QUESTION: I'm using your intermediate program to train for a half marathon and was wondering why you have us increasing mileage up to the week before the race instead of tapering the last few weeks, like you often hear people advise?
HAL’S ANSWER: I’m not sure who those people might be. In my marathon programs, I taper runners three weeks before the race, the longest mileage coming in Week 15 of the 18-week program. But you’re right. In my 12-week half marathon programs, peak mileage comes in Week 11, allowing only one week to taper. This is because the half marathon is nowhere near as stressful as the full marathon. If you are a talented enough, or experienced enough, runner to sign up for an intermediate program, a single week should be enough. Following the half, it should take you much less time to recover and be back in full training stride. Lately, the half marathon has become America’s most popular racing distance, three times as many runners having run half marathons last year vs. full marathons. We haven’t abandoned 26.2-mile races, but we love going 13.1 and not having it interfere with our regular running routine.
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.