Hal Higdon:Marathon--Intermediate 1: This premium program is designed for runners training for the Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2017. If you are running a different race with a different end date, you must chose a different plan. Intermediate 1 features more mileage than my novice programs. You should be a fairly experienced runner to choose it. Every day I will send you emails telling you what to run and offering training tips. For more information, visit the marathon screens on my website: halhigdon.com.
This marathon training schedule, designed specifically for the Chicago Marathon, is for Intermediate 1 runners, those individuals seeking to improve their Personal Records. This program is designed ONLY for Chicago. If you are training for another marathon, back up and select a more general program.
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 1 runner, you don't get Mondays off as do the Novice runners. Mondays are reserved for 30-60 minutes of 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 leading to Chicago.
Run 3 miles at a comfortable pace. While training for the Chicago Marathon 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 385 yards. 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 to Chicago continues, your Wednesday mileage will increase gradually from 5 to 8 miles. This is what Olympian Julie Isphording describes 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. Follow the run by doing some stretching and strength training for about 15-30 minutes. Go to my web site, halhigdon.com, where Olympic Trails qualifier Cathy Vasto offers Six Spectacular Strength Exercises and Physical Therapist Debbie Pitchford provides Five Fantastic Stretching Exercises. 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 on my Web site (halhigdon.com) for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.
In the Intermediate 1 schedule for The Chicago Marathon, 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 8 miles today. (In the Chicago Marathon, this will take you past the northernmost part of the course. You will be running south on Clark staring at the Sears Tower.) Over a period of weeks, you will build to the point where you will run two 20-milers within three weeks at peak training.
Monday is an easy day. Continue to remind yourself of that fact as you train for The Chicago Marathon. Do some cross-training for maybe a half hour, but only at a 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 a dozen weeks, should make you a better runner.