Choosing the Right Training Plan for the Chicago Marathon

BY Hal Higdon

Training for The Bank of America Chicago Marathon? Hal offers some advice about choosing the right training plan.

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 just want to give you a huge thanks for helping me qualify for Boston by almost 15 minutes yesterday. I could not have done it without your training plans. Training for Chicago begins June 9th. I’m looking to ramp up my training a little bit this summer to improve on my PR. Is Advanced 2 more difficult than Advanced 1, despite it being less miles?


Congratulations on your fine performance, but in designing programs for runners at different levels, I don’t count miles. Particularly in the Advanced Realm, quality counts more than quantity. Advanced 2 is more difficult than Advanced 1, because it features an extra day of speedwork. If you feel you need more miles, you can always add them yourself, but be cautious. It’s great to ramp up your training, but you don’t want to go backwards rather than forward by overtraining.

Finally, while you are selecting a specific program for The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, be aware that I do offer Novice, Intermediate and Advanced programs specific to that marathon. These are the programs utilized by the CARA Marathon Training Class in Chicago. The training instructions are the same, but the interactive versions feature tips related to that race. You can access my Chicago Marathon training programs by going to the TrainingPeaks menu of Hal Higdon programs.

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About 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 over a quarter of a 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 on his website.