Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Marathon Training Plans
5k’s are fun, 10k’s are a doddle and half marathons take a bit of training, but there is nothing that equals the spectre of the full 26.2 marathon. Double the distance but four times the training of a half marathon, a full marathon is not something that even your average athlete can role out of bed and complete in a half decent time. Sure, you could probably jog/walk the distance in several hours, but there is nothing more rewarding than crossing that finish line knowing that you have trained hard, and finished in a time that you know is your best.
The below marathon training plans assume a few things. Firstly, you must be able to run about 6 miles without collapsing and you must have been running at least 10 miles a week for the past few months so that you have already started to build up the conditioning that your body is going to need to get through the next few months of training and has already begun to adapt to the stresses and strains that running places on your vital joints and tendons.
Before you embark upon any kind of marathon training plan, it is essential that you are honest about your own fitness. If you plan on binge drinking, smoking and eating rubbish food every day until the marathon then you are not going to have a pleasant time on race day. Marathon training takes dedication, perseverance and more of a holistic view on health than you think. If you are under the impression that if you just need to get on the treadmill twice a week until race day then think again and read on.
The best way to approach marathon training is with a structured marathon training program that both increases your weekly mileage in a controlled manner and also incorporates some essential stretching sessions, gym work, speed work and rest days.
The following marathon training programs have been designed with a different fitness level in mind and each aims to prepare you for the big race within three months of starting the program.
The most important thing that you can do when embarking upon these programs is to listen to your body. If you start to get sharp pains in your joints, soreness or tenderness that doesn’t fade after a two days, or just generally feel run down and worn out then take a break. Hurling yourself into your next hard training session when you are ill or worn down is not going to do anyone any favours and you will do much more harm than good as even if you do manage to get through that next session.
All the relevant training sessions are explained in more details below the following training plans.
The aim of this plan of to slowly increase your weekly mileage to about 35 miles per week whilst concentrating on building that one long weekend run up to about 20 miles. Unless you are a seasoned marathon runner then you shouldn’t run more than 20 miles in one session before the big day as the recovery time of such big sessions is very long you also disproportionately increase your risk of injury.
Download the Beginner Marathon Plan here
This program assumes that you have run at least one half marathon before and that you have a good solid base of fitness. Maybe you play sport at the weekend but don’t run regularly in the week. Again the focus of this plan is to increase your weekly mileage, but this time we are going to aim for about 45 miles per week. Along with a long run at the weekend you need to be ensuring that you are throwing in some kind of intervals or hill session as this is what really makes the difference when it comes to race speed.
This is a program for anyone who would call themselves a regular club runner. You probably already run three times a week and know the difference between Yasoo’s 800m reps and your Fartlek training and really want a program that is going to stretch you to your limits. Again the focus is on building your weekly mileage, but this time you need to be doing speed work, cross training and stand along stretching as well as your long runs.