New Balance Virtual Training Program Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I used to do a lot of running but have not run for more than a year. Which program should I sign up for?

A: Sign up for the Beginner’s Program but there is a possibility that you may be able to run longer without some or all of the walking breaks that the schedule calls for in the first few weeks.  In fact, for those who have run in the past, Coach West recommends that you run as much as you can and walk as little as possible.

Q:  I am currently running one or two days per week. Which program should I sign up for?

A: Either the Beginner’s or Intermediate program should work for you.  If you sign up for the Beginner’s Program, you can take fewer or even no walking breaks during the first few weeks.  If you have run a race in the past year, you will probably be better off with the Intermediate Program.  If you sign up for the Intermediate Program, Coach West suggest that you limit yourself to running three days per week for the first few weeks while you get in better shape.  Try to run 4-5 days a week for the second half of the program.  While the Beginner’s Program is primarily designed for non-runners or those who have had a long break from running, many occasional runners have used it successfully to complete this race. 

Q: I signed up for the Beginner’s program.  The program does not have me doing a 10-mile run before the race.  How can I expect to finish it if I have never run that far?

A: Over the past several years, thousands of first-time Credit Union Cherry Blossom runners who followed the Beginner’s Program have completed the race successfully without doing a long run of 10 miles.  The Beginner’s program is designed to slow build up your aerobic capacity so that by race day you will be in shape to finish a 10-mile race.  It is the same principle followed by marathoners who can finish a 26.2 mile race even though their longest training run is 20 miles.

Q: The Intermediate Program schedule calls for running five days per week.  I can only fit in running 3-4 days per week.  Can I still follow the schedule?

A: Yes.  The most important training day in the schedule is the weekly long run.  It would be helpful but not essential that you complete the weekly hard day in the middle of week.  Try to fit the rest of the runs into your personal schedule.

Q: Can I switch workout days to fit my schedule?

A: Absolutely. At the beginning of each week, you will receive a weekly schedule. Please feel free to modify it based on your work and family schedule. The only caveat is that you should not do a hard workout the day after the weekly long run. 

Q:  When should I stretch?

A: Never stretch cold muscles. You should stretch at the end of your daily run. If you want to stretch at the beginning, warm up for 7-10 minutes and then stretch. You may also want to consider signing up for a Yoga or Pilates program.

Q:  Can I do my training on a treadmill?

A: Yes. For weather-related, safety, child care and other reasons, runners may not be able to run outdoors. If running on a treadmill, Coach West recommends that you set the elevation at 1.0 to approximate wind resistance.

Q:  What should my pace be?

A: All easy runs and long runs should be at a conversational effort which means running without being winded or heavy breathing. Speed workouts in the Intermediate and Advanced Programs will have specific instructions for completing the workout.

Q: Should I train with a heart monitor?

A: Heart monitors are a great training tool if used properly. Coach West recommends that easy days be run at 60-70 of maximum heart rate using the Karvonen formula. Long runs should be run at 60-75% of maximum heart rate. Anaerobic threshold runs are generally performed at 80-85% of maximum heart rate. If you are interested in purchasing a heart monitor, visit one of the eight Potomac River Running stores in the Washington, D.C. area or . Potomac River Running is the official retail partner of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom.

Q:  What happens if I miss a few days because of illness or work commitments?

A: Generally, you can jump right back into the training schedule unless you have been off for a week or more. If so, send an email to the Virtual Coach, Kirt West, at for advice on how to adjust your program.

Q:  I have to travel during the week and would like to look at the entire program to coordinate training and travel.

A:  Each week, the entire training program for that week will be posted on the Credit Cherry Blossom website.

Q:  I have never run a 10K race. How can I figure out my 10K pace to do the speed work in the Intermediate Program?

A: Short of actually running a 10K race, the easiest way to determine your 10K pace is to run a timed mile on a track running at an easy conversational pace. Your 10K race pace will be approximately 90 seconds faster per mile than this conversational pace.

Q:  I really like to cross train and do not want to give it up. How should I adjust the schedule?

A: For each day you cross train (swim, bike, elliptical), eliminate a day of running. The schedule calls for running five days per week so if you cross train once a week, eliminate one of the easy days from your training program. A spinning class can be used a substitute for the speed workout. Pilates, yoga and weight lifting do not require cutting back on running except that Coach West recommends that runners consider cutting back on heavy leg workouts (squats, lunges, leg presses) during this ten week period.

Q:  I am used to doing two speed workouts per week.  Why don’t you have two hard workouts each week in the Intermediate Program?

A: You should sign up for the Advanced Program. The Intermediate Program is designed for those runners who do an occasional race and want to do well at Cherry Blossom. It is not designed for runners who train seriously year round and wants to hone their racing skills.