I just looked at the MIT website and there are a lot of choices!?!? If you have any questions about which schedule you should follow this should help. But, if you need assistance selecting the appropriate schedule please e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking on half and full marathon training can be a daunting task in and of itself. Then you log in to the MIT site only to be presented with all these training schedule options. So, how do you know which schedule is for you?
In your user profile you are asked to select the distance and race that you are training for. This is hopefully a pretty simple answer. Select the distance )half or full) and your goal race.
Now comes the fun part! What is the difference between the beginner and experienced schedules? And what in the world are the Advanced 57, 66 and 70 schedules?!
The first two training levels are fairly self-explanatory. Beginners are beginners. If this is your first time training for a half or full you are definitely a beginner. If you have struggled with injury or over-training you should consider sticking with the beginner schedule for a season or two to see how your body reacts. The beginner schedules do not incorporate any tempo/interval training. The beginner schedules for full marathoners reach a peak of 47 miles for the highest weekly mileage, but average in the mid-30s. The beginner schedules for half marathoners reach a peak of 25 miles for the highest weekly mileage, but average in the low-20s.
I do not recommend moving up to the experienced schedules until after completing 2-3 consecutive seasons of injury-free training. The experienced schedule incorporates tempo/interval training once per week. The experienced schedules for full marathoners reach a peak of 50 miles for the highest weekly mileage, but average in the low/mid-40s. The experienced schedules for half marathoners reach a peak of 31 miles for the highest weekly mileage, but average in the mid-20s.
The advanced schedules are definitely a different animal. Again I don't recommend choosing them without at least 2-3 consecutive seasons of training at the experienced level without injury or over-training. The advanced schedules incorporate two days of tempo/interval training in addition to frequent progressive runs throughout the schedule. The advanced schedules also "assume" that the participant has several years of higher mileage training. For the full marathon there are three different advanced schedules (Advanced 57, Advanced 66, Advanced 70) The only real difference between them is the amount of weekly mileage. The 57, 66 and 70 schedules represent the peak mileage for each. The advanced schedules for the full marathon average in the high-40s for the Advanced 57, mid-50s for Advanced 66, and low-60s for the Advanced 70. The advanced schedules for half marathoners reach a peak of 31 miles for the highest weekly mileage, but average in the high-20s.
Each level up of training comes with greater intensity and mileage. Along with that comes greater risk of injury and over-training. It is best to stay consistent with you mileage as your body adapts to new challenges. Before moving up a training level ensure that your body is ready. Adding the tempo/interval training can certainly make a huge difference. My one caution is that adding the tempo/interval training requires serious recovery days... if you're not already using heart rate guided training I would definitely recommend doing so. Saturday HR should be in zone two and extremely casual and there should be at least one day of active recovery which will feel like INCREDIBLY SLOW!
Enjoy your training!
Change your life. One mile at a time.