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An Intermediate Plan for Runners

Me? I'm not a beginner; I'm an intermediate runner!

bulletFor a marathon and half marathon training plan that puts low stress on your body, click here.

You're running three miles (1.6 km) three times a week, and you're anxious to increase your distance. What do you do to increase your distance and maybe the number of days per week that you run?

Perhaps you want to run a half marathon or a marathon. Maybe you've chosen a marathon plan and are excited to get started. But....you have a problem. The plan says you should be running approximately 24 miles (39 km) a week, including a 6 mile (10 km) run, and you're only running 3 miles (4.8 km) three times a week. Should you start the plan anyway? If the plan says you should be running approximately 24 miles (39 km) a week and you're running less than that, you can expect trouble if you start the plan now. So, you really only have one feasible option: continue to run until you've met the conditions specified by the plan. If you plan your running, it probably won't take long to get yourself ready to start training for your half marathon or marathon.

The basic idea that you should follow to increase your distance and/or the number of days per week that you run is to make small increases in your weekly mileage until you reach your goal. Just be careful that you don't rush into it and injure yourself. The running literature suggests that your weekly increases in distance be 10% or less of your weekly distance. In addition, follow the heavy/light rule by alternating heavy runs with light runs, where "heavy" and "light" refer to the stress applied to your body not to your effort in completing the runs. Doctors tell us that we need at least 48 hours for recovery after a heavy run, and the light run the day after, if it is a slow, easy run, satisfies that condition. Of course, you can take a rest day with no running for your light day if you wish, or you can do light cross-training such as walking, cycling, or swimming.

Here is a suggested schedule that will help you increase your distance. This schedule observes both the 10% rule and the heavy/light rule, and it includes a monthly light week and a monthly recovery week (distance ran before the light week). Because of the relatively small increases in distance, this plan takes longer than some of you might want to spend. Feel free to adjust the schedule to fit your interests and body condition. As you follow the schedule, focus on completing the distance and don't worry about speed. Just run at an easy, slow pace. In fact, this caution about focusing on distance not speed should be your guide later on as you follow your plan for your marathon or half marathon. Adjust the days of the week to fit your schedule.

The chart gives distance in miles (kilometers). The kilometers are rounded to be whole numbers.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Sat  
3 (5) 0 (0) 3 (5) 0 3 (5) This is your starting base
3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) 0 3 (5) 11% increase for the week
3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) 10% increase for the week
3 (5) 0 (0) 3 (5) 0 3 (5) This is a light week
3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) This is a recovery week
4 (6) 1 (2) 3 (5) 1 (2) 3 (5) 9% increase for the week
4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) 1 (2) 3 (5) 8% increase for the week
4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) 8% increase for the week
4 (6) 0 (0) 3 (5) 0 (0) 3 (5) This is a light week
4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) This is a recovery week
4 (6) 2 (3) 4 (6) 1 (2) 4 (6) 7% increase for the week
4 (6) 2 (3) 4 (6) 2 (3) 4 (6) 7% increase for the week
5 (8) 2 (3) 5 (8) 2 (3) 4 (6) 12% increase for the week
4 (6) 0 (0) 4 (6) 0 (0) 4 (6) This is a light week
5 (8) 2 (3) 5 (8) 2 (3) 4 (6) This is a recovery week
5 (8) 3 (5) 5 (8) 2 (3) 5 (8) 11% increase for the week
6 (10) 3 (5) 5 (8) 3 (5) 5 (8) 10% increase for the week
6 (10) 3 (5) 6 (10) 3 (5) 6 (10) 11% increase for the week
Continue running this distance for several weeks to get really used to it. Take a light week followed by a recovery week every month.

One thing that will really help is to take walking breaks of 1 - 3 minutes each mile or every 2 km. If a particular week seems difficult for you, repeat that week until you feel comfortable with it.

Since you'll probably be running outside for as much of this as possible, use your car to measure markers from 1 mile (2 km) to 6 miles (10 km). At each marker, locate an object, such as a tree or a telephone pole,  that you can recognize as you pass it during your runs. High accuracy isn't needed, and you can vary the distances slightly to have your markers end at intersections or other noticeable landmarks if you're close to them. If you have a treadmill, use it during bad weather, when getting home late, etc.

bulletFor a marathon and half marathon training plan that puts low stress on your body, click here.

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The information in this site and in my podcasts is for informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical or physical therapy advice. For medical advice, consult a physician. For physical therapy advice, consult a physical therapist.

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The information in this site and in my podcasts is for informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical or physical therapy advice. For medical advice, consult a physician. For physical therapy advice, consult a physical therapist.

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