If it's time to take your running to the racing level, here's a solid base program

These core workouts will get you ready to race  Credit: Matt Turner/Allsport
Who: You have a few races under your belt. Now you want to get serious and go for the time, not the T-shirt.

What:: Three core weekly workouts, three easy days, one rest day.

How:

  • Sundays: Build endurance with a long run, done at an easy, conversational pace.

    "The goal is to build up to two hours of running," says former 2:09 marathoner Benji Durden. "If you're aiming for race distances up through the half-marathon, there's no reason to go longer than that."

    Durden has his runners increase their long runs by 10 minutes each week, but with a five-minute decrease every third week (i.e., 65 minutes, 75, 70, 80, 90, 85, 95, 105, 100, and so on until you reach 120 minutes).

  • Tuesdays: You can improve your strength through long intervals at a pace close to your 10K effort. Start with eight minutes of total "hard running" and work up to 30 minutes. Example: Six by five minutes with two to five minutes of jog recovery between repeats.

  • Thursdays: Do hill repeats. Recall Frank Shorter's definition of hill training as "speedwork in disguise." Durden suggests: "Go for 90-second repeats that's probably 200 to 300 meters. And pick a moderate hill that permits a natural running stride."

    Start with four trips to the top and work up to 10 or 12 at close to 5K effort. (Not pace. Effort.) Or run 45 minutes to an hour on a hilly road or forest trail and surge on the uphills.

    What else: The other four days? On Mondays, either rest completely or do a cross-training activity at an easy effort for 30 to 45 minutes. Go for slow 25- to 40-minute runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And be sure to take one day off completely preferably Friday, after a busy week. On one of your easy-run days each week throughout the year, toss in some pickups.

    Regular Guy recommendation: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all training scheme. It takes a pretty strong runner to do these three core workouts week after week. If it's too much for you and you're not recovering enough between core workouts, then spread them out over a 10-day or even a two-week period.


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