This marathon training plan is designed to take you in 16 weeks to your first marathon, or to your best one. We designed a marathon training plan that has variation for both absolute beginners and runnerswith slightly more experience.

More than just a training plan, I hope to take you through the various stages of marathon preparation holistically: discussing such topics of interest as marathon nutrition, race-day preparation, maintaining a positive mental outlook, and more.

For each week, we will give you an overall explanation of the goals for the week and advice on how to adjust your total game. We are absolutely sure you cannot find any other plan so well designed on the internet for free.

The plan is here on this page, complete. You can keep referencing this page or you can have the printable, formatted version delivered to your inbox immediately here below!

Table of Contents

Assessing Where You Are to Determine Where You Will Go

The article will outline two plans, both geared towards first time marathoners, but each one will include elements most appropriate for either beginning runners or intermediate runners individually.

If you have completed a marathon before, stay tuned – these articles can still aid you in your quest to set a personal best at the distance or enjoy racing 26.2mls all the more.

Use the descriptions below to determine where you might fall in terms of preparing for your first marathon. Choosing the appropriate plan will help you stay healthy, motivated, and improving towards your goal without setback.

Beginner Marathon Plan

Use this plan if you began running only in the last year, currently run less than 25mls per week, and have not completed a race distance over 10K. If you are very new to running, read this article first on training for your first 10K before hopping into marathon training.

All training in this plan will be based on time and effort rather than pace and distance. This will allow you to build volume at your own rate, learn to run fast but relaxed, and instill a love of running without confining you to set paces.

With this plan, runners of varying ability could successfully complete the marathon distance between 3.5-5hrs, but most importantly it will prepare you to finish the race as healthy as you started!

Intermediate Marathon Plan

Choose this option if you have been running from 1-3 years, currently run 30-40mls per week, have some history of organized speed training, and have completed races from 10K-Half Marathon in the past.

This plan will include some runs at set paces and distances, but many will still be based off of time and effort. Runners following this plan can expect to run between 3-4hrs for their goal marathon based on ability level.

Look for an advanced marathon series in the near future from RunningShoesGuru.com!

Equipment

Now that you have determined which training plan best suits your current ability level, let us look at what gear will be needed to make your first marathon journey all the more enjoyable.

  1. Find a Pair of Running Shoes You Trust

    – There are many articles discussing which running shoe might be right for you on this site, so use Running Shoes Guru as a resource to help you pick the right pair. You can start by using our running shoes wizard.For beginners, going to a specialty running shoe store to be fitted into the right pair for your foot type is always a great place to start.Intermediate runners may want to look into purchasing a marathon racing flat in addition to their daily training shoes to help them tackle their goal time. I suggest a flat that is seamless to prevent blisters, has adequate cushioning for 26.2mls, and feels good for you personally while running close to race pace.

  2. Invest in a Quality Sports Watch or GPS Unit

    – More often than not, runners prefer to have some mode of tracking their pace, time, or distance during training. Finding a simple, trust-worthy watch or GPS unit to aid you in your training and accomplish pace/distance goals will go a long way in helping you achieve race day suggest.

  3. Wear Comfortable Technical Running Apparel

    – While you may be able to get away with that good ol’ cotton t-shirt in training, on race day you will want to wear quality technical apparel from a brand you trust.These clothes are designed to wick moisture, prevent chafing, and keep you cool/warm depending on weather conditions. Have several options on hand in case the weather changes unexpectedly as you near your goal race, and do several long runs in the clothing you choose for race day to see how it performs while running.

Choosing A Race

We discussed how best to assess which marathon training plan is right for you, and what gear would be needed to help you have a great first marathon.

This installment will touch on the basic elements of each training plan and the philosophy behind them, how to choose the best marathon for your particular goals, and things you can do to make training for your big day more fun.

Fortunately, there are thousands of options to choose from when it comes to picking which marathon you want to run. You can stay local and run your hometown race, choose a marathon in another state, or go international on a grand running vacation to a new, exotic locale. It all depends on your personal preferences and goals.

If scenic beauty and adventure are your games, perhaps looking into a race that offers beautiful views of the ocean or mountains far away from the city. If you are all about setting a personal best, research some fast marathon courses in your area that take place in cooler parts of the year.

Some runners like to include the whole family on their running quests and race at Disney World or other tourist destinations so they can enjoy the parks after their big race. Whichever race you choose, make sure it suits your ultimate goals in deciding to tackle the marathon distance in the first place, and be sure to have fun in the process.

Your First Marathon Program

Beginners

Your plan will be based on a progressive, intelligent progression of volume that will adequately prepare you to handle the physical stress of running a full marathon. There will be other types of training mixed-in to your actual running workouts that help strengthen your body and prevent injury, as well. You will have the following basic types of runs blended into your training recipe.

  • General Endurance

    – Basically, this is easy-moderate paced running done for extended periods to help you build muscular resistance, aerobic stamina, and mental toughness for completing the marathon distance. You should be able to converse during these runs in at least one full sentence at a time.

  • Fartlek

    – a Swedish term meaning “speed play”, these sessions will encourage you to pick-up the pace a bit at intermittent intervals in your run. While not sprints, these relaxed acceleration will help you improve biomechanics, make marathon pace feel easier, and break-up longer runs into fun bursts of faster running.

  • Rest/XT

    – These days should be taken off from running to allow your body to recover adequately. You may go to the gym for weights/core work, attend a yoga class, or go for some light cross training (biking, elliptical, rowing, swimming, etc. for 20-40min maximum).

  • Hill Repeats

    – these will vary in length somewhat throughout the plan, but the idea is to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers with full recovery to increase power, improve form, and increase muscular resilience to injury.

Intermediate Plan

Again, all workouts in this plan will progress towards your goal race. You will train to be at your best on race day; fresh, well-trained, and ready to run the full 26.2mls efficiently.

The following elements will be added to this plan from the above.

You will need to calculate an approximate marathon goal pace to target some of the following workouts (eg- if your goal is to run 3:30 for the marathon, that is a pace of 8:00 per mile).

