Consistency in Training

BY Hal Higdon

The most important part of any training program is maintaining consistency in training. If you can do that, you still can achieve the dream.

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 signed up to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December. I am 42 years old, and I want to achieve this dream. I woke up this morning terrified: fearful that I should quit—at least for this year. I was following your Novice 1 training program, then life got in the way, and I missed too many weekend long runs with my local running group. I have kept up with the midweek runs, but my longest run to date is 9 miles. Is it possible for me to still be in this thing?! If so, where should I start this weekend?


Assuming your 9-miler was in the last week or two (September), I would begin where the program offers a 10-miler. Don’t panic. You still have a lot of time before the marathon. Yes, my training programs work best when the runner does every single workout as scheduled. Miss a few days for various reasons, you can get away with that. Miss more than a few days and, you probably can still run the marathon if you lower your time goals. At some point, well, maybe the best choice is to bail out and plan another marathon at a later date. I’m not sure you have reached that point with more than two months still to go to Memphis.

Life seems to have gotten in the way, but maybe not enough to cause the Night Terrors. The most important part of any of my training programs is maintaining consistency in training, particularly in the long runs. If you can do that, you still can achieve the dream.

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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.