QUESTION: I have been running for eight months now and have completed a 5-K, 12-K and half marathon. I next plan to use your Novice 2 program to get ready for the full 26.2. My marathon is 18 weeks from this Sunday. In looking at the Novice 2 program I see that based on my mileage, I am pretty much at week 10. My current running schedule is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, where I run 7 miles, then I do a long run on the weekend. My last long run reached 15 miles, and I felt like I could have gone farther. My question is, do I step back and follow the program or maintain where I am until week 11 when the program catches me?
HAL’S ANSWER: Given your current mileage, you could almost move up to my Intermediate 1 or 2 program - yet I continue to believe there is virtue in stepping back. By cutting your mileage, it allows you time to rest - and relax. Also, it allows you to do at least some of the runs at an up-tempo, more than would be possible with more mileage on your plate. You don't have to run each workout fast, but sometimes running the short (easy) runs somewhat out of your comfort zone can provide benefits toward the end of the program. Also, in any first marathon, the goal should be to get to the starting line uninjured and unstressed so you can cross the line with a smile on your face. Consider also that this has been a very hot summer so far, thus stepping back would allow you to run a lot more comfortably with slightly less mileage than you have been running so far.
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.