Running a Marathon
Suggested Training Programs for Runners
If you're reading this, I believe you already have what it takes to finish a marathon and be happy with your results. Running is a sport accessible to anyone, anywhere. All you need is time and feet, drive and focus, heart and courage. You'll find that your mind is a greater asset than your body. Indeed, running is in many ways mind over matter, and the marathon is the quintessential incarnation of this fact.
Who Am I?
I have been a distance runner for nearly twenty-five years. I am a former NCAA athlete (scholarship, too), and have some experience as a coach and a motivator. But more importantly, I am a man who has dedicated almost a quarter-century of life to personal physical experimentation. I know what works, I know what doesn't work, and I know what sometimes works. In some cases, I learned this stuff from books (I recommend Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin & Peter Coe, and the incredible Hyperfitness by Sean Burch). In other cases, I learned this stuff from being surrounded by accomplished coaches, athletes, former Olympians, and exercise physiologists. But in most cases, I learned this stuff by using myself as a human test subject, pushing my body to its limits, and seeing what happened next.
The information you'll find on this web page is the result of all that reading, listening, thinking, and running.
Who Should Not Do This?
While I believe that running is a great activity for almost anyone, there are a few people who should steer clear of this particular set of workout regimens:
- Absolute Beginners. Perhaps some day, I'll put together some information for those just starting out, looking for running tips. For now, though, I believe such folks will find my workouts a bit too harrowing. If you're a beginner, try starting off with some of Hal Higdon's programs.
- People Who Don't Like Running, Anyway. Why fight it? Running is a lot of fun, but if you just don't like it, now is probably not the time to undertake a marathon. Try out a few classes at the local gym to see what you might like.
- Pessimists. In general, it's probably a good idea for pessimists to stay away from Stationary Waves, period. But if you've made it this far, you certainly won't make it through my marathon training guides.
If you haven't crossed yourself off the list, it's time to decide whether you're a Level 1, a Level 2, or a Level 3 marathoner. I like to keep things simple.
Level 1 is a good choice for those of you who have a few 5Ks and 10Ks under your belts and are looking to tackle your first marathon. You work out regularly, and you enjoy it. You could stand to lose a few pounds, or maybe you used to be in great shape but have let your health slide over the last couple of years.
Level 2 is a good choice for those of you who have run a marathon before, or who have done a lot of running in the past. You know what it's like to push your body, and you're looking for a new challenge. You're pretty sure you can finish a marathon, but you don't necessarily want to do one every year.
Level 3 is right for you if you're an experienced runner looking to push yourself a little harder. You're competitive with yourself, but you're not interested in winning. You've done track workouts before, and you like them, but you don't have time to train like a pro. You're hoping for a personal best, though.
The Training Guide
So, without further ado, here's the training guide. One guide, for all three levels, as follows:
- Level 3: Do all the workouts, exactly as specified
- Level 2: Skip the Morning workouts. Do only the Evening workouts.
- Level 1: Skip the Morning workouts. Take all the rest days as specified. Any time you see the words "easy run," take the day off.
(And by the way, we'll be doing workouts that aren't exactly Hyperfitness; more like Hyperfitness-inspired. If you like them, buy Burch's book and take yourself to the next level of fitness.)
You can find all three Levels in this Google Document (thanks, Google).
I'll add the track, fartlek, and Hyperfitness-inspired workouts as we get to them. Enjoy!