get used to that pace. I personally think that can be accomplished during the hard runs.Running these concentrated speed workouts have an added effect. They will also help when we do the longer distances such as 880's (800m). It helps in two ways. One, is the pacing in the 800 is obviously slower, now that a person is used to some high speeds they can learn to "float" and relax at optimum speeds. Please go to this link to see how one conducts a speed workout. It is very important to warmup and cool down properly to minimize chances for injury. (To Be added)
Now on to the harder runs. We will address the mechanics of how to run a hard run. Lets say you have a hard 9 mile run. This does not mean that the moment you are out the door you are running at full pace. The first several miles should be at a very easy warmup pace. Some people like to run a couple of miles and then stop and do their stretching. That also is a excellent option. After the warmup, ease into the workout and then slowly build up the pace. Some people advocate trying to run at what you think is race pace. I personally feel you should be faster marathon race pace for a small portion of the run. I think a substantial portion of the run should be just at the edge where one is going into true oxygen debt It is about hitting that balance. If one goes out to hard and one is slowing down after the first or second mile then you are running to hard.
Now to focus on the strength portion of the run. I am a big proponent of running hills. One thing is great about running up hill is for the amount effort that one puts in one really does not negatively impact the body as much as running hard on flat ground. Depending on the slope of the hill one go into oxygen debt rather quickly. There are many variety of hill workouts from the long gradual incline to hills that send one into oxygen debt. I will give more details in the hill section of workouts.For advance runners I am not opposed to even incorporating hills into the base training phase.
Click this link to go to the chart for the Workout Chart W/O under three hours