Yes, one year from now, you CAN run a marathon with this 52 Week Marathon Training Schedule!
Look back upon last year and all that you have achieved and could have achieved!
One year can make a significant difference in your life!
Right now, seize the time that you have, make these next 52 weeks a commitment and begin to take action!
You’ve heard the saying, the days are long but the years are short.
You know you want to achieve your marathon goals but you never seem to have the time.
Well this 52 Week Marathon Training Plan that will take you from couch to marathon in one year!
Before you jump into this plan though, the first thing I want you to do is to answer these questions to see if you are ready to begin a full training plan.
You technically wont actively start the marathon training portion of this program until further on in the year however this will give you a good idea of how to gauge your readiness for the distance.
Is it a good idea for me to follow this plan?
If you have not run consistently and want to build a good running base starting with shorter distance runs that will lead you straight into marathon training and ultimately to the marathon finish line, then this plan is best suited for you!
This might be your first marathon ever or perhaps you have run several marathons but have not run for a while and want to get back into a running routine that will get you marathon ready.
You might also be a runner who simply wants a full plan to follow for the next year.
The beauty with any marathon training program is that you can always (and should when necessary!) adapt and adjust it to make it work with your schedule and your goals!
This one year marathon training schedule that I have designed incorporates what I consider some of the best ways and the most important things to focus on when training for a marathon:
It is broken down into bite-sized goals that make it easy to progress to running longer distances and to be comfortable with tackling the next phase of training on your journey to that 26.2 mile marathon finish line.
I recommend becoming crystal clear on what your goals are for this marathon. See this page on how to set running goals to help you get started.
No matter what your training goals are, you will find that you are able to achieve your goals through the weekly breakdown of this marathon training program.
Here's what your weekly breakdown entails:
You will also have some weeks where your long run is increased but the following week you will have a reduction/recovery week.
You will see these recovery weeks scheduled during weeks 26, 37, 41, 46, 49 and 51 (technically part of your marathon taper week).
This 52 Week Marathon Training Plan is divided into 7 main training phases:
In the following sections, let's talk about them in a bit more detail.
During the first training session of this training plan, you will be training to run a 5K.
5K stands for 5 Kilometers, which is 3.1 miles.
Your mileage will be very low during this time period as your body adjusts to running regularly and you get into the groove of a consistent running routine.
Pacing: Your runs during this time should be easy runs at a comfortable pace.
By the end of week 5 you will run a 3 mile run or you could choose to participate in a 5K race!
The next 4 weeks of this one year marathon training plan will simply be one month of maintaining your running volume.
You will do this by running a few shorter distance runs during each of these 4 weeks.
You will aim to become very comfortable at running 3 miles.
Your weekly mileage will stay pretty consistent during this time period and your runs will average around 2 and 3 miles each time.
Cross Training is also on your training schedule during this time. Strength training is recommended but you might choose any activity that won't compromise your overall marathon goals.
During these next 6 weeks you will be training for the next level of long distance running - getting a 10K under your belt.
A 10K is a 10 kilometer or 6.2 mile run. I love this distance as it doesn’t take too much time to complete, you can push your pace and you enjoy so many benefits (including weight loss if that is your goal!) when you are running for 6 miles at a time.
Each week your weekly mileage will increase from 10.5 miles at the beginning of the 10K training phase up to 17 miles by the end of this phase.
Cross training continues to be a staple during this training phase.
You can find additional 10K training plans here.
Similar to weeks 6 through 9, during weeks 16 through 19 you will be simply maintaining your running volume and getting extremely comfortable with running 4 miles at a time.
As you progress into your half marathon and marathon training plans, 4-mile runs become a staple base run that are included inside these training phases to keep your running muscles in tune and adapted to running.
They are also great at helping you maintain and increase your weekly running volume while not causing you to over-do it or experience over-training or burnout. They are long enough but not too long.
As you round the half way mark on your one year journey to the marathon finish line you are also going to conquer half of the marathon distance!
This is a huge achievement!
It is not meant to make you feel nervous about being able to run the full marathon distance!
You still have 20 weeks before your full marathon race and you WILL be ready for it!
