5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 9

Run a 5k 8Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 9

By the end of week eight, you ran 23 minutes straight. Nice job! This week we’re going to add to that total. We’re also adding an optional speed workout. Just as your body makes adaptations to running (increased endurance, better aerobic fitness, structural changes to your bones, joints and soft tissue), speed work improves the way your body processes oxygen, and increases your stamina by raising the lactate threshold, that point at which your body has built up lactic acid and needs to slow down. (Missed week one? Click here to get started!)

This week will start off by repeating your 23 minute run from last week. In addition to your three key workouts, you may add the optional speed workout. If you choose not to do so, just do the active recovery workout.

Remember, all workouts start with an 8-10 minute brisk warm-up walk. On your rest days, feel free to do some strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc.

Run_a_5K_Program.JPGDay One: After your warm up, run for 23 minutes. Cool down, stretch ice.

Day Two: Active recovery. After your warm up, run for 10 minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat. Cool Down and stretch. Optional Speed Work: Warm up, then run for two minutes at your normal pace. For the next minute pick up the pace (think effort level of about 8-9 on a scale of 10). Slow down to your normal pace for two minutes. Repeat four more time (a total of five fast intervals). Cool down and stretch.

Day Three: Warm up, Run for 12 minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for 12 minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for three minutes, then cool down.

Day Four: Rest.

Day Five: Warm up, then run for 26 minutes. Cool down, stretch, etc.

Day Six: (Optional) Active Recovery. Warm up, run for 18 minutes. Walk for one minute, then run for three more minutes.

Day Seven: Rest.

Getting Faster

Getting_Faster.JPGRefer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts:

The Long Run: At this point in your training, your long run should be at least six miles. You can keep it at that or add another half mile. To add a little mileage to your week, add a half mile to one of your other runs (not the speed workouts).

The Interval Workout: We’re pushing it a little bit this week. Mile repeats. Four times around the track. They should be run at about your 5K pace (about 90-95% of VO2Max). Recover by jogging or walking 400 meters. Repeat two more times. Cool down by walking or jogging 400-800 meters. Stretch (and don’t forget to ice after your workout!)

The Lactate Threshold Workout: On the road for this workout. After your one mile easy warm up, run two miles at slightly less that your 5k pace (about 85-90% of your maximal effort). Cool down by jogging a half mile, and finish with a stretch.

Getting_Faster.JPGRemember, in addition to these workouts, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week nine is complete. Just think, just three weeks until your race! See you next week!

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 2

Run a 5kYour 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 2

It’s time for week two of 5k Friday! This plan will help you train for and run (really run!) your first 5k! (Missed week one? Click here to get started!) I hope that you are feeling pretty good. Any aches and pains? If so, make sure that you are using that ice I recommended, and also be sure to stretch those hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips after each workout. As promised, at the end of this post I will have some advice and workouts for runners who have some racing experience and would now like to run a little faster.

At the end of last week, you were (after your walking warmup), running for 90 seconds, alternating with walking for 90 seconds. This week we will both increase the running time, reduce the walking time, and increase the number of cycles. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing all of those things in the same workout.

Run a 5k 2

Day One: Following your warmup, run for 90 seconds, then walk for 60 seconds. For the second cycle, run for two minutes, then walk for 60 seconds. Repeat both cycles. For the last cycle, run for 90 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, then run for 60 seconds. A little complicated, but you are pushing yourself here a little, with less rest and more running. Finish with your five minute walk and don’t forget the stretching and the ice!

Day Two: Repeat day one with one change. Repeat the first two cycles one additional time (total of three), then finish off as before.

Day Three: Rest. We’re not adding any more running days this week, so your rest days will be the same as last week. Some strength training or Yoga, or just some simple stretching is fine, but no running.

Day Four: Here is a bit of a challenge. Warm up. Run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat four more times. One additional cycle is optional. Cool down, stretch, ice.

Day Five: Rest completely.

