Forming a Marathon Training Plan


Over the past few days, I have been thinking about what my training plan should be for the Walt Disney World Marathon next January.  I have a solid half marathon plan that I have used for the past two years that was the product of a running group at my gym.  I’m not 100% sure of the source material for the plan (I could find it with some diligence, I’m sure), but I’m not comfortable trying to expand my current plan to marathon length.  Upon my research, I have found dozens of plans with drastically differing long distance runs, miles per weeks, and tempo/speed/strength runs.  All the plans seem to to range from sixteen to twenty-eight weeks, which is about what I was expecting for my training.  The plans that I am going to explore further are as follows:

  • runDisney program – designed by Jeff Galloway, calls for 3 weekly runs with progressively longer runs 50% of the weekends; 28 week program
  • New Balance program – programs offered through the company website (that is frowned upon in many running message boards because it is not attributed to a specific trainer); calls for runs 6-7 times per week with progressively longer runs over 16 weeks
  • Hanson Brothers Plan – 18 week plan that focuses on pace and tempo, not distance. You won’t run over 20 miles on any single day, but rather teach your body to maintain a pace.
  • Pfitzinger 18/55 Plan – 18 week plan that I don’t know much about, but it seems more tailored for people with a couple of marathons under their belts already

I’m going to do a little more research on these, an possibly a couple more plans over the next few weeks to decide my training strategy.  Most of the plans have structure for beginning, intermediate, and advanced runners to choose from.  I’m targeting the intermediate range provided my running history over the past two years and my 2013 running goals.  Also, I will need to incorporate my 2013 races into my training period without sacrificing too much on my races or training runs.

If anyone has any insight on these or other training programs, I would greatly appreciate it.  I’m not looking at running at a Boston Marathon pace, but I would like to complete the marathon in an upright position with a finishing time in the four to five hour range.