Marathon Training Plans

The marathon is an event that requires serious commitment and effort to get through!  Regardless of your running background, a marathon is tough.  

With that in mind we’ve prepared training plans for all types of runner, from beginner to advanced.  We’ve also included a 3 month express plan for novices on a time budget, based on this post.

– How To Use Our Training Plans –

Our aim is to help you to run far.  

With that in mind, we have developed our training plans to be completely free and totally customisable.  

This means you can change the training plan to suit your needs.  

Do other commitments mean that you can only train on certain days?  

Need to trim a couple of weeks off the time schedule?

No problem, edit the spreadsheet as you see fit.

Our training plans come in Excel format, and are un-protected.

Next to each training plan, you’ll see guidance notes and an explanation of how the plan was constructed.  

Good luck and Run Far!

THe 4hr Marathon – 5 Month Training Plan

Who Is It For?:   Runners who have established an initial running base, or have an existing good fitness level – and want to beat the 4hr time.

How Long?: Five months (20weeks).  

Description: The plan focusses on developing a strong running base, while increasing mileage.  This plan has higher weekly mileages than the other novice plans, in order to strengthen the running base which helps with running a consistent pace during your marathon.  Note that all ‘typical’ runs are designed to be run at the 4hr marathon pace (9:09min/mile, or 5:41min/km).  One day of speedwork has been included.   A more detailed description and explanation of the 4 hr marathon principles can be found in this blog post.

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Marathon – 5 Month Novice Training Plan

Who Is It For?:  First time marathoners, experienced runners who have lapsed in their training.  Runners who have established an initial running base, or have an existing good fitness level.

How Long?: Five months (20weeks).  This allows time for the runner to strengthen their base of running fitness then add mileage at a manageable rate.

Description:  This plan has you working out five days a week – four days of running and a day of cross-training, with two days off.  Given you have 20 weeks to prepare, you can afford the two days off to let your body recover, which helps your body adapt to the increasing mileage.  For your Long Runs at the weekend, the aim is simply to get your body used to running for a long time – so take them easy, don’t push yourself.  For your weekday runs, try and sustain a pace at which you could hold a conversation with someone.  Cross training is a great way to keep fit and ensure your marathon training does not negatively impact other parts of your body.  Many runners have other sports and hobbies they don’t like to neglect when in training, so you can do these on Thursdays if you want.  Cycling, swimming and yoga are all recommended cross-training activities.

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Marathon – 3 Month Novice Training Plan (THE EXPRESS PLAN)

Who Is It For?:  Novice runners with only three months to prepare for their marathon.  If at all possible, the beginner plan or the 5 month novice plan above should be used instead.

How Long?: Three months (12weeks).  This is an accelerated plan which does not leave much room for days off, or allow any slack for injuries.  

Description:  This is essentially an abridged version of the 5 month Novice plan above.  This plan has you working out five days a week – four days of running and a day of cross-training, with two days off.  Given you have 20 weeks to prepare, you can afford the two days off to let your body recover, which helps your body adapt to the increasing mileage.  For your Long Runs at the weekend, the aim is simply to get your body used to running for a long time – so take them easy, don’t push yourself.  For your weekday runs, try and sustain a pace at which you could hold a conversation with someone.  Cross training is a great way to keep fit and ensure your marathon training does not negatively impact other parts of your body.  Many runners have other sports and hobbies they don’t like to neglect when in training, so you can do these on Thursdays if you want.  Cycling, swimming and yoga are all recommended cross-training activities. 

Don’t overdo things.  If your body is worn out, allow it some rest.  And good luck.

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