Day Six: Repeat day four. This time, do that extra cycle.

Day Seven: Rest day, although like day three, you can do some weights, Yoga, Pilates, etc.

Week two is now complete! Hopefully, you have purchased some good running shoes by now (if not, do it now!). Have you found that goal race?

Running Faster


This is for those of you who are still basically beginners, but you can run at least three or four miles (or even more), have run a few races, and now would like to improve your time, possibly even earn a medal in your age division.

To help you run faster, we’re going to add three workouts to your running schedule. One of these will involve adding extra mileage. For example, if your longest run is currently three to six miles, this week, following the 10% rule, you will increase the distance by a half mile. This workout will increase your endurance.

The second workout will involve some interval training. This will entail some short to medium distances of really fast running, which will improve your VO2 Max, which is a measurement of your body’s ability to use oxygen. (Google it if you want more info.) Although there is a lot of hard work involved, you will see your overall running speed improve as if by magic.

The third workout is not quite as intense as the interval training, and will vary from week to week, but basically can be called a lactate threshold run. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body has built up enough lactic acid and responds by needing to slow down or rest. This workout will increase your stamina, your ability to run fast for a longer period of time.

(This is a very simplified description of the science behind the above workout types. I will give you the workouts, you will get faster. To advance from that point, there are many resources that you can use to continue your progress.)

The Workouts

It is helpful to pick a “goal time” for your race. Be realistic. If your current time is around 27 minutes, aim for a 5k time of about 25 minutes. If your goal time is 25 minutes, then your goal pace per mile is about 8 minutes per mile. if your current time is 24 minutes, you may have a goal of 22 minutes. That would make your pace about 7 minutes per mile. Remember these times (calculate by: goal time divided by 3.1)

The Long Run: As mentioned above, increase your current long run distance by one half mile on one day of the week.

Run a 5k 3

The Interval Workout: Preferably, you will do this run on a track, so head on down to your local high school. Warm up for four laps. Run one lap at your goal 5k pace (divide your per mile pace by four). This should feel hard. Or even very hard. Walk or jog for 200 meters (half lap). Repeat three or four more times. Finish with a half mile cool down and stretching.

The Lactate Threshold Run: Back on the road for this one, warm up for a mile. Run the next half mile at a pace about 20 seconds slower that your goal 5k pace. Recover for about a quarter mile. Run another half mile at the faster pace. Finish with about a half mile of cool down and stretching.

In addition to these three workouts, you can run another two to three days during the week, basically an easy to moderate paced run. Try not to run two hard workouts in a row. A sample workout week could be something like this (adapt for your own schedule):

Sunday: Long Run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Lactate Threshold Run
Wednesday: Easy Run
Thursday: Interval Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Moderate Run

Okay, now you have it. Get out there and get going. Next week’s workouts will increase your running time and distance (for beginners) and add a couple interesting speed workouts for current runners. Stay tuned!

This post is revised and updated from a beginner 5k program I created several years ago.

Work it Out Wednesday: An Off the Track Speed Workout. Plus Team Eleven by Venus!

Work it Out Wednesday!

Going to the track and running a speed workout is one of the things that defines us as runners.  Next to distance runs, track intervals are probably one of the most popular workouts that a runner takes part in. After all, once we pass the beginner phase of running, most of us want to “get faster.” And of course it works. Running 400-800 meter intervals improve your race times, especially at the 5k and 10k distance.

There are some drawbacks to track intervals though.

  1. Intervals can get boring. Going around and around in circles is certainly not the most interesting workout in the world. Even if you’re traveling really fast.
  2. Unless you’re a track athlete, your race will be on the road (or trails). It is called specificity. If you are going to race on a road or on trails, taking your speed work off the track is more specific to your goals.
  3. Running in circles is hard on your body. Running around in circles is basically like running with one leg shorter than the other, and that can increase the risk of injury. Even if you turn around halfway through your workout, you’re not really balancing out, you’re exposing your other leg to the same risk.

