Introduction: This is my most popular program: the Novice 1 Marathon Training Program. However, beware! This version is configured for runners training for the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 8, 2017. If you are training for another marathon with a different end date, you need to sign up for a different program. This 18-week program, beginning on Monday, June 5, 2017, is designed for beginning runners, as the Novice 1 label indicates. If you can comfortably get through the first long run of 6 miles at the end of Week 1, you will be primed and ready to go in the Chicago Marathon 18 weeks later. The build-up is both gentle and progressive. You will be following in the footsteps of tens of thousands of runners, who have achieved success with Novice 1. If you are beyond the beginner status, maybe with several previous races (including a half marathon) in your resume, you might want to consider Novice 2. For more information on how to use this program, visit my Web site: halhigdon.com
An easy day for novice runners preparing for the Chicago Marathon. 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 8, you'll do 4 miles. In week 5, 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 385 yards in the Chicago Marathon. If even running 3 miles seems a strain for you, don't hesitate to mix in a walking break.
Three miles, same as yesterday. As the countdown to Chicago continues, you will begin to run more miles midweek. Every second week (beginning in Week 3), you will add another mile to your Wednesday workout. By Week 15 (the same week in which you do your climactic 20-miler), you will be up to 10 miles this day. This is what 1984 Olympic marathoner and Los Angeles Marathon champion Julie Isphording calls a sorta long run. What you will find most difficult as the mileage progresses from 3 to 10 is not going the distance, but finding time to squeeze a run taking more than an hour into a busy weekday. I'll offer some tips on that when the time comes. In the meantime, have a good run today.
Run the same distance that you did on Tuesday: 3 miles at a comfortable pace. Again, remember the walking-break option I suggested for you on Tuesday. At 3 miles, you may want to run the full distance. But as the distance builds, and particularly on days when the weather is warm, you will appreciate a short break, particularly to stop for water. Since most novice runners will do some walking in the marathon--if only through the aid stations--you want to practice this as part of your strategy.
Today is your long run. In the Chicago Marathon, the 6-mile mark is in Lincoln Park. Even for a novice or beginning runner, 6 miles (today's workout) may not seem that long. But over the 18 weeks of this program, the distance for your Saturday run will increase to 20 miles in Week 15 (allowing 3 weeks for you to taper before the marathon.) Don't worry too much about pace now; just run easily. If you want to do your long runs on Sunday rather than Saturday, simply flip-flop the two workouts. .
Use this second day of the weekend to recover from your weekly long run by doing some easy cross-training. What kind of cross-training? The exercise you choose should be aerobic: an hour or so of walking, biking, swimming or some such activity. Swimming is a particularly useful activity, because you can use it to loosen your muscles.
Today's workout is a run of 3 miles at a comfortable pace, 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: 30 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 3 miles. In fact, your course doesn't need to be precisely 3 miles. It can be about that distance. The easiest way to pick a course of 3 miles would be to get in your car and figure out how far you need to run to go about half that distance (1.5 miles), either from your home, from your office or from wherever you plan to run on Tuesdays. Then run this 1.5-mile course out and back.
Another 3-miler. This is your hard day of the week. If you want to run a bit faster than yesterday, do so. Today's 3-miler is also the same as last week's Tuesday workout, but next week you move up to 4 miles. As the Chicago Marathon program continues, the Wednesday mileage will increase 1 mile every second week until you reach a peak of 10 miles on Wednesday in Week 4.