I’m often asked which marathon training programs are best. The answer is complicated based on skill level, but in general, I often recommend training programs by Hal Higdon or Bart Yasso. The most important thing to keep in mind when training for a marathon is that it is a distance event. Therefore, the primary goal of training is to run distance. For a basic training program, you must run the long runs. I often shy away from encouraging a basic runner to adhere strictly to the 6-10 milers during the week, in sacrifice for the long runs on the weekends. In other words, the “middle distance” runs during the week are simply not as crucial as the long runs on the weekends. A marathon is a distance event.
For more advanced runners, a day or two of speedwork and hills during the week is recommended . This will improve VO2 and lactate threshold endurance, improve speed, and train fast-twitch fibers/strengthen your legs for more efficient running.