Hal Higdon: Base Training--Novice

Average Weekly Training Hours 02:20
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 02:20
Training Load By Week

: Hal Higdon's Base Training--Novice: This 12-week Base Training Program for Novice runners is one of my easiest. It is designed to get you in shape so that, later, you can begin my 18-week Novice Marathon Training Program aimed at a marathon. Each day I will send you email messages telling you how to run and offering training tips. Be aware also that if you do plan to use Base Training to launch you into marathon training, I have 30-week Novice Supreme program that combines this program with my novice marathon program.

Sample Day 2
0:15:00
1.5mi

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.

Sample Day 3
0:30:00
3mi

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 not change. You will still be running 3.0 miles on Wednesday of the final week. 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

Sample Day 4
0:15:00
1.5mi

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.

Sample Day 6
0:30:00

In many of my training programs for distances from 5-K to the marathon, Saturday 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 Spring Training program, all of the Saturday workouts are scheduled as walks. Begin with a 30-minute walk today.

Sample Day 7
0:30:00
3mi

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 12 weeks of this program, the distance for your Sunday run will increase to 6.0 miles in the final week. That's the same distance that novices run in the first week of my 18-week marathon training program. They (or you if you continue) end that program with a 20-mile run as preparation for the longer marathon. The distances are higher in that latter program; the approach is the same

Sample Day 9
0:15:00
1.5mi

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.

Sample Day 10
0:30:00
3mi

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 workout, 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.

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).