The harder sessions in the intermediate plan work off percentages of race pace, so that will need to be calculated as well (eg- 8:00 per mile = 480 seconds per mile, so 48.0sec is 10% of goal race pace).

The below workouts will appear in the plan in addition to those featured in the beginner plan above.

  • Marathon Pace Tempo Runs

    (98-102% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP)- these runs will build gradually across the plan to prepare you to run for a long period of time at your goal race pace. These will train the body to burn fat efficiently as a fuel source, give you time to practice taking fluids/calories while running quickly, and prepare you mentally for the race itself.

  • Lactic Resistance Intervals

    (5K-10K Race Pace; 110-115% of GMP)- interval sessions done to improve economy at faster speeds, train you to buffer lactic acid effectively, and prepare you to surge up hills or at intermittent intervals in a race situation.

  • Aerobic Power Intervals

    (10K-Half Marathon Pace; 105-110% of GMP)- interval sessions done to raise your lactate threshold and improve stamina at paces slightly faster than race pace

Make Training Fun

Undertaking your first marathon training plan can be daunting by yourself, so deciding to tackle this feat with a group of friends, your spouse, or a local running club can make the long miles far more pleasant.

Some of the best conversations you may ever have could come while running, so cherish this time you get to spend being active and working towards your goals with people you enjoy.

Also, consider joining a charitable group such as “Team In Training” which works to earn money for cancer research and provides a group to hold you accountable to your daily runs. At virtually any marathon in the country, you will see dozens of men and women running in the “Team In Training” purple outfits, and they all look like they are having a blast doing what they love for a good cause.

No matter how you plan to go about tackling your first marathon, or where you plan to do it, the next chapter in this series will get you started on the actual road to making your marathon dream a reality.

Week One: Your First Week of Training

Now that we have looked at the two plans that will be provided in this series, you are equipped with some new gear, and you have chosen which marathon you would like to run, we are ready to start training!

The plans below should be started after a period of consistent running for several weeks so that the new training stresses won’t be a ‘shock’ to your body.

These are sixteen week programs, so count back four months from your goal race and start your formal training at that point!

For beginners, your plan will be one continuous phase of training that will get you to the starting line healthy and fit for running 26.2mls.

For intermediate runners, your plan will involve three different phases,

  1. the fundamental,
  2. special, and
  3. specific, to help you run your first marathon as quickly as possible.

Beginners take note! You can use this plan for next year’s big race with a little more training and experience under your belt!

Resort back to the previous article in this series for a glossary of terms pertaining to each weekly schedule. Now it’s time to lace-up and get out the door! Good luck, fellow runners!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week One

  1. Sunday (General Endurance)- Easy Running for 25-35min; Core Training such as crunches, back raises, push-ups, standard sit-ups, planks, etc.
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday (GE)- Easy Running for 30min; Flexibility Training (Find a stretching routine that works for you and do it consistently! This could also be a yoga or Pilates class if so desired.)
  4. Wednesday– Rest (use these days to recuperate physically and mentally; sleep-in, eat well, and maybe go for a massage a few times a month)
  5. Thursday (GE)- Easy Running for 30-35min; Core Training
  6. Friday– Rest or 20-30min XT
  7. Saturday (GE)- Easy Running for 30min; Optional 20min XT before or after running (extended aerobic minutes) and Flexibility Training

Intermediate Marathon Plan (Fundamental Phase)- Week One

  1. Sunday(GE)- Easy 45min; Core Training
  2. Monday (GE)- Easy 30min; Flexibility Training
  3. Tuesday (Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up (should include jogging, some light drills/strides, and stretching), 4x 30sec ‘Fast’, 90sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Wednesday– Rest
  5. Thursday (GE)- Easy 40min; Core and Flexibility Training
  6. Friday (GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 2x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (with full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– Rest or 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. If you are trying to lose weight during marathon training, be careful not to lose more than one pound per week to achieve your goal weight. This can be done by cutting 300-500kcals from your daily needs, but monitor how your body is feeling while exercising.If you are weak or running slower than usual, add some calories from carbohydrate back into your diet. Good snack choices to eat 30-60min before and/or after training include energy bars, sports drinks, pretzels, fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt, or commercial protein recovery shakes (First Endurance’s Ultragen, Cytosport’s Muscle Milk, Pacific Health Lab’s Endurox R4, etc.).
  2. Invest in a Gym Membership at a Club You Like – Being able to access a 24hr gym near your home or office is a great way to still get-in your workout even when the weather is bad or the sun has gone down. Hopefully you will have some friends and training partners at the same gym to make an hour of treadmill running or cross training pass quickly and enjoyably!

Week 2: Continue to Prepare Your Body

Hopefully you made it through your first week of training just fine, and are ready to tackle week two! This week will still seem light if you are used to pushing the envelope a little bit more, but be patient! The marathon is a race that requires a very slow, consistent build-up for you to run your best, and we have many weeks to go before your big race!

If you have any questions about these plans, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below. The programs provided are meant to be interactive and (hopefully) in real-time as you train for your first marathon. I would love to help you achieve your goals in your big race, and hope I can offer helpful advice in your journey to 26.2!

Beginner Marathon Schedule – Week 2

The goal this week is to continue preparing your aerobic and muscular systems to handle the stress of training. Don’t worry about pace or distance, but simply complete the times designated at comfortable efforts for now. The Saturday or Sunday runs will begin to get longer and longer as we near your marathon, so it is important to be fresh before them and recover well after them.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 30min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 20-30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility
  4. Thursday– Rest or 20-30min XT
  5. Friday(GE)- Easy 30-35min Run
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Fundamental Phase)- Week 2

This week is roughly the same as last week in terms of overall training stress. Your weekend runs will get longer and the muscular work (fartlek strides, hills, etc.) will gradually start to become more specific to your marathon.