Most of us, unless we are absolute beginners to speed work, or at an elite level of talent, will be better served to take our speed work off the track and onto the road, trails, or hills. Speed work on the road is more adaptable to racing on the road, where you have random turns, inclines, and surfaces. If you’re training for a trail race, not only do you need to practice running fast on your goal surface, you need to strengthen the many muscles in your legs, feet, and core that will help you stay balanced and uninjured in your event. And whatever type of race you are training for, hill running provides a challenging and effective workout.

 An Off the Track Speed Workout: Pyramid Fartlek Intervals

Fartlek, which means speed play in Swedish, is generally an unstructured, fun speed workout. Some examples of Fartlek workouts include running between telephone poles, alternating between hard and easy, running fast for the duration of a song you’re listening to, then slower for the next song, or “surging” for a minute every five or six minutes during a base run.

This workout has a little more structure, but it is still done with the spirit of fun.

Pyramid Fartlek Workout

While the flat, cushioned, well marked surface of a track is safe, that can work to your disadvantage because real life racing (for most of us) isn’t done on flat, cushioned surfaces. Transferring your workout to the road is more functional, but it too can have risks. Be award of potential hazards such as potholes or rocks in the road, and also be cautious of street traffic, especially if you need to cross an intersection during an interval.

Team EleVen by Venus

Being an EleVen is how Venus Williams strives to live her life. She says that 10 is just a number, while EleVen is a lifestyle. Always known for her fashion flair on the courts, Venus now makes her unique style available to all of us. EleVen by Venus goes beyond clothing and encompasses a healthy, fit, and confident lifestyle.

I am so excited that I was selected to be a part of Team EleVen by Venus! Our team is headed up by Carla Birnberg, and we are proud to be Venus’ “voice on the street.”

Aurora Top

I love love love this Hail Mary top in the Aurora pattern! I ordered it a while back, and before I received my order I saw Venus wearing the same pattern in the French Open! Ooh la la! I loved it for running (look how perfect it looks with my running skirt!). I also love the photobomber below, one of the young girls who run with us on Saturday.

                                      Back ViewPhoto Bomb

You can save 10% on the purchase of any new collection or full price item by using the code Team11DebbieW. Ready to shop? Click here. (I receive a commission if you purchase anything using my code.)

Do you do speed work as part of your training? Have you tried it on the road? Do you have a favorite workout?


8 Reasons Why Half Marathon is the Perfect Distance plus My Favorite HM Speed Workout

I’m excited to introduce a new series: Monday Runday! Every Monday you will find  a post featuring a variety of topics: workouts, recaps, reviews, training plans and more.

I am happy to start this series by talking about my favorite race distance, the half marathon, and why it is perfect for me, and possibly for you too. Plus I’m sharing my favorite half marathon speed workout.

La Jolla Half Marathon

According to Running USA, the half marathon is the fastest growing race distance. In fact,over the last decade, the half marathon has become America’s most popular distance in almost every category, by finisher growth, by debut half marathons, and for seven consecutive years, 2006-2012, half marathon finishers have grown by 10% or more. Since 2000, the number of half marathon finishers has almost quadrupled (from 482,000 to 1,850,000). And for the first time in history, 60% of half marathon finishers are female.

According to Running USA’s 2013 survey, the half marathon is the favorite distance of both men (38%) and womem (43%), and is the distance that most runners (77%) want to enter this year.

This many people can’t be wrong! Especially when they agree with me. Here are the reasons that the half marathon is the perfect race distance.

