Guide for the Rookie Runner Changing Gears

We're in September. This column is already nearing its end. This is also the time to change gears when it comes to training.

I know all about it. After all, this is my 12th running season. It's still very hot. The coastal plain is very humid. But still, one can feel the slight change taking place. Suddenly, in the early morning or evening there's a sea breeze. There are clouds. The sun is setting earlier. We're in September. This column is already nearing its end.

And this is also the time to change gears when it comes to training.

When we last parted, those training for short-distance runs of 10-15 kilometers were running four or five times a week. The weekly regimen was a maximum of 40 kilometers. The maximum daily running time was 55 minutes. Starting now, we'll be running five days a week. Each run lasts for at least an hour. We'll be doing 40 to 50 kilometers a week. Of course you may do more.

I have no doubt the training is showing. Anyone running in order to lose weight has probably lost a few kilos. Anyone running for pleasure is not only enjoying himself but also is feeling an improvement in his physical fitness. Your breathing is regular. Your pace is fixed. Anyone who feels comfortable can increase the speed. You don't have to overdo it, but you can certainly run a little faster. A longer distance in less time.

And now for those who have not yet abandoned the dream of running a marathon: We parted on August 14 with recommendations for the coming five to six weeks. At their conclusion, in about two weeks, adopt the following regimen for the following three months.

Until now we had been working to acclimate your body, running without regard to speed. From now on we will also add so-called quality training, designed to increase speed. This is achieved by two different types of workouts: interval training and climbs. For the first six weeks you do intervals, after that climbs. You should conduct one quality training session a week.

Interval training: Choose a flat 400-500 meter route, preferably a track. Run two to three kilometers slowly to warm up, and then run a lap as fast as you can. You should time yourself. At the end rest for a moment and do another lap. And again a moment of rest. Repeat this four to five times per practice. Finish with another light two-to-three kilometer run to cool down. Don't forget to strech afterward. After the first training session, your muscles will really hurt. Repeat this workout two to three times. Then increase your intervals to 800 or 1,000 meters times five, preceded by a warm-up run and followed by a cool-down and streching.

After six weeks, move your quality training onto an ascent. Choose a 200-250 meter route on a hill (along a highway or in an open area). Run up the hill as quickly as you can. When you reach the top, still alive, descend slowly. Repeat this exercise four to five times.

Aside from the quality training, you should be running another four times a week. The remaining two days should be devoted to resting. This can, as usual, also include swimming, getting a massage, and spending time in a sauna or Jacuzzi.

The weekly quality training regimen goes as follows: First month: Run an hour the first day, an hour and 10 minutes the second day, and then rest a day. Have a quality training session the fourth day. Rest the fifth day. Run for for an hour and 10 minutes the sixth day, and run for an hour the seventh day. You should rack up 45 kilometers per week.

Second month: An hour and 10 minutes, an hour and a quarter, rest, quality training, rest, an hour and 20 minutes (please note, this means 12-13 kilometers), an hour and 10 minutes. In all, 45-48 kilometers.

Third month: An hour and a quarter, an hour and 20 minutes, rest, quality training, rest, an hour and a half (13-15 kilometers), an hour and a quarter. You should be running about 52-55 kilometers total.

Good luck!

Next week: The last column