Celebrate all of the progress you have made and look back at how far you have come. It is amazing how you can conquer these longer runs just by taking small consistent steps!
Your weekly mileage during this training phase will increase from 15 miles up to 22 miles.
Cross training is still scheduled inside this training block as well as plenty of rest days.
One major difference is that you will begin to do some quality training runs, specifically, hill repeats during weeks 21 through 24 and interval training workouts.
Instructions on how to perform these workouts will be discussed and resourced more in depth further down this page.
However you could swap your interval training workouts for more of a tempo run (pushing you to run at a fast pace) if you prefer tempo runs or if you have no time-goals in mind for completing your half marathon distance but want to try running at a faster pace.
Training Your Mind for 13.1 Miles!
A new addition to the half marathon training phase is Mindset Training (noted as MT on the training schedule). We want to build a long distance running mindset, one that will allow your body to run long distances instead of trying to shut it down!
While your Mindset Training is schedule on your Sunday Rest Days you can choose to fit it in at any convient time during the week.
I recommend the 20 Week Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners as your guide to forming a strong marathon mindset.
Week 29 will be a mini-taper week before you complete a 13 mile run! You could also choose to run in a half marathon race and get the full race day experience!
Choosing to participate in a race gives you great experience and you will learn a lot about what works for you and what doesn’t before your actual marathon race day when the stakes will be higher!
Besides, half marathon races are simply a blast! You will love it! You deserve some well earned fun and don’t stress if it doesn’t go how you were planning.
Just get out there, have fun, and take the opportunity to learn.
During these 4 weeks, you will get a break in mileage build-up as you progress towards the higher mileage weeks of full marathon training.
Take this time to run easy runs, enjoy the shorter distances and hopefully get in some well deserved recovery so that you can dive into marathon training strong and healthy!
Most of your runs will be shorter distances around 3-5 miles. There is room here for you to determine what your mind and body need, the higher or lower mileage.
There is no need to push your pace and run at a fast pace, or try to run at your desired marathon pace.
Keep your runs during this time at and easy, comfortable running pace and just allow yourself and your running some air to recover, adapt and breathe. These are the easy days!
Focus on your marathon nutrition, eat quality foods, nurse any areas that are feeling the miles of marathon training add up, get some extra sleep and get excited!
You are so close to your marathon goal!
You are HERE.
It is time to go all in on your marathon training journey. You have a good running base and build up to this training phase and it’s now time to implement!
This phase will see your weekly mileage build from 16 miles up to 35 miles.
Your long runs will also increase week to week starting at 6 miles and building up to two 20-mile runs (your longest marathon training runs) that you will complete during Weeks 48 and 50.
Cross Training is again a staple of this training phase and I highly recommend that you choose to incorporate some quality marathon strength training workouts such as these.
You will also get back to hill training through running hill repetitions during weeks 34 through 40 and then rounding out the final weeks of your 52 Week Marathon Training Plan with interval training workouts during weeks 42 through 49.
Mindset Training is again included during this training phase and it is very important to make time for it. 20% of the marathon race is a physical test while 80% of the race is a mental test.
Don't neglect to train your mind and form a marathon mindset during these last few weeks of the training plan.
The 20 Week Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners is my go to for shaping a solid marathon mindset before race day.
Mindset Training is again noted on your training plan with the MT symbol and although it is schedule on your Sunday Rest Day, you can really choose to do it any point of time during the week.
Weeks 51 and 52 are focused taper weeks. Actively focus on using especially the last week leading into the marathon race as a recovery week.
Your weekly mileage is greatly reduced during this time period as you rest and recover for marathon race day!
You can read more about the marathon taper week here.
As you begin to train for your half marathon, during weeks 20 through 29, you will notice that hill training is included in this phase.
You will be performing a hill repeats workout every Wednesday for 4 weeks (Weeks 21 through 24).
You will also see hill repeats again scheduled during weeks 34 through 40 of your marathon training phase.
The main purpose of this phase is to build functional strength that will lay the groundwork for speed adaptations to be made more successfully as you begin interval training.
They are also a great way to build strength with the goal of avoiding injury!
