Tuning Out Body Signals

BY Hal Higdon

A lot of athletes assume that more is better, but Hal Higdon knows that more can also lead to debilitating injuries.  Training plans exist for a reason, and that's to follow them.

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 in Week 12 of the Novice 1 plan, training for my first marathon in New York on November 3. I have been running on a fairly regular basis since 2010 and have run three half marathons. My question is whether one of the long runs can be stretched into a 22-miler. I think I mentally need to hit 22, so I have only four more miles to go in the marathon, rather than six. How can the schedule be modified?

Until Week 11, I followed your plan exactly, but at the end of that week ran 18 instead of 16, while participating in the official New York Road Runner training run. So my long-run modification right now looks like:

  • Week 11: 18 miles
  • Week 12: 16 miles
  • Week 13: 22 miles
  • Week 14: 12 miles
  • Week 15: 16 or 20 miles (depending on how my legs feel)
  • Week 16: 12 miles
  • Week 17: 8 miles
  • Week 18: Marathon

What do you think? Is this too much for a first-timer? I don’t want to set myself up for injury, and just this week was the first time my calves and Achilles tendons started hurting.


Wait: How’s that? Calves and Achilles tendons hurting? Maybe your body is sending you a message that you seem to be tuning out.

Do you need a 22-miler? If I thought so, I would have designed all of my training programs with that number in the peak week rather than 20. If you feel that psychologically you need to get closer to 26.2 in your longest training run, I’m not going to stop you. But physically, it sounds like you need less mileage at this point in your training rather than more. Do you want to be standing on the Verrazano Bridge in November with aching Achilles tendons?

So follow the revised schedule (above) if you want, but I would recommend sticking with the mileage as outlined in my Novice 1 program.

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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.