Marathon Training Plan

The first 12 weeks will be kept pretty simple (read part 1 primer). We’ll be focusing on the basics of a good marathon training program; building mileage and aerobic strength, understanding the fundamental weekly schedule, and acclimating your body to the increasing stress load.

WEEK GOALS SUN MON TUES WED THURS FRI SAT
1 5 Runs: Target 25 miles Day off Easy 5 mile run Easy 3 mile run Easy 5 mile run Day off Easy 3 mile run Easy long run of 10 miles
2 5 Runs: Target 30 miles Day off Easy 5 mile run Easy 3 mile run Easy 5 mile run Day off Easy 3 mile run Easy long run of 12 miles
3 5 Runs: Target 35 miles Day off Easy run Tempo run WU/CD. 3 X 5min at tempo pace* Easy run Easy hilly run* Day off 10 mile Progression run*
4 4 Runs: Target 25 miles Day off Pickups WU/CD 6 X 1min pickups w/ 2min rest Day off Easy run Tempo run WU/CD. 3 X 10min w/ 1min rest at tempo pace Day off Easy long run of 13 miles
5 5 Runs: Target 30 miles Day off Tempo Run WU/CD 6 X 2min pickups w/ 2min rest Easy run Day off Tempo Run. WU/CD. 20-25min at tempo pace Easy hilly run Easy long run of 12-14 miles
6 6 Runs: Target 35 miles Day off Intervals. WU/CD. 4 X 800m at 10k pace w/ 2min rest Easy run Easy run MP Workout*. WU/CD. 3 X 2mi at MP w/ 2min rest Easy run Easy long run of 14 miles
7 6 Runs: Target 40 miles Day off Hills. WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hill intervals. Take 2-3min rest Easy run Easy hilly run Tempo Run. WU/CD. 30min Tempo Run Easy run 12 mile Progression run
8 Down Week 5 Runs: Target 25 miles Day off Easy run Easy hilly run Easy run Day off Easy run Easy long run of 15 miles
9 5 Runs: Target 30 miles Day off Tempo Run. WU/CD. 30min Tempo run Easy run Day off Long Hills: WU/CD. 5 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min rest Easy run Easy long run of 16 miles
10 5 Runs: Target 35 miles Day off Easy run MP Workout*. WU/CD. 3 X 2mi at MP w/ 2min rest Easy run Day off Easy run 13 mile progression run
11 6 Runs: Target 40 miles Day off Hills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval rest Easy run Easy run Intervals WU/CD. 4 X mile @ HM Pace w/ 2-3min rest Easy run Long run of 8-10 miles easy
12 4-5 Runs: Target 25 miles Day off Intervals WU/CD. 4 X 800m @ HM pace w/ 2min rest Day off Intervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min rest Easy 30min Easy 20min running or day off Easy 20min jogging, pre-race
    1st Target Race: Half Marathon*            

The second 12 weeks will focus on building mileage on long runs, accomplishing key workouts to increase fitness, develop specific marathon pace, and building fatigue resistance.

