Hal Higdon: Novice Supreme Marathon Training: Are you a new runner with a limited background in running, yet you still would like to run a marathon? This Novice Supreme Program is the training plan for you! It combines my 12-week Novice Base Training Program with my 18-week Novice 1 Marathon Training Program, but at a discount price compared to what you would pay for each program separately. You begin training 30 weeks ahead of your planned marathon with a long run of only 3 miles in the first week of training. Then after 12 weeks of graduated training, you make an easy transition to my 18-week Novice 1 Marathon Training Program that leads to a marathon of your choice. If you want success in your first marathon, this is the way to go. 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: www.halhigdon.com.
Run 1.5 miles. Over the next 12 weeks, you will progressively add a half mile to your Tuesday workouts every third or fourth week so that by Weeks 11 and 12, you will be up to 3.0 miles for this mid-week workout. If even running 1.5 miles seems a strain for you, don't hesitate to mix in walking breaks. In setting time estimates, I assume you run at a 10:00 pace per mile.
No rest for the wicked. Run 3.0 miles, twice what I asked you to run on Tuesday and equal to the length of your longest run of the week on Sunday. The training dose of 3.0 miles each Wednesday will continue for the first dozen weeks of this program. You will still be running 3.0 miles on Wednesday of Week 12, at which point I'll start asking you to do more. This is not without purpose. While this schedule becomes increasingly more difficult (or at least has an increasing number of miles), it would be too stressful to increase mileage each day of the week. By the time you get to Week 12, you'll consider this as an easy day. If covering 3.0 miles for a midweek workout seems too difficult at this point in your training, feel free to take some walking breaks
Run the same distance that you did on Tuesday: 1.5 miles. Again, remember the walking-break option I suggested for your runs the previous two days.
Today is your long run day. Even for a novice or beginning runner, 3.0 miles (today's workout) may not seem that long. But over the next three months, the distance for your Saturday run will increase to 6.0 miles. By design, that's the same distance that novices run in the first week of my 18-week marathon training program. Eventually they (and you) progress to a 20-mile run as preparation for the longer marathon.
In many of my training programs for distances from 5-K to the marathon, Sunday is designed as a cross-training day. Cross-training is usually defined as some endurance, or aerobic, activity that you do instead of running. This could be biking or swimming or (in winter) cross-country skiing, but it also could be walking. In this Novice Supreme Training program, Sunday workouts for the first 12 weeks are scheduled as walks. Begin with a 30-minute walk today.
Today's workout is a run of 1.5 miles, 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: 15 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 1.5 miles. In fact, your course doesn't need to be precisely 1.5 miles. It can be about that distance. The easiest way to pick a course of 1.5 miles would be to get in your car and figure out how far you need to run to go about half that distance (0.75 miles), either from your home, from your office or from wherever you plan to run on Tuesdays. Then run this 0.75-mile course out and back.
Three miles today. Yesterday I discussed how to find a 1.5 mile course, suggesting that you simply get in your car and measure approximately half that distance, then run it out and back. To select a 3-mile course, you obviously could either drive twice as far while measuring courses or run the Tuesday course out and back and out and back again. Or if your 1.5-mile course is a loop course, meaning you circle around without retracing your steps, you run this loop twice. But consider selecting a completely different course, perhaps one in a scenic area frequented by other runners. Be inventive. At this stage in your training, this is a long distance for you. You might as well make running as pleasant as possible--and, following last week's advice, don't be afraid to throw in occasional walking breaks if that's what it takes to go the distance.