Our 20 week Advanced 2 Marathon Training Plan (INTENSE) is our toughest training plan.
It is based on the Advanced Marathon Training Plan, but replaces one of the rest days with an extra speed work day. This means two days of speedwork per week; 5 days of running, one day of cross-training, and one rest day.
Note: this plan is for people aiming to crush it and reach for the ‘elite’ section. Even if you’ve run several marathons before, this training plan might not be for you. If you’re training for Boston or to truly compete, then you’re in the right place.
Who Is It For?:
Ambitious, experienced runners who are looking to train for the fastest marathon of their lives.
Runners who have a good existing running base and want to really push their limits in their marathon effort. Perhaps you’ve already run a few marathons and are looking to set a new PB. You should already be capable of training six times per week, and run 10 miles continuously.
Five months // 20 weeks.
This plan starts off with a good level of intensity, and continually rachets it up.
Training Runs are there to add to your mileage and get time on your feet – both essential in any marathon training schedule. These should be done at close-to your target marathon pace; they should be sustainable but requiring some effort.
Pace Runs should be done at your intended marathon pace. If you’re not training for a particular marathon finishing time, you may wish to consider one of the intermediate training plans instead.
Cross Training is there to compliment your run training, and give your legs a break. Swimming is always a good option that helps build your cardio; weights are also good as they build core strength, but keep the load light.
Intervals are included so you can work on your speed; the method included in this training plan is essentially that of Yasso 800s. Run for 800m at a high intensity level, where you are uncomfortable, and then bring it right down to a comfortable job for 800m. Repeat as many times as the plan calls for.
Tempo Runs also build speed; you should start off slow and easy (first 10 mins), then gradually build speed until you are pushing yourself to marathon pace, or to the point of discomfort; then slow down back to an easy run for the last 5-10 minutes.
Long runs should be performed at a slow, conversational pace – don’t worry about speed when doing your long runs, focus on getting the hours on your feet in. If you try and do your long runs at marathon pace, you’ll end up overtraining and getting fatigued. If in doubt, run the long runs at 60 – 90 seconds per mile slower than your planned marathon pace. Note that the training plan includes 3 x 20 mile runs to really solidify your base. Anything over 20 miles really just increases the risk of burnout.
Get The Complete Guide
My guidebook, 4-Hour Marathon, is available now for instant download. It maps out the complete training strategy and rationale behind the sub-four hour marathon training schedule supplied. It walks you through your week-by-week training and preparation to get you to the finish line in under four hours.
The guidebook goes into detail with the training plan, and includes many practical tips for marathon preparation.
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 customisable), in both miles and kilometers.
The most comprehensive plan you will find
I had run a couple of half marathons and was in reasonable shape coming into the plan and it was a good rise in intensity throughout. You need to want to do an event like this – I was getting up at 3am to get my long run in before kids weekend sport etc and this was hard. When you combine the plan with the online community through the Marathon Handbook FB page and website, you get complete support. Have used this plan with great success and now looking at upping the pace in the marathon space… GREAT JOB!
Thanks for this – got me to the finish line of my marathon surprisingly comfortably!
I wasn’t sure if 3 months for a marathon was enough….I somehow scraped through in 4 hours and 20 minutes 😀
Thanks – got me my sub 4-hr marathon!
Got me round me Virtual London Marathon, great plan – I did 3hrs 56mins 🙂
I used the plan to train for my first marathon, and happy to say I hit a time of 3:58! (With a little bit of gas left in the tank) I didn’t have much of a running base when I started the plan. I had some cardio from playing rec hockey, but didn’t do any running before hand. Had enough of a base to run a 5k with moderate effort, and a 10k with high effort.
Proven Training Plans by a UESCA-certified Running Coach
Every one of our training plans has been developed by Thomas Watson, a UESCA-certified running coach.
Thomas is also a podium-finishing ultra-marathon runner, and has dozens of marathons under his belt.
Each training plan has been road-tested by hundred of runners, refined and improved – and are free to download and customise to suit your needs!