How I trained for my first marathon ever (Hal Higdon Novice 1)

I thought it might be helpful/ fun to post about how I trained for halmy first marathon in October of 2012.  I should highlight here that I had NEVER RUN BEFORE THIS YEAR.  Well, I did like 2 months of cross country in the 7th grade, where I endeavored (and often succeeded) to not come in last (I would come in 2nd to last and beat the kid with asthma.  My proudest moment).  I’m all about plans and lists, so the first thing I did was to Google “marathon training plans” and one of the first links to pop up was the Hal Higdon Marathon Training Plans.  Hal Higdon is a very old guy that runs very fast.  But seriously, he’s set multiple records and run over 100 marathons.  He even has awesome posters like this, so you know he’s cool.  And he knows a thing or two about running.  The first thing you’ll see on his website is that he has a ton of different plans customized for different distances and skill levels.  So that’s really helpful.  Here are the marathon plans he’s posted on his website:


I picked the Novice 1 plan because (a) I was definitely a novice, since I had started running about three months ago and (b) it looked pretty doable (no speed work, just straight-up running 4 days a week).  The plan is 18 weeks long, as are most of his marathon plans.  Oh, they’re all free by the way! More $$ in my pocket, I’m always a fan of that.  You wouldn’t know that by my online shopping addiction, but anyway…

I followed the plan really well, missing only 1 (4 mile) run.  Pretty good, huh? Here’s what I ran (basically the original plan, minus a few cross-training sessions and the 4 mile run):


What I liked:

The plan was simple and easy to follow for a first-time marathon runner.  No complicated speed workouts.  I felt mentally prepared for the marathon, having run up to 20 miles in the plan.  If I had to train for my first marathon all over again, I’d pick this one.

What was tough:

I really struggled around the Week 11 long run.  It was painful, and I was practically walking by the end of the 16 miles.  Okay, so I might not have completely finished that run…  What saved me was discovering the Jeff Galloway walking method – I started incorporating 30 sec – 1 min of walking after each mile.  This helped me to hydrate better, and mentally break down the long run into 1 mile segments.  I was also much less exhausted by the end of the run. After that, even the 20 miler went well!

For next time:

I think I’m ready to incorporate a little more speed work when I’m training for my next marathon, and I’ll try to be more vigilant about cross-training after my long runs (it helps you recover, apparently).  And maybe keep up with yoga once a week.  Basically, I’m going to have to choose between sleeping and training.  But you know what’ll pick =P Insomnia rox my sox anyway.


2 thoughts on “How I trained for my first marathon ever (Hal Higdon Novice 1)

  1. Pingback: Long Beach Marathon Training Begins! | sneaker∙therapy

  2. Pingback: Sneaker Therapy Turns 1! | sneaker∙therapy

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