Hal Higdon: Marathon: Intermediate 2: What's the difference between the Intermediate 1 and the Intermediate 2 Marathon Training Programs? A little bit of mileage, that's all. Runners who choose the latter run three 20-milers toward the end of the program instead of two. And there's a bit more mileage leading up to those 20-milers. Otherwise, the programs are basically the same. You would choose one or the other depending on how many marathons you have run and how your training has progressed. A logical progression would be to start with one of the Novice programs (1 or 2), move to Intermediate 1 for your next marathon and Intermediate 2 for the one after that. Or you may want to stay longer at each level before moving up. And you can even move backwards from Advanced. The choice is yours. Each day, if you sign up for this program, 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.
This marathon training schedule is for Intermediate 2 runners, those individuals seeking to improve their Personal Records. It is similar to the schedule designed for Intermediate 1 runners, but it features somewhat more mileage and three 20-milers toward the end of the program instead of two. Use each Monday as a day of comparative rest to recuperate from the long runs you will be doing on Sundays under this training program. Notice that I said comparative rest. As an Intermediate 2 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.
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 miles in Week 18 to 10 miles in Week 8. This is what I like to describe as 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, comfortable pace. 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 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 for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.
In the Intermediate-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.
Monday is an easy day. Continue to remind yourself of that fact. Do some cross-training, but only at a very easy level. It may not seem like you need to rest that much after a 10-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 a dozen weeks, should make you a better runner.