The hill repeats workouts are transcribed onto your training schedule as:
1 mile warm up + HT: 4 reps @ 1-1.5 minutes + 1 mile cool down.
Read this as:
Perform a one mile running warm up (at a very easy pace). You could also simply walk for a mile if you prefer.
Next, begin your scheduled hill repeats, in the example above you would be running 4 hill repeats or 4 reps.
To do this, run up a steep hill that should take you anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds to reach the top.
Slowly walk or jog back down the hill until you are fully recovered. When you have fully recovered, do the next hill repeat.
Repeat this until you have completed all of the scheduled hill repeats for that training day.
Wrap up your hill training workout with a 1 mile cool down, either walking or jogging.
See this page for more tips and resources on hill training for runners and running hill repeats.
Like the hill training workouts, you will also have interval training workouts included in this 52 Week Marathon Training Plan during your half marathon and marathon training phases.
The goal of these workouts is to help you build speed especially if you are interested in any sort of a marathon finishing time goal.
If you are not interested in a time goal (which many times it is recommended that first time marathon runners simply have the goal of completing and finishing the marathon distance versus having a strict time goal they are trying to achieve) then you could also opt out of these interval training workouts or sub them out for tempo runs.
Your interval training workouts are noted on your training plan in this format:
1 mile warm up + ST: 4 intervals @0.5 miles + 1 mile cool down.
You can read this as:
Complete a 1 mile warm up jog or walk followed by 4 intervals that are ½ a mile in length with rests in-between each interval, followed by a 1 mile run or cool down.
The most important thing to note about your interval workouts is that you should allow yourself to rest for about 2 minutes in between each interval.
For more information on interval training workouts, the benefits, and tips, see this page on interval training for runners.
While you don’t see a single scheduled tempo run on this training plan, you most definitely have room to include them.
Tempo runs are great especially for beginners easing into speed training and some runners prefer tempo runs versus interval training runs.
Deciding whether or not to include a tempo run will largely come down to your finishing time goal, whether you enjoy tempo runs, and if you are actively trying to become a faster runner.
If you would like to include a tempo run you can always swap your interval training workouts for a 3 to 4 mile tempo run.
If you are an overachiever (although, over-achievers, beware and listen to your body!) you could turn your Monday or Wednesday runs into a tempo run at almost any point of time on this marathon training schedule.
Read all about how to perform a tempo run over here on this page.
There are 3 scheduled reduction/recovery/volume maintenance months during this 52 year marathon training plan.
One of the biggest reasons runners and in particular marathon and first time marathon runners find themselves with a running injury is because of constantly increasing their weekly mileage. (i.e. increasing their weekly mileage volume).
Therefore, to combat this, I have designed the plan to allow you to build your running volume and then maintain that volume so that you can become comfortable with running those distances and so that your body is fully adjusted and adapted to running that mileage.
The only way to build and constantly progress is if you continue to build off of what you are comfortable doing.
You must keep pushing the bar higher, however if you keep pushing without ever gaining that comfortability at each new level you reach then the effects can be disastrous.
If you do find that you are injured, you will have this time built into your training schedule to back off increasing mileage weeks and focus on nursing yourself back to full health!
If you aren’t injured, stay mindful of how you are feeling and do try to give yourself some extra active recovery measures so that you can pick your training back up with zest and energy!
A one year marathon training plan is a long training plan. Who knows what will happen within a years time.
The months where your training is reduced are built into your schedule to also give you flexibility where you need it.
They might not happen exactly as this training plan dictates but when something does come up, you will know that you have time to make up for lost training during these months.
Anxiety need not occur. Simply reroute your training until you are able to fully jump back in.
The goal with your cross training during this one year marathon training plan is:
I highly recommend strength training as your form of cross training and I even have a set of 12 strength workouts designed specifically for marathon runners that I use as well when training for a marathon.
However, I fully support doing any activity that you love as a way to keep your training fun and fresh!
Here are some cross training workout YouTube videos for runners.
Here’s where I talk more about cross training for marathon runners, the risks, benefits and a list of cross training activities you might like to include.
I am so excited for you and the journey you have embarked on!
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