QUESTION: I am a 48-year-old male, who runs about 20-25 miles a week. I finished my fifth marathon (New York) last year in a time of 4:15. It was my first marathon in 15 years, and I trained six months for it. My goal had been 3:40, but my thighs cramped up at the halfway point, and I alternated walking and running during the rest of the race. I would like to finish another marathon (Philadelphia Marathon Nov. 18) this year in 3:30. I work 40 hours a week and would like to know if your Marathon 3 program could help me achieve this goal?
HAL’S ANSWER: Marathon 3 actually is a specialty program. I wouldn't call it easier than Novice 1 or Novice 2 - it's just different. Not everybody can afford to run 3-6 days a week either because of physical limitations or because of time constraints. Marathon 3 is designed for those people who might benefit from three days of running a week, but with more cross training. Plus, Marathon 3 also features a more graduated 24-week build-up than my 18-week programs, but also incorporates three 20-milers. Marathon 3 can be either an easy program or a hard program, depending on how you approach it. Could you use Marathon 3 to run a 3:30? Maybe, maybe not. If your thighs cramped up, the reason may not have been your training program. This fall in your build-up to Philadelphia, pay more attention to strength training focused on the quads. Lunges might help, but enlisting the aid of a personal trainer might allow you to select which exercises will help the most. Consider also nutrition, which might have played a part in the cramping.
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.