  1. Sunday– Easy 50min; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday– Easy 20min Warm-Up, Fartlek Strides: 6x 30sec ‘Fast’, 90sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Wednesday– Easy 35min Run; Core and Flexibility
  5. Thursday– Rest
  6. Friday– Easy 45min, 4x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– Rest or 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. Expect some soreness when you start getting into the rhythm of your new training plan. Soreness is a good thing. It simply means your muscles are adapting to new stress and getting stronger. However, good ‘soreness’ can sometimes become bad ‘pain’, so pay attention to how your body feels before, during, and after running.If something hurts for more than 24hrs after a particular run, ice the area for ten minutes three times a day and take two complete rest days from exercises. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Keep a detailed running journal to track your training progress over time. This can be anything from a standard day-planner, to a commercial running log, to diary-style entries; whatever best suits your personality. Be sure to log things such as time/distance ran, how you felt, any pain or unusual soreness, and perhaps even as detailed as what you ate beforehand if you are having any GI distress while running. Your training journal can be a great avenue for finding what works best for you as you prepare for races of any distance (training, nutrition, preferred running terrain, workouts you enjoy/dislike, etc.).

Week Three: Keep the Ball Rolling!

Congratulations! You are already on week three of your marathon training! Great work, and here’s to many more good weeks ahead.

This week we will still be building our aerobic engines and strengthening our muscles. Look at training in terms of building a house. Right now, you are building your foundation and ground floors to support everything else to come. If the foundation is weak, your house will not stand, so we must build it as strong as possible!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 3

This week’s goal is the same as last week, with a few minutes added to several runs and two short hill sprints thrown-in to wake-up your muscles!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 35min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 20-30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 40min Run, 2x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 20-30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(GE)- Easy 30min Run
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Fundamental Phase)- Week 3

This week is roughly the same as last week in terms of overall training stress. Your weekend runs will get longer and the muscular work (fartlek strides, hills, etc.) will gradually start to become more specific to your marathon.

  1. Sunday– Easy 60min; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday– Easy 20min Warm-Up, Fartlek Strides: 8x 30sec ‘Fast’, 90sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Wednesday– Easy 35min Run; Core and Flexibility
  5. Thursday– Rest
  6. Friday– Easy 45min, 5x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– Rest or 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. Invest in a firm foam roller to massage tight muscles after training. This is an invaluable tool to help you stay healthy when training hard, and most come with booklets demonstrating how to roll the major muscles groups (hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals, calves, and lower-back).
  2. Trouble getting out of bed to go run in the morning? Try having a mug of coffee or tea prior to early morning training. The caffeine in these beverages will not only help you feel more alert, but can also enhance running performance by enabling you to burn fat more efficiently as a fuel source while running. Tea and coffee are also loaded with antioxidants that can prevent you from getting sick and protect your cells from free radical damage on a daily basis.

Week 4: One Month Down!

Excellent work! You are a full month into your training build-up for that big marathon! Give yourself a big pat on the back!

Again, this week continues building your aerobic system with more emphasis on keeping the leg muscles strong and powerful. Consistency is key to improvement, so find your rhythm and stick with it!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 4

This week’s goal is the same as last week, with a few minutes added to several runs, a few fartlek strides, and three short hill sprints. Rest well on your non-running days to ensure you stay healthy!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 20-30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 40min Run, 3x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 20-30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(GE)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 3x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 60min Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Fundamental Phase)- Week 4

This week is roughly the same as last week in terms of overall training stress. Your weekend runs will get longer and the muscular work (fartlek strides, hills, etc.) will gradually start to become more specific to your marathon. This will be the final week of your fundamental phase!

  1. Sunday– Easy 70min; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday– Easy 20min Warm-Up, Fartlek Strides: 10x 30sec ‘Fast’, 90sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Wednesday– Easy 35min Run; Core and Flexibility
  5. Thursday– Rest
  6. Friday– Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– Rest or 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. If you are training in warm weather for your marathon, or if your race will be in a warmer climate, start drinking fluids on a few of your longer runs each week. Purchase a hand-held water bottle that holds 12-16oz of fluid, and sip on water or sports drink on these runs to practice good hydration habits. Even if your anticipated race temperature will be on the cool side, you still should aim to drink 8-12oz of fluid every hour of exercise; this would be 12-16oz in hot conditions or if you are a heavy sweater.
  2. Many runners like to fuel themselves with energy gels or chews during long runs and races to keep from running out of gas late in the day. Find a brand that works well for you, and start using them on your longest weekly runs to see how you feel when taking these products. You never know when that extra boost of energy could mean the difference between a great workout and a total failure, so err on the safe side and be prepared!

Week Five of Training! Climbing the Marathon Mountain!

Alright folks, you are five weeks into your first marathon training plan. Let’s keep up the good work, and don’t lose sight of our goals!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 5

Consistency, consistency, consistency… That is the name of the game. Keep with the routine, and your marathon will be a breeze.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 4x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 20-30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(GE)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 4x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 70min Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 5

This week begins a four-week block called your ‘special phase’. Basically, all that denotes in terms of training is a shift towards workouts that will help marathon pace feel easier by running faster than your goal race pace. If you haven’t calculated your goal race pace yet, now is the time! What’s it going to be? Four-hours? Three Hours? No matter your goal, I’m sure you can nail it through smart training and racing.

  1. Sunday– Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (30min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday– Easy 35min Run; Core and Flexibility
  4. Wednesday– Easy 20min Warm-Up, Fartlek Strides: 5x 60sec ‘Fast’, 120sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  5. Thursday– Rest
  6. Friday– Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– Rest or 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. For a great guide to functional flexibility, look into purchasing The Whartons’ Stretch Book by physical therapists Jim and Phil Wharton. Runners themselves, these two flexibility gurus have worked with some of America’s top athletes to help them prevent injury, recover faster from hard training, and regain full range of motion. The exercises they use are very simple, and can be done both before and after training to keep you loose and strong.
  2. Using a 4-8lb medicine ball during your core and resistance training can add an extra element of intensity to your usual routines. One of the keys to becoming stronger or faster is having variety in your training, and a moderate weight such as a medicine ball can be just what you need to take your strength training to the next level.

