Marathon Training Plans


The Best Way To Train For A Marathon

The best way to train for a marathon is to build up your training slowly over a period of weeks and months. When you’re starting out, it’s important to avoid the temptation to run too far, too fast or too regularly – these are common mistakes that can lead to injury and fading motivation. A good place to start is by getting an expertly designed training plan. People who use training plans have been shown to be twice as likely to succeed in reaching their goals.

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Top Training Tips For A Marathon

As a general guide, beginners should start off by aiming to run two or three times per week, starting with 15 or 20-minute runs. If running non-stop feels too hard for you initially, include periods of walking until you’re eventually fit enough to jog without stopping.

Aim to increase the duration of your workouts by no more than 10% per week. If you ignore this, you increase your risk of getting injured. Your runs should not feel too intense at this stage either – ideally you should be able to talk while you’re running, as a way of knowing that you’re not going too hard. If not, slow down or include some walking sections.

Once you have built up to running 30 minutes, you can then base your training around three key runs per week. The first key weekly run should be a longer one, where you build up over the weeks and months to 2 hours 30 minutes of low intensity running. The second key run should be a speed session, with a warm up, a warm down and some harder efforts sandwiched in between – such as 4 x 4 minutes hard with 2-minute recoveries. These sessions will train you to run at any given pace for less effort.

Your third key weekly run should be a marathon race pace session. Aim to build up from 30 to 90 minutes, at your target marathon race pace.  Any other runs you do in addition to your three key sessions should be steady jogs of 35 to 60 minutes.

If possible, do some of your running on soft surfaces like grass or trails, to reduce the impact on your body. Training on hillier terrain is good too, because it spreads the load to a wider range of muscle fibers, compared to running on flat ground. Always be mindful of avoiding injury – over half of all runners are injured every year. In our novice, intermediate and advanced marathon training plans we make every fourth week an “active recovery week” where the training is half as much as normal. This gives your body a chance to recover and get stronger, reducing your chances of getting injured.

In our marathon training plans there are normally two 40-minute strength and conditioning sessions each week. These workouts can help improve your strength and flexibility, leading to more efficient movement patterns and fewer injuries. We suggest you only do strength work in addition to at least three runs per week, rather than instead of them.

Using A Marathon Training Plan

Online training plans are for athletes who don’t feel the need for a personal coach, but who still want the structure and planning of an expertly-written training program. Research has shown that you are twice as likely to reach your goals if you train with a structured plan. 

If you have a recent background of fitness or sport, it could take you 20 to 24 weeks to get fit enough to conquer a marathon. If you’ve been more sedentary over the last few years, it’s harder to predict. Either way, you need to build up your training gradually over a period of months. Fitness improvements build up slowly and gradually, like coffee dripping through a filter into a jug.


About Phil Mosley

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As an athlete and parent, I know how challenging it can be to train effectively for endurance events. Being a certified coach with over 20 years’ experience, the biggest challenge is balancing my client’s training with their lifestyle…

And that’s why I started MyProCoach™ – to offer the world’s most comprehensive range of online training plans, all designed to help you enjoy the same success that my athletes and I have, while still making sure you have quality time for your family, friends and career (read 100+ detailed reviews here). You can also hear from me in a series of 6 short explainer videos below:

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Why Use Our Training Plans?


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Research-backed plans for any experience-level that fit around your lifestyle. From leading endurance coach Phil Mosley.

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We use TrainingPeaks for personalised training zones, trackable progress and more - on any major training device.

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Our Marathon Training Plans (8-40 Weeks)​


We use TrainingPeaks to deliver your plan – the world’s most popular endurance coaching platform. Free to use, TrainingPeaks is an online calendar that lets you record, track and analyze your training sessions. 

It has a host of great features allowing you to get as in-depth as you like, including the ability to export your workouts to your training devices (Garmin, TrainerRoad etc) and follow them in real time. 

TrainingPeaks enables us to set you in-depth training plans in a way that other formats cannot. Phil Mosley is a Certified Coach and one of the best-selling coaches on the platform.

We want to provide an affordable and effective training solution, including email coach support for any questions you may have.

Our Certified coaching team are on hand to answer any questions during the first use of your plan, plus a bonus 3 months after its completion. During checkout, please also share your email so I can send you a series of 5 helpful emails to get you started.

As you can understand, some limits apply, like personalisation or analysis of your training, but for anything else relevant to your plan, we would love to help. You also have full access to our online help centre, with videos and articles to help you train effectively.

We have a huge range of plans that enables you to select one that best meets your goals, schedule and ability. If you’re not sure where to start, read on below for a quick overview.

Length of Plan
For the best outcome, count back from your “A” target race date and simply choose a plan to fill that gap (you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan). Note that longer plans start easier and progress more gradually than shorter plans. The body responds best to constant, gradual progression with regular recovery periods, and that’s exactly what our plans are designed to give you!

Level of Plan
Choosing the correct level will help you get the most out of your plan. Generally, if you’ve never done this event before or currently train up to a few times per week, you might consider a Beginner plan. Alternatively, if you’ve done this event many times before or currently train 5+ times a week, you might consider an Advanced plan.

But don’t worry too much – we also let you swap the level for free within 14 days of purchase, if you find it too easy/hard!

Visit the MyProCoach Help Center for further guidance and to contact our Certified coaching team.

Certainly! Our training plans allow you to easily swap a few days around each week to suit your availability. Or you can swap out a session, to attend a similar group workout instead. That’s fine. If you opt for Training Peaks Premium (from $9.92 per month) you can even drag & drop your workouts onto different days. We give a few recommendations on how to best do this in our help centre.

And you can also train for multiple events! Our training plans guide you up to your target “A” race, but it’s also good to include some “B or C” races along the way. Our help centre goes through the exact steps you should take to enable you to get full benefit, without detracting from your key focus.

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  • No coach support, personal intensity zones or tracking software

Beginner (8-40wks)

Perfect for your first Marathon
3-5 hrs per week, across 4-5 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
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  • From just $2.72/week!

Intermediate (8-40wks)

For seasoned runners
4-7 hrs per week, across 5-6 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
  • Intuitive tracking software
  • Help centre & FAQ support
  • Email access to coach
  • From just $2.72/week!

Advanced (8-40wks)

Slash your race-times
5-9 hrs per week, across 6-8 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
  • Intuitive tracking software
  • Help centre & FAQ support
  • Email access to coach
  • From just $2.72/week!

Over 40? Compare these with our Masters Marathon plans ▸

Join Over 10,000 Successful Athletes


I have just completed Sevilla Marathon in 3:31:07, even better than predicted. I wanted to say a HUGE thanks for putting together this plan that turned me from a slow turtle into a solid marathon runner! I am turning 48 in less than 2 months and this one is so far my marathon PB. You could not make me a better birthday gift!
Giordano Mastrocinque - Feb 2019
Finished my first Full Marathon yesterday with your Novice Training Plan. Finished strong, thanks!
Susan McDevitt - October 2018
New PB at Abingdon Marathon by 7 mins today. Target was 3:15, result was 3:07:45! Nice way to finish the season, thanks! ​
Dr James White - Oct 2014

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