NOVA: The Training Calendar

Key to Terms on the Training Calendar


Easy runs—or if you're just starting out, walks or walk/runs—help your muscles, tendons, and joints adapt to the rigors of running without too much stress, which can increase your risk of injury. Easy runs should feel just that—easy. They should be a manageable distance and be run at a pace that feels very comfortable.

Cross Training

Cross training is physical activity other than walking or running, such as biking, yoga, inline skating, or rowing. Cross training helps to strengthen your non-running muscles while giving your running muscles a chance to rest. This rest protects against overuse injuries common among distance runners. Cross training also helps you avoid boredom and burnout.

Long Run

Long runs are the cornerstone of a marathon-training program. They simulate the physical and mental challenges you will face during the 26.2-mile race. Physically, they give your muscles, tendons, and joints a chance to adapt to repetitive pounding. They also build endurance by strengthening your cardiovascular system, conditioning your muscles to store more "fuel" in the form of glycogen, and helping your body learn to use different sources of fuel (like fat) during a run.

Long runs play an important role in mental preparation for a marathon, too. They build the mental toughness that you need to keep going for long periods of time. Long runs should build slowly over the course of training (1-2 miles per week).

Medical Screening

A screening is another name for physician's consent. All of our athletes met with a physician and were given approval to train before joining Team NOVA.


Rest days are a key part of a marathon-training program. Including these days in your training will make you a stronger runner and help keep you injury-free. Why? Because your body needs time to relax, recuperate, and repair the micro damage that occurs to your muscles while you run. Rest days should not involve any planned physical activity.


A VO2max test is used to measure your level of fitness. It determines the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. (To learn more about VO2max, and how our runners improved their scores, see Fit to Go the Distance.)


Introducing walk breaks into your runs can make them more manageable, while still allowing you to build endurance. They may help you transition from being a "walker" to becoming a "runner." They also can get you through difficult runs. There is no exact formula for how much walking to include. Mix in as much or as little walking as you think you need to complete the distance and feel good.