Week Six, Learning New Tricks!

Six weeks into your marathon training and still going strong! At this point, your daily runs should be feeling easier, most of your initial soreness from the strides/hills will be fading, and you should be ready to tackle some more hard work ahead!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 6

Keep on keeping on! Your body is a fortress, so build it to last!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 5x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 6x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 80min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 6

Special training for a special race! Keep up the good work!

  1. Sunday– Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (40min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 15-20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
  3. Tuesday– Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility
  4. Wednesday(Aerobic Power Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 3x 1600m (one mile) @ 105-110% of GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  5. Thursday– Rest
  6. Friday– Easy 45min, 8x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  7. Saturday– 20-30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. When doing fartlek or long intervals (ie- over 1600m), you don’t have to get on the track to perform these sessions. A flat stretch of road or bike path will work just as well, and can help prevent overuse injuries because you won’t be turning as much in the same direction. Save the track for the shorter 400-800m intervals that will come into play later, intermediate runners, and even then consider alternating directions half-way through your session to balance bodily stress.
  2. Vary your running routes and surfaces frequently. Overuse injuries most commonly occur when a runner does the same distance, on the same course, at the same pace day after day. If you have a favorite course, run it in the opposite direction a few times per week. Also, varying your pace and distance even slightly can alter the stress significantly on your body, so keep that in mind as well while training. When you can, getting on a soft surface like grass or a well-groomed trail can be beneficial both mentally and physically from the grind of the road.

Week Seven: Breaking Through Your Barriers

Seven weeks into your first marathon training program, and you’re still feeling great? Excellent work! Keep the rhythm going this week and work hard, because next week everyone gets to take a mid-cycle recovery block.

Why, you ask? Because fatigue is cumulative, and even if you feel on top of the world with all this training, muscle damage from the last seven weeks can catch up to you when you least expect it.

The recovery week is designed to prevent that from happening in the first place, and also allow you to adapt to all the hard work so you can truly enjoy a fitness breakthrough on race day! Have a great week!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 7

Eat your Wheaties this week! Lots of training ahead.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 45-50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 6x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 8x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 10min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 90min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 7

Introducing a little speed work this week, so if you have a local track you can use, that would be great. If not, a measured stretch of road will work just fine. “Yasso 800s” are a marathon speed session coined by Bart Yasso, contributing editor of Runner’s World Magazine.

Simple in design, but challenging in execution, the goal will be to run your goal marathon finish time for 800m each rep (eg- if your goal time is 3:30 for the marathon, then you would run each 800m in 3:30).

We will start with six reps of this workout, and build to ten by the end of the cycle. If the pace feels too difficult to complete the full session, reevaluate your goal time by five-ten minutes and proceed from there. Good luck!

  1. Sunday(MP Tempo)- Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (50min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 15-20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
    Tues (GE)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Lactic Resistance Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 6x 800m (a half-mile) @ Yasso 800m Pace w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each (or a 200m jog on the track), Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 8x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
    Sat- 30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. In the marathon, over half the battle is maintaining a positive outlook in the last half of the race. Having a go-to “mantra” that you repeat to yourself on long runs and on race day can help you establish an indestructibly positive outlook that keeps you going mile after mile. Be creative, but keep it simple and short. Phrases such as “Smooth Rhythm”, “Quick Cadence”, “Relaxed and Strong” will do the trick.
  2. Don’t let a single bad run or workout get you down! With all this training, you will be somewhat tired for most of your runs each week, so take that into account when assessing a particular session. If you are having a particularly rough day, it could be due to life stress, an impending illness, or fatigue from previous training, so know when to throw in the towel some days when you are simply in a funk. There will be plenty of other workouts down the road!

Week Eight: A Step Back to Take a Giant Leap Forward

Okay, gang. It’s time for a recovery week. We will only be reducing the intensity of our runs and the overall volume by just a bit, but the cross training days will be replaced by total rest.

Take this week to physically and mentally recharge, spend extra time with your family, and get some extra sleep on the weekdays. Also, try to find a local race next weekend to test your fitness; something in the neighborhood of a 5K-15K would be a fun way to get in a great workout and also test your competitive fire in a friendly road race! If there are none available in your area, then there will be a substitute workout that day instead of the competition.

Enjoy your recovery block, and come back prepared to train hard again next week!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 8

Run relaxed this week and save your energy. Recovery is just as important as the training you do each day, so treat it as seriously as you would a regular workout.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– Rest
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 40min Run, 4x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 4x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 10min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 70min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 8

For many competitive runners, resting is far harder to do than completing even the most taxing of training sessions. For that reason, many runners have to develop the mindset of treating rest as a form of “recovery training”; pencil it into your training log just as you would a speed session or long run, and develop confidence in the powers of proper recovery.

  1. Sunday(GE)- Easy 80min Long Run
  2. Monday– Rest
    Tues (GE)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 8x 60sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, Easy 10min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday– Rest

Weekly Tips

  1. Quantify your recovery just as you would a specific running workout. Take your resting pulse a few mornings each week, or right before bed at night. If your resting heart rate is 4-8 beats above average, consider taking a lighter training day than prescribed. If your resting pulse is 8-12 seconds above average, you may need a total rest day. Note: caffeine, life stress, alarm clocks, etc. can all adversely affect one’ resting heart rate, so take these things into account when determining if heart rate is an accurate guide in determining your approach to the day’s training. Feel free to post a question below if this matter is confusing to you.
  2. Are you eating enough? If you are training for a marathon, and are already at a healthy running weight, then you need to be especially prudent in replacing the calories you burn each day. Signs that you may not be eating enough to support your training are unintentional drops in weight, irritability, mood swings, cravings for sugar, feelings of lethargy, and frequent illness/nagging injuries. Prime windows to replace calories burned from training are within fifteen minutes to two hours after your workout, and first thing in the morning- yes, breakfast is just as important as our mother’s used to tell us for a host of physiologically important reasons.

