12 Week Marathon Training Schedule

Who is this marathon training schedule for?

This 12 Week Marathon Training Schedule is designed for those runners who have already previously run a marathon.

It takes you at a rapid pace from a long run of 6 miles to a long run of 20 miles in just 12 weeks.

Who specifically is this plan for?

If you can run at least 4 miles and preferably 6 miles, comfortably, and you have previously run a marathon, then this plan is an option for your training.

If this sounds like you then be sure to get the free marathon training schedule at the bottom of this page! 

Anatomy of the Weeks in this Marathon Training Schedule

WEEKS 1-4 Base Building + Strength Phase

During weeks 1 through 4 you will be building a foundation and working your long run mileage from 6 miles up to 12 miles.

Your total mileage will increase from 16 miles in Week 1 to 25 miles in Week 4.

You will be performing hill intervals - see this page for information on hill training - on Thursdays, increasing your hill reps each week from 7 to 10 repetitions. This will allow you to gain strength and stamina and set you up for your speed training that will occur during weeks 5-10.

WEEKS 5-10: Increasing Endurance + Speed Training Phase

During weeks 5-10 you will increase your long run from 14 to 20 miles.

You will complete two 20 mile long runs before you reach the starting line of the marathon.

Your weekly mileage will increase from 25 to 35 miles. 

You will also be adding in some intervals (guidelines for interval training here) - on Thursdays, in place of your strengthening hill repeat workouts that you did in the first phase of this marathon training schedule.

WEEKS 11-12: Tapering + Carbo-Loading

During the final 2 weeks of this marathon training schedule you will be tapering – here is the science and more information behind the idea of tapering.

You will also need to heavily focus on getting your body nutritionally ready to run a marathon through carbo-loading. You can find out more on how to carbo-load here.

Here is also a sample carbo-loading menu + prep plan that will give you an idea of what your carbo-loading meals can look like. 

If you are shooting for a marathon time goal, are afraid about hitting the wall, want a personal carbo-loading plan, race-refuel plan, and personal recovery plan (+ so much more all personalized to YOU), then your ultimate resource is the EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Kit. You will want to complete the included 9 Step Marathon Nutrition Prep plan at least 2 weeks before your race day.

Anatomy of the Weekly Training Days in this Marathon Training Schedule:


Rest days following your long run on Sunday. Take these days seriously. It is good to include some active rest and recovery techniques such as doing a foam rolling session, taking a nap, etc.

Here is a 24 Hour Long Run Recovery Timeline of how you might want to handle those hours after a long run so that you can recovery quickly and move strongly into your next training week.


Tempo Runs to improve your endurance and your ability to handle stress.

Run these training runs at 80% of your VO2max or about 80% of your max heart rate.

If you are not sure what your max sustainable pace is for your body, what your VO2 max is, or what a realistic pace is for you body, then, refer to our Runner's Pace Kit which will help you with all of this, and will tell you exactly what YOUR body can do and what paces YOU should train at for your long, tempo, and interval runs.  


Easy, short mile runs. These are more maintenance, volume building runs.

Try to focus on your form and breathing during these easier runs. Run them at 70% of your VO2max or about 70% of your max heart rate.

Thursdays During Weeks 1-4: 

These are your quality workout days. During Weeks 1-4 you will focus more on strengthening your leg muscles through scheduled hill repeat workouts. 

You want these reps/intervals to be performed at about 97-99% of your VO2max pace or about 95% of your max HR.

Your hill workouts are designated by “HT” on the training schedule. They are scheduled on your plan in this form: HR: 7 reps @ 1-1.5 minutes.

Read this as, “7 hill repetitions at 1-1.5 minutes per each repetition”. This means that you will be running a total of 7 repetitions up the hill for your HT and  you will try to run for at least 1-1.5 minutes for each repetition.

For more information on performing hill repeat workouts see this page. 

Thursdays During Weeks 5-10:

You are no longer doing strength training workouts in the form of hill repeats but instead are moving into a speed training block where you will be performing interval workouts. 

Your speed training sessions are marked in this form: "ST: 2 intervals @ 1 mile". Read this as "Perform 2 one mile intervals." This would mean you would be running a total of 2 miles at your interval pace but you will be resting between each interval.

Again, here are the guidelines on running interval workouts. 


Rest days or optional cross training day.

Take the rest day if you are feeling worn down otherwise a little cross training will do your body good. However, when you are training for a marathon in 12 weeks its more important to focus on your runs and your rest and so it can be beneficial to ignore cross training altogether. 

Cross-training is marked as XT on the schedule. Here’s a list of cross-training activities that I recommend for runners and some to avoid while training.


Easy, short mile runs. Again, these are more maintenance/ volume building runs.

Try to focus on your form and breathing during these easier runs. Run them at 70% of your VO2max or about 70% of your max heart rate.


Your Long Run days! There are many different ways to run your long runs. If you aren't training for a time goal then I would suggest running at about 60-70% of your VO2max or heart rate. The purpose would be NOT to go fast but to target your aerobic system, increase your heart strength, and ultimately increase your endurance. 

If you are training for a time goal then I would read this page on the 3 different types of long runs that marathoners can do to nail their marathon goal race pace. 

Review the plan below but first I will send you a free download of your 12 Week Marathon Training Schedule for you to print out and mark up!

Your 12 Week Marathon Training Schedule

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