Here is the long promised run plan. At least for this month. Note that this is only my running schedule and that push-up and sit-up improvement and other workouts or training are not included. The program I’m using is 12-weeks; I’ll post the plan for each month at the beginning of the month (except for this month, obviously). If you want to cheat and look ahead the link for the plan is at the bottom.
If you search for 2-mile run improvement plans online you will probably find what I found: lots of military website forum posts from fat National Guardsmen trying to figure out the fastest and easiest way to get their 20-minute two mile down to the 60-point minimum time. Outside of that there are plenty of pages/articles/forums dedicated to improving your 2-mile APFT performance. But most of them are short term, regurgitate the same generic and non-specific advice (test your time, subtract 15-30 seconds, do 1/4 and 1/2 mile intervals at target pace, etc.) and don’t encompass the sheer magnitude of the time reduction I’m looking for.
So I branched out and looked for ideas in the world of track and field where the 3K race is the closest parallel. No go. Lots of forum posts and discussions from 14-year old high school track athletes looking to do better in cross country but nothing for an adult intermediate. Apparently the 3K (track equivalent of a 2-mile run) isn’t a popular distance with the general public. Who knew? Now that I think about it, a fantastic solution would be to find a local Master’s track and field club and train with their middle distance program. Unfortunately for me, there are none where I’m located.
On the other hand, it’s depressingly easy (read: overwhelming) to find 5K training plans online; it’s not so easy to find a good intermediate level plan with a lot of speed work. The internet seems to specialize in extremes when it comes to 5K training plans: it either assumes you’re a complete couch potato who needs to start with walks around the block, or a full blown competitor with no other fitness considerations who is looking for high mileage, high intensity competition training (and/or who is willing to pay for a customized plan).
Those of us in the middle are sort of left hanging. Not that your inevitable Google search for “intermediate 5K programs” won’t give you a ton of results. It will. But they’re almost all suspiciously similar and include the words “so you’ve done a 5K now and want to get better…” Most of them consist of basic beginner 5K programs with an interval or fartlek workout added in once a week and maybe (gasp!) a hill workout once or twice.
I did find a couple of decent and free programs and I’ll include the links to them at the bottom of this post. The plan that I’m currently using is from Running Planet (first link in the list at the bottom). I modified it only slightly in that a number of the long interval workouts called for 3 x 1600m repeats and I dropped it to 2 x 1600m since that is the distance I’m training for. I feel like I’ll be able to push harder for those two 1-mile intervals than if I had to keep something in the tank for a third. And harder (and thus faster) is what I’m looking for. Otherwise my schedule conforms to the program at the link.
So far, so good. I’ve done all my workouts for the first two weeks as scheduled and am pleased with the program. One of the main reasons I chose this program – and why I’m enjoying it – is that it incorporate a variety of different interval types. The work intervals and recovery intervals vary from 400m to 1600m and sometimes include intervals of different distances at different intensities. It is really challenging and something that I definitely would not have been able to develop on my own. I’ve done tons of interval training in the past but I always defaulted to the classic 8 x 400m with 400m rest intervals. I’m finding that the longer intervals (800m and up) are really challenging not just from a physical effort point of view but also in terms of pace awareness and mental focus. Good training.
The total weekly mileage is higher than I’ve been doing recently but I have a good aerobic base from all the training I did in the three months before I started the program so I’m holding up well. I am considering doing some cross training (cycling or swimming) and treadmill running for a percentage of the easy runs as a sort of preventive medicine to any over-training injuries but I haven’t completely made up my mind on that yet.
The proof will be in the pudding, of course. I’m going to trust the process, stay consistent and see where I end up after this 12-week cycle is complete. I hope you’ll join me to see the results.