Hal Higdon: Personal Best Training Program: This 30-week Personal Best Marathon Training Program is designed for experienced runners, those who have run two or three or more marathons and who would like to improve their times, to achieve Peak Performance, to set a Personal Record (PR), perhaps to score a Boston Marathon qualifying time (BQ). It combines my 12-week Intermediate Base (or Spring) Training Program with my 18-week Intermediate 1 Marathon Training Program. If you are an experienced runner, you could just as easily access each of those programs and move from one to the other at the end of 12 weeks. But I've done the work for you--and at a lower price than you would pay for both separate. 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.
This Personal Best Marathon Training Program is for intermediate runners seeking to fine-tune their training or improve their basic speed. It combines my 12-week Intermediate Base (or Spring) Training Program with my 18-week Intermediate 1 Marathon Training Programs. Monday workouts are always the same. Use Monday as a day of comparative rest. Run an easy 3 miles, then adjourn to the gym for 15-30 minutes of strength training. Rest is important for recovery after the weekend's workouts. Friday is also a day of rest. In between, you get to do some good running, including speedwork on Wednesdays. Your toughest training occurs on the weekends.
Run 3 miles. Over the next half dozen weeks, you will progressively add a mile to your Tuesday workouts every week until you are running 6 miles in Week 6. That's when the racing begins. In the second 6-week cycle, you will alternate 4, 5 or 6 mile runs on this day. It is all part of a gradual build-up, but the emphasis is as much on speed as on distance.
I've reserved this day right in the middle of the work week for some of your hardest training. For the first 6 weeks of the 12-week program, you run hills. Then in the second 6 weeks, you shift to the track. Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance. Run up hard, as hard as you might doing a 200 or 400 repeat on the track. Then turn and jog back down. Since today's workout is listed as 3 x Hill, repeat your uphill run three times. Be sure to warm up by jogging a mile or two before and cool down with the same distance after. That will give you a workout today of about 4.5 miles--but counting mileage is not important.
Run the same workout that you did on Monday: 3 miles. Follow that run by doing some strength training for about 15-30 minutes. Put together a regular routine that you can use each Monday and Thursday.
Saturday workouts alternate between tempo runs and fartlek workouts. On this first Saturday, 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 minutes easy running, build to 10-15 minutes near the middle, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes.
Today is your long run of 6 miles. If that doesn't seem that long to you, it's not. Sunday's runs will vary between 6, 7 and 8 miles. The important thing is not to do a lot of miles, but rather to run a bit further than you do during the rest of the week. Save the truly long runs for when you begin to train for the marathon. Incidentally, if you would rather run long on Saturday and do your tempo runs and fartlek training on Sunday, be my guest.
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 run 3 miles today and afterwards do some strength training, please do it!