Half Marathon Plans
The Novice 1 Plan
The Novice 2 Plan
Full Marathon Plans
The Novice 1 Plan
The Novice 2 Plan
The Intermediate 1 Plan
The Intermediate 2 Plan


Preparing for Fall Marathons

Racing 26.2 Soon?

Some frequently asked questions about my training plans

Many spring marathons remain to be run. Bayshore and Grandma’s come to mind. Flying Pig was this past weekend. Big Sur the weekend before. And, of course, Boston. April, May and June are crammed with great races: full and half. But many runners already have begun to focus their attention on the fall: Chicago. Marine Corps. New York. Pick your favorite poison.

Runners who live in the Frozen North tend to like fall marathons, since they can avoid training with snow and ice on the ground, and everyone who enjoys going 20 miles on a treadmill, please raise your hands. None of you? Not even after the brutal recent winter? Welcome to summer, y’all.

Understandably, runners who live in the Sunny South prefer spring races as one way to avoid rising temperatures when the Sun rises way too early. But runners are good at embracing challenge. A lot of you are happy to run your marathons and half marathons in the spring and fall or any other time an attractive starting line beckons.

Thinking ahead, I just updated the training plans I offer for the Chicago Marathon, (those specific to that race) and announced that fact on my Facebook page. Many runners chimed in, signifying their fall marathon plans, a form of self-motivation. Several asked questions about my programs. Let me share with you the Q&A.

Pete DiAngelis Jr. wondered about running a marathon in May, then running another in October. “When should I begin training for the October race?”

Most of my marathon training plans last 18 weeks, so starting that many weeks out is the logical approach. (Training for Chicago begins June 9.) If you match a late spring race with an early fall race, that squeezes the amount of time available, but most runners can slide from one endurance-based program into another without any major problems. I did recommend to Pete, however, that he utilize my Marathon Recovery program (5 weeks) before resuming serious training.

Kris Hansel had just finished a half marathon and announced his intent to run his first full marathon in the fall, using either my Novice 1 or Novice 2 programs. Kris asked: “Do I need to start the full program at week 1, or can I skip ahead knowing that I just completed a half marathon program?

If short on time, yes, you can skip ahead, but I usually recommend that runners go back to the beginning, even though that means cutting back on early mileage, particularly the long runs. This allows you to slide into the program well rested. You gather forces in the beginning to prepare for the tough weeks at the end. This is similar to my use of stepback weeks every third week to allow both a physical and psychological break as mileage builds toward the end of program.

Linda Karasz Dwy wanted to know what advantage was to be gained by signing up for one of my interactive programs and paying $39.95, when all my plans are available on my Web site for free. “I guess I just want to know: What will I get for the money?” she wonders.

What Linda and others signing up for my interactive programs will get is a lot more information and instruction in the daily emails I send them. Yes, a copy of my training chart attached by magnets to your refrigerator tells you what to run each day, but the daily emails tell you how to run them. And if you also purchase one of my Apps through Bluefin, you can run with me talking into your ear offering motivational comments. My programs are free, but they work best in combination with my interactive programs and also my book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide.

Those are just a few of the questions asked recently on my Facebook page, Hal Higdon’s Marathon. Some runners also catch me on Twitter, although the very best place for answers to all your training questions are on the Hal Higdon Bulletin Boards sponsored by TrainingPeaks. Look also for the weekly Q&A w/HH. I’m all over the Internet. You can’t miss me as you prepare for your fall marathon.



Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner’s World. His most recent book is 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners, available in book stores, online and (autographed) through www.halhigdon.com.