Are you looking for a beginner's marathon training schedule?
Here is a great training plan great for a new marathon runner that is 16 weeks in length.
It will take you through all of the training that you need to do and straight over that finish line!
Other beginner-friendly marathon training schedules on this site that you might consider as an alternative to this beginner's plan are:
Grab your free 16 Week Marathon Training Schedule pdf download at the bottom of this page!
As a beginner or even first time marathon runner, the goal of this training plan is to build your running volume and your endurance level.
Building your running endurance (how far you can run) is the ultimate goal of any marathon training plan.
However, when you start focusing on finishing a marathon within a certain time frame, the way that you train should be different than the way you would train if your goal was to finish the race in any time frame.
That is why this beginners training plan does not include speed, or hill training workouts. Your goal in this training plan should be to accomplish the marathon in any time frame.
If you are looking for a training plan that will enable you to finish within a certain time frame I do have 7 other marathon training plans that are specific to finishing time goals.
Before jumping into any marathon training schedule you should assess whether or not you are truly ready.
You're readiness can be subject to many different things. Here are some of the questions I recommend asking yourself:
For this specific training plan I would recommend the following before you begin:
Be comfortable with running at least 4 miles.
Ideally, being able to run 5-6 miles would be perfect since your first scheduled long run is 6 miles during the first week of training.
If you can't physically run 4 to 6 miles yet you might consider waiting to begin this schedule and build more of a running base until you are more comfortable with that distance.
A good training strategy is to always start at the running level you are at.
You don't want to have force your body to run the 6 miles during that first week of training, become worn out and then struggling to keep up with the rest of the plan.
It is much safer for you to be comfortable running those distances and progress from there.
Therefore, if you aren't ready yet, wait and keep building up your endurance. On that note, here are 16 of the best things you can do before beginning marathon training that will increase your chances of success!
This is a 16 week marathon training schedule for beginner marathoners that is focused on building endurance.
As previously mentioned, there are no "fancy" workouts such as interval training, tempo runs, hill repeats etc. although these can definitely be added in if you are more advanced and this isn't your first marathon.
We'll talk about how to make alterations to this plan in a bit.
The main goal is to build running volume and mileage so that you are able to run and complete the marathon distance.
The key component in this plan is your long run which is the strongest determinant of your success!
Anatomy of the training weeks:
I don't think rest for marathoners can be stressed enough.
That is why this beginner marathon training program has 3 rest days/week which can be ideal for a beginner marathoner.
It is better for you to rest than to push through miles and become run down. You must rest your body!
If some days you just aren't feeling it then take the day off. If you are injured: REST!
What about cross training?
If you feel like you want to add cross-training on one of the rest days, then feel free to do so.
Here is a list of some of the best cross training activities you can do + ones to avoid.
I also have a compilation of my favorite cross training YouTube workouts on this page.
The one rule to adding cross training to this schedule is to not force yourself to do it if you are feeling exhausted or run down.
It is much better to focus on your running, especially your long run when training for a marathon than it is to get a cross training workout in once a week.
If you do choose to cross train then a good day to fit it into this plan would be on Thursday, in the middle of your training week.
Easy Running Days:
Each week, (Tuesday, Wednesday, Fridays) you will perform 3 easy runs.
The goal of these easier, shorter training runs is to build your weekly running volume (your weekly mileage) and keep your body maintained and prepped for your long run on the weekend.
If you do feel the need to add in a quality workout once a week then schedule it for one of these shorter training days. A good day to accomplish this would be on Tuesday or Wednesdays.
A good beginner quality run you could do on these days would be a tempo running. You can find information on tempo running here.
Remember it is perfectly fine to stick to normal, easy paced runs on these days though. Just get the miles in.
Your long runs are the key elements of this plan!
You will perform a long run each week scheduled on Sundays.
Once you reach your 15 mile long run during Week 5 you will then have an alternating light week, or reduction week where your long run will be reduced to allow for extra recovery to occur before your next long run.
This will allow you to keep building your endurance without becoming too run down from performing long runs week after week.
During weeks 11 and 13 you have the option of going longer than 20 miles.
You may feel up to it and welcome the opportunity of boosting your race day performance and success.
However, if the long runs have been getting the most of you then stick to 20 miles. Here is a page I wrote on how far your longest long run should be when training for a marathon.
Since your long run is so important to your marathon success I want to point you towards a couple of pages that will help you with your long runs:
Can I switch my long run day?
If you need to run your long run on Saturday versus Sunday then simply shift everything by one day on the training plan.
For example, run your long run Saturday, your rest day Sunday and your run the first of your scheduled shorter weekly runs on Monday.
You are going to be logging many miles during your marathon training.
Therefore, it's very important that you are giving your body the fuel that it needs to accomplish such a huge task.
I have written many articles on nutrition that you can find on this page.
Here are some resources that I want to highlight for you as you work through this beginner 16 week marathon training plan:
Don't forget about your hydration!
One of the most important factors of your training!
Without the proper fluids your body is at risk of shutting down. Endurance sports always require you to take in the proper fluids. Here are some Hydration Tips and Guidelines.
I also want to emphasize the importance of finding an energy drink that works for you!
Here's what you need to know about choosing the right energy drink as a marathon runner!