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The Novice 1 Plan
The Novice 2 Plan
The Intermediate 1 Plan
The Intermediate 2 Plan


Spring Training

A 12-Week Schedule to Get You Ready to Race

Here is the training program you've been looking for: Spring Training. I designed this 12-week program several years ago to bridge the gap between the end of winter, signaled in Chicago by the LaSalle Bank Shamrock Shuffle toward the end of March, and the start in early June of my 18-week training program to prepare runners for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in October.

Race dates in Chicago often cause minor variations between the Shuffle and the Marathon, which signal the beginning and end of the racing season in that city. In 2005, for instance, Easter pushed the Shuffle into April. But normally in Chicago, runners usually can begin with Week 1 the day after the Shuffle and complete Week 12 just in time to start Week 1 of my marathon training program. That's roughly 30 weeks of training designed to make sure you're ready to run the marathon in the fall. You may live in another city where race dates vary, and you may not even be preparing to run Chicago, but the training principle of doing some preliminary training (sometimes introducing speedwork) before starting your marathon training remains the same.

So let us begin. While all of the information on how to do specific workouts is contained in the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced introductions that follow from this screen--as well as in my various books--it's not always convenient to surf to get what you want to know. You want that information now! And you have it here. You'll find the weekly Spring Training screens that follow from the introductory screens crammed with information on how to train. And if you would like to sign up for one of my Virtual Training programs where I send you daily e-mail messages telling you how to train, you have that option too. Click on the logo in the right margin below. Regardless of which one of my programs you choose, Spring Training specifically is focused on how to get ready to run and ready to race.

Time to get in shape

For Novice runners--those who never have run before--this may mean getting into some semblance of shape so that they can begin my 18-week marathon training program. For those of you who have been running several years, Week 1, which is climaxed by a 6-mile long run on the weekend may not seem that tough, but it's like Mount Everest for those who have never run before. This Spring Training program will give novice runners a chance to gradually raise their fitness level so they can begin that first week of training with some chance of success.

Advanced runners often have a different problem. They've run a bunch of marathons and other races at different distances, and they want to improve their performances, not merely in the marathon, but in other distances they run frequently, like the 5-K, 8-K or 10-K. These advanced schedules will tell them how to do just that, showing how to mix various forms of speedwork (interval training, tempo runs, hills, fartlek) into their training week. They also get a chance to race frequently (5 times in fact) with goal 5-K and 10-K races in the last few weeks.

The Intermediate runners fall somewhere in between. These are runners who probably have been running several years, may have run one or two marathons, have faithfully trained through the winter, maintaining a certain mileage base, and now they want to build on that base. They want to continue to maintain that fitness level--perhaps improve on it slightly--so they can start marathon training in better shape than before. The 12-week Intermediate schedule offers some speedwork and some racing and should provide what they want.

So here is Spring Training in multiple variations. Whichever one of my programs you choose, I hope it will help you to achieve your running goals.

Spring Training: NoviceIntermediate | Advanced