A 16 Week Beginner Marathon Training Schedule

Beginner Marathon Training Plan

Are you looking for a beginner's marathon training schedule?

Here is a great training plan great for a new/beginner 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! 

It doesn't have to just be for a beginner though! 

If you have run previous marathons but want a more laid back approach then this is the plan for you!

Grab your free printable 16 Week Marathon Training Schedule pdf download at the bottom of this page - it comes in both miles and kilometers!

other beginner friendly marathon training schedules:

Other beginner-friendly marathon training schedules on this site that you might consider as an alternative to this beginner's plan are:

What is the goal of this marathon training schedule?

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

How do I know if I'm ready for this marathon training plan?

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:

  • Do you have time to train?
  • Are you in good health?
  • How far do you run at week?
  • How far are you comfortable running? 

See this page for a full list of questions to ask yourself to help determine if you are ready for a marathon.

For this 16 Week marathon 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!

if you will be run/walking using this training plan...

I still recommend being able to run about 4-6 miles comfortably. 

Run/walking a marathon is such a smart way to train for a marathon especially if you are:

  • an older runner
  • more susceptible to injury
  • just recovered from a running injury
  • feel overwhelmed by the idea of running the entire marathon

Here is a guide to run/walking using the Galloway Method! 

How is this marathon training schedule designed?

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:

  • Each week you will run 3 “easy”  base runs and 1 long run.
  • Your long run will increase by two miles in the weeks that an increasing long run is scheduled.
  • Once you hit Week 6 of the marathon training schedule you will have a reduction in your long run miles to help your body get a bit more rest and recovery in before increasing your long run the following. 
  • Your highest mileage week will be around 38 miles in Week 13.
  • You will be doing a taper phase during the last 2 weeks of this schedule. Tapering allows your body to really peak of your marathon race day and if done can help enhance your performance. Here's more information on tapering for a marathon.

Components to this marathon training schedule:

Rest Days:

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!

Here's a 24 Hour Post Long Run Recovery Timeline to help you bounce back asap.

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/short 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 your guide to tempo running here

Remember it is perfectly fine to stick to normal, easy paced runs on these days though.

Just get the miles in.

Some other quality workouts you could possibly add into your schedule on short running days are:

Hill Repeats

Hill Sprints

Interval Training Workouts

Or here is a complete guide to Running Workouts that you might find helpful.

Long distance running days

First up, be sure to read this ultimate guide on running your best long runs! 

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. 

I wrote on how far your marathon training longest run should be on this page if you are trying to find your sweet spot.

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.

I'd love to send you a free pdf download of this marathon training plan!

It comes in both miles and kilometers!


Your marathon nutrition during training

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!

Your free Beginners 16 Week Marathon Training Schedule


Related Pages: 

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