20 Week Marathon Training Plan For Beginners

Our 20 week marathon training plan for beginners is designed for beginners, novices, and first-time marathon runners.   

The 20 week marathon program includes gradual mileage increases designed to not overwhelm you, and get you marathon-ready in a structured, injury-free way.

Who Is It For?:

People who are new to marathons – beginners and novice runners who don’t have a long history of running.   Perhaps you’ve picked up running in the past year – then this is the plan for you.

How Long?: 

20 weeks // 5 months.

20 Week Marathon Training Plan


The plan focusses on developing a strong running base, while very gradually increasing mileage.  

Your focus during training is to build up the miles, without worrying too much about speed.   

Try to run the mid-week runs at a comfortable pace. 

Long runs should be done slowly – at a conversational pace.

Walking breaks is acceptable, but if you can continue to jog – no matter the speed – that’s preferable.

The goal is simply to get your body attuned to running the miles.

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.  

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Check Out The Premium Version of The 20 Week Marathon Training Plan . . .

We’ve teamed with TrainingPeaks to offer a premium version of the 20 Week Marathon Training Plan:

Access the plan via the TrainingPeaks website and app, track your workouts in real-time against the plan, and get performance data analysis on your progress.

Check out the premium training plan here!

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trainingpeaks training plan

The most comprehensive plan you will find

Rated 5 out of 5
October 28, 2019 7:05 pm

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!

Rob McCaw

Training plan

Rated 1 out of 5
May 19, 2022 1:00 pm

I have registered but no running plan
Good tips on your site


Great plan for first time Marathon!

Rated 5 out of 5
May 16, 2022 4:15 pm

While preparing for my first marathon, Belgrade 2022., I followed this 16 week marathon training plan. With a 100% training plan done (did not skipped a single training day!), I was able to finish marathon in 4:05:00hrs. Would have even better time, but didn’t see pavement damage, and suffered from a light ankle injury. So, do all your workouts, keep your eyes on the road while racing, and you’ll get to the finish line with this training plan for sure.

Nikola Desancic

Good advice

Rated 5 out of 5
May 15, 2022 8:32 pm

Good overall plan, but should include non running days of weighted squats and lunges, anerobic exercises

Tony Galea

Boston Marathon

Rated 5 out of 5
May 2, 2022 5:42 pm

This training plan was amazing! I started this plan 11 weeks in advance of the Boston Marathon hoping I would be able to find a bib, and I was accepted onto a charity team 8 weeks in advance. This was my first marathon, and the longest I ran before this was 13.1 miles. I followed this plan and was able to finish the Boston Marathon in 4:11:22, having had food poisoning the day before.


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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!