Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Review

Note: This post is part of a larger series with other training plan reviews, overviews, and marathon resources.

I used the Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Plan which is presented for free on Hal Higdon’s website.

I used the program to beat my first marathon time by 35 minutes.

This Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Review covers what worked well for me and what didn’t, with all the disclaimers of my personal health and changes.

This being my second marathon training cycle, I was pleased how much I have already gained and learned. Rather than just going through the motions of a training plan, I knew what my body needed and tried to help it along the way.

Hal Higdon Marathon Novice 2 Training Review

What worked well?

I tried to keep my long runs close to race pace, 10:10-10:30/mi. I didn’t get down on myself if a particular long run was slower than that, but I think it really helped to get in a lot of those miles close to speed.

The mid-week pace runs I actually ran faster than race pace. It was a simple way to incorporate speed work at longer distances. I think it kept my leg turnover fast and made sure I wasn’t going one steady speed all week.

What did not work well?

Weeks 12-16 alternated a high mileage long run and low mileage long run. I think my body would have responded better continuing with the pattern of two mileage building weeks followed by one active recovery week.

I had trouble adjusting mentally and physically to flipping back and forth.

Differences Between Novice 1 and 2

For my first marathon training cycle, I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan. Novice 2 has slightly higher mileage, one more 15+ long run, and goal pace runs.

The pace runs actually made the mid-week run more manageable time-wise, because it ranged from 5-8 miles as opposed to Novice 1’s 3-10 miles.

How well did I adhere to the plan?

I was coming off a foot injury that sidelined me 3 months. So the first 8 weeks of training, I replaced one of the shorter runs for cross training, typically to help me recover from a long run. End of week 7, I ran my long run up a mountain and missed my mid-week runs to recover. I missed week 10 due to poor motivation/illness.

Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Review

This is an effective, simple plan that will get you in marathon shape at 4 days/week. I was even able to swap some runs for cross-training when I was derailed by injury.

The plan is very adaptable – someone with good running experience could use this plan for a first marathon (doing the pace runs at an estimated/goal race pace) and I could even use it again for a third marathon (continuing pace runs faster than marathon pace) if I wanted.

Hal Higdon Marathon Novice 2 Training Review
Medal and beer

Related Reading:

Ever used a Hal Higdon plan?

Do you buy training plans or use free ones?

2 thoughts on “Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon Training Review

  1. How do you mean you cut 35 mins off your first marathon – if you never finished one before then you didn’t have a time to compare with?

    • Hi, Rick — I used this plan for my 2nd marathon (Feb 2016). My first was in 2014, in which I was 35 minutes slower to finish. Thanks for pointing out the confusion. I’ll fix the wording.

I would love to hear from you...

%d bloggers like this: