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I am wondering what marathon training program I should go with. This would be my first marathon. I have heard good things about Hal Higdons program...but was doing some reading and have looked at Galloway's Book of Running, and The Marathon Runners Handbook.

Galloway stresses that it is important to run the full 26 miles during your training regime. Most of his training programs have you running that distance. Other sources say you really do not have to run the full distance during training.

I am wondering what is the a good training program?? I have read about hitting the wall at 20 miles and grinding out the last six. Any advice would be much appreciated. My goal first and foremost is to finish....but ideally I would like to finish under 4 hours. But maybe I am wrong to set that goal???

i enjoy running but have never really committed to running a marathon but have always thought it would be a great challenge...and a satisfying achievement. i usually run in a couple of 5k runs every summer but never really have committed to running long distances(rarely run longer than a 10k).

i am looking for a marathon in september or october. and am thinking about the whistlestop marathon up in ashland, wi. any suggestions for other marathons in late fall would be appreciated. i feel like i have plenty of time to train until that point. as stated before, i would appreciate any advice on which training program i should follow. i typically run 5k's in 21-22 minutes.

i am not sure what other information would be helpful to you. i havent been running much over this past winter but i do cross country ski. so i am getting back into running now usually running 3-4 miles/run. i am slowing building up my mileage as spring progresses. Thanks to anyone who can help me with some advice!! I am kind of new to this forum stuff.

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I can't see running 26 before you run your first 26.2. I only see that option for a high mileage 10k person moving up to the marathon with a time goal in mind. I don't know maybe I'll find out I'm wrong if I ever do an ultra and run a great marthon a month or two later. I've gone as far as 24 miles in training and that was years ago. In recent years, I max at 22. I maxed at 21 this year. My general rule of thumb is maybe one run of 2:45, else 2.5 hours MAX. If you are training for a 4 hour marathon and it is normal to run training runs slowers, does Galloway really expect to be out there pounding pavement for nearly 5 hours???

First marathon, training advice??? Hal Higdon.....hands down.

And "no" you are not wrong to set a time goal. I think it's wrong not to. If your goal is to finish....how do you set how fast to do your training runs? I guarantee you'll do them too fast. If you pick 3:58 and follow Higdon's plan....you will "know" a ballpark figure of how fast your long runs should be, your threshold runs.....etc.
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so if my goal is to finish under four hours....and i follow hal higdons training program.....which training regime do i follow?? do i follow the novice regime or the intermediate I or intermediate II program??

so are you saying that on my long runs on higdons plan that i should pace myself for a 4 hour marathon pace??

Thanks for the advice...first person to really respond to me.
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Even though Sue has oodles of marathon experience and I have none, I think I will run 26 in training before I run a marathon. That's just me - I like to KNOW that I'll make it. But I think it's really personal. Most people would however, recommend no more than 22 miles in training. As for the time goal, it seems about right if you're running a 21 minute 5k. If you put in the miles and train well, it should be yours. Also, I would train for the goal pace, say 4 hours. Calculate your times from that (or you could calculate from your 5k times, but again I'm a goal oriented person).
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My longest training run was 21.3 miles. It was plenty.

Check the library for Four Months to Four Hour Marathon. IT has a pretty detailed training routine in it also.

You can always take what you like from different routines and piece-meal them together to make one that works for you.

Good Luck!
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First of all sorry I've been so long getting back to you. No excuses, but sometimes reasons ( half a world away, different time zones, work commitments and training squads )
I pretty much agree with everything Runaround has posted but after reading your history I couldn't help thinking; Why the marathon and why so soon.
You have a worthy time goal of under 4 hours, my thoughts would be to do the marathon training either Galloway, Higdon or any of those off the shelf programs and get a feel for distance training, then rather than the marathon, run a half marathon or even two this year; make the marathon a longer term goal for the following year.
I've no doubt you could run the marathon on one of the suggested programs, but to run a GOOD first marathon, (one where you are happy with the time) takes steady consistent training - the more the better.
Also by taking the longer term view you can be more flexible in your program. I have always taken the view that its not the miles in the 20 or so weeks leading up to your marathon that are so important, its the miles you ran the previous year.
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All great thoughts...it is very much appreciated to get advice from people who have some experience in this area. All of the comments make alot of sense to me.

Is it fair to say that I should be cautious of my training pace being too fast?? From the comments I have read it seems I really need to concentrate on slowing my pace down while training and concentrate on lengthening the time it takes to finish training runs. Just shoot for that 10-10.5 minute training pace. Then during marathon I would try for 9-9.5 pace....does that make sense??

From the comments I have read....my gut reaction is to go with Higdon's Novice program and just see how my training goes. I guess if I make the decision to follow that plan I could see how I am feeling and worst case is I run some half marathons this year. Best case I run the marathon and try to finish in 4 hours....but if I dont meet that goal yet still finish....I still will not be disappointed. I really will still be happy if I just finish my first marathon. Ideally though I am not sure it is a bad thing to shoot for a goal.

Anyway....those are my thoughts going forward based on the very much appreciated comments you all have made. What do you think???
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Although I'd prefer you leave the marathon for a year, you have made a decision and good on ya.
I would suggest a combination of both Cooker, long runs progressively building up to at least 3 hours, remember you are going to be on your feet for at least 4 hours, the distance you cover in the early stages of training is un-important. What is important is that you are able to run feeling comfortable. I wouldn't even bother trying to work out what pace you were running at. Then once a week (because you can) run a 5km. in or around 21mins. (muscle memory)
One more thing, you can't train at 10.5min. pace and then come out on marathon day and miraculously run the marathon distance at 9.5min. pace
Hope that's not too confusing.
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I guess that means that after training for a while I should see what type of pace I am running long distances at. Keeping in mind not to worry too much if my pace is not a 9 minute pace....just run comfortably. If I consistently run 10-11 minute pace....dont fret over it...just accept that a 10-11 minute pace very well may be my racing pace.

Does that sound like it makes any sense?? Or should I still shoot for the goal of 4 hours or less?? This is all assuming my training goes very well and I am ready for a marathon this year. I want to be realistic about it...if it doesnt go well I will just half marathon it. Again....many thanks for the feedback. It is helping me alot knowing what to expect and how to train properly.
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