QUESTION: I followed your Novice 2 Program almost to the letter in training for the Madison Marathon that was last weekend. As I'm sure you know, it was cancelled at the last minute due to the extreme heat forecast for Sunday. I ran the half instead, and ran it more or less as hard as I could. I'm trying to figure out if running a marathon two or three weeks from now would be a bad idea. Taking one or two weeks off from training after the half feels (and sounds) like a good idea, but I'm also inclined to "cash in" on my marathon training and jump back into the taper in order to run a quick-repeat full marathon in 2-3 weeks.
HAL’S ANSWER: Well, how hard could a so-called "hard half" be? You don't trash yourself (mentally as well as physically) as you do in a full marathon. Whether you pick a quick-repeat marathon two or three weeks from now, I would simply duplicate the taper and (most important) listen to your body. Maintain the quality. If you're feeling especially good, do some of the shorter runs at an up-tempo, although not in the final days before the marathon. And if you need to take an extra day or two off to recover, do that too. Sorry the marathon got cancelled, but if the weather up in Madison was anywhere near as hot as the weather in Chicago over the weekend, the race director made the absolute right call.
Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website. Archived Q&A's from Hal can be found here.