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Hal Higdon: Base Training--Intermediate


Hal Higdon

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12 Weeks

Plan Specs


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Plan Description

Hal Higdon: Base Training--Intermediate: This Base Training Program for Intermediate runners was designed to bridge the three-month gap between my Winter Training Program and the start of my 18-week training programs leading to a fall marathon. Its goal is to show runners how to develop a base to help them move up to the next fitness level. Although the program works best in spring, you can use it any time of year you want to focus on fitness and conditioning. Regardless of when you use this program, each day I will send you email messages telling you how to run and offering training tips. For more information and directions, visit If you are planning to use this program to launch yourself into marathon training, I have a 30-week Personal Best program that combines this program with my Intermediate marathon program.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
3:39 hrs 1:12 hrs
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Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
3:39 hrs 1:12 hrs
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Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon Communications

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).

Sample Day 1


This Base Training schedule is for intermediate runners seeking to fine-tune their training or improve their basic speed before beginning my 18-week marathon training program. Monday workouts are always the same. Use Monday as a day of comparative rest. Run an easy 3 miles, then adjourn to the gym for 15-30 minutes of strength training. Rest is important for recovery after the weekend's workouts. Friday is also a day of rest. In between, you get to do some good running, including speedwork on Wednesdays. Your toughest training occurs on the weekends.

Sample Day 2


Run 3 miles. Over the next half dozen weeks, you will progressively add a mile to your Tuesday workouts every week until you are running 6 miles in Week 6. That's when the racing begins. In the second 6-week cycle, you will alternate 4, 5 or 6 mile runs on this day. It is all part of a gradual build-up, but the emphasis is as much on speed as on distance.

Sample Day 3


I've reserved this day right in the middle of the work week for some of your hardest training. For the first 6 weeks of the 12-week program, you run hills. Then in the second 6 weeks, you shift to the track. Select a hill about a quarter-mile long, but don't worry about pitch or the exact distance. Run up hard, as hard as you might doing a 200 or 400 repeat on the track. Then turn and jog back down. Since today's workout is listed as 3 x Hill, repeat your uphill run three times. Be sure to warm up by jogging a mile or two before and cool down with the same distance after. That will give you a workout today of about 4.5 miles--but counting mileage is not important.

Sample Day 4


Run the same workout that you did on Monday: 3 miles. Follow that run by doing some strength training for about 15-30 minutes. Check the screens Stretch & Strengthen on for suggestions as to which exercises work best. Put together a regular routine that you can use each Monday and Thursday.

Sample Day 6


In this Spring Training program, Saturday workouts alternate between tempo runs and fartlek workouts. On this first Saturday, do a tempo run of 30 minutes. A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A tempo run of 30 minutes would begin with 10 minutes easy running, build to 10-15 minutes near the middle, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for a few minutes.

Sample Day 7


Today is your long run of 6 miles. If that doesn't seem that long to you, it's not. Sunday's runs will vary between 6, 7 and 8 miles. The important thing is not to do a lot of miles, but rather to run a bit further than you do during the rest of the week. Save the truly long runs for when you begin to train for the marathon. Incidentally, if you would rather run long on Saturday and do your tempo runs and fartlek training on Sunday, be my guest.

Sample Day 8


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 run 3 miles today and afterwards do some strength training, please do it!

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