Chicago Marathon Training Plan

Today officially starts my training for the Chicago Marathon. And (of course) it’s a rest day. And I’m actually taking it as a rest day, because I’m going out to dinner and a concert after work with my husband, parents and one of my brothers and sisters-in-law.

Last week, I was mulling over which training plan to follow. Go with Novice 2 and keep the same number of running days, or go with Intermediate 1, and run one more day per week than I’m used to? I appreciate everyone’s feedback!

I’ve decided to go with Novice 2, for a few reasons.

I know I can run four days per week. This is what I’ve been doing for months. My body can handle this. I’m already going to be upping the mileage later on in this plan, no need to up the number of days as well.

I need the flexibility. I don’t run the same days every week, based on whatever else I have going on, or which days I schedule or can attend a standing group run. Doing four days per week, instead of five, gives me more flexibility to move runs around as needed (or so I can attend certain group runs).

More time for other workouts. My goal is to do at least one strength/resistance workout per week. That gives me two days to work in yoga, cross training (swim or bike – it is summer) and rest. I could double up running and strength on one day, but I don’t want to overload my schedule (or my body).

There will be other marathons. Maybe. If this one goes well. And if there are, I can try the Intermediate 1 plan. I am a novice marathoner after all, following the Novice plan is probably a good idea, especially since I don’t have a time goal in mind.


In all honesty, I probably won’t follow this plan exactly. I will probably follow the long runs pretty closely (adjusting for races I’ve already signed up for), and follow the easy runs more or less, but I’ll probably swap out a lot of the goal pace runs for speedwork or tempo runs. So … pretty much what I have been doing but with longer long runs.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?


My goals for the marathon:

  • Make it to the start line healthy.
  • Love running as much on October 7 as I do today. Or more.
  • Cross the finish line before the time cut-off (6hr, 30 min) with a smile on my face.
  • Meet my fundraising minimum ($950).
And beat Oprah? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Maybe at my second marathon.
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13 Comments on “Chicago Marathon Training Plan”

  1. I didn’t do speed work or anything but when I trained for my half, I used the novice plan for that and it worked well. I agree that it gives a little bit of wiggle room to adjust according to life. I missed a few runs here and there but stuck with the long runs and it worked out well for me. I felt ready and prepared on the big day. I plan to use one of the novice plans (probably novice 2) when I train for a full marathon.

  2. Good choice! I used novice 1 or 2 when I trained for my “1st” marathon back in 2008. It was flexible enough to allow for unforeseen events and not too much of a time burden. But, i definitely felt prepared going into that marathon and have never felt better crossing a finish line. Maybe not having a time goal helped too. My BF is starting with the novice 1 program today for his Chicago marthon adventure too.

    Happy training to you Lady!! 🙂

  3. I think you have a good grip on things. My winter marathon pace leader said that weekly training will be all over the place, but as long as you stick to the long runs, you will be ready on race day. (and he was very wise). I can’t wait!

  4. I think one of the most important goals you set was to enjoy running in October as much as you do today. Running is such a mental sport and if you start hating it, you will run into many more problems than just completing those long runs every week! At least this is what I believe, and this is one of my goals too 🙂

    1. I think it’s important to remember that this is supposed to be fun. None of us are getting paid to do this. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what our time is – sure, we all like to do better and improve, but other than personal satisfaction, and the occasional age group award, it doesn’t matter if I finish in 3 hours or 6. So if I’m not enjoying it, then what’s the point?

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