Building Up to the Boston Marathon

Building Up to the Boston Marathon

Have 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’ve been following your plans from Novice to Intermediate to Advanced for all of my marathons and finally am running The Boston Marathon this year for the first time. So first, thank you for your sound running advice and plans, but I’m curious: with the marathon being so far away, what type of a pre-training plan would you recommend? I have basically been following a modified plan with one to two days of speed work, long runs and tempo runs each week. Is there a plan for us “in-betweeners?”


Coincidentally, I have spent the last several months working on a 3rd edition of my book RunFast (not due out until Spring 2017), and I find myself repeating these words: “Do something different.” At the risk of oversimplifying the subject, almost all training can be classified under three categories: Speed, Endurance, or Rest. So if your focus leading into Boston is going to be endurance (such as my Intermediate 1 or Intermediate 2 programs), focus on speed before starting your Boston training. If your focus is going to be on speed (such as my Advanced 1 or Advanced 2 programs), focus on endurance. Or maybe before launching your Boston build-up, you might want to spend a month or more just “running,” focusing on what I might call “dynamic rest,” working out without a rudder, just enjoying each workout for each workout’s sake.

Looking toward Boston 2016, please be aware that I have a Boston Bound training program that is 12 weeks and 1 day long, beginning on Monday, January 25 and climaxing on Monday, April 18. It is aimed at runners just like you, and given the fact that you already blend speed and endurance in your training, you probably would find that to provide a good fit.

But your question was from the point of view of as “in-betweener.” Let’s back up. Why don’t you dedicate a month or so around the holidays for that dynamic rest described above. Forget any specific plans. Just run. Enjoy the holidays. Let each workout dictate itself.

Backing up another several months to the present, this could be a time to focus on endurance, kicking the speedwork out of your program and using the energy saved to run a few more miles, doing several long runs a week instead of just one. Modifying one of my Intermediate plans might work for you. And while the focus is on endurance training, throw in a couple of races at short distance (5-K to 10-K) more for fun and bling than for nailing a fast time.

I hope this qualifies as doing something different. Good luck as you prepare for Boston 2016.

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.