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Using a Training Marathon for Marathon Preparation

BY Hal Higdon

You can squeeze an August marathon en route to a October marathon—but only if you feel you can float through your second 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 am training for the Melbourne Marathon in Australia on October 12 using one of your Advanced plans. I would like to squeeze another marathon in at the end of August. Can I treat the August race as a long training run? With your permission, I would run 26 that weekend instead of a planned 20-miler, running slow like on a Sunday run.


Okay, permission granted. You can squeeze an August marathon en route to a October marathon—but only if you feel you can float through your second marathon. I would not recommend this for everybody, but if you are strong enough to handle one of my advanced programs, I assume this is not your first marathon. You should be able to get away with this two-for-one if you approach this challenge with the right attitude.

In truth, despite your fitness level, there is a danger that if you push too hard in the August race, it will take something away from your October race. Mostly, you don’t want to lose training time. One way to avoid this is to do a three-day taper instead of a three-week taper before the first race. This will cause you to go into the race somewhat fatigued—and aware of that fatigue. After the race, quickly get back on schedule three days after. It’s a matter of control. Can you control your inclination to run faster than you should?

Here’s another option: What I sometimes have done is run only the first 20 miles of an interim marathon, stepping off the course into a waiting car. Among the marathons where I have done this is Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul) and New York City. Good luck in meeting this double challenge.

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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.