26.2 training plans

This week I am comparing marathon training plans…what will fit into your life is the one to choose. Most importantly: Show up + do the work….thats the plan that will work for you. Either an on-line source or book will be listed for more information…

What to think about when picking your marathon training plan:

  • Length. The longer the plan, the more time you have to adjust to the training load. However, a longer plan also requires a greater time commitment.
  • Starting Mileage. A marathon training plan needs to start with an initial mileage that matches your current fitness. However, you can skip the first few weeks of a plan if you are fitter than the initial few weeks call for. In fact, it can be important to skip these weeks, otherwise you may become detrained.
  • Ramp up. The quicker the plan ramps up the mileage, the less time you have to adapt. A faster ramp up generally indicates a higher risk of injury or burn out.
  • Rest. One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of marathon training plans is the amount of rest and recovery you get. 
  • Days/week and Easy Days. How often does running fit into your schedule. And the more you run, make sure easy days are easy.
  • Longest Run.

Furman (FIRST marathon training plan)

  • 3 days of running (tempo, interval + long) with 2 days of cross training
  • Note:all runs are workouts (no easy runs) 
  • Runs include a tempo, interval, and long run( long run between MP + 30 secs) 
  • Plan: 16 to 18 weeks. Long runs: peak at 20(+) miles
  • Book: Run Less, Run Faster

Jack Daniels

  • UNIQUE: specifies 2 workouts/runs per week: a long run & a speed work, with the rest up to the runner… therefore a more flexible plan
  • Training pace based on fitness
  • Plan: 18 to 24 weeks
  • Long runs peak at 22(+) miles
  • Book: Daniels Running Formula
  • Order plans online at http://www.runsmartproject.com


  • Mostly for the experienced runner looking to improve performance with high mileage
  • Long runs peak at 22 (+) miles
  • Book: Advanced Marathoning

Hal Higdon

  • Most of Higdons plans define the traditional marathon training plans
  • Easier plans are vanilla, while harder ones include back to back long runs
  • Calendar: 18 weeks
  • Long runs peak at 20 miles
  • No speed work in the lower plans, with some speedwork in the advanced plans
  • 13 plans available online at: http://www.halhigdon.com


  • UNIQUE: cumulative fatigue, 6 days of running, marathon paced runs, <16 miles long run
  • Runs: 3 SOS (something of substance) runs plus 3 easy days…6 days per week
  • Very specific training paces for speed, strength, easy and marathon pace runs. 
  • Long runs peak at 16 miles
  • Pacing dependent on goals
  • Book: Hanson’s Marathon Method


  • Focus on form….posture, lean, ankle lift, arm swing, cadence, gears.
  • Calendar: 24 weeks (technique, conditioning, mastery phase)
  • Four days of running, with optional easy or cross training day
  • Speedwork: conditioning phase: tempo run (up to race pace) Mastery phase: speed intervals and tempo run (up to race pace)
  • Long runs peak at 22 to 24 miles
  • Book: Chi Marathon


  • walk/run pattern
  • no speedwork
  • some plans include training runs longer than 26.2
  • More Info and training plan: http://jeffgalloway.com

Run the Edge Level-Up

  • UNIQUE…the level-up training plans work on a point system and not by weeks, therefore runners can accumulate points and move on without a focus on weeks.
  • Calendar: Because you can repeat levels or a series of levels, you can use level up any time of the year no matter if you have a race coming up soon or not. They are super flexible allowing you to determine how much time you want to take to get through.
  • Minimum of 3 (or 4 for time goal) days of running per week
  • Two plans to order: Premium plan gets you to the finish line. The Ultimate Plan includes a goal setting guide for specific workouts if you have a time goal.
  • Goal Pace Workouts from Kara Goucher for your time race goal.
  • To order plans: http://www.runtheedge.com/training-plans/

Runners World Smartcoach

  • generates customized training plans…you input your race time, weekly mileage, training effort and schedule length and you get a plan based on information. (based upon the work of JackDaniels and other coaches) 
  • Runs: a tempo or interval session once a week for most weeks and long run. 
  • Plan: based on your calendar
  • Long runs: peak at 20 miles

RUNKEEPER: an APP for your phone….

Information Sourced from: http://fellrnr.com/wiki/A_Comparison_of_Marathon_Training_Plans#Hanson.27s_Marathon_Method