Week Nine: Testing Your Fitness

I hope everyone is feeling rested and fresh for a new week of training! As stated last week, hopefully you were able to find a local race to run this weekend. If not, no big deal- we have a workout planned for you, as always. Good luck!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 9

Go get ‘em this week!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 7x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), 5:00 Walking Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 4x 20sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(Fitness Test or Long Run)- Race 5K-10K!!- see ‘Weekly Tips’ below for race advice (OR, Easy 100min Long Run; Core and Flexibility)

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 9

Feeling fast and fit yet? You should be!

  1. Sunday(MP Tempo)- Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (60min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 15-20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
    Tues (GE)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Aerobic Power Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 4x 1600m @ 105-110% of GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogs, Easy 10-15min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + Fartlek)- Easy 30min, 4x 20sec ‘Fast’, 40sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday– Race 10K-15!!!- see ‘Weekly Tips’ below for racing advice (OR, Easy Long Run of 100min)

Weekly Tips

  1. If you are racing this week, pay attention to how your body feels throughout the event.
    Did your legs tire but you felt aerobically strong? Then, focus more on the short hill sprints each week. Give a maximal effort on these and make sure that you recovery completely between reps to create the most power possible on each sprint.Did you start to falter in aerobic endurance, despite your legs feeling fresh? If this is the case, then put a little more effort into your long runs each week. Don’t try to run them harder, per say, but increase your cadence going up hills a bit and try to finish them a little faster than you started. This is called “negative splitting” a workout, and can also work well as an efficient marathon race strategy! More on that to come soon.
  2. Warm-up and warm-down effectively before and after racing just as you would any other workout, especially if the weather is cold or you are feeling a little stiff from previous training. The warm-up should always begin with 15-20min of easy jogging to get the blood flowing and increase muscle temperature. Then, light active stretching for 5-10min should be completed to lengthen the muscles and increase range of motion.
  3. Finally, completing some simple drills such as high-knee running, tail-kicks (running with heels to buttocks in an exaggerated manner), skipping, backwards running, and Karaoke for 30-40m each will all prepare you to run at your best by activating the muscles. A proper warm-up will also help prevent injuries by gradually preparing the body for faster running. After your race, jog for 10-15min, complete 5-10min of active stretching, and find a snack to refuel/rehydrate ASAP. Recovery starts as soon as you cross the finish line!

Week Ten: Climbing the Marathon Mountain

Did everyone have a great race or long run last weekend? I’d love to hear how it went, so post a comment below! Now, let’s take an easy day or two and get back on the horse for another excellent week of training.

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 10

Hope you’re hungry for some more training!

  1. Sunday– Rest
  2. Monday(General Endurance)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  3. Tuesday– 30-40min XT
  4. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 8x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  5. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  6. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 6x 40sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 5min Warm-Down Jog
  7. Saturday(GE)- Easy 105-110min Long Run

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 10

Be sure to ice any sore muscles you may have from the race this past weekend. Monitor how you feel each day so no little aches become bigger injuries. The daily schedule this week will be slightly different to accommodate race recovery.

The 400m session on Wednesday should begin with you feeling relaxed, and gradually get faster to prepare your body to handle a higher volume of speed work before your next Yasso workout.

Do 14 repetitions if you are sore from the weekend or new to speed training; complete 16 reps if you are a more experienced runner.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (GE)- Easy 50min Run
    Tues (GE)- Easy 60min Run; Core and Flexibility
  2. Wednesday(Lactic Resistance Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 14-16 x 400m @ 110-115% of GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogs, Easy 15min Warm-Down
  3. Thursday– Rest
  4. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 8x 12sec Short Hill Sprints, EZ 5min Jogging Warm-Down
  5. Saturday– 30min XT; Core and Flexibility Training

Weekly Tips

  1. Always strive to run with good form to prevent injuries and increase running economy. Aim for a shorter, quick stride (approximately 180 steps per minute), a mid-foot ground strike, and try to land with the knee softly bent below the body’s center of mass (not overextended to create a heavy heel-strike).
  2. When running up hills, increase forward lean slightly, increase foot turn-over, and keep the knees low so as not to tire the legs prematurely. Running up-hill actually creates lower stress on the body, so it is sometimes beneficial to take advantage of hilly routes for some of your runs each week.However, running downhill can sometimes create problems because the body is fighting gravity and the resultant pounding can be more extreme. Don’t try to “fight” the down hills on your runs, but rather try to stay relaxed, land softly with a light heel-to-toe foot strike (on down hills, this will be necessary for most runners), and increase cadence to accommodate the faster pace of running down a grade.

Week Eleven: Getting Closer to Race Day!

Wow. Already at week eleven… Your marathon is just around the corner, so pay special attention to the purpose of each run or workout at this point.

Make the most of your quality days, and then take it easy on your general endurance days and cross training. Train smart and run well!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 11

Way to go so far! Enjoy your new fitness as we near race day!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 45-50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30-40min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 9x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), Easy 10min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 8x 40sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 10min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 110-120min Long Run; Core and Flexibility; Two-Hours of Running! Great Work!

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Special Phase)- Week 11

Last week of the ‘Special Phase’. Time to get specific!

  1. Sunday(GMP Tempo)- Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (70min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
    Tues (GE)- Easy 45-50min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Aerobic Power Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 5x 1600m (one mile)@ 105-110% of GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 10-15min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 8x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 30min Run or 30min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. At this point in your marathon training, it would be prudent to start omitting the “extras” from your life so you will continue to adapt to the work you are doing and stay healthy.

    Try to avoid overloading yourself with duties at work, tying yourself down to social engagements, and staying-out late on the weekends. Also, if you are also involved in such things as aerobics, weight lifting, Spin classes, Kick Boxing, etc., consider dialing these activities back, as well.

    In the path to marathon success, the race has to take precedence in the final month of training, so some small sacrifices may need to be made to ensure you toe the line 100% healthy and ready to go.

  2. Many runners often ask questions regarding alcohol consumption and training, so much so that this has become a common concern among endurance athletes. My answer is fairly simple- everything in careful moderation is fine (provided you are of the legal drinking age), and try to only consume drinks that can potentially benefit your running rather than hinder it.

