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Start training now to join in on Cowtown Marathon

January 06, 2012
Celestina Blok

If you've already hit a slump with your resolution to work out more this year, we'd like to remind you the Cowtown is six (and a half) weeks away. There's just enough time for you to begin a training plan to complete a race, even if you can barely muster a mile. Plus there's something about "training" that's much more motivating than simply making a leisurely promise to work out more.

To help guide you, we asked three area personal trainers to provide their recommended training plans for completing the 5K, 10K and even half-marathon. All three admitted that six weeks isn't much time to train for any race (the marathon is out of the question), but it can be done. But before putting your foot to the pavement, there are a few factors to consider.

Before you begin

As with any new exercise program, consult a physician before beginning. Once you're clear, finding the right footwear is next.

"Go to a proper running outfitter, such as Luke's Locker or Fort Worth Running Company, and ask them to evaluate you for the type of running shoes you need," said Erik Anderson, personal trainer at Fort Worth's Downtown YMCA.

Stephen Newhart, fitness director at Larry North Fitness in downtown Fort Worth, agrees.

"Proper shoes can greatly increase the quality of your run and also protect the hips, knees and ankles," Newhart said.

Before each workout, as well as on race day, begin with a proper warm-up to increase the blood flow throughout your limbs and prepare your leg muscles for work. Newhart says a light, three-minute jog or a few sets of jumping jacks will suffice. Stretching after your workouts is just as important.

"Static stretching, or holding for 10 to 30 seconds, is always recommended to increase the range of motion at the hips," Newhart said.


Simply put, food is fuel for our bodies, and the quality of what we eat is vital to our performance. Now is the time to forget the fad diets.

"Carbohydrates are our friend when we are considering long-distance running," Newhart said. "A person should easily ingest 6 to 8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of their body weight on long run days. Protein will be important to maintain muscular function and repair. An individual should consume an amount of protein in grams that is equivalent to their weight in kilograms."

But just because you're running more doesn't give you a free pass to eat whatever you want, as many folks tend to believe.

"Fat should be used fairly sparingly, maybe 40 to 50 grams per day," Newhart said.


Incorporating different workouts throughout race training can be key to avoiding injuries. Newhart recommends high-repetition, light resistance training like back squats, weighted lunges, hamstring curls and calf raises. Jason Curtis, personal trainer at Inursha Fitness in Fort Worth, recommends yoga on nonrunning days.

"A large part of running properly is listening to your body. If your joints hurt, back off and recover for a day or so," Curtis said. "Keep in mind completing the race will be easier than an average training day because of the all the excitement on race day. Relax and pace yourself, just like you trained."

Race training plans

Plan 1: The 5K

For those who can run a mile and would like to complete the 5K

Plan provided by Jason Curtis, personal trainer, Inursha Fitness

Week 1

Day 1 -- Walk half a mile.

Day 2 -- Walk one mile.

Day 3 -- Run half a mile.

Day 4 -- Rest.

Day 5 -- Run one mile.

Day 6 -- Walk two miles.

Day 7 -- Rest.

Weeks 2 and 3

Repeat the same cycle as Week 1, but add half-mile increments to each workout day and attempt to transition away from walking, aiming to run most of your days. Incorporate stretching and yoga on off-days.

Weeks 4 and 5

These should be the toughest training weeks. Add another half-mile to each workout day and run during every workout. There should be no walking unless absolutely necessary for recovery. Continue to incorporate stretching and yoga on off-days.

Week 6

Leading up to race day, training should be light this week. Take two full days of rest Thursday and Friday. Your longest run should be 2 to 2.5 miles, depending on how your body feels. By now, you should have a connection with how your body feels, and you should be able to intuitively train to that threshold.

Plan 2: The 10K

For those who can run two to three miles and would like to complete the 10K

Plan provided by Erik Anderson, personal trainer, Downtown YMCA

Week 1

Sunday -- Run two miles or 30 minutes at an even pace.

Monday -- Swim or bike for 30 minutes at an easy pace, then stretch or do yoga for 30 minutes.

Tuesday -- Train for hills on the treadmill. Run for 20 minutes at a 1.5 percent incline at an even pace.

Wednesday -- Swim or bike for 30 minutes at an easy pace, then stretch or do yoga for 30 minutes.

Thursday -- Run for 20 minutes at your race pace. Choose a fairly hard effort you can maintain for the duration.

Friday -- Rest.

Saturday -- Train on the elliptical machine or a similar piece of equipment for 45 minutes. Try for hard effort.

Weeks 2 through 6

Sunday -- Add one more mile or 10 more minutes to your run each week.

Monday -- Swim or bike for 30 minutes at an easy pace, then stretch or do yoga for 30 minutes.

Tuesday -- Add five minutes and a .5 percent incline to your treadmill run each week. It's OK to walk the steeper inclines when needed.

Wednesday -- Swim or bike for 30 minutes at an easy pace, then stretch or do yoga for 30 minutes.

Thursday -- Add five minutes to your run time each week. Try to run your race pace.

Friday -- Rest.

Saturday -- With the exception of Week 6, train on the elliptical or a similar piece of equipment for 45 minutes. Try for hard effort.

Plan 3: The half-marathon

For those who have completed a 10K and would like to complete the half-marathon

Plan provided by Stephen Newhart, fitness director, Larry North Fitness

If you are running a half-marathon, you are now considered an athlete, said Newhart. He also added that a more realistic training period is about three months. Training must include long-distance runs, intervals and fartlek running, which involves easy running combined with short bursts of speed.

"Incorporating all of these training types will ensure that you meet all the demands of the body during the 13.1 mile race," Newhart said.

Two to three days a week

Perform long-distance runs for one to two hours with varying intensities. The goal is to increase your distance to work up to 13.1 miles. The levels of your distance increases do not matter, as long as you cover the ground. Stagger these long runs throughout the week.

One day a week

Spend 60 to 75 minutes running through a neighborhood with many hills and occasional flat areas at race pace.

One day a week

Perform fartlek running for about an hour, running at an easy pace at 65-70 percent of the maximal heart rate, combined with short bursts of speed running at 85 percent of maximal heart rate. If rests must be taken make sure that they are short.

Two days a week

Stagger rest days throughout the week. They should not be consecutive.

Week before race day

Taper off your program and allow the changes you have made to your body to set in. This will ensure that your mind and body are fresh and your run day will be easy and enjoyable.

Inursha Fitness | 2927 Shamrock Avenue | Fort Worth, Texas 76107 | (817) 332-7554 phone | (817) 332-9808 fax
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