Hal Higdon: Marathon--Novice 1

Average Weekly Training Hours 04:51
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 04:51
Training Load By Week

Hal Higdon: Marathon: Novice 1: This is my most popular program: the Novice 1 Marathon Training Program. If you are training for your first marathon, this is the training program for you! Even if you are an experienced marathoner, you may choose this as a gentle and low-mileage approach to your favorite sport. More than a half million runners have used my programs with success. Novice 1 will get you to the starting line--and finish line. Each day, I will send you emails telling you what to run and offering training tips. For more information and directions, visit the marathon screens on my website: halhigdon.com.

Sample Day 2
0:30:00
3mi

An easy day. 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 11, you'll do 4 miles. In week 14, 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 385 yards 18 weeks from now. If even running 3 miles seems a strain for you, don't hesitate to mix in a walking break.

Sample Day 3
0:30:00
3mi

Three miles, same as yesterday. As the countdown continues, you will begin to run more miles midweek. Every second week, you will add another mile to your Wednesday workout. Four weeks before the marathon (the same week Week 15 in which you do your climactic 20-miler), you will be up to 10 miles this day. This is what I refer to as a "sorta-long" run. What you will find most difficult as the mileage progresses from 3 to 10 is not going the distance, but finding time to squeeze a run taking more than an hour into a busy weekday. I'll offer some tips on that when the time comes. In the meantime, have a good run today.

Sample Day 4
0:30:00
3mi

Run the same distance that you did on Tuesday and Wednesday: 3 miles at a comfortable pace. Again, remember the walking-break option I suggested for you on Tuesday. At 3 miles, you may want to run the full distance. But as the distance builds, and particularly on days when the weather is warm, you will appreciate a short break, particularly to stop for water. Since most novice runners will do some walking in the marathon--if only through the aid stations--you want to practice this as part of your strategy.

Sample Day 6
1:00:00
6mi

Today is your long run. Even for a novice or beginning runner, 6 miles (today's workout) may not seem that long. But over the 18 weeks of this program, the distance for your Saturday run will increase to 20 mile. You'll hit that distance in Week 15, allowing 3 weeks for you to taper before the marathon. Don't worry too much about pace now; just run easily. If you want to do your long runs on Sunday rather than Saturday, simply flip-flop the two workouts. Please note: At the top of each workout on the calendar, you will see time estimates for each workout. The time estimates are based on 10:00 pace per mile, even though some will be faster, some will be slower. You can set your own time estimates if you want.

Sample Day 7
1:00:00

Use this second day of the weekend to recover from your weekly long run by doing some easy cross-training. What kind of cross-training? The exercise you choose should be aerobic: an hour or so of walking, biking, swimming or some such activity. Swimming is a particularly useful activity, because you can use it to loosen your muscles. If you run long Sundays, you can cross-train on Saturdays.

Sample Day 9
0:30:00
3mi

Today's workout is a run of 3 miles at a comfortable pace, the same as last week on Tuesday and the same as next week on Tuesday. This workout shouldn't take a great deal of your time: 30 minutes if you run at a 10:00-mile pace. But forget I said that! I don't want you to go out and time yourself for 3 miles. The time estimates in this program are just that: estimates. In fact, your course doesn't need to be precisely 3 miles. It can be about that distance. The easiest way to pick a course of 3 miles would be to get in your car and figure out how far you need to run to go about half that distance (1.5 miles), either from your home, from your office or from wherever you plan to run on Tuesdays. Then run this 1.5-mile course out and back. Don't wear a watch, at least for the time being.

Sample Day 10
0:30:00
3mi

Another 3-miler. This is your hard day of the week. If you want to run a bit faster than yesterday, do so. Today's 3-miler is also the same as last week's Tuesday workout, but next week you move up to 4 miles. As the program continues, the Wednesday mileage will increase 1 mile every other week until you reach a peak of 10 miles on Wednesday in Week 15. It's all part of my Grand Plan to get you in shape for the marathon. And trust me: You will succeed!

Hal Higdon
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Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner's World, that magazine's longest lasting writer, Hal's having contributed an article to RW's second issue in 1966. He also is the author of more than three dozen books, including Marathon: The Utimate Training Guide and the recently published Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training and Run Fast (3rd edition).