    For example, the health benefits of drinking 6-8oz of red wine daily are well noted and supported by a host of researchers due to the beverage’s high resveratrol content and antioxidant value. Dark beer is higher in B-Vitamins and trace minerals than light beer, so this is a decent option as well. If you are inclined to partake in a liquor drink from time to time, choose your cocktail wisely.

    Fruit or vegetable juices are far healthier than sodas and commercial mixers, so opt for a spicy Bloody Mary rather than a sugary Strawberry Daiquiri.

    I do not recommend drinking more than one drink (if any) the night before a race or important workout. The side-effects far outweigh any potential health benefits of drinking alcohol, so be prudent in keeping your consumption in check as you near race day.

Week Twelve: Race Day is One Month Away!

Twelve is a magic number, and you have reached a pivotal point in training for your first marathon.

At this point, you could practically cover the distance right away. Even though your longs runs have not been much over two-hours, the adaptations you have made through daily training would allow you to run 26.2mls.

This last month will be devoted to taking you one more step towards your goal time or finishing status, so take care of yourself as we near your big day.

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 12

Are you impressed with yourself lately? You should be! Great job!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 40min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 45min Run, 10x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), Easy 10min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 10x 40sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 10min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 120-130min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Specific Phase)- Week 12

Practice race fueling and hydration on long runs from this point forward. Find the gel or chew that works best for you, and take note of what sports drink will be available on your marathon race course.

  1. Sunday(GMP Tempo)- Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (80min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace, or GMP), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest or 20-30min XT
    Tues (GE)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Lactic Resistance Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 8x 800m (half-mile)@ Yasso Pace w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 15min Warm-Down; see previous week for specifics of Yasso 800m’s if needed
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 40min Run or 40min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. Finalize your race logistics and planning this week, especially if travel will be involved.

    Coordinating flights, renting cars, booking hotel rooms, etc. can all be stressful to do at the last minute, so make sure that you have covered these bases early.

    Find out where the race packet pick-up will be, make arrangements for friends/family that will be travelling with you, and allot extra time for unexpected delays or anything else life can throw your way. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst, and all will be fine!

  2. Practice what sits best with you in terms of meals in the 24-48hrs preceding your long runs at this point so you will have a relative list of foods that you know digest easily for you and give you plenty of energy before race day.

    Good day/night-before meal options include gourmet pizza with little or no meat, rice-based stir-fry, or the usual pasta fare that many runners flock to pre-race. Avoid overly spicy foods (Thai, Mexican, etc.), heavily-processed foods (fast food, vending machine “meals”, etc.), and foods high in fiber (certain cereals, vegetables, fruits, bars, etc.) 48hrs before your long runs and races.

    More on pre-race nutrition to come soon.

Week Thirteen: Make it Your Lucky Week!

The number thirteen has been known to conger negative vibes, but don’t let any doubts creep in now! At this point, many of you are probably starting to feel a little nervous about race day, and that is completely normal.

Just relax from this week on, revel in the fitness gains you have made over the last three months, and get ready to run your best race possible in just a few short weeks.

Only positive thoughts allowed!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 13

Getting anxious? Don’t worry about a thing! Let your mind wander when you start to harp on your marathon, gather positive energy on your runs, and know that when the race arrives you will be ready.

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 40min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 50min Run, 10x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), Easy 10min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest or 30min XT; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 8x 60sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 15min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 130-140min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Specific Phase)- Week 13

Relax! Only your competitors need to be nervous, because you are looking fit and strong!

  1. Sunday– Easy 30min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (90min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Monday– Rest
    Tues (GE)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Aerobic Power Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 6x 1600m (one-mile)@ 105-110% of GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 15min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 40min Run or 40min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. Plan your race strategy to maximize performance and enjoyment on race day. The best strategy for marathoners at any level is to try to run “negative splits”.

    All this means is that you want to start the race slower than you finish, conserving energy in the early stages of the marathon (ie- if your first few miles are at a relaxed 8:30 pace, then your last few miles could be run at a brisk 8:00 pace if all goes well).

    This strategy allows your body to settle gradually into proper marathon rhythm, conserve muscle glycogen stores, and prevent premature fatigue due to going out too fast. Try this technique on your remaining long runs to see if you can master the negative split!

  2. Oftentimes, as a runner is attaining peak fitness for a particular season, internal hormone shifts can cause a drop in immune protection leaving them vulnerable to illness as race day approaches. Don’t let the common cold stand between you and a peak performance!

    Consider supplementing with Vitamin C, Zinc, and a gentle Iron (like Ferrous Gluconate or Fumarate), to protect your immune system, rebuild red blood cells, and strengthen cell defenses in the weeks preceding your marathon.

Week Fourteen: Dialing Back to Charge Forward!

Many coaches refer to the last two or three weeks preceding a marathon as the “taper phase” of training, but I have found that this term doesn’t accurately reflect what you want to do prior to a race of any distance.

You have spent almost four months building your aerobic and muscular systems to handle the stress of racing 26.2mls, so rather than “tapering” these skills down, we want to “sharpen” them up! Enjoy your sharpening phase, because peak fitness is fast approaching.

Daily runs should start to feel easier, workouts not as taxing, and overall energy levels should be on the rise. Your long runs all peak this week, so pay special attention to your recovery after these sessions.

If you need to miss a subsequent easy run due to fatigue or soreness, feel free to do so. Good luck!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 14

You are no longer beginning runners, guys. Take pride in calling yourself ‘real runners’, and draw motivation from all of your hard work!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 50-60min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 40min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 50min Run, 10x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), Easy 10min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 10x 60sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 20min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 140-150min Long Run; Core and Flexibility- fuel and hydrate well before, during, and after this run!

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Specific Phase)- Week 14

All of your hard work is going to pay off soon! Note all of your training for this cycle- next year it will feel easy as cake as you take your training one level further!

