Hal Higdon: Marathon--Intermediate 1

Average Weekly Training Hours 05:22
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 05:22
Training Load By Week

Hal Higdon: Marathon--Intermediate 1: This is my Intermediate 1 Marathon Training Program, one step up from Novice 2. It is designed for runners who may have used my novice programs to run their first marathons and who are now looking to increase--at least slightly--their training levels hoping to improve their Personal Records. It is not recommended for runners doing their first marathon. If that is you, check out the descriptions of the novice programs before deciding which program to purchase. 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 halhigdon.com.

Sample Day 1
0:30:00

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. As you cross-train for about a half hour today, contemplate the 18 weeks of running ahead of you.

Sample Day 2
0:27:00
3mi

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.

Sample Day 3
0:45:00
5mi

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.

Note: In setting time estimates for Intermediate 1 runners, I assume that you run at a 9:00 pace per mile. You might run faster, or you might run slower. If so, use the edit function to change the numbers to suit yourself.

Sample Day 4
0:30:00
3mi

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.

Sample Day 6
0:45:00
5mi

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 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. Revisit the introductory screen for intermediate runners on TrainingPeaks or on halhigdon.com for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.

Sample Day 7
1:12:00
8mi

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.

Sample Day 8
0:30:00

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.

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).