Here is a simple plan designed to get you in shape so that you can comfortably complete the Boilermaker (15 kilometers or 9.3 miles). This is not a plan for experienced runners, but rather, for first-timers who are interested in boosting their health and participating in the largest 15k road race in the USA! It is my belief that practically any reasonably healthy individual in their 20s or 30s (and that means you, the vast majority of my students) can finish the Boilermaker without great pain or fuss, and with only a few months of preparation. This plan assumes that you will start in the first week of April and that you're reasonably active (i.e., you play basketball, racquetball, soccer, etc. a few times per week, or you regularly walk or ride a bike). You'll only need to set aside 3 days per week for this. It will cost very little to do (nothing, if you already own some decent running shoes) and it may just wind up being the start of the healthiest thing you ever do.
OK, so now you're thinking, who is this guy and why should I listen to him? Good question! First, what I'm not. I am not a coach or certified physical trainer. I am a runner. I've been running since I was on my high school cross country and track teams, and have continued to the present. I didn't run competitively in my 20s and 30s, but I started racing again when I was staring at 40. Over the years I've met and trained with lots of other runners. I've done considerable research on training and the physiology of running, too. My PR (personal record) for the Boilermaker is 53:46 (at age 48, which age-grades to about 48 minutes flat). I wasn't the fastest guy in the county but I didn't do too bad for a masters runner. I don't race any more but when I did I would log between 40 and 100 miles per week, or about 2500-3000 miles per year. I would run every day, some days twice.
The first week, run 2 miles per training day (remember, that's 3 days for the week, and no back-to-back days). We'll denote this as 2-2-2. For the second week, run either 2 or 3 miles per session (at least one 2 miler and one 3 miler). For the third week, run 3 miles per session. At this point pick a weekday to be your "long day" (like Saturday). The goal will be to extend the mileage of that one day. For the fourth week, run 3-3-4. By now, May is approaching and the roads and trails should be in good shape. The month's mileage should look like this, starting with the fifth week of the plan: 3-3-4, 3-3-5, 3-3-6, and 3-4-6. By the end of the month you're 2/3rds there! For the end of May through June, do the following: 3-4-7, 3-4-8, 4-4-8, 4-4-9. For the final two weeks, your schedule looks like: 4-5-8, and 4-5-Boilermaker.
That's all there is to it. Remember, the key to this program is to get you through the finish line comfortably and with a low chance of injury during training. It is only one of many possible plans, and I hope you that you find it useful.
For more info on running, check out the running section on my other site.
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