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I would like to follow a specific marathon program in order prepare for a marathon which is due on October 21 but don't really know which one to follow. There are actually so many programs available but as I am a "free" runner, I have never been able to stick to any. This time I know I would have to.

I have already ran 4 half-marathons and my record is 1h31m. I have done quite a lot of bicycle travelling and soccer besides my "free" runs and some periods of weightlifting. My goal actually is to finish and still be able to smile :)

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I haven't personalyl done it, but I've heard great thigsg about the [Couch To 5K][1] program. [1]: c25k.com –  DForck42 Jun 29 '12 at 20:20
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3 Answers

I'd look at running technique rather than a specific program for conditioning. Chi Running has worked nicely for me and has allowed me to complete a half marathon with no specific training, and no exceptional pain (like you, I did a lot of cycling though). If you're not trying to increase your timing, and just want to do it pain free, that's the path of least resistance. It sounds like it would be easier for you to stick to a technique program that allows you to run whenever you want for as long as you want than a specific schedule that a traditional running program would require you to adhere to.

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For ease, you could use Hal Higdon's Novice #2 program. I recommend removing weeks 2 and 4 since you only have 16 weeks if you start next week. Hal's program is straight forward but good for 1st time marathoners as it gets them ready for enduring the distance.

Obviously you have good talent so if you'd rather learn some more, I'd recommend checking out the videos on CoachRunning.com. I'd also recommend doing 1 run a week over rolling hills.

Even better, using your midweek longer run, do the last 1/2 mile up a gradual hill (or rolling hills). Each week make the uphill portion a 1/2 mile longer. Week 2 would be the last 1 mile, Week 4 would be the last 2 miles, etc. This recruits more muscle fibers stimulating muscle growth and improving confidence.

Good luck.

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Thank you very much for very useful answers, it's seems to me that the best solution is to adapt the available programs to my running, if i may say so, and not the opposite, as i already train three to four times a week (not this week to be honest) i will not have to start from the beggining, all i have to do, is to make some changes in my program and do some weightlifting and some biking whenever it's possible..one last thing i have to put up with is heat as i live in Morocco and it's really hot in the summer here in addition to the fasting month which starts in about 20 days –  H.A.A Jun 29 '12 at 11:22
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You don't really need to follow a specific plan, make up your own. With a 1:31 HM, you've already got pretty decent speed.

One of the better "programs" I've seen is from a guy named BarryP on the slowtwitch forums, it's called 3:2:1. Basically, you do 3 short runs, two medium and one long. Each one is double the previous run.

So, if your short run is 40 minutes, then your medium run is 1:20, and your long run is 2:00. Start with your longest week (which should be a couple weeks out from your marathon) and work backwards to determine how much time for each run each week.

A couple months out (So around late August) start incorporating speed work, pickups, strides, intervals, etc. Make sure you vary terrain, run hills on a regular basis, and you should be fine.

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