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Fitness Contest: Cardio Endurance

The cardio endurance contest involves your choice of a 5K or 10K run. Gina will time your starting run and your final run, on a treadmill or at a local track (to eliminate hills and make measuring distance simple). The key to this contest is to avoid overtraining and to peak for the final timed run.

You will either run for every workout as you prepare for the cardio endurance contest, or you will cross-train using other cardiovascular activities such as cycling, swimming, an elliptical trainer, a stairmaster, or aerobics classes. If your body can take it, you will achieve the best results by running for all your cardiovascular workouts and also doing a full-body weights routine twice per week. Your weights routine should include a variety of rep ranges, periodized over the 12 weeks of the contest. Generally, your first four weeks you will lift in the 8-12 rep range, then the next four weeks you will lift in the 4-6 rep range. Finally, in the last four weeks you will lighten the weights and lift them as quickly as possible.

For your running workouts over the preparation for the cardio endurance contest you will work in the following “zones”:

Rest from running

No running at all. Walk, bike, or swim, if you want to--just not very hard. Don't regard rest days as "nothing" days, but rather a different kind of training that allows your body to recover while it absorbs and consolidates the endurance gains your harder workouts produce.

Easy Runs

These should be totally comfortable. You should be breathing hard enough to know that you're running, but still able to hold up your end of an on-the-run chat. If you can't talk, you’re running too hard; on the other hand, if you can sing show tunes en route, you’re running too easy. This is a good day for weight training as well (BEFORE your run or at a different time of day).

Long Runs

Anything longer than race distance. The purpose is to build endurance, specifically the ability to run for longer and longer periods of time without fizzling out.


Shorter than race distance, but faster than your goal race pace. Can be hard to very hard to nearly flat-out. Produces leg speed, elevated lactic threshold, stamina, biomechanical efficiency, and the ability to tolerate the discomfort that's essential to racing fitness.

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