Hal Higdon: Marathon--Advanced 2: My Advanced 2 Marathon Training Program is the toughest one I offer. Be aware of that before you punch the purchase button. It is definitely not for beginners running their first marathon. It may not even be for seasoned runners with 10 or 20 marathons under their belts. In addition to a high level of mileage and three 20-milers, Advanced 2 prescribes two days of speedwork. Sign up and each day I will send you an email telling you what to run and offering a training tip. For more information and directions, visit my website: halhigdon.com.
BEWARE! Advanced 2 is the toughest of all my marathon training programs! It is for very experienced runners seeking to fine-tune their training by following a program that includes two days of speedwork plus more mileage than the programs (novice, imtermediate) leading up to it provide. Hopefully you arrived at this program with a background of speed training and know what it's like to do hill repeats, interval training on the track and tempo running in the woods. If not, this is no time to start. You would be much better following one of the intermediate programs or Advanced 1 and saving this program for a later marathon. (You're not listening; I can tell.) Okay, you read my disclaimer and agreed to the conditions for acceptance into this very tough program. For the next 18 weeks, you will use Monday as a day of comparative rest by running an easy 3 miles, then adjourning to the gym for 15-30 minutes of stretching and strength training. (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.) Wednesday workouts will be about the same. Fridays are rest days, since even advanced runners need to rest. On the other days, get ready to bust! Are you up to the challenge?
I've reserved this day toward the beginning of the week for some of your hardest training. This is your speed day. In the marathon countdown, you will alternate running hills, tempo runs and interval 800s. Today the prescription is 3 x Hill. But the workout is slightly more complicated than that. Warm up with a couple of miles. Find a hill 200-400 meters long. Doesn't matter how steep, since hills vary greatly. Run 3 uphill repeats, jogging back down between. Cool down with a mile or two. That will give you a workout today of about 5 miles--but counting mileage is not important. More important is the quality of what you do, not the quantity. Even in the marathon, quality counts--at least for advanced runners.
Tuesday and Thursday workouts form a tough one-two punch in this Advanced 2 schedule--but that's what it takes if you want to run a fast marathon, perhaps qualify for Boston, or go even faster! In between, you get to run easy. Jog an easy 3 miles today, then do some stretching, spending more time on this than you normally might do because speedwork (like you did yesterday) has a tendency to tighten your muscles. You can also do some lifting today, but I don't recommend excessive strength training during the marathon buildup, and I suggest cutting back on what lifting you do as the marathon draws near.Put together a regular lifting routine that you can use each Monday and Wednesday.
In this Advanced 2 program, Thursdays feature tempo runs and pace runs, alternating between each from week to week. Tempo runs also are included every third Tuesday. I do this mainly to provide some variety to the program. On this first Thursday, do a tempo run of 30 minutes. A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A tempo run of 30 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, building to peak speed for the next 10 minutes (15-25 minutes into the run), then finish with 5 minutes easy. In any tempo run, the pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track.
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 using a GPS watch or run on a track if necessary. Or enter a 10-K road race with the intention of ignoring the competition and running 5 of its miles at what will seem like a slow (marathon) pace. I know: that's not easy for an Advanced 2 runner to do. Revisit the introductory screen for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.
Run long. Begin your progression at 10 miles. By gradually lengthening your mileage 1 mile a week, you can reach 20 miles eight weeks before the marathon and have time for three 20-milers, instead of one. Run 45 to 90 seconds or more per mile slower than marathon pace. In the Advanced 2 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. In general, however, I would rather see you do pace work Saturdays followed by the long run on Sundays. Run 10 miles today.
Cruise an easy 3-miler. Don't run farther or harder thinking it will get you in better shape. More is not always better. Evaluate how you felt after your first week of marathon training at the Advanced 2 level. Good? Okay? Awful? If the last, you might want to reevaluate whether you should be following this Advanced 2 schedule rather than Advanced 1 or one of the intermediate schedules. It's not going to get easier! 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. And you need to train with a purpose. 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 run 3 miles today and afterwards do some strength training, please do it! Not this one workout, but the accumulation of workouts over a period of a dozen weeks, should make you a better runner.