Marathon Training Schedule

Pick your marathon training schedule from the available programs on this page to help you train smart and stay motivated right up to your event date. Below you'll find a marathon training schedule for beginners as well as one for more advanced runners.

Classifying runners as 'beginners' vs. 'advanced' or experienced versus inexperienced can be quite subjective, so I'll leave it to you to look at the plans and decide for yourself if the commitment required for the first few weeks is a stretch compared to what you are currently used to. The beginner program starts at an 8 mile long run and the advanced starts at 14 miles. Consider what your most recent long run has been as the total weekly mileage to help you with this decision. Otherwise, if it's your first marathon or your goal is to simply finish one in no particular time, this schedule is for you.

The biggest difference between the beginner and more advanced schedules though, is that the beginner program does not have AT or tempo runs . The main reason is, while these workouts do prepare you to race well at long distances, they are very taxing workouts that require a high level of bio-awareness. Even when done correctly, like any high intensity run, they increase your chances for injury. So, unless you have an aggressive time goal for the marathon, they shouldn’t be required in your training.

As with all of my training programs , these are not necessarily the perfect fit for you as an individual, however the plans do provide structure with carefully placed recovery days. Both of the marathon training schedules are in miles, and only show ONE week at a time. This allows you to stay focussed on the current weeks worth of workouts and plan for them without getting overwhelmed by the length of long run that you will gradually build up to 14 weeks later:)

They are also in PDF format which print nicely on 8.5 x 11 paper and you can post like a wall calendar. Each training day has enough room to write down your feedback after each workout as a training log. This can be valuable information to look back on after successes (and almost successes) to learn where you may have gone wrong...or right so that you can repeat next time!

Finally, notice the blank box at the top of each page. Here is where you are to write down your program goal. For example On June 21st, 2011 I will run the marathon in 3:45:00. At the beginning of each week, take 10 seconds to WRITE your goal down. If you need a bit of help carving out your goals, check out the goal setting strategies page. As the great philosopher Bob Proctor always says:

‘Writing causes thinking, thinking causes emotion and emotion causes action!’


BEGINNER MARATHON TRAINING SCHEDULE

Basically, this training plan requires 4 and sometimes 5 running days a week commitment. Hard days, which include speed work such as intervals and long runs, are indicated by the orange or fire coloured circles. These workouts have implications:

  1. These are your most important runs of the week - so do your damnest not to miss getting these runs done!
  2. Make sure that you are well rested before them
  3. Make sure that you allow for proper recovery after them
While the other days are important for your general aerobic development and adaptation, be sure not to let anything get in the way of your key (orange) runs. You'll see a mix of intervals which should be done at a track if possible, a hill repeat session thrown in about every third week, and finally of course a gradual build up for your long runs.

MODIFYING THE SCHEDULEs

If you have to extend the plan by a few weeks so that the program peaks to fall on a specific event date that is say 20 weeks away, you can squeeze extra time by repeating weeks in the middle of the plan. Avoid changing the initial 5 or the last 3 weeks of the program as they are designed for proper build up and taper periods. Easier than this though, is to simply run base mileage and start your marathon training schedule at a later date.

You can also move the long run to Saturday and swap the recovery day to Sunday since they are never high intensity workouts planned for the Friday or Monday.

Here is the beginner marathon training plan:

Marathon Training Schedule Beginner *NEW* If you have a marathon goal, but don't have 18 weeks to train, here is a more compressed 12 week training schedule:

12 Week Marathon Training Schedule Beginner

INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED PLAN

For this marathon training schedule, you'll notice that there are still two recovery/cross training days built in, but also there is an extra high intensity day. This is known as the 'AT' or anaerobic threshold/lactate balance point/tempo day. Since the pace at which your ability to buffer lactate is around your half marathon pace, these runs are SO important for a half and full marathon runner's development. If these are new to you or not sure that you are currently doing them properly, please refer to the tempo runs page for some extra direction.

Other than that, the long runs are placed on Sunday and all other rules apply. Add or remove weeks in the middle, and don't skip the key(orange) workouts.

Here is the Intermediate/Advanced marathon training schedule:

Marathon Training Schedule Advanced

*If you do cross train on the recovery days, do your best not to go hard at your other sport if you can help it. Most significantly, be as rested as possible for your AT runs as those are the gold standard workout for racing well!

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