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.
The plan is available for free in PDF and a customizable Google Sheets format in both miles and kilometers.
20 Week Marathon Training Plan: Essential Info
Who Is It For?:
People who are new to marathons – beginners and novice runners who don’t have a long history of running. Perhaps if you’ve picked up running in the past year then this is the plan for you.
20 weeks // 5 months.
How Many Days Per Week?:
The plan features 4 days of running workouts, plus one day of cross-training – leaving two days of rest per week.
Training Breakdown: What Will Your Weekly Schedule Consist Of?
Here’s a run-down of each type of training you’ll be doing during your 20-week marathon training program.
These are regular, easy runs to be done at a comfortable pace.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can determine your planned marathon pace and do these runs at that pace. For the rest of us, these are all about adding miles to your training and getting your body adapted to running.
Ideally, you should be running all of these; if you are struggling, adopt a structured run/walk strategy (run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute). Aim to train yourself so you can be running this continuously as soon as you can! (some more on walk/run strategy here!)
One long, slow run is factored into the training schedule every weekend.
They are designed to increase your maximum mileage, and therefore your stamina.
The most important thing to remember with these long runs is to do them at a slow, comfortable pace! Don’t push yourself.
The aim is to get the miles in, not to exhaust your body.
If in doubt, do them at a speed at which you could hold a conversation with a friend.
The plan includes one day per week dedicated to cross-training.
Cross-training improves your cardiovascular health and strengthens some of the muscles weakened through running, thereby reducing your chance of injury.
Recommended cross-training exercises include bodyweight exercises, light gym work, swimming, yoga, pilates, and cycling!
Check out our cross-training guide for runners to learn more.
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.
Previous visitor or not seeing where to sign up?
Head over to our marathon training plan database for full access to all plans.
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.
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!
10 / 10 - Got my through my race!
This plan hit so well!
Well, I have been marathoning for almost 15 years and wanted to test something new out. I tried this plan because it looked completely different than any training method before. It didn’t make sense how the running peaked, and I got to the start line exhausted and sick, clearly under rested. The marathon had actually gone pretty smoothly until mile 17, when my ankle rolled and my ACL ripped. Had to quit the race and was upset with this training plan. However, free IS free. 6/10. Would not recommend
These running plans are AMAZING. I used it for 2 half marathons and I was so surprised at how I gained fitness, even though I was ill for 2 weeks and sustained a knee injury!
I completed the half marathon in 1h37 min 😃🤗
Thanx again team!
and it worked a charm!
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 hundreds of runners, refined and improved, and is free to download and customize to suit your needs!