Marathon Training Plan
A couple people asked me about my marathon training plan, so I thought I’d share some information on it with you all.
When I signed up for my first marathon, I did a lot of research into training plans. Then I ultimately picked one of the worst training plans for a first-time marathoner.
I choose to do Pete Pfitzingers 18/55 plan, which means an 18 week plan with a peak weekly mileage of 55 miles. This Pfitz plan is, in fact, a great plan, which is why I choose it. It is a plan based on exercise science, the book explains the purpose of each run, and I hated running advice that seemed to be based on running folk lore. I’m an engineer. I need science! And I chose it because everyone on the running forums said it was the best. If you spend 5 minutes on any running message board, you’ll hear about the Pfitz plans.
However, it is not a great plan for a first timer. The book (and the internet and common sense) TOLD me this, yet I couldn’t convince myself to do a non-science based plan. So I tried it. The mileage was too high for me at the time, and I didn’t follow the plan completely. This is normal – but I probably only completed 75-80% of the plan. It was just too much.
Despite this, the fundamentals of the plan were enough, and I completed my first marathon in about 4:20-4:30, at Big Sur, a notoriously hilly course! Hurrah! My goal was 4:30, so I went out at that pace, and ran negative splits. It was a great first marathon experience.
I used the same plan for my second marathon, but I followed it. I still didn’t do all of the speed workouts and often subbed the tough “marathon pace” long runs with half marathon races (effective, but expensive). On my second race, I pulled of my goal of a sub 4 hour marathon. Yay!
For my next marathon, I’m planning on using the plan again. I’m on another hilly course, so I’m not sure I’ll have a huge improvement again, but I think I can beat my last time. Unfortunately, week 2 of the plan begins next week, and I’m sidelined with a minor calf strain… so we’ll see. I may choose a less time consuming plan, but I know that if I want to be absolutely prepared, Pfitz is the way to go.
If your goal is to finish a marathon, there are a lot of plans out there that will get you there. I wouldn’t recommend the Pfitz plan to a first-time marathoner. Many people have had successful marathons on other plans. I used Hal Higdon’s plans for my first 1/2 marathons and quite liked it. His marathon plans look pretty solid, though some of them also have 10 mile midweek runs. This plan seems roughly similar in difficulty/mileage as the Pfitz 18/55. I had a friend who trained with Team in Training, and she quite liked their plan.
I purposely didn’t post my plan here, as the plans aren’t available for free online. You can check out your local library or book store to take a peak at it and see if it is right for you.