This 6 month marathon training plan is perfect for new runners, or runners with some experience under their belt!
Before beginning, you should ideally be able to run 2-3 miles without stopping. Alternatively, you can adopt a run/walk strategy for this training plan too!
Six months is a generous amount of time to prepare for a marathon, which means we can very gradually work on building up your mileage.
This is awesome as it reduces the risk of injury that comes with ramping up the miles too quickly.
It also allows your muscles and cardiovascular system more time to get used to the mileage, so it’s not such an intense experience on your body.
I’ve also written the following article to accompany the 6 month marathon training plan:
How To Train For a Marathon in 6 Months – check it out!
6 Month Marathon Training Plan – Who Is It For?:
Beginners and intermediate runners who have six months (or more!) to get ready for their marathon.
Ideally you should already be able to run 2-3 miles without stopping!
This plan is best-suited for runners who don’t have an ambitious marathon finishing time goal instead are looking to simply comfortably finish their marathon.
24 weeks // 6 months.
If you’ve got slightly longer, you can work on your shorter distances with 2-3 runs per week and a couple of cross training days before starting the 6 month marathon training plan.
Training Plan Guide:
The plan features 4 days of running workouts, plus one day of cross-training – leaving two days of rest per week.
Here’s a run-down of how to do each run:
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!)
As the name suggests, these are the longest training runs of your training plan.
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.
The idea behind cross training is to un-do some of the stresses your body is subjected to while running for long distances.
The most effective forms of cross training are things like strength training and yoga; these actively work on stretching out and strengthening muscles in your hips and legs, which help prevent injury.
Swimming is another awesome form of cross-training, it is low intensity and helps stretch out your tired muscles, while providing some cardiovascular training.
Changing The Plan
If you have a hectic schedule and need to miss one day of training, my advice would be to skip one of the short training runs. It will mean you’re a little less prepared come marathon day, but should still make it round.
The most important workout of the 6 month marathon training plan is definitely the Long Run – try not to skip too many of these! They are crucial for building your endurance and getting your mileage in.
Many runners decide to drop cross training from their plan. While cross training is definitely optional, I can tell you that it’s effects on your marathon performance are greater than one short run. That’s why I always include one day per week of cross training in each of my training plans.
Feel free to move around the order of these runs to suit your own schedule – just drag and drop using the spreadsheet, once you’ve downloaded it. My one piece of advice is to leave a rest day after the long run day.
Download The 6 Month Marathon Training Plan Here
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Woah woah woah…why do you need my e-mail?
I’m going to send you not just a static image of a training plan, but also grant you free access to a customisable and downloadable version of the plan – in both miles and kilometers.
Using this format gives you guys the ultimate flexibility in whatever you choose to do with the plan – and also protects our content!
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!
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.
A Great Training Plan
This was a great training plan to follow. Ended up doing my 1/2 marathon in 1:58.45 which is 20 minutes better than my previous PB. Thanks a mil!!
Thanks for helping all the runners out there
Really nice work by Thomas. Everyone should download and follow his training plans.
Get out of my way
Really good book. Not a lot of extra fluff. Here is what you need to do. Now go do it. Building for my 1st marathon. See you on the other side.
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!