  1. Sunday– Easy 30min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (90min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace), Easy 30min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training; fuel and hydrate well before, during and after this run!
  2. Monday– Rest
    Tues (GE)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Lactic Resistance Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 8-10 x 800m (half-mile)@ Yasso Pace w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 20min Warm-Down
    Complete eight reps if you have lingering fatigue from Sunday, or if your previous session of Yasso’s did not go very well. Complete all ten reps if you are feeling strong, and your last Yasso workout went as planned. Do not overextend in this workout if you are overly sore, or fatigued! Always best to err on the safe side of things this close to race day.
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 40min Run or 40min XT

Weekly Tips

  1. Carbo-loading” is a fueling strategy many runners use in the final week before a marathon race, but I personally feel that a regimented practice is over-rated.

    Basically, some runners aim to purposefully reduce carbohydrate intake 6-8 days prior to a marathon, complete a final long run to deplete glycogen stores, and then eat a very high carbohydrate diet in the final five days before competition to hopefully increase their ability to store glycogen as fuel.

    This is not a necessary practice for most runners, but making sure that you are fueling well in the final week before your race, eating plenty of healthful carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads, potatoes, fruits, etc.), and drinking plenty of fluids will help boost your performance on race day.

  2. As noted above, “tapering” protocol before a marathon has long called for runners to drop volume drastically, increase speed work, and rest far more than they previously had in training. I take issue with this, as do many modern coaches of world-class fame such as Renato Canova, Scott Simmons, Terrence Mahon, and Dr. Gabriela Rosa.

    A taper such as the one described above often elicits a “shock” to the system which can leave you feeling flat on runs, lethargic, and even make you sick. Instead of doing anything drastic, I prefer to keep one’s training rhythm going as you normally would, take rest as needed, and emphasize good nutrition and sleep so that your body can physically prepare for the task ahead.

    Have confidence in your training- sharpen, don’t taper!

Week Fifteen: Sharpening Your Skills

Okay, everyone. We are almost there! Take care of yourselves these last two weeks, and race day success will be yours! Only a few more workouts before you get to test your mettle over 26.2mls! Go to it!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 15

Marathon preparation begins in the mind, so keep your thoughts as strong as your body!

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 50min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– 30min XT
  3. Wednesday(GE + Short Hills)- Easy 50min Run, 10x 10sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), Easy 10min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest; Core and Flexibility
  5. Friday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up Run, Fartlek: 10x 60sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, EZ 10min Warm-Down Jog
  6. Saturday(GE)- Easy 100min Long Run; Core and Flexibility

Fuel and hydrate well before, during, and after this run! Wear your anticipated race outfit, shoes, and gear to see how it performs on a longer run.

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Specific Phase)- Week 15

Envision yourself being successful on race day. Think positive thoughts, focus on feeling strong, and enjoy your daily runs as you meditate on marathon success!

  1. Sunday– Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (60min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training;
    Fuel and hydrate well before, during, and after this run! Wear your anticipated race outfit, shoes, and gear to see how it all performs on a longer run.
  2. Monday– Rest
    Tues (GE)- Easy 45min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Aerobic Power Intervals)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 2x 3200m (two-miles) @ 105-110% GMP w/ 90sec Recovery Jogging Between Each, Easy 20min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday(GE + SHS)- Easy 45min, 6x 12sec Short Hill Sprints (full recovery between each), EZ 10min Jogging Warm-Down
  6. Saturday (GE)- Easy 30min Run or Rest

Weekly Tips

  1. Study the course map for your marathon to learn where refreshment stations, sharp turns, hills, porto-johns, and medical aid stations will be located. It is always best to know where these things will be, rather than “running blind” over the course of 26.2mls. Do your reconnaissance!
  2. Make sure you are 100% confident in your gear for race day. Do not wear a particular pair of shoes you don’t like just because they match your outfit, or vice versa.

    Wear comfortable clothing that you have trained in on a weekly basis with good results. Use Vaseline or a commercial body lubricant to prevent chafing and blisters during the race. Wear thin socks if possible to prevent blisters due to crinkling. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin if your race will be in hot and sunny conditions; have sunglasses or a hat on hand if the weather is bright. Invest in a disposable thermal jacket at the race expo if you expect conditions at the start will be cold. Is that enough advice to digest?

Week Sixteen: Race Day At Last!

Excellent work everyone. You have successfully navigated the rigors of marathon training, and I hope each of you are extremely proud of yourselves!

Running a marathon is a profound accomplishment-whether you are an elite runner or towards the back-of-the-pack, the challenge is just the same.

The marathon distance tells no lies and accepts no prisoners, but the fitness you have built over the last four months doesn’t either!

Relax your body and mind this week, eat well, and have a safe trip if you are traveling to your marathon destination.

Below you will find two possible options depending on whether your race is on Saturday or Sunday.

Reduce your pre-race warm-up to five or ten minutes of jogging, then your usual stretching and drills to conserve energy. All you need to be is warm and ready before an event of this length.

You are fit, you are strong, and you are prepared! Best of luck, and I hope each of you have a great race!

Beginner Marathon Schedule- Week 16

  1. Sunday– Rest
    Mon (General Endurance)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility Training
  2. Tuesday– Rest
  3. Wednesday(GE + Fartlek)- Easy 40min Run, 8x 20sec ‘Fast’, 40sec ‘Easy’, Easy 5min Warm-Down Jog
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday– Rest if Racing Saturday (or, Easy 30min Run if Racing Sunday
  6. Saturday– Marathon Race Day!!! (or, Rest if Racing Sunday)
  7. Sunday– Marathon Race Day!!!

Intermediate Marathon Schedule (Specific Phase)- Week 16

  1. Sunday– Easy 20min, Marathon Pace Tempo Run (40min @ 95-100% of Goal Marathon Pace), Easy 20min Warm-Down; Core and Flexibility Training;
    Fuel and hydrate well before, during, and after this run! Wear your anticipated race outfit, shoes, and gear to see how it all performs on a longer run.
  2. Monday– Rest
    Tues (GE)- Easy 40min Run; Core and Flexibility
  3. Wednesday(Fartlek)- Easy 20min Warm-Up, 8x 60sec ‘Fast’, 60sec ‘Easy’, Easy 15min Warm-Down
  4. Thursday– Rest
  5. Friday– Rest if Racing Saturday (or, Easy 30min Run if Racing Sunday)
  6. Saturday– Marathon Race Day!!! (or, Rest if Racing Sunday)
  7. Sunday– Marathon Race Day!!!

Weekly Tips

  1. Many marathons, especially larger events, have giant fitness expos in the final days preceding the event that include a host of vendors, celebrity speakers, and other distractions surrounding race packet pick-up.

    Enjoy the expo for an hour or two, but don’t tire yourself by standing on your feet all day before your race. Also, don’t be tempted to try any new nutritional, purchase new shoes to race in, or buy a new outfit to wear on the day of your marathon. If it isn’t tried and true, it’s not for you!

  2. The night before a big race, many runners find it almost impossible to sleep soundly. That is okay. One night of poor sleep will not hinder your race performance as long as you have rested well for several nights before your marathon. Do not take any sleep aids the night before a race, as they will likely make you feel groggy upon waking.
  3. Schedule a wake-up call (and set your personal alarm!) at least three hours before the race’s start time.

    This will give you time to prepare your gear (if you haven’t already), eat a light breakfast, travel to the start (if needed), and complete a light warm-up prior to your marathon.

Good luck, everyone! It has been a pleasure guiding you towards your first marathon, and I hope you will be hungry to run another one next year!

Check back the final article in this series on assessing your race, post-marathon recovery, and future training considerations.

After the Race

So race day has come and passed…

I hope that you are left happily fatigued with a medal around your neck and a smile on your face! What a story you have to share at work this week! Hopefully all of your training was able to guide you to a successful, enjoyable first marathon that has left you wondering “What’s next?”

This article will briefly go over how to assess your first marathon performance, discuss post-race recovery, and offer some training considerations for the near future.

Thank you for taking the time to use this series to train for your first marathon. Please post any follow-up questions or comments below, and be on the look-out for similar collections in the near future from Running Shoes Guru.

Assess Your Race

For first-time marathoners, the chief goal should always be to finish the race as healthy as you started.

Well, this will not seem true for a few days after the event… Expect some moderate to severe soreness in your quads, feet, hips, and calves in the 5-7 days following the race; even your elbows, wrists, and neck may be sore after running the full 26.2mls!
This soreness is totally normal, as you have taken your body to a place it has never gone before, but be mindful of any painful spots that linger after a week or ten days- these could be little injuries brought-on by the race, and may need a little more attention (see below).

As far as performance goes, let us look at a few parameters. The first is obviously objective- did your actual finish time match up to your anticipated finish time within a few minutes? If so, that’s excellent news! If not, bear in mind that the heat, course terrain, wind, and other factors outside of your control all have an impact on race times (especially in the marathon). Hopefully though, you were within 10-15min of your projected finish time for those who had time goals.

The second parameter, and perhaps the most important, is how you subjectively felt at different stages of the race. If the entire race went off without a hitch, you felt good from start to finish, stayed hydrated along the way, and powered through to a negative split, then congratulations- you have accomplished something that takes most runners their entire careers to do (if ever)!

However, chances are there was some small hiccup that occurred along the way. This could be something as minor as a little GI upset from a carbohydrate gel, or something major like a blister or muscle cramp which caused you to limp home.

As long as you finished the race with no major injuries, no big deal- simply work to prevent these things next time by taking further precautions.

Other considerations in this regard lie in how your legs felt during the race, how you aerobically handled the pace, and if you had to take walk-breaks due to intense feelings of fatigue. If your legs began to tire early, then in your next marathon cycle I would suggest working-in a few extra long runs and perhaps a few more hill sprints to build strength. If you felt aerobically taxed before the final 10K or so, then working on your marathon pace tempos and aerobic power will help in that regard. If you had to walk more than a few times, then perhaps working on your race fueling strategy and increasing total training volume would help prevent this next time around.

Post-Marathon Recovery

The first few hours after your race are critical to your overall marathon recovery. Eating as soon as you are able and hydrating well after the race are essential to speeding the muscle repair process along.

Running a marathon has a lot in common with an acute injury (eg- a sprained ankle) in terms of inflammation, muscle damage, and treatment protocol. Therefore, taking an ice bath (or icing certain sore spots), using NSAID medication, and elevating your legs for periods of time after your race can greatly help boost recovery and reduce pain in the first 48-72hrs after the marathon.

After this initial window, take the next week or two completely away from running and structured exercise. Get plenty of sleep and eat well each day (enjoy a few treats, reverse carbo-load, and enjoy living like a “normal” person).

As soreness subsides, go for short walks with a friend or loved-one to relax your muscles and get them functioning normally again. Do some light stretching, and consider a few warm Epson bath soaks after the 72hr initial recovery period has passed. This would be a good time to schedule a few professional massages, as well. Marathon running can cause scar tissue to form in damaged tissue if left untreated, and massage can help alleviate the tightness and pain these lesions can cause.

After you are fully recovered and have no isolated pains, you can start gradually running again within two-three weeks of your marathon race. I recommend training at 25% of your maximum marathon volume in the first week back, then 35-40%, then 40-50%, and so on until you are ready to prepare for your next big race!

Training for the Future

The marathon is an event of endurance and stamina, so consider moving to the opposite end of the running spectrum for your next training cycle.

Focus on improving your 5K time for the next 8-12 weeks, then work towards a 10K-Half Marathon goal after that.

Varying your routine and training workouts will help prevent injury, stagnation, and boredom as a runner, allowing you to enjoy running and racing for life.

Keep things fun, run with a high modulation of paces and distances, and the path that lead to your first marathon success will lead to many years of future running enjoyment, as well!

Disclaimer: although this training plan has been developed by a professional coach, the advice given on this website does not constitute or replaces medical advice. Please consult with a doctor before starting any exercise or nutrition plan. Run safe!






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