The 8 Week Marathon Training Plan + Guide For Last Minute Racers

A marathon is a major physical feat, so it’s no surprise that it takes a long time to train for a marathon. 

In fact, most running coaches do not advise beginners to even start training for a marathon until they have at least a year of consistent training as a runner under their belt.

Furthermore, even once you have passed the beginner stage and have a year of training in your legs, most marathoners will tell you that it took months to train for their first marathon.

But what if you don’t have a lot of time before a marathon race opportunity you just can’t pass up? Can you train for a marathon in 2 months? Is there an 8 week marathon training plan to get you there?

While we absolutely recommend a minimum of a 16-20 week plan for first-timers, depending on your current fitness level, an 8 week marathon training plan can potentially get you in race-ready shape.

In this guide, we will provide an 8 week marathon training plan for runners who feel fit enough to train for a marathon in only 2 months.

We will discuss: 

  • Can You Train for a Marathon In 2 Months?
  • Tips and Important Considerations With our 8 Week Marathon Training Plan
  • And Share Our 8 Week Marathon Training Plan

Let’s get started!

A person tying her shoe, getting ready to train with her 8 week marathon training plan.

Can You Train for a Marathon In 2 Months?

Is an 8 week marathon training plan realistic?

Not for everyone.

An 8 week marathon training program isn’t for the faint of heart, beginner runners, or those looking for a marathon PR. Additionally, if you’re an injury-prone runner, a 2 month marathon training plan is probably too aggressive and will increase your risk of injury.

On the other hand, it can potentially be feasible for runners who have been getting in some good mileage to get in marathon-ready shape in just 8 weeks.

Tips and Important Considerations With Our 8 Week Marathon Training Plan

Here are a few important tips for training for a 2 month marathon training plan:

Marathon runners.

#1: Have a Solid Base

Our 8 week marathon training plan is fairly aggressive, so you should be running consistently in the 30 miles per week or more range before starting it.

#2: Modify Workouts As Necessary

We also include speed workouts and tempo runs, so if you have only been doing distance runs, it might be a good idea to pick and choose which of these workouts you do for the first couple of weeks. 

Swap out the other hard workout for a distance run instead. 

Doing too much too soon, particularly jumping up in intensity, can increase the risk of injuries.

For example, in week one of the plan, you are scheduled to have an interval workout of 400m repeats on the track, as well as a threshold workout later in the week with 5 x 4 minutes at your tempo pace.

If you’ve only been doing steady-state distance runs before beginning this 8 week marathon training plan, pick one of the two workouts and run it as prescribed (to the best of your ability). 

Convert the other hard workout into a distance run that’s roughly equivalent to the typical daily mileage you’ve been averaging.

A runner in the grass.

#3: Don’t Push the Pace

A note on paces: 

Long runs should be run at an easy, conversational pace. 

For most runners, this should be about 1-2 minutes per mile slower than goal pace.

The purpose of these runs is just to accrue time on your feet in order to build up your endurance to handle the 26.2 miles on race day.

Running your long runs too fast will be overly taxing for your body and can compromise your recovery and performance in the other workouts during the week.

Your midweek distance run should also be at a conversational effort.

The threshold workouts and tempo runs are run at your tempo pace, which is approximately the pace you could sustain running all out for one hour without stopping.

With strides, accelerate over the duration of the stride, reaching max speed at the end of each one.

A leg massage.

#4: Recover Like a Pro

Another point to emphasize is that recovery is crucial. Make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, if not more. 

Focus on diet quality and quantity, getting enough total calories, as well as specific nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. 

Implement recovery modalities–such as foam rolling, stretching, massage, hot and cold therapy, etc., as much as possible.

#5: Strength Train 

In addition to the training plan as written, it’s also a good idea to strength train twice a week.

Your strength training workouts supplement your running mileage by increasing the strength in your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints.

This, in turn, reduces your risk of injuries.

Although different running coaches suggest various ways to schedule your strength training workouts relative to your runs, in general, we suggest strength training on your easy run days or cross-training workout days.

Your strength training workouts should be total-body workouts, focusing on compound exercises like squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, and core exercises.

A person doing lunges.

#6: Listen to Your Body

Finally, and most importantly, it’s crucial to listen to your body. 

Training for a marathon in 8 weeks is extremely demanding on your body. Pay attention to excessive soreness or recurring or lingering areas of discomfort, and heed warning signs by taking extra rest days, as necessary.

It’s more important to take care of your body than to hit every single workout in this accelerated marathon training plan as written.

8 Week Marathon Training Plan

Download The Training Plan Here

Enter your email, and I’ll send you this free training plan now, in PDF and Google Sheets formats (completely customizable), in both miles and kilometers.  

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Head over to our marathon training plan database for full access to all plans.

download this free training plan in pdf or google sheet
8 week marathon training plan
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Cross training: 30-45 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 10 x 400m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
8 miles (12-13 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 5 x 4 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec restEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km)Long run:
16 miles (25 km) 
Cross training: 40-45 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 6 x 800m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
9 miles (14-15 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 4 x 5 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec restEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
18 miles (29 km) 
Cross training: 45 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 6 x 1,000m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
10 miles (16 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 3 x 7 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec restEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
20 miles (32 km) 
Cross training: 45 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 6-8 x 800m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
10 miles (16 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 2 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec restEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
15 miles (24 km) 
Cross training: 45-60 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 5 x 1,200m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
10 miles (16 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 20 minutes at tempo paceEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
20-22 miles (32-35 km)
Cross training: 45-60 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 4 x 1,600m at 10k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
12 miles (19 km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 25 minutes at tempo paceEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
16 miles (25 km) 
Cross training: 45-60 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 10 x 400m at 5k pace with 200m jogDistance run:
7 miles (11
km)
RestThreshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 2 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec restEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m stridesLong run:
10-12 miles (16-19 km)
Cross training: 30-40 minutesSpeed workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 4 x 800m at goal marathon pace with 200m jogEasy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km)RestShake out: 20 minutes and 4 x 75m stridesMarathonRest

As mentioned, an 8 week marathon training plan is not ideal. Even for experienced runners, 2 months is very little time to be able to train sufficiently and see any sort of improvement. If you want to work toward lowering your marathon time, and getting that next PR, take 16-20 weeks to prepare well.

Check out some of our longer marathon training plans, along with all of our marathon resources, here.

A person running on the road.

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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