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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.

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.

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

How Long?: 

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.

A large crowd of runners during a running race

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.

Training Runs

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!)

Pace Runs

Pace runs should be done at your target race pace if you have one, or slightly harder than your regular training runs – a 5 out of 10 RPE.

Long Runs

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.

Cross Training

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 20-Week Beginner Marathon Training Plan For Free:

20 Week Beginner Marathon Training Plan - Printable

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!

Previous visitor or not seeing where to sign up?

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

download the free training plan

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!

20 Week Marathon Training Plan For Beginners 1
trainingpeaks training plan
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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 hundreds of runners, refined and improved, and is free to download and customize to suit your needs!

Other Suggested Marathon Training Plans

Beginner + Novice Training Plans

Intermediate Training Plans

Advanced Marathon Training Plans