Heather Kearns, undergraduate program director in exercise for the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science at the University at Buffalo, offers the following training regimens to get you in shape for the 3.5-mile team road race.
Finish the race – from couch to completion in five weeks
• Run moderately 3 minutes (use “talk test” – you should be able to carry on a conversation with some difficulty), walk 2 minutes on three nonconsecutive days. Repeat 4 to 6 times for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.
• Run moderately 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. Add an extra interval by repeating 5 to 7 times, or for 25 to 35 minutes.
• Same run/walk ratio but increase interval to 6 to 8 times, or 30 to 40 minutes. Add a 20-minute run on a fourth day, maybe on the weekend.
• Run without walking, if you can, or increase your interval one more time. Continue to run on a fourth day.
• Run every other day; run once 3 miles, regardless of how long it takes. Take at least one day off all training before the race.
• Cross-train on days you don’t run by biking, spinning, swimming, taking a yoga class, walking on an elliptical or doing strength training one or two days a week, “anything that’s non-impact,” Kearns says. Walking doesn’t count. Take at least one day off completely each week.
Run your fastest – for the occasional exerciser
• During three nonconsecutive days, run for 3 to 4 minutes at a moderate pace, then run 1 to 2 minutes at an up-tempo pace (on a scale of 1 to 10, moderate would be a 5 or 6; up-tempo would be 7 or 8). Repeat four times, for a total of 20 minutes.
• Same as Week 1, although consider 4-minute moderate run, 1-minute up-tempo run. Bump up the daily interval to five times. On a fourth day, run up-tempo, or “comfortably hard,” for up to 20 minutes.
• Day 1 – Run for 35 minutes at a moderate pace.
• Day 2 – Run even intervals of moderate and up-tempo for 2 minutes each, for a total of 30 minutes.
• Day 3 – Run 4 minutes moderately and 1 minute up-tempo in intervals for 30 to 35 minutes.
• Day 4 – Run up-tempo for 25 minutes. Peter Horvath, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science, adds that you also can slip in some high-intensity sprinting. “You run at your race pace and every half a mile you just do a couple hundred yards, or a hundred yards, at the highest you can run, and then drop back.”
• Day 1 – Run for 3 miles at a moderate pace.
• Day 2 – Run even intervals of moderate and up-tempo for 2 minutes each, for a total of 36 minutes.
• Day 3 – Run 4 minutes moderately and 2 minutes up-tempo for 36 minutes.
• Day 4 – Run up-tempo for 30 minutes.
• Run twice early in the week for 2 or 2.5 miles.
• Do not run the day before the race.
• Cross-train on days you don’t run (see above). Take at least one day off completely each week.
– Scott Scanlon