WEEK GOALS SUN MON TUES WED THURS FRI SAT
13 5 Runs: Target 40 miles Day off Rest day or easy run of 2-3 miles Easy run Intro Workout WU/CD. 10 X 1min at HM pace/1min easy pace Easy run Easy hilly run 15-17 mile easy long run
14 6 Runs: Target 45 miles Day off Hills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval rest Easy run Easy run Tempo run WU/CD. 30min Tempo run Easy run 15 mile structured long run – 5 mile easy, 10 mile w/ alt 1mile at MP/1 mile easy
15 5-6 Runs: Target 50 miles Day off Easy hilly run Easy run Intervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min rest Easy 30min Easy 20min running or day off 17-19 mile easy long run
16 4-5 Runs: Target 25 miles Day off Easy run or day off Easy hilly run Easy run Day off Easy run Easy long run of 15 miles
17 5-6 Runs: Target 45 miles Day off Intervals WU/CD. 6-7 X mile at HM pace w/ 2min rest Day off Easy run Tempo Run WU/CD. 35min tempo run Easy run 17-19 mile easy long run
18 5-6 Runs: Target 50 miles Day off Easy run Long Hills WU/CD. 6 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min rest Easy run or day off Easy hilly run Easy run 17 mile structured long run – 9 mile easy, 2X (2 mile at MP+20sec, 1 mile at MP) 1 mile CD.
19 5-6 Runs: Target 55 miles Day off Intervals WU/CD. 10 X 800m at HM pace w/ 1-2 min rest Easy run Easy run or day off Tempo Run WU/CD. 40min tempo run Easy run 20-22 mile easy long run
20 4-5 Runs: Target 30 miles Day off Easy run Day off Easy run Easy hilly run Easy run or day off 13 mile progression run
21 6 Runs: Target 60 miles Day off Easy run MP Workout. WU/CD. 3 X 2 mile at MP w/ 2min rest Easy run Intervals WU/CD. 12-16 X 1min fast/1min easy Easy run 23-24 mile easy long run
22 5-6 Runs: Target 50 miles Day off Long Hills: WU/CD. 5 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min rest. Easy run or day off Easy run Intervals WU/CD. 5 X mile @ MP w/ 1min rest Easy run 12-14 mile easy long run
23 4-5 Runs: Target 30 miles Day off Hills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval rest Easy run or day off Easy run Intervals WU/CD. 4 X mile @ MP w/ 1min rest Easy run or day off Long run of 8-10 easy miles
24 4-5 Runs: Target 40-50 miles (including race) Day off Intervals WU/CD. 2 X mile @ MP w/ 2min Rest Day off Intervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min res Easy 30min or day off Easy 20min running, pre-race, gear check Target Marathon Race

Notes

* WU/CD. Warm up and cool down. 10-15min easy pace running followed by dynamic stretching, usually 15-25min total. I highly recommend doing at least the 10-15min easy running if you’re short on time. This is meant to get you ready for a run at faster than your easy pace. It increases blood flow to muscles and as I like to say “primes the system for hard work.“

* Tempo Run Guidelines. A tempo run is meant to get you close to your lactate threshold but not go over. It should be a comfortably hard effort that you could maintain for 10-20min past the end of the run. You should not be straining to achieve the desired effort. This run is best done by monitoring your heart rate to 87-92% of your maximum heart rate. These should be done on a flat course.

* Easy Hilly Run. I’m a huge proponent of adding a lot of hill running into a marathon program. It helps give you the strength you need to finish out a successful marathon. Easy means easy. Keeping your heart rate or effort in the easy range while running significant elevation gain. You may have to re-calibrate what you think is a hill. If possible, you would achieve 1,000-1,500ft of elevation gain with an 8-10 mile run.

* Progression Runs. A progression run starts out easy and progressively gets faster until you finish the last few miles at about tempo effort. Usually broken down to 1/3 easy pace, 1/3 progression dropping about 10-15sec/mi, 1/3 at tempo effort. These can be done on flat to rolling courses.

* Easy Runs. Easy runs are meant to be EASY. Yes, they feel slow. Yes, I know you can go faster. That’s not the point. Take your time. Run for time if that helps you slow down. Keep these to 65-75% of your maximum heart rate and very conversational. Most in this chart do not have mileage because you’ll fill in your weekly mileage using easy runs of varying distance based on how much your target weekly mileage is.

* 1st Target Race. Half Marathon. As we progress through the 6 month plan it is often a good idea to test your fitness using a race. The half marathon at the 12-week point is meant to help you stay motivated and on target with your training. It can also help you to figure out your current training paces as it gives you a training marker to start from.

* MP (Marathon Pace) Workout. This workout is to get you familiar with your marathon pace. It will be similar to your tempo effort +5-10sec. You should feel pretty comfortable for the full 2 miles but it will start to get tough on the last interval. Keep an even pace and do this on a course similar in profile to your target marathon.

* Structured Long Runs. These are long runs that have a specific purpose and structure to the mileage, pace, or both. They are meant to not just get you to the finish line of a marathon but to adapt your body to some of the discomfort you will feel later in the race by having to push your body when it is already tired.

* Target Marathon Race. At this point, you’ve put in the work and you’re ready for your race. Preparing correctly does not guarantee that the race will go well or that it will be easy. Races are never easy and never get easier. They only get faster. Hopefully the training has been hard but rewarding in prepping your body to go the distance and that it will result in a performance that you are happy with.