Marathon Training Plan

I got a  question the other day about which training plan I’m going to use to train for my first marathon. Thankfully, I have quite a while until I need to really think about training, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to prepare early.

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After doing some research, I found Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan to be the best fit for me. The plan itself looks like my currently running schedule, with runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and long runs on either Saturday or Sunday.  There are also longer runs mid-week. A 10 mile run on a Wednesday? That’s kind of laughable…so we’ll see. I hope I can do it! The training plan is 18 weeks, so I won’t have to really think about it until July. But it will be here before I know it!

And this is really cool: There is an iPhone app for the training plan! I don’t have an iPhone, but this seems like something really useful if I did.

Ever run a full marathon and what training plan did you use? Any tips for me?




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  1. I used the Novice 2 for my 4th and 5th marathons this past year. It was a step up from using the Novice 1 for 1-3. I found the Novice 2 a jump in mileage overall and I will admit, I “bonked” in marathon 4 as a result of over training (I made up every run I missed, especially during weeks 4-8 before the marathon). While it wasn’t too much, it was a lot. Novice 1 seems like not much at the beginning but it is a lot of running and certainly sufficient if your goal is to finish. Ironically, marathon #1 is still my fastest pace (4:38) while I’ve gotten significantly faster for my other distances (55:19 10K, 2:07 1/2). I think the Novice 1 is a really nice build and the 2 I felt a bit overtrained because of how I made up my runs. Running 10 miles mid week and then a 20 sounds crazy (in Novice 1) but I think was better for my endurance than the big weeks of Novice 2. Just my opinion.

    Kudos to you for doing this — you’ll be great!

  2. I used Higdon. I started with the intermediate one and then dropped back when I felt I couldn’t keep up. Weekday runs are the hardest for me due to time. Most I ever did for the first marathon was 8 during the week and then just concentrated on the long on the weekend. You’ll be able to transition into the training with no problems!
    abbi recently posted..Friday Food

  3. Welcome to the wonderful world of marathon training, where every Friday night is pasta night, and every Monday morning is a new lesson in sore muscles!


    Just kidding.

    You picked the right training plan. I’ve used Hal’s plans for every marathon I’ve ever trained for. They work very well if you follow his directions.

    It’s a very big time commitment. My wife always gives me “the look” when I say I’m training for another marathon because she knows she will not see me for the next 18 weeks. One book on marathons said to start the first day with apologizing to your family for what you are about to do. 🙂

    For all this remember that your #1 goal is to FINISH. Don’t worry about your time or pace. Just finish the marathon. Respect the distance and you will be fine.

    Can’t wait to see how your training goes!

    There are lots of training groups in the area (Saratoga Striders, Albany Running Exchange, etc). Have a look at them for some of your longer training runs. Some of them are probably training for the same race.

  4. I’ve heard that Hal’s plans are good, but I often get the same feedback — his mileage is very high. My advice is not to get so stuck to a plan that you feel like you have to “catch up” if your mileage is short a week or two. The key thing is making sure you have a “recovery” week every 4 weeks to allow your body some rest. There are a ton of plans out there, so if you like to stick by the book, do as much research as you need. For me, I like to combine several plans and make my own.
    David H. recently posted..A solid start to 2012

  5. Jen: I just returned from the Chicago Marathon having used the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program. Although due to a calf strain, I missed a chunk of weeks 11-13 (no 18, 12, 19 long runs). I still finished in 4:29:58 (2 seconds off my goal time!) I thought the program was adequately ramped up with mile and set back runs. I did not do cross training and instead chose to rest but if I had to do it again, I would definetaly do some cross training. Good Luck in Richmond! -Steven

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