beginner runners

Are beginner running programs good for you

There are so many running programs for beginners available today that you start believing that 18 weeks really are enough to transform you from a couch potato to a world class marathoner. Don’t fool yourself – these programs are designed to take you to the finish line but you are almost assured to pay dearly after the race.

A friend of mine said the other night – “You know, there’s nothing healthy about running a marathon, right?” – and then told me how everyone who trains for a marathon gets injured and cannot climb the stairs for weeks. Nowadays long distance running is a synonym of pain and injuries when it is supposed to be fun and healthy.

The simple truth is – finishing a marathon is easy, finishing it well though is certainly not. It takes hard work and dedication, TONS of them. You just need to be there and run. No short cuts, no quick fixes.

Ronnie Coleman, the eight-time Mr. Olympia, once said – “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy-ass weights.”

I guess you still don’t believe me. That’s fine. I will make my point clear with a real world example. Let’s get the most popular training program out there – Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 – and look at the chart illustrating the weekly mileage and the long run progressions.

What we can see immediately is that there are only 4 weeks with more than 30 miles a week and that almost 50% of the miles go in the long run. What this really means is that you have 4 good runs in the whole program. That’s all – four good runs. You don’t have to be a running expert to see that’s not enough.

I am not saying that this program is not working. No, in fact I am pretty sure that’s the right way to check the marathon off of your bucket list. What I am saying is that it won’t make the experience as enjoyable as it should be and that there is a great chance you will never think of running a marathon ever again.

Is that really what you want?

2 thoughts on “Are beginner running programs good for you

  1. Hi there I saw your story through a comment on another blog, and just had to see what you had writen…

    I always say 18 weeks to a marathon, are you mad, 4 or 5 weeks is enough… but than looking at the graph I don’t think you would be fit enough to start too train for a marathon after those 18 weeks!!!

    good luck to them I say…

    1. That’s exactly what I think! The problem is that running programs for beginners are designed to take you to the finish line and not build a solid base you can then use to train properly for a marathon. Sadly that’s what most of the people want – to say that they’ve finished a marathon

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