Beginner Marathon Training Plan
Congratulations on deciding to run a marathon! It is one of the few challenges that require you to train for a head of time. Luckily, we’ll get you prepared with everything you need to know. If a full marathon seems daunting, check out our Beginner Half Marathon Training guide for more tips!
Most marathon training plans are 16-20 weeks long depending on how much you’ve been running prior. During this time, expect to run 3-5x per week gradually increasing your mileage as you get closer to race day. This plan will include cross training, some other form of low intensity exercise, such as yoga.
If this is your first marathon we won’t worry about split times or paces. We will focus on finishing and preparing your joints to gradually adapt to the distance at a safe rate. Over the course of 18 weeks we will be aiming to increase our milage no more than 10% per week.
|1||Rest||3 miles||3 miles||3 miles||Rest||6 miles||Cross Train|
|2||Rest||3 miles||3 miles||3 miles||Rest||7 miles||Cross Train|
|3||Rest||3 miles||4 miles||3 miles||Rest||5 miles||Cross Train|
|4||Rest||3 miles||4 miles||3 miles||Rest||9 miles||Cross Train|
|5||Rest||3 miles||5 miles||3 miles||Rest||10 miles||Cross Train|
|6||Rest||3 miles||5 miles||3 miles||Rest||7 miles||Cross Train|
|7||Rest||3 miles||6 miles||3 miles||Rest||12 miles||Cross Train|
|8||Rest||3 miles||6 miles||3 miles||Rest||Rest||Half Marathon|
|9||Rest||3 miles||7 miles||4 miles||Rest||10 miles||Rest|
|10||Rest||3 miles||7 miles||4 miles||Rest||15 miles||Cross Train|
|11||Rest||4 miles||8 miles||4 miles||Rest||16 iles||Cross Train|
|12||Rest||4 miles||8miles||5 miles||Rest||12 miles||Cross Train|
|13||Rest||4 miles||9 miles||5 miles||Rest||18 miles||Cross Train|
|14||Rest||5 miles||9 miles||5 miles||Rest||14 miles||Cross Train|
|15||Rest||5 miles||10 miles||5 miles||Rest||20 miles||Cross Train|
|16||Rest||5 miles||8 miles||4 miles||Rest||12 miles||Cross Train|
|17||Rest||4 miles||6 miles||3 miles||Rest||8 miles||Cross Train|
|18||Rest||3 miles||4 miles||2 miles||Rest||Rest||Marathon|
How To Use This
This 18 week plan takes into account that you can already run 3 miles comfortably. You will have one long run, two short runs and a moderate run. Feel free to adjust the days according to your schedule.
- Long runs should be at an easy to moderate pace, with a relaxed breath that allows you to maintain a conversation
- It is smart to begin re-fueling your body with snacks anywhere between 45 mins- 2 hours into your runs
- If you’re a seasoned runner, you can work on your tempos during short or moderate runs depending on your experience
- If you’re a beginner, your short runs can be treated as “faster” runs
- Cross training days will be non running, low impact activities such as swimming, yoga, cycling, or weightlifting if you were already doing that before hand.
- Rest is incredibly important, your body will need to recover from the stress of training
- Make sure to sleep, eat and hydrate properly
- If you’re running a trail marathon, run on trails as often as possible whether it is the short run or breaking up your long run
What if I Miss a Run?
Over the course of 18 weeks, you are bound to skip a workout here and there. Prioritize your long run workouts. It is important to get the mileage in over the entirety of the week if you have to break it up. There’s no shame in walking, walking instead of stopping or slowly jogging when you’re fatigued can often times be faster. Walking also uses different muscles and can give your running muscles a quick break. Don’t worry about speed or comparing yourself to others. Consider each week, each workout a small goal you want to achieve. Lots of small steps towards success.
Nutrition for Running
If you’re committing to running a marathon, carbohydrate are your friend. You want quick acting fuel before and during your runs.
- Avoid eating fats before a run, fats are great after a run-
- Avoid eating too much fiber 12-24 hours before a long run
- For both of the above, more energy will go into digestion instead of running
- Do eat simple carbohydrates before and during your run, but DON’T eat fruit before a run
- Eat adequate amounts of protein after your runs for recovery- protein repairs your muscles
- Hydrate before during and after your runs- you will lose a lot of water as you sweat
Carb load at least the night before, maybe begin a few days before depending on your body. Carb loading is eating a bunch of carbohydrates to pack your body full of fuel to burn for the next day. An example would be eating pasta and garlic bread for dinner the night before your half marathon test. I can’t stress enough how important it will be to get plenty of rest the day before.
- Make sure your shoes are well broken in
- You’re familiar with the details of the race, where there are water stops etc
- Bring extra electrolytes and have them in your water
- Sun protection
- Chafing protection
- Bring your snacks, don’t try any new snacks on race day. Stick to the snacks you’ve been eating during your long runs
Good luck and enjoy the process! You are on your way to running your first marathon.
This blog post is a recap of key points from multiple sources listed below & personal experience: