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.

WEEKGOALSSUNMONTUESWEDTHURSFRISAT
15 Runs: Target 25 milesDay offEasy 5 mile runEasy 3 mile runEasy 5 mile runDay offEasy 3 mile runEasy long run of 10 miles
25 Runs: Target 30 milesDay offEasy 5 mile runEasy 3 mile runEasy 5 mile runDay offEasy 3 mile runEasy long run of 12 miles
35 Runs: Target 35 milesDay offEasy runTempo run WU/CD.
3 X 5min at tempo pace*
Easy run
Easy hilly run*
Day off10 mile Progression run*
44 Runs: Target 25 milesDay offPickups
WU/CD
6 X 1min pickups w/ 2min rest
Day offEasy runTempo run WU/CD. 3 X 10min w/ 1min rest at tempo paceDay offEasy long run of 13 miles
55 Runs: Target 30 milesDay offTempo Run WU/CD
6 X 2min pickups w/ 2min rest
Easy runDay offTempo Run. WU/CD. 20-25min at tempo paceEasy hilly runEasy long run of 12-14 miles
66 Runs: Target 35 milesDay offIntervals. WU/CD. 4 X 800m at 10k pace w/ 2min restEasy runEasy runMP Workout*. WU/CD. 3 X 2mi at MP w/ 2min restEasy runEasy long run of 14 miles
76 Runs: Target 40 milesDay offHills. WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hill intervals. Take 2-3min restEasy runEasy hilly runTempo Run. WU/CD. 30min Tempo RunEasy run12 mile Progression run
8Down Week 5 Runs: Target 25 milesDay offEasy runEasy hilly runEasy runDay offEasy runEasy long run of 15 miles
95 Runs: Target 30 milesDay offTempo Run. WU/CD. 30min Tempo runEasy runDay offLong Hills: WU/CD. 5 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min restEasy runEasy long run of 16 miles
105 Runs: Target 35 milesDay offEasy runMP Workout*. WU/CD. 3 X 2mi at MP w/ 2min restEasy runDay offEasy run13 mile progression run
116 Runs: Target 40 milesDay offHills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval restEasy runEasy runIntervals WU/CD. 4 X mile @ HM Pace w/ 2-3min restEasy runLong run
of 8-10 miles easy
124-5 Runs: Target 25 milesDay offIntervals WU/CD. 4 X 800m @ HM pace w/ 2min restDay offIntervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min restEasy 30minEasy 20min running or day offEasy 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.

WEEKGOALSSUNMONTUESWEDTHURSFRISAT
135 Runs: Target 40 milesDay offRest day or easy run of 2-3 milesEasy runIntro Workout WU/CD. 10 X 1min at HM pace/1min easy paceEasy runEasy hilly run15-17 mile easy long run
146 Runs: Target 45 milesDay offHills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval restEasy runEasy runTempo run WU/CD. 30min Tempo runEasy run15 mile structured long run – 5 mile easy, 10 mile w/ alt 1mile at MP/1 mile easy
155-6 Runs: Target 50 milesDay offEasy hilly runEasy runIntervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min restEasy 30minEasy 20min running or day off17-19 mile easy long run
164-5 Runs: Target 25 milesDay offEasy run or day offEasy hilly runEasy runDay offEasy runEasy long run of 15 miles
175-6 Runs: Target 45 milesDay offIntervals WU/CD. 6-7 X mile at HM pace w/ 2min restDay offEasy runTempo Run WU/CD. 35min tempo runEasy run17-19 mile easy long run
185-6 Runs: Target 50 milesDay offEasy runLong Hills WU/CD. 6 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min restEasy run or day offEasy hilly runEasy run17 mile structured long run – 9 mile easy, 2X (2 mile at MP+20sec, 1 mile at MP) 1 mile CD.
195-6 Runs: Target 55 milesDay offIntervals WU/CD. 10 X 800m at HM pace
w/ 1-2 min rest
Easy runEasy run or day offTempo Run WU/CD. 40min tempo runEasy run20-22 mile easy long run
204-5 Runs: Target 30 milesDay offEasy runDay offEasy runEasy hilly runEasy run or day off13 mile progression run
216 Runs: Target 60 milesDay offEasy runMP Workout. WU/CD. 3 X 2 mile at MP w/ 2min restEasy runIntervals WU/CD. 12-16 X 1min fast/1min easyEasy run23-24 mile easy long run
225-6 Runs: Target 50 milesDay offLong Hills: WU/CD. 5 X 3min hard uphill intervals w/ 2-3min rest.Easy run or day offEasy runIntervals WU/CD. 5 X mile @ MP w/ 1min restEasy run12-14 mile easy long run
234-5 Runs: Target 30 milesDay offHills: WU/CD. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1min hard uphill intervals w/ half interval restEasy run or day offEasy runIntervals WU/CD. 4 X mile @ MP w/ 1min restEasy run or day offLong run of 8-10 easy miles
244-5 Runs: Target 40-50 miles (including race)Day offIntervals WU/CD. 2 X mile @ MP w/ 2min RestDay offIntervals WU/CD. 6 X 400m @ HM pace w/ 1min resEasy 30min or day offEasy 20min running, pre-race, gear checkTarget 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.

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Max King
Max lives in Bend, OR and is a Salomon Running athlete. He’s still working on his weaknesses but gave up on being a professional basket weaver a long time ago. Check out his adventures around the running world at @MaxKingOR.