Posted by: Karen | December 2, 2004

3 Running Days

Mid-Pack-Mom had a great question over on her Blog. I like this topic so much I got a little carried away on it…

You can definitely get faster without injury on 3-4 running days a week, especially if you are crosstraining in between. Keep your week day runs under an hour, and jazz them up with speed bursts or hill repeats between warm-ups and cool-downs. Gradually stretch a weekend run out into a long slow one, increasing by no more than 10% a week, or even every 2 weeks, depending on how long it takes you to recover. If you are looking at improving a 10k time, for example, a long run of 16 km is quite sufficient to help you build up stamina. A 5k race time goal doesn’t even need a long run that long.

Use a 4th running day when you have time, as a light, short easy run to prepare for or recover from a race, speed work out or a long run.

Speed work outs remind your body that it doesn’t just have one speed, and help push your oxygen levels in your muscles to be more efficient. There are technical terms for stuff like this, like VO2 Max Threshold, but I won’t go into that today.

Hills build strength and character, in your body and soul.

Long runs build stamina, and the psychological advantage of knowing that you can run way further than your race distance, so why not push it just a little faster on race day? A regular long run experience a good thing to have in your back pocket.

As for the trail training question, trail running can really help your stabilizing muscles, ligaments, etc. to get stronger, as well as offering a softer training surface. Trails also can be more interesting to run as you need to watch the surface so you don’t trip, and the scenery can pleasantly distract you from tiredness. Like any new thing, try it out gradually, maybe a block or a km at a time, to let your body adjust to the new demands.

When it comes to breathing, and this is just a personal thing, I breathe 3 out and 2 in when I am happily motoring along. Sometimes at the beginning it is reversed, as my body needs to adjust to the oxygen my legs are requiring, but usually after I am warmed up I can do 3 breaths out and 2 in for almost ever (until I sprint to the finish).



  1. I have a hard time trying to count the steps and breathing at the same time (which is why I never made it playing an instrument, no rhythem), but I think I’m breathing 2/2 at my hard clip speed. I think at the end of the last 5K it was 1/1 and I was gasping.

  2. Karen: Thanks for the detailed advice. I appreciate the comments and encouragement. Mid-Pack Mom

  3. Karen: I’m commenting again because I wasn’t sure if I did it right the first time. Your comments were helpful and encouraging. Sometimes I compare myself to other runners and think that maybe I’m not doing enough. Mid-Pack Mom


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