Are you looking for a 12 week marathon training schedule?
Have you already run one marathon and are looking to run another one?
Do you want to include speed workouts and strength/hill training into your schedule?
Yes? Then I have the plan for you!
Of course there will be factors that will make it easier for you to accomplish running a marathon in 3 months time.
This plan is the best fit for you to train for a marathon in 3 months if you:
If this sounds like you then be sure to get the free marathon training schedule pdf at the bottom of this page!
Your Goal During Weeks 1-4:
You have two main goals during the first four weeks of this 12 week marathon training schedule:
Building your running base during the first four weeks:
It's important to be able to run at least 4 - 6 miles comfortably before you begin this training plan because as with anything you do, you want to start where you are already at and build from there.
Since your first scheduled long run is 6 miles during Week 1, it is best that you are able to run about 6 miles although you would probably be fine coming in at 4-5 miles if you are comfortable with running those distances.
Your long run mileage progresses rapidly and if you are not comfortable already with running 4-6 miles you might find yourself struggling to keep up with the plan.
If you don't feel ready to do the first week of training in this program, pause, keep building a good running base and then come back and start this program.
Your total weekly mileage:
Over the first 4 weeks of this marathon training schedule you will increase your weekly mileage from 16 miles in Week 1 to 25 miles in Week 4.
Here is the exact breakdown of your weekly mileage:
Week 1: 16 miles
Week 2: 19 miles
Week 3: 22 miles
Week 4: 25 miles
Weeks 5-10 are the most important weeks of your training as you will be doing some crucial long runs that will set the tone for your marathon race success!
Your total weekly mileage breakdown:
Over the course of weeks 5-10 of this marathon training schedule, you will increase your weekly mileage from 29 miles in Week 5 all the way up to 42 miles.
Here is the exact breakdown of your weekly mileage:
Week 5: 29 miles
Week 6: 32 miles
Week 7: 35 miles
Week 8: 38 miles
Week 9: 25 miles (reduction week to allow for more recovery after last weeks 20 miler and to get your body ready for another long run of 20 miles in the follow week).
Week 10: 41-42 miles
Your Training Workouts:
Your Weekly Mileage:
As you will be tapering during these final 2 weeks of your training plan your weekly mileage will be lower. You are coming in towards the finish line!
Week 11: 23 miles
Week 12: At least 26.2 miles! :) Your runs this week are time based so that you can focus on your pace and time spent running versus mileage.
Your Training Workouts:
Resources for the final 2 weeks of your marathon training schedule:
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 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 in EAT LIKE A MARATHONER Nutrition Kit at least 2 weeks before your race day which would be at the beginning of Week 11 of this marathon training schedule.
These are your 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 are scheduled for Tuesdays. These runs help 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.
For information on how to complete a tempo training run review this page.
Easy, short, base runs are scheduled on Wednesdays.
These are more maintenance, volume building runs that help to add to your weekly mileage, keep your running fitness level and help you to keep injury at bay as you lead into your long run on the weekends.
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.
Thursdays During Weeks 5-10:
During the second part of this marathon training schedule you will trade in your hill strength workouts for speed workouts.
Your speed workouts during this speed training block will be in the form of interval workouts.
Your speed training sessions are marked in this form on your training schedule:
"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.
These are scheduled rest days or you could choose to do an optional cross training day.
Take the rest day if you are feeling worn down otherwise a little cross training may do your body good.
When you are training for a marathon in 12 weeks time though, its more important to focus on your runs and your rest and so it can be beneficial to ignore cross training altogether especially if you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, or you
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.
These are another easy, short, base run training days that provide more maintenance/ volume building runs.
Try to focus on your form and breathing during these easier runs.
You don't need to focus on your pace during these runs but if you want to keep them it in check, run them at 70% of your VO2max or about 70% of your max heart rate.
Your Long Run days are here!
There are many different ways and training styles to run your long runs based on the goals that you might have.
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.
In fact, it's good to run these longer runs at about 1-3 minutes slower than your normal running pace.
If you are training for a time goal then I would highly recommend reading this page on the 3 different types of long runs that marathoners can do to nail their marathon goal race pace.
You will learn about goal paced long runs and progressive long runs that help you practice your race pace during your long run.
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