Fair-Weather Fan

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | By Hal Higdon
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Got a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I'm a long time fan and always use your plans for my training. But sometimes I’m also a fair-weather fan. I trained very consistently for the last several years with maybe one or two month breaks at most. This season I used one of your Intermediate plans to BQ: Barely, with 10 seconds to spare! This past January, I ran another race, but since then I have focused on other forms of cardio training, so my running has suffered.

I do want to train for some fall races and will probably run a 5-K or 10-K in late September and build up to a late fall half marathon to get back in shape for either: a) running Boston, if I get to register, or b) running another marathon to try and BQ again.

Which of your plans do you suggest for getting back on track? If I have to BQ again, I'd plan for a mid-January or mid-February marathon, so that gives me five or six months to focus my training. I'm optimistic that I can succeed, knowing that this is the longest break I've taken in years, and I was at my peak in January 2013 after 30 weeks of training.


Alas, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but because of the intense focus on Boston 2014, 10 seconds under a BQ probably will not get you into next year’s race. Pointing for 2015 seems more reasonable. Begin by aiming at a half marathon in November, as you already suggested. Use one of my half marathon programs. Would you be comfortable with Intermediate Half, which features a day of speedwork? Don't focus too much on a time goal; focus on the training with the race almost an afterthought. In other words, don't waste a lot of psychic effort. That will make it easier to recover quickly.

Then shift almost immediately into Marathon Mode. Having completed a half marathon, you will have reached the equivalent of Week 8 or 9 in one of my marathon programs, maybe a week or two beyond that. Aim for a BQ at the marathon you choose in January. If you did Intermediate 1 last time, you could step up to Intermediate 2. Or if you were comfortable with the speedwork in Intermediate Half, you might try Advanced 1, which also offers one day of speedwork. Whichever program you choose, I’m confident in your ability to score another BQ.

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