Putting together a race training schedule

I’ve run two marathons in the past: the Outer Banks Marathon, and the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. For OBX, I stuck to a very rigid Hal Higdon beginner marathon plan, and had really great results. At the end of that race, I was exhausted, but I felt like I was able to recover normally. For Virginia Beach, however, I really just rode on the fitness from my previous marathon and subsequently under-trained. I think my longest run leading up to that race was 10 miles. I finished the marathon in a respectable time, but my recovery took a very long time, and didn’t go very smoothly.

For the next marathon (the Flying Pig Marathon), I’m going to do things the right way again. I’m going to stick with the training program. The program that I’m using is the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 plan. This one is a little harder than the one I had previously used (Novice 2). One of the key differences is that this plan includes back-to-back runs on weekends. Although you can read all about this elsewhere, basically the goal of back-to-back runs (including your long run) is to help simulate the fatigue that you will feel while running harder at the longer distances. Another difference is that this plan contains multiple 20 mile runs, which results in weekends that have almost a marathon’s worth of distance in them.

The second important aspect of the training plan, is building an aerobic base during the rest of the week. Building that aerobic base gets your heart and lungs ready to better support you on your longer run. It also helps your soft tissues strengthen, so that they are up to the pounding they will get during your long runs and your race.


Here’s what March is going to look like. Tuesday and Thursday are going to consist of runs of at least 4 mi, but I was getting tired of putting in all of the events, so I don’t have them listed here. Also I probably won’t do the 20 miler on Easter (I should be able to move it to Monday). I like putting it into my calendar this way, so that I can get email updates to keep me on schedule. Getting it laid out is so exciting, I can’t wait to start doing really long runs again!

Training officially starts on January 3 – let’s go!




3 thoughts on “Putting together a race training schedule

  1. Good luck!! I’ve used Hal’s intermediate before and still use the basic principles when drafting a training cycle. You might consider targeting different types of runs for the midweek sessions to mix it up a bit…tempo, intervals for example help break up the monotony and help with overall stamina and speed.


      1. Yep, I think the variety really helps…on a program like this one I typically run easy tues, target pace weds, and speed/interval thurs but of course schedules vary for everyone!


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