  1. Half marathon training can fit into a busy person’s schedule. Unlike a marathon, with runs up to 20 miles and beyond, the training distances for the half are manageable. Depending on one’s goals, a person can train for a half marathon running three or four days per week with as little as 20-25 total miles.
  2. A half marathon is a challenging race that requires training and finishing gives a person a great sense of accomplishment.
  3. A new runner can successfully train for a half marathon without as large a risk of injury as with a marathon. While adding on mileage too quickly can lead to injury at any distance, the relatively low mileage needed to train for a first half marathon makes it a lot less risky. Plus, running a half marathon is an obvious first step before jumping to the full 26.2.
  4. Half marathons are great for long time, multi-marathon runners who still love to run, love endurance events, but don’t want to or can’t run 26.2 anymore. This is my category. With iffy knees and exercise induced asthma, I don’t really want to run full marathons anymore (for now).
  5. Marathon training can be all-consuming. Families may feel neglected when you spend a good part of your precious weekend time out on the road, not to mention the several other days per week you’re training. There is a lot less time commitment to train for a half marathon.
  6. You still get an awesome finisher’s medal.
  7. Whether you’re a speedster out for a PR, or prefer to dress up and take pictures, you’ll be done within a few hours, can recover quickly and be ready to go dancing in the evening. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but when I ran a full marathon, I would invariably be nauseous for hours, get a headache, and be out of it for most of the day.
  8. No. More. 20. Milers.

So, have I convinced you? If not, consider this. While the price of races has increased for all distances, there are still many smaller half marathons that cost about $60-$70 to enter. Not so the marathon, where you would be hard pressed to find a race that costs less that $100, and many are double that amount. Of course, if you want to #rundisney, that is a different story.

My Favorite Half Marathon Speed Workout

If you are ready to start taking your half marathon to the next level, you will need to add some speed training to your training plan. There are two specific types of workouts that will help you get faster at this distance, threshold (or tempo) workouts, which are sustained runs of two to six miles run at your lactate threshold pace, and long interval workouts, generally run on a track, repetitions of 400 to 1600 meters at a faster pace than the tempo run. You will find examples of both types of workouts here.

This speed workout is specific to longer distance races, marathon or half marathon, because of the longer intervals and slightly slower pace. It calls for you to run each interval at a pace relative to your current 10k pace. Haven’t run a 10k lately? You can use this calculator to figure it out based on other distances you may have run. Then convert it to pace per mile (need help? try here).

Half Marathon Speed WorkoutOther things to know. After your warmup, do some strides to really get those legs moving and the blood flowing.  Do a stride by gradually accelerating to about 85% of your maximum speed, hold that pace for about a third of the total stride distance, then decelerate for the final third. Catch your breath for about a minute, then do the next stride.

Save your static stretching for after the workout. Doing them before your workout or race can actually slow you down. This link tells you why and shows some dynamic stretches you can try before you work out.

My Week in Running

This will be short. In fact, aside from a few pictures, I don’t have much to share. Yes, I did run, but the heat and humidity here has really done me in, so there is not much to brag about report. I ran a couple times with the cross country team, a couple times with the dogs, and a little bit on my own. This morning, after running my second two miles with Buddy, I stopped running and felt like I was going to faint. After only 4 miles! In spite of that, after a puff on my inhaler, I took the three little girls on a short run, and managed five for the day, but I was spent. After only five freaking miles! I hate humidity. And heat. And especially the combination.

Half Marathon - Buddy

Half Marathon - La Quinta

Half Marathon - View

Half Marathon - Running Girls

We had our annual fundraising car wash on Saturday. I wasn’t there because I woke up with a migraine. They did a great job, raised over $2,000, while I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself. On the bright side, it was hot and humid, and I missed that too. Two key points to a successful fundraising car wash. 1. Have the kids pre-sell the tickets (our kids must sell 10-$10 tickets each), and 2. Have a parent who does car washing for a living. We are really fortunate to have a father who owns a mobile car wash service. Win!

half marathon  - cross country Car Wash

Are there any running topics you would like to see covered on Monday Runday? Do you love the half marathon as much as I do? What’s next on your racing schedule? For me, I am planning on the Malibu Half Marathon on November 10, which Alan is announcing (they call him the Voice of the Malibu Marathon!).

You’re not a cookie, why use a cookie cutter training program? For a personal touch click here.