Moving Up In Difficulty


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 have completed six marathons now and have not improved much on my times: 4:28 to 4:08. I am now 42 but, motivated to run faster, hoping to: 1) break 4:00 and 2) some day, eventually, qualify for the Boston Marathon. Most recently, I trained using the Intermediate 1 program. Should I make the logical move up to Intermediate 2, or skip a grade and try Advanced 1 with its weekly dose of speedwork?


That’s a good “eventually.” You’re right: Intermediate 2 would be the logical next choice, but with a half dozen marathons completed and being that close to 4:00, you might want to move one step further to Advanced 1. Notice I said “might,” because the decision should be yours, not mine. But let me guide you. Speedwork most definitely will help you improve, although some risk comes with faster training if you are not prepared for it. Have you done speedwork before: either interval training on the track or fartlek and tempo runs in the woods? You might want to sample those kinds of training options before making your decision. My intermediate and advanced programs for shorter distances do contain speedwork, and they are only eight weeks long. Stick your toe in the water, then decide if you want to jump in.

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.

View more posts by Hal Higdon