Hal Higdon: Marathon--Chicago 2017, Advanced 1

Average Weekly Training Hours 05:12
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 05:12
Training Load By Week

This program is designed for Advanced 1 runners doing the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 8, 2017. If you are training for a marathon with a different end date, you need to select one of my other programs. Advanced 1 follows a progressive buildup--similar to that for Novice and Intermediate runners, except you start at 10 miles and peak with three 20-milers. There is also more training at marathon pace (usually Saturdays, the day before Sunday long runs) plus one day of speedwork each week. 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.

Sample Day 1
0:24:00
3mi

This Advanced 1 Training schedule is for experienced runners planning to run the Chicago Marathon and seeking to fine-tune their training by following a program that includes some speedwork plus more mileage than the programs followed by Novice and Intermediate runners. (The Advanced 2 program features two days of speedwork weekly.) Hopefully you arrived at this program with a background of speed training and know what it's like to do hill repeats, interval training on the track and tempo running in the woods. If not, this is no time to start. You would be much better following one of the Intermediate programs and saving this program for a later marathon. Okay, you read my disclaimer and agreed to the conditions for acceptance into this very tough program. For the next 18 weeks leading up to the Chicago Marathon, you will use Monday as a day of comparative rest by running an easy 3-5 miles, then adjourning to the gym for 15-30 minutes of stretching and strength training. (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.) Wednesday workouts will be about the same. Fridays are rest days, since even Advanced runners need to rest. Are you up to the challenge?

Sample Day 2
0:40:00
5mi

Five miles at whatever pace seems comfortable to you. I have set the average pace for miles run at 8:00, but this may or may not apply to you. Use this number only as a reference point. As the countdown continues, your Tuesday mileage will increase gradually from 5 miles in Week 1 to 10 miles in Week 11. 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.

Sample Day 3
0:24:00
3mi

Tuesday and Thursday workouts form a tough one-two punch in this Advanced 1 schedule--but that's what it takes if you want to run a fast marathon, perhaps qualify for Boston, or go even faster! In between, you get to run easy. Jog an easy 3 miles today, then do some stretching, spending more time on this than you normally might do to ready yourself for tomorrow's speed session. You can also do some lifting today, but I don't recommend excessive strength training during the marathon buildup, and I suggest cutting back on what lifting you do as the marathon draws near. Go to the area on halhigdon.com where Olympic Trials qualifier Cathy Vasto offers Six Spectacular Strength Exercises and Physical Therapist Debbie Pitchford provides Five Fantastic Stretching Exercises. Put together a regular routine that you can use each Monday and Wednesday as you prepare for the Chicago Marathon.

Sample Day 4
0:40:00
5mi

In this Advanced 1 program leading up to Chicago, Thursdays feature hill workouts, tempo runs and interval training on the track, alternating between each from week to week. I do this mainly to provide some variety to the program. Today the prescription is 3 x Hill. But the workout is slightly more complicated than that. Warm up with a couple of miles. Find a hill 200-400 meters long. Run 3 uphill repeats on it, jogging back down between. Cool down with a mile or two. That will give you a workout today of about 5 miles--but counting mileage is not important. More important is the quality of what you do, not the quantity. Even in the marathon, quality counts--at least for Advanced runners.

Sample Day 6
0:40:00
5mi

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 the day of the Chicago Marathon. 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. I know: that's not easy for an Advanced runner to do. Revisit the introductory screen for more directions on how to do Pace workouts.

Sample Day 7
1:20:00
10mi

Run long. Begin your progression at 10 miles. The 10-mile mark on the Chicago Marathon course is on Sedgwick, just before you reach North Avenue heading south. By gradually lengthening your mileage 1 mile a week, you can reach 20 miles eight weeks before the Chicago Marathon and have time for three 20-milers, instead of one. Run 45 to 90 seconds or more per mile slower than marathon pace. In the Advanced schedules, 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.

Sample Day 8
0:24:00
3mi

Cruise an easy 3-miler. Don't run farther or harder thinking it will get you in better shape. More isn't always better. Evaluate how you felt after your first week of Chicago Marathon training at the Advance 1 level. Good? Okay? Awful? If the last, you might want to reevaluate whether you should be following this Advanced schedule rather than remaining an Intermediate runner. It's not going to get easier! 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. And you need to train with a purpose. 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! Not this one workout, but the accumulation of workouts over a period of a dozen weeks, should make you a better runner.

Hal Higdon
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Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner's World, that magazine's longest lasting writer, Hal's having contributed an article to RW's second issue in 1966. He also is the author of more than three dozen books, including Marathon: The Utimate Training Guide and the recently published Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training and Run Fast (3rd edition).