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Since the 1st of January 2011, I have been training for a High School 5K Beach Run happening on the 6th of May (I'm only 16 and weigh around 65kg). My first run was about 4:30perKM(7:38perMILE) however I have now taken my time down to 4:10perKM(6:42perMILE). My training has just involved running a bit further than 5K on the beach, three or four times a week. With only about 12 weeks left, I would like to try some interval training to decrease my time by another 20 seconds per KM.
Does anyone know of an Interval Training program that is suitable for me? I have searched google, however they all seem to vary, and I would like a program that would make the most use of the remaining 12 weeks.
With (now) 10 weeks before your race, you certainly can introduce some interval training into your program.
As you are a relatively young runner, with no competitive or time-trial results listed, I'm going to have to be a bit vague about the recommendations, but here is what I would recommend (I'm in the US, so my paces will be in miles/min):
Keep in mind that TRAINING and RACING are two very different animals, and that your paces during your "easy" distance running should NOT be aimed at trying to simulate your anticipated race experience. If your current 3-4 mile runs have been at 6:42 / mi pace, and you have been COMFORTABLE with these runs (able to maintain a conversation), then your race-day goals may be as low at 6:00/mi. If these efforts so far have been all-out, then you may want to pull back the pacing on these runs, and reserve the harder running for the interval workouts.
With that being said, here is what I would recommend:
(1) I would increase the VOLUME of miles up to 5-6 mi of easy (base). You may want to reduce the INTENSITY of these arobic-capacity (base) miles, as the idea during these runs is to help your body make the adaptations for proper arobic capacity.
Introducing one longer run a week, then two, and finally three would be my recommendation, with your body's reactions to these increases dictating the timing. Maybe running these miles at 7:00 to 7:30/mi pace would be more appropriate (I refer to these runs as "EZ"). Keeping one run a week of 4 miles at a faster pace (HARD) at 6:30-6:45 /mi would be OK.
(2) I would increase the FREQUENCY of runs to 4-5 / week and maybe as high as 6/week -- again, if your body adapts without any problems.
(3) The OFF days should include some LIGHT warm up (bike/jog) and gentle stretching routines.
During this time, you can introduce an interval session once a week (and maybe twice a week towards the latter parts of your training schedule)
I would suggest track (if available) or MEASURED intervals of 400 to 1200 m (if you wanted to pick ONE type of workout, then go with 6-8 X 800m intervals with 400 m rests, using your planned 5k pace as your guideline -- 3:00 per 800, let's say if you're planning on an 18:30 5K time, adjust as needed for your plans). I would think of these as ways to improve your STAMINA (ability to maintain a good pace over a long distance) during the middle and latter portions of the race, as opposed to any real SPEED, which at this point would not be something I would recommend for you. Just remember with interval training, that the first 1-2 intervals should feel relatively easy (do NOT go out too fast!), that the middle intervals will require some focused attention to maintain the goal pace, and that the final 1-2 intervals may feel very hard, but this is normal. If you wanted to push any one interval, make it your penultimate one, and NOT the final one. Always remember to listen to your body, and if you feel anything starting to strain or become painful, STOP the workout right away, and simply cool down/stretch to finish the day.
Keep in mind that these track sessions should start with 1 mi of EASY warm up (w/u) and end with another 1 mi of EASY cool-down (c/d).
With all that being said, here is what your next 10 weeks of training might look like:
Feb 27-5 (based on your current schedule) (Su:3-4 mi / M:OFF / Tu:3-4 mi / W:OFF / Th:3-4 mi / F:OFF / Sa:3-4 mi) TOTAL :12-16 mi
March 6-12 (Su: 4-5 mi EZ / M: OFF / Tu: 3-4 mi HARD / W: 2-3 mi EZ / Th:OFF / F: 4-5 mi EZ / Sa: 3-4 mi EZ ) TOTAL : 16-20 mi
March 13-19 (Su: 4-5 mi EZ / M: OFF / Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 4 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 2-3 mi EZ / Th: OFF / F: 3-4 mi HARD / Sa: 3-4 mi EZ ) TOTAL : 17 - 21 mi
March 20-26 (Su: 4-5 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 4 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 2-3 mi EZ / Th: OFF / F: 3-4 mi HARD / Sa: 3-4 mi EZ) TOTAL : 17-21 mi
March 27-April 2 (Su: 5-6 mi EZ / M: OFF / Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 6 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 3-4 mi EZ Th: OFF / F: 3-4 mi HARD / Sa: 3-4 mi EZ) TOTAL : 20 - 24 mi
April 3-9 (Su: 5-6 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 6 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 3-4 mi EZ Th: OFF / F: 3-4 mi HARD / Sa: 4-5 mi EZ) TOTAL : 20-24 mi
April 10-16 (Su: 5-6 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 8 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 3-4 mi EZ Th: OFF / F: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 12 X 400 m w/ 200 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / Sa: 4-5 mi EZ) TOTAL : 26 - 29 mi
April 17-23 (Su: 6-7 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 8 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 3-4 mi EZ Th: 3-4 mi EZ / F: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 16 X 400 m w/ 200 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / Sa: 4-5 mi EZ) TOTAL : 32- 35 mi
April 24-30 (Su: 6-7 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 8 X 800 m w/ 400 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / W: 3-4 mi EZ Th: 3-4 mi EZ / F: INTERVALS (1 mi w/u - 20 X 400 m w/ 200 m jog rest - 1 mi c/d) / Sa: 4-5 mi EZ) TOTAL : 33 - 36 mi
May 1-6 (Su: 5-6 mi EZ / M: OFF Tu: 3-4 mi EZ / W: OFF / Th: 2-3 mi EZ / F: 5k RACE - 1 mi w/u, 1 mi c/d Sa: OFF or 1-2 mi EZ recovery) TOTAL : 16 - 20 mi
As far as racing experience goes, just remember, like in the intervals, that the first 1/2 - 1 mi of the race will feel relatively EASY, and resist the tempation to go out too fast (which is what most neophyte competitive runners do). The middle third of the race is real the challenge, and will require your full concentration. The final 1/3 of the race should be a bit easier as you think about your drive to the finish.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes.