Marathon Training Schedule
A Marathon Training Schedule can seem to be more challenging than the actual marathon. As challenging as your marathon training schedule may seem, keep this in mind; only 1% of the entire population of the world has seen the finish line of a marathon. And if you have never crossed the finish line of a marathon, you are about to become one of the 1%.
My marathon training schedule is for beginner runners to seasoned veterans. It is actually a modification of my 50 Mile Training Plan with tempo runs, Yasso 800s, and still maintaining the long weekend runs. Seasoned runners can adjust the mileage up to their current fitness level.
Preparing to Start the Marathon Training Schedule
Before starting any marathon training schedule, you must be physically fit and you should get medical clearance from a doctor (see my Legal Disclaimer). If you are in the beginner runner category you will need to “Train to Train”. You will need to start you training program slowly so you do not injury yourself. Your goal will be to get your body used to running. I use the 10% Rule which states that you should only add 10% more to your training plan each week. Before starting my marathon training schedule you should have already worked up to being able to run 20-25 miles per week for the last 3 months. Your speed is not the important thing to think about, just the time on your feet and getting your body conditioned to running. Also, you can include hiking/fast walking as part of your build-up to being able to run 20-25 miles per week.
Even if your already consider yourself fit because you are active in other sports, running a marathon will put stress on your body that you need to prepare yourself for. This follows the 4th principle in the Seven Principles of Exercise, called the SAID Principle. Simply put, if you are training for a particular sport or activity you need to train specific to that sport or activity. It means that the body is always trying to get better at exactly what you practice.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Train
My marathon training schedule is an 18 week marathon plan. Keep in mind that you will need the 3 month prior to starting my marathon training schedule to build your base mileage, and may need two months prior to that just to build up to be able to build your base. That means you may need to plan about 8 months out for your marathon. Most people will choose a marathon that is toward the end of the year. That will give you plenty of time to get through the winter months where training can be difficult.
Setting Your Goals & Motivation
My marathon training schedule is perfect for the goal of just finishing your first marathon (in good shape), or setting a new personal record (PR). Following through with a marathon training schedule will change your life once you cross the finish line of your marathon. You will prove to yourself that, as Ken Chlouber says: “You are better than you think you are, and can do more than you think you can”. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to hurt, and you are going to fail on some of your training runs. There are going to be days that you just don’t want to tie up the laces and get out there to run. But do it, push yourself. When you cross the finish line of your marathon, you will realize that there is nothing in your life that if you want it bad enough that you can’t get. Nothing! It might be hard, you might fail, but if you keep trying you will achieve any goal that you set for yourself.
To stay motivated, break your marathon training schedule down into “bite-size” pieces. Just like in ultra racing, I set many mini-goals throughout the race. These mini-goals are great to keep the motivation levels up where you can see/feel accomplishments along the way. You can do the same with my marathon training schedule. Heck, when using it I take it week-by-week, and then day-by-day. The Yasso 800 days for me are the toughest both mentally and physically, and I feel a great reward when they are done.
Train the Way You are Going to Race
What does this mean? It means that when you are following my marathon training schedule that on your marathon day there should be no surprises (within your control).
Nutrition: Be eating the same types of foods that you will be eating during your marathon. Make sure that what you use sits well in your stomach and doesn’t cause any other GI track issues.
Hydration: I actually carry baggies of powdered sports drink that I use, not what the race provides. I am not going to take a chance on race day that the hydration liquid that is provided will sit in my stomach and has even been prepared correctly.
Shoes: Train in the same shoes that you will be using in your marathon. Remember to break them in before your marathon day.
Clothing: Be wearing the same clothes that you will be racing your marathon. You will find the certain clothing may chafe. You don’t want to find out which ones caff you on your marathon day.
Bottom Line: Don’t be trying anything new on your marathon day unless you absolutely have to.
The Marathon Training Schedule Day-by-Day
Let’s take a look at the marathon training schedule:
Tuesday Short Runs
The short runs are based on time rather than distance (as with the long runs). The pace is a faster than the long runs. I use Tuesday to incorporate tempo runs into my marathon training schedule.
- Warm Up: 5-10 minutes of light jogging
- Duration: (see chart below)
- Intensity: Moderate. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is a very fast run, 1 is a leisurely stroll) aim for a 6-7
- Cool down: 5-10 minutes of light jogging
Wednesday Yasso 800s
Yasso 800s are where you will build your speed. I once read that if you do not train to run fast, that you should not hope the running fairies will sprinkle magical running dust on you and that you will be able to run fast. You must run fast in training.
