You’ve begun running. Perhaps crossed a finish line or two. Maybe even found a running buddy. You’re inspired and looking for what’s next. A marathon has caught your interest, but you’re not sure where to begin. Fear not, the following is a twelve week program to get you to that finish line.

Also check out: First marathon training: here’s how to make it a success

The program isn’t set in stone – make adjustments for your life and your body. Switch the long runs. Cross train on another day. Rest an extra day. However, don’t make too many modifications and whenever possible, don’t skip a run.

RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU

An explanation of the 12 week marathon training schedule:

Long runs

Sunday runs are for distance – between 6-20 miles. You can run these by mile or by time and pace isn’t as important as getting the miles in. Loops are nice, out and backs are sometimes easier. If you can, toward the end of the program, practice running these at negative splits (running the last half, faster than the first). This requires consciously starting out sloooooww.

Cross training

Fridays are devoted to cross training. Cross training is any other form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles while training. You can choose any sort of activity – biking, elliptical, swimming, yoga, or even walking. Doesn’t have to be a tough work-out, simply move – AND, you can choose something different each week.

Activities requiring sideways movement or sudden stops and starts (basketball, soccer, etc.) are not recommended as they will increase your risk of injury during training.

Midweek training

Training during the week should be done mostly at a comfortable pace. Don’t push too hard. Run easy, and run relaxed!

Saturday runs

Saturday runs are meant to be run at a faster than comfortable pace. If you can, run most of them at your ideal race pace (what you hope your marathon mile pace will be). This will get your body used to running at a specific pace.

12 week marathon training schedule_2

Rest

Rest is a critical component of any training program. You can’t run well unless you are well rested. On rest days do not engage in strenuous physical activity. You don’t have to lie on the couch all day, but don’t exhaust yourself. If you need to take more rest days, do so. Listen to your body. Rest, and relax.

12 week Marathon Training Program (intermediate)

Week

MON

TUE

WED

THUR

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

rest

3m

3m

3m

cross train

4m

6m

2

rest

3m

4m

3m

cross train

4m

8m

3

rest

3m

4m

3m

cross train

4m

10m

4

rest

3m

5m

3m

cross train

6m

12m

5

rest

3m

5m

3m

cross train

6m

14m

6

rest

4m

6m

4m

cross train

6m

16m

7

rest

4m

6m

4m

cross train

8m

18m

8

rest

5m

8m

5m

cross train

8m

12m

9

rest

5m

8m

5m

cross train

8m

20m

10

rest

4m

6m

4m

cross train

4m

10m

11

rest

4m

5m

4m

cross train

3m

8m

12

rest

3mi

4mi

2mi

cross train

rest

RACE!

To maximize your training add weekly focuses (something to think about as you move through your run, and your day).

Also check out How to mentally prepare for a marathon state of mind

Focuses:

Posture

Imagine a string pulling you up from the crown of your head. Think long spine. Engage your core. This is especially important as you get tired during a run. Don’t slump, and think long spine!

Breath

Belly Breathe if you can. Breathe deep into your core. Focus more on the exhale than the in.

Relax/release

Focus on relaxing. Relax you shoulders. Your ankles. Your hips. Release any tension in your body. The more that you can relax into the run, the easier it will be.

You can use a focus for each run, or use one focus for an entire week. Play with it, and find what works for you. It can be helpful to keep a journal, noting how you feel before/during/after each run, food intake, any aches and pains, etc. The more you pay attention and the more information that you gather, the better.

Enjoy every run!!

And here are some Last minute marathon training tips

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.

Expert:

Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!

Expert:

Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans