Start from scratch and build fitness slowly and safely over the course of two months.
Think about this question for a minute: Would you build your first house without first taking the time to lay down a solid foundation to support multiple floors and all of the stuff you plan to store inside it?
Of course not. Initially you might be able to get away with quickly throwing up some walls and adding a few floors, but without a strong foundation to support those things the house will eventually collapse and you’ll have to start the painful process of rebuilding it again from scratch. Who wants to do that? It’s frustrating, doubly time consuming, and perhaps most importantly: avoidable.
Preparing to train for your first race is no different. If you’re new to running, or haven’t run in a long time, it’s important to first get your body ready to handle the workload you’re planning to place upon it.
Before you begin a specific 10-12 week training program chock full of longer runs and challenging workouts, laying down an 8-week base of consistent run-walk workouts, cross-training and supplementary strength sessions will allow you to handle the long runs and increased mileage that will take place in the 10-12 weeks prior to your goal race. It will also lessen the likelihood of injury and prevent one from having to start the process of training all over again.
Here we outline an 8-week spring base building blueprint for beginners that will get you up to speed before you start your specific race training later this summer.
Remember: Just as it’s advisable to lay down a strong foundation before you start constructing your house, it’s also a good idea to precede your specific training cycle with a solid base of consistent running. Don’t let your hard work go to waste!
A version of this training plan appeared in the February 2012 issue of Competitor magazine.