You all deserve a round of applause for making it through the first month of training. Four weeks of workouts are logged and you are stronger, faster, and fitter. There have likely been days where you didn’t necessarily feel like getting out for your run, or certain workouts where you were dragging and struggled to stick with the plan.
Don’t worry; that’s totally normal. Not every day of training will be better than the last. Progress isn’t linear, and dips in motivation and how you feel are part of the journey of being a runner.
What matters is you’ve stuck with it. You’ve made the commitment to yourself and every time you lace up your shoes and hit the road, trail, track, or treadmill, or jump on an indoor cycle, rowing machine, or elliptical for a cross-training workout, you’re becoming a mentally and physically stronger runner. When you hit tough spots in your 5k race, you’ll be able to harness the discipline, grit, and perseverance you’ve been developing in training.
Let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week.
Check-in: Beginner 5K Plan
This week’s workouts are a bit shaken up, though you are more than capable to conquer what’s to come. Now that your body is more accustomed to the pounding of running, it is strong enough to handle another day of training. As such, you’ll notice one of your rest days has been dropped in exchange for another cross-training workout.
You still have three run/walk workouts, yet they are certainly going to feel like just running workouts at this point; you’ll barely be walking. On Monday, you’ll run two 10-minute chunks with just one minute to recover in between. For many of you, these run intervals will be the better part of a mile. How exciting. Remember though, pace and distance don’t matter as much as just running at a sustained effort for the whole interval and finishing the workout strong.
By Friday, you’ll be up to 2 x 12-minutes. It may have felt impossible to imagine you’d be able to do that just a month ago when you began the program, yet you can and you will. You’ve come so far and you’ll get to celebrate that progress in less than two weeks on race day.
Now that your runs are having you cover considerable distance, it’s even more important to be supporting your recovery with stretching and mobility work such as foam rolling. Resist the urge to just plop down in a chair all day immediately after a tough workout. Your muscles will tighten up and you’ll feel more sore the next day. Walking around and doing some stretching or yoga will aid recovery by flushing out your fatigued muscles and allowing in fresh, oxygenated blood to help nourish and repair your muscles.
Check-in: Intermediate 5K Plan
You are halfway through your training program. Can you believe it? Think of the workouts you now have under your belt, even though they probably looked daunting or even somewhat impossible on day one. You, yes you, did it.
This week is a big one in terms of training. There are some tough workouts on the docket, but just call upon the confidence you’ve developed by conquering all the other ones in the first four weeks that initially looked overwhelming as well.
Let’s cover the changes first. One notable difference is that your Thursday strength training workout is now a power-based lift. Power can be thought of as the confluence of speed and strength. Developing power enables you to rapidly generate force. You’ll want to focus on explosive exercises like step ups, box jumps, and other plyometrics, and lift heavier weights. Of course, don’t overdo it, and focus on proper form above all else.
Your Tuesday and Friday workouts are staying consistent with either being a recovery run or rest day on Tuesday and a recovery run or cross-training workout on Friday. Remember to use the feedback from your body as a guide to what you should do: If you are achy, sore, or tired, take a rest day or find a gentle form of cross-training. If you’re feeling strong and eager, go for a relaxed recovery run.
The long run on Sunday is up to an impressive 10 miles. This will be your peak mileage during the training program. If you’ve never run that far, it’s normal to feel a little nervous, but you have the endurance to handle that distance at this point. Keep the pace conversational, focus on form, and simply enjoy your surroundings and the time you are investing in yourself as a runner.
Your big workout of the week is on Tuesday. This tempo-based workout has you working through two longer intervals at half marathon pace, and then finishing with four one-minute pickups at your mile pace. While these short intervals will feel quite hard, since it’s faster than even 5k race pace, workouts like these that prepare you to run fast on tired legs are exactly what help make the magic happen on race day.
For your Saturday hill workout, it might be fun to head back to the same hill you tackled in week one of training since we are revisiting the same workout. Notice how much stronger you feel. Your training is paying off.
We hope you are feeling proud of yourself for coming this far in the training program. The 360 YOU program is all about building confidence in yourself as a runner, and your ability to get this far is already a huge demonstration of how incredible you are. Keep at it, runners. Enter this week with pride and excitement.