QUESTION: I am about to do my third half marathon; after that, I'd like to take a stab at a marathon. I believe my schedule may finally allow me to properly train for that distance, but my biggest concern is working in the midweek workouts that peak at 8-10 miles toward the end of the programs. Do I have to do all 8 miles at the same time, or can I split the distance between morning and evening? I can work two 4-mile runs into a day’s schedule, whereas a single 8-mile run on a Wednesday would be very difficult.
HAL'S ANSWER: Unfortunately, there is no easy out. When you signed up to run a marathon, you probably knew there would be some workouts that would be difficult to do toward the end of the program. Obviously, the long runs on the weekends because of the distance, but also those pesky, but oh-so necessary, sorta-long runs midweek. The problem with the Wednesday runs is not so much covering the distance, but finding the time to do just that. For people who have 9-to-5 jobs, finding several hours on a Wednesday is much more difficult than finding twice that length of time on a weekend. In the instructions on the interactive versions of my training programs, I even suggest that people consider taking a full or half day’s vacation to do the last few sorta-long runs.
Unfortunately, splitting workouts is not quite the same. Part of the value of the sorta-long runs is the continuous running it forces you to do. In this case, 1 + 1 in this does not equal 2. If race organizers allow runners to do the first 13 in the morning and come back and do the second 13 in the afternoon, then I will allow them to split their workouts. Until then there is no easy way to modify the sorta-long workouts on Wednesdays and get the same training benefits.
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.