April in Paris


Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am training for my first marathon: Paris this April. I am using the Intermediate 2 plan. In Week 11, I would like to run a half marathon. Your plan suggests a half at the end of Week 9 and the first of three 20-mile runs scheduled for Week 11. How can I modify your program to match my race plans?


That’s simple to do. In most of my marathon programs, I “suggest” running a test half marathon either in Week 8 or Week 9 depending on the plan, but it is only a suggestion. Runners are free to modify my plans to fit their own needs and the reality of race schedules.

Let’s look at the program. Beginning in Week 10 and continuing through Week 15 (peak week of training), the long run mileages for Intermediate 2 are: 19 – 20 – 12 – 20 – 12 – 20. Then the taper. Three 20-milers with two stepback weeks between. Usually I suggest runners do a (test) half marathon in either Week 8 or Week 9, halfway through the program. But having a half marathon race that you can conveniently run within a week or two in either direction trumps what I suggest.

Consider that by the time you near the end of the tunnel, the mileages don’t differ that much from week to week. Any time you’re up over 16 miles, you’re in long run territory. While I promised you three 20-milers when you started the program, you could lose one if needed. Or move one of the 20-milers to another nearby week, as in the following schedule.

  • Week 8 – 17 miles
  • Week 9 – 12 miles
  • Week 10 – 20 miles
  • Week 11 – Half Marathon
  • Week 12 – 16 miles (or you could move the first 20 to this slot)
  • Week 13 – 20 miles
  • Week 14 – 12 miles
  • Week 15 – 20 miles

Use your own judgment, but try to maintain the mileage at least close to what I prescribed. Someone like you at the Intermediate 2 level has enough training base so that minor changes in the plan do not matter as much as they might to someone new to the sport.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

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