- Warm Up with 5-10 minutes of light jogging
- Start with 3 Yasso 800s adding one more each week until you get to 10. (yes, these hurt but the payoff is amazing)
- Cool down for 5-10 minutes of light jogging
Thursday Recovery Runs (RR)
The good news is, the day after your Yasso 800s training runs you get to recover. Not by sitting around, but by performing an active recovery training run. You may be stiff and a bit sore and one of the best ways to help the body to recover and rejuvenate is to do some light aerobic exercise. You can also use this day to go for a long walk or hike, the idea is just to be moving and have an active recovery.
Weekend Long Runs
As mentioned above with the Seven Principles of Exercise, the more closely your training matches the actual event, the better you can expect to perform. Although I train by time and not distance, my marathon training schedule includes both time and distances for the long weekend runs. The theory for the back-to-back long runs in my marathon training schedule is to train to push tired muscles.
For people who are not used to running by time only, completing the distance will be what is important and not how fast you can cover the distance. Your goal should be to start the long run slow enough so that you can finish the run at a similar pace. Don’t feel that you must be running the entire time, walking is okay. As you build into the marathon training schedule, you will find that you will be able to decrease the amount of time that you walk.
You will notice that there are some weekend runs that you will need to do at your Marathon Goal Pace (MGP). These, along with the longest runs (18 to 20 miles): will give you the mental and physical confidence for marathon day.
- Warm up: 5 minutes of brisk walking
- Distance: see chart marathon training schedule chart
- Intensity: keep the intensity at a level that you can maintain the entire run
- Cool Down: Finish with 10 minutes of brisk walking and include it as part of your training distance/time
Monday and Friday Rest Days
THE most important 2 days of the week! Your body adapts to the extra stress of training on these days – not on actual training days. Take it easy on these days and enjoy them. Sometime the hardest part about training is not training. Be sure that you do not actually overtrain. You can read my article Signs of Overtraining to help you discover if you are overtraining.
You can not cram all of the training into the last few weeks before your marathon. You will be setting yourself up for disaster on marathon day. As mention above, rest is your friend. Give your body the time it needs to fully recover from all of the stresses that you have placed upon it during your marathon training schedule. Trust me, you will not forget how to run during the taper.
The Marathon Training Schedule
|1||Rest||20-30 Minutes||45-60 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||60-90 Minutes, 8 miles||45 Minutes|
|2||Rest||20-30 Minutes||45-60 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||60-90 Minutes, 9 miles||45 Minutes|
|3||Rest||30-45 Minutes||60 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||65-100 Minutes, 10 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|4||Rest||30-45 Minutes||90 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||75-120 Minutes, 10 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|5||Rest||30-45 Minutes||90 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||75-120 Minutes, 12 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|6||Rest||30-45 Minutes||90 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||90-145 Minutes, 12 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|7||Rest||30-45 Minutes||90 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||6 Miles MGP||45-60 Minutes|
|8||Rest||30-45 Minutes||3 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||105-170 Minutes, 14 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|9||Rest||30-45 Minutes||4 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||75-120 Minutes, 10 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|10||Rest||30-45 Minutes||5 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||8 Miles MGP||45-60 Minutes|
|11||Rest||30-45 Minutes||6 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||75-120 Minutes 10 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|12||Rest||45-60 Minutes||7 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||150-210 Minutes, 18 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|13||Rest||45-60 Minutes||8 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||10 Miles MGP||45-60 Minutes|
|14||Rest||45-60 Minutes||9 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||165-240 Minutes, 20 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|15||Rest||45-60 Minutes||10 x Y800||30 Minutes RR||Rest||75-240 Minutes, 10 miles||45-60 Minutes|
|16||Rest||45-60 Minutes||30 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||13 miles MGP||20-30 Minutes|
|17||Rest||30-45 Minutes||30 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||45-60 Minutes||20-30 Minutes|
|18||Rest||30-45 Minutes||30 Minutes||30 Minutes RR||Rest||Rest||Marathon Day!|
|19||Rest (Duh)||Walk||Walk||Walk||Rest||Walk||20-30 Minutes|
|20||Rest||20-30 Minutes||20-30 Minutes||20-30 Minutes||Rest||20-30 Minutes||20-30 Minutes|