Four Weeks to the Fin­ish Line

Oc­to­ber is Breast Can­cer Aware­ness month. Are your run­ning shoes ready?

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - By Katy Loren

his time of year, fundrais­ing events are held world­wide to pro­mote Breast Can­cer Aware­ness and raise money to find a cure. Dis­tances run the gamut from quick one-mile fun-runs to full-length marathons. If you want to do your part and en­ter one of those longer events, you might be won­der­ing if a month is enough time to train for it.

The good news is that with some ded­i­cated train­ing, reg­u­lar run­ners can make it across the fin­ish line of a half-marathon with as lit­tle as four weeks of se­ri­ous prep. To help, we asked Michelle Basta Speers, an en­durance ath­lete and trainer based in Wright­wood, Cal­i­for­nia, to cre­ate a reg­i­men that ac­cel­er­ates your progress while min­i­miz­ing your risk of injury.

Pick your dis­tance

The pro­gram out­lined here is for a half-marathon (13.1 miles), so you should have some pave­ment be­neath you to use it as-is. “This pro­gram builds mileage quickly, and if you start with no run­ning ex­pe­ri­ence you’ll greatly in­crease your risk of injury,” Speers warns, adding that you should have been run­ning three to five miles a cou­ple days per week for four to six months to ben­e­fit most from this plan.

If you’re not a reg­u­lar run­ner, no wor­ries; you can adapt the pro­gram to suit your needs. If you’re shoot­ing for a 10K (6.2 miles), take the dis­tances listed and di­vide by half. For shorter races — such as a one-mile or 5K run — in­crease your dis­tance by about 10 per­cent per week. For in­stance, if your long­est cur­rent run is one mile, in­crease that the next week by one-tenth.

It’s not a race — yet

Keep your ex­pec­ta­tions re­al­is­tic. “Four weeks is a rel­a­tively short amount of time to build this kind of mileage, so al­low your­self to run slowly and even walk dur­ing train­ing,” Speers says. “Go­ing eas­ier rather than push­ing hard will be the dif­fer­ence be­tween cross­ing the fin­ish line and bail­ing be­cause of shin splints or IT [il­i­otib­ial] band is­sues.”

Heed the signs

To re­duce the chance of in­juries, be smart: Lis­ten to your body, and if you’re sore or tired, cut back on the pro­grammed crosstrain­ing and strength work­outs while con­tin­u­ing with the run­ning work­outs. And, of course, don’t push through the pain: Use RICE (rest, ice, com­pres­sion and el­e­va­tion) and ibupro­fen to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion post­work­out, and in­crease your ra­tio of walk­ing to run­ning dur­ing train­ing, rec­om­mends Speers.

Lift lighter

Since all your ef­forts should be aimed at race train­ing for the next four weeks, now is not the time to make strength or mus­cu­lar gains. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weight train. Speers sug­gests that you con­tinue lift­ing with lighter weight to coun­ter­bal­ance your in­creased car­dio ac­tiv­ity. With that in mind, put on those kicks — it’s time to hit the pave­ment.

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