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Weekly Mileage Before Starting a Marathon Training Program

BY Hal Higdon

With a history of injury, one athlete is curious about how many weekly miles they should be putting in before starting Hal's Novice 1 training plan.


I want to start training for my first marathon. How many miles should I be running weekly before I start your Novice 1 training plan? I have suffered a few injuries in the past, so I want to be cautious about doing too much.


Ideally, I would like runners to be up to 15 to 25 weekly miles before starting to train for a marathon. Not every new marathoner possesses this much base, but that would be ideal, considering that the long run in Mile 1 of my 18-week Novice 1 program is 6 miles. My question to people would be if you can handle that long of a run in your first week of training? You need to be fit enough to run 6 miles comfortably, even if taking walking breaks. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling over the following weeks. The long-run mileage ramps up to 7 miles and beyond, climaxing with 20 miles in the peak Week 15, three weeks out from the marathon (at which point tapering begins).

So my question back to you is, “How much time remains before your goal marathon?” If more than 18 weeks, you can take advantage of the extra time to do some pre-training. This might include a 5-K or 10-K program. My Novice Supreme program offers a gentle 30-week ramp with the long run in the first week only 3 miles. The more time you take, the better prepared you can be- and the less likely to suffer an injury because of overtraining.

The Complete Marathon Training Guide

Complete Marathon Training Guide

Training Guide

This guide is designed to be used as you train for a marathon, with in-depth information on every part of the process. Each chapter is packed with tips, workouts, and insights from expert running coaches, to give you all the tools you need to succeed.

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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.