Marathon Intermediate 1 is for those individuals seeking to improve their Personal Records. If you are a first-time marathoner--even though you consider yourself a fairly experienced runner--you might want to consider backing down to the novice schedules. If you are sticking with us on Intermediate 1, use Monday as a day of comparative rest to recuperate from the long runs you will be doing on Sundays. Notice that I said comparative rest. As an Intermediate 1 runner, you don't get Mondays off as do the novice runners. Mondays are reserved for cross-training. Swimming, cycling, walking: The choice is up to you. But make this an easy day. Don't turn this into an intensive workout under the mistaken belief that it will make you more fit; the opposite may prove true if you overtrain.
Run 3 miles at a comfortable pace. Over the next 18 weeks, you will add only a few miles to your Tuesday workouts. In Week 7, you'll do 4 miles. In week 11, you'll be up to 5 miles. By that time, you'll be so used to doing much longer runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays, that a run of that distance will seem easy. It's all part of the progressive buildup of total mileage designed to get you ready to run 26 miles. Don't be tempted to push the pace. Undertraining is often better than Overtraining.
Five miles, a couple of miles more than yesterday. As the countdown continues, your Wednesday mileage will increase gradually from 5 to 8 miles. This is what I call a sorta long run, done midweek at longer distances than usual, but not as long as the weekend long runs. Feel free to punch the acceleration button if you're feeling good, particularly toward the end of the workout.
Run the same workout that you did on Tuesday: 3 miles. Follow the run by doing some stretching and strength training for about 15-30 minutes. This might be a good workout to do in a health club, since you can do your 3-miler on a treadmill before heading to the weight room.
Five miles at marathon pace. You need to implant in your mind what it feels like to run the exact pace needed to meet your goal on marathon day. Pick a measured course where you can catch your time each mile. Measure the course yourself with a GPS watch or run on a track if necessary. Or enter a 10K road race with the intention of ignoring the competition and running 5 of its miles at what will seem like a slow (marathon) pace. Revisit the introductory screen for intermediate runners on TrainingPeaks or on halhigdon.com for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.
In the Intermediate 1 schedule, the long runs are on Sundays. If necessary, you can flip-flop your workouts and run long on Saturdays, but it's usually easier to go from fast to long than the other way around. If your work schedule dictates, you can do your long runs on any day of the week. One Facebook follower recently asked my permission to switch to Thursday, his fay off. In general, however, I would rather see you do pace work Saturdays followed by the long run on Sundays. Run 8 miles today. Over a period of weeks, you will build to the point where you will run two 20-milers within three weeks at peak training.
Monday is an easy day. Continue to remind yourself of that fact. Do some cross-training, but only at a very, very easy level. It may not seem like you need to rest after only an 8-miler over the weekend, but you will be thankful for this day of relative rest as the program continues. Also, evaluate how you felt after your last week of training. A lot of people play at running, working out three or four days a week, doing a long run on the weekends, entering an occasional race, sometimes gearing up for a marathon. For a while, they'll improve just on accumulated mileage, but after several years it becomes increasingly difficult to set Personal Records. To do that, you need to train. Training is when you follow a schedule, such as this one, where each day has a purpose. If the weather is bad, you still run. If you have important business, you simply rise an hour early to run. Why? Because I told you to! And if Hal tells you to cross-train today, maybe including some strength training, please do it! Not this one workout, but the accumulation of workouts over a period of time should make you a better runner.