Build Your Marathon Training Plan


If running a marathon is one of your aspirations, make sure that you have a marathon training plan to meet your goal. Along with meting your goal, your plan should be tailored to meet your life’s schedule and your abilities. It should be flexible enough to weather change and life’s “curve balls”, and it should leave you plenty of time to get you ready for race day. Below are some tips for developing your marathon training plan. One of the example plans is for those that just want to finish, while the other is for those that want to achieve a specific time goal.

Where do you start?

At the beginning, of course! Just like your fitness plan, your marathon training plan needs to define where you are (starting point) and where you want to go (your goal). Use your most recent race results and weekly mileage to determine your starting point. If you haven’t run a race yet, don’t worry – here’s what to do:

  • Go to the local high school track and run a 3-mile time trial. This is 12 laps on a ¼ mile track.
  • Calculate your mile pace (total time divided by 3). You can also use the pace calculator. This number is your 5k pace
  • Multiply your 5k pace (above) by 3.1. This is your 5k time
  • Based on your 5k time, use the race pace prediction calculator to determine a good target goal for your marathon. You may have to do two iterations (Ex. Use your 5k time to get a predicted 10k time. Use this 10k time to get a predicted marathon time)
  • Now go back to the pace calculator and calculate what your marathon goal pace is based on the above number. Example: If your goal time is around a 4-hour marathon, then your goal pace (MGP) would be just over a 9-minute per mile pace. This will be an important number in your marathon training plan, and will be the basis for many of your workouts.

Now that you have a goal – how long should you take to get there?

Pick the race that you want to run. Hopefully you have at least 6 months to train for the race. If you are just starting to run and your weekly mileage is less than 10 miles, you may want to consider a longer period of time to allow yourself to get conditioned to run 26.2 miles. Also, be sure to consult your physician before you enter a routine of vigorous exercise.

The marathon training plan listed below is for those that want to complete the marathon. This plan is a low-weekly mileage plan, however, it builds your maximum run distance up to 26 miles. I’ve trained for marathons using a variety of plans and strategies and I have found that the times when I’ve run up to or over 26 miles, I’ve had an easier time with the last half of the race. And if you’ve heard anything about the marathon race…it’s the last 6.2 miles that are the biggest challenge for most of us!

The marathon training plan below, assumes the following about your ‘starting point’:

  • You’ve been running for at least 2-3 months.
  • You foundation of weekly mileage is 10-15 miles per week.
  • You are able to run at least 3 miles continuously

If this is you, then the 6-month marathon training plan below may be right for you. If not, than you might want to consider adding some more training time to get you up to this foundation prior to starting the 6-month marathon training plan.

Marathon Training Plan - To Finish

Week MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
1 3 0 3 0 3 0 4
2 3 0 3 0 3 0 5
3 3 0 3 0 3 0 6
4 3 0 3 0 3 0 7
5 3 0 3 0 3 0 8
6 3 0 3 0 3 0 9
7 3 0 3 0 3 0 10
8 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 11
9 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 6
10 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 13
11 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 7
12 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 15
13 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 8
14 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 4 0 17
15 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 2x1-mile
16 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 19
17 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 4x1-mile
18 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 21
19 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 6x1-mile
20 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 23
21 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 12
22 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 8x1-mile
23 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 26
24 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 10x1-mile
25 3 0 / XT 4 0 / XT 5 0 13
26 3 0 / XT 0 3 0 0 26.2
Long Slow Distance: 1-2 minutes slower than marathon goal pace (MGP)
Mile Intervals: 20-40 seconds faster than MGP
Tempo Runs: Middle miles at MGP (Ex. 1m warm-up + 2m MGP + 1m cool-down)
Rest or Cross-Train (XT): Bike, Elliptical, Rowing (non-running cardiovascular exercise)
Rest - let your muscles heal
Comfortable pace (45-75 seconds slower than MGP)

The marathon training plan below is geared more for those that have a specific time goal or want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s a schedule that has longer weekly mileage, more speed workouts, and it builds up to a long run that exceeds race distance.

The marathon training plan below, assumes the following about your ‘starting point’:

  • You’ve been running for at least a year.
  • This is not your first long-distance race, and preferably not your first marathon.
  • You have run long distance and speed workouts in your training prior to starting to train for this race.

If this is sounds like you, then the marathon training plan below may be a good fit. Remember: everyone is different – so please look carefully at your own capabilities and condition prior to jumping into a training plan….it’s much more fun to set challenging and attainable goals than it is to chase overly aggressive ones..

Marathon Training Plan - Time Goal

Week MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
1 3 4 3 0 3 0 4
2 3 4 3 0 3 0 5
3 3 4 3 0 3 0 6
4 3 4 3 0 3 0 7
5 3 4 3 0 3 0 8
6 3 4 3 0 3 0 9
7 3 4 3 0 3 0 10
8 4 5 4 0 / XT 4 0 11
9 4 5 4 0 / XT 4 0 6
10 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 13
11 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 7
12 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 15
13 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 8
14 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 17
15 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 4x1-mile
16 4 5 5 0 / XT 4 0 19
17 5 6 5 0 / XT 5 0 6x1-mile
18 5 6 5 0 / XT 5 0 21
19 5 6 5 0 / XT 5 0 8x1-mile
20 5 6 4 0 / XT 5 0 24
21 5 6 5 0 / XT 5 0 12
22 5 6 5 0 / XT 5 0 10x1-mile
23 5 6 4 0 / XT 5 0 27
24 5 6 4 0 / XT 5 0 12x1-mile
25 4 6 5 0 / XT 4 0 13
26 4 6 0 3 0 0 26.2
Long Slow Distance: 1-2 minutes slower than marathon goal pace (MGP)
Mile Intervals: 20-40 seconds faster than MGP
Tempo Runs: Middle miles at MGP (Ex. 2m warm-up + 2m MGP + 2m cool-down)
Rest or Cross-Train (XT): Bike, Elliptical, Rowing (non-running cardiovascular exercise)
Rest - let your muscles heal
Comfortable pace (45-75 seconds slower than MGP)

Best of luck in your training! Completing a marathon is a terrific feeling of accomplishment. If you train right it can also be a really fun moment crossing the finish line and knowing that the real accomplishment was the training itself.


Return from Marathon Training Plan back to The Marathon page.

Follow us:



Free Pass


The Fitness Motivator

Promote Your Page Too