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8 Week Marathon Training Plan + Guide For Last Minute Racers

If you're an experienced runner and in a rush to prepare for your marathon, this plan is for you!

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

In fact, most running coaches do not advise beginners to start training for a marathon until they have at least a year of consistent running experience 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 it took months to train for their first marathon.

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

While we 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.

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 a feasible amount of time for runners who have been getting in some good mileage to get in marathon-ready shape in just 8 weeks.

Not sure this is the plan for you? – Check out our other marathon training plans.

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

In this training schedule, we also include speed work 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 will 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 workouts1Burke, J., Thayer, R., & Belcamino, M. (1994). Comparison of effects of two interval-training programmes on lactate and ventilatory thresholds. British Journal of Sports Medicine28(1), 18–21. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.28.1.18 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. Your first one will already be over the length of a half marathon distance, so get ready!

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

The purpose of these runs is just to accrue time on your feet to build up your endurance2Filipas, L., Bonato, M., Gallo, G., & Codella, R. (2021). Effects of 16 weeks of pyramidal and polarized training intensity distributions in well‐trained endurance runners. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports32(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.14101 to handle the full marathon 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 during the week’s other workouts.

Your midweek distance run should also be run 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.

If you have a specific finish time in mind, you can utilize our Marathon Pace Calculator to determine a specific pace target and even time splits and pace chart for each kilometer or mile of your race.

A leg massage.

#4: Recover Like a Pro

Another point to emphasize is that recovery is crucial. Ensure you get 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. Also make sure your hydration is in check.

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

#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 weekly 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, we generally 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, listening to your body is crucial. 

Training for a marathon in 8 weeks is extremely demanding. 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.

Download The 8-Week Marathon Training Plan For Free:

8 week marathon training plan - printable
8 Week marathon training plan PDF image
  • Get the TrainingPeaks version of this plan, which you can sync with your device (coming soon).

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.  

After entering your email, you’ll be prompted to create an account on the Grow platform we use to control access to the plans. It’s completely free – make sure to complete the process to gain access to the plan!

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

download the free 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 mile run (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, in terms of getting that next PR, or qualifying for the Boston Marathon, take 16-20 weeks to prepare well.

Check out some of our longer marathon training plans and all of our marathon resources here.

Or, check out some other suggested marathon training plans below and let us help you get to that finish line.

Other Suggested Marathon Training Plans

Beginner + Novice Training Plans

Intermediate Training Plans

Advanced Marathon Training Plans

References

  • 1
    Burke, J., Thayer, R., & Belcamino, M. (1994). Comparison of effects of two interval-training programmes on lactate and ventilatory thresholds. British Journal of Sports Medicine28(1), 18–21. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.28.1.18
  • 2
    Filipas, L., Bonato, M., Gallo, G., & Codella, R. (2021). Effects of 16 weeks of pyramidal and polarized training intensity distributions in well‐trained endurance runners. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports32(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.14101
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. 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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