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Beginner Marathon Training Schedule

Train for Your First Marathon

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Congratulations on your decision to train for your first marathon! This training schedule (see table below) is perfect for a beginner runner and a first-time marathoner whose goal is to finish the 26.2-mile race. To start this beginner marathon training schedule, you should have been running for at least six months and should have a base mileage of 12-15 miles per week. Training for a marathon is a huge endeavor, so it's good to think carefully about what's involved with the training. (See: "Am I Ready to Train for and Run a Marathon?")

If the schedule below seems too easy for you, try this advanced beginner marathon schedule or check out even more marathon training schedules for other options.

If you haven't already had a physical, visit your doctor for medical clearance to train for a marathon.

Notes about the training schedule:

Mondays: Most Mondays are rest days. Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore rest days.

Tuesdays and Thursdays: After your warm up, run at a moderate pace (slightly faster than your long run pace) for the designated mileage. Cool down and stretch after your run.

Wednesdays and Fridays: Do a cross-training (CT) activity (biking, swimming, elliptical trainer, etc.) at easy-to-moderate effort for 30 to 45 minutes. It's also beneficial to do overall body strength training at least once a week. If you're feeling very sluggish or sore on Friday, take a rest day. It's important that you're feeling strong for your Saturday long run.

Saturdays: This is the day for your long slow distance run. Run the designated mileage at an easy, conversational pace. Use your breathing as your guide. You should be able to breathe easily and talk in complete sentences comfortably during your run.

Sundays: This is an active recovery day. Your short run should be at a very easy (EZ), comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles.

Note: You can switch days to accommodate your schedule. Just make sure you don't do two really intense or long workouts two days in a row.

 

Beginners' Marathon Training Schedule

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest 3 mi CT 3 mi Rest 4 mi 3 mi EZ
2 Rest 3 miles Rest 3 mi CT or Rest 5 mi 3 mi EZ
3 Rest 3 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 6 mi 3 mi EZ
4 Rest 3 mi Rest 4 mi CT or Rest 4 mi 3 mi EZ
5 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 6 mi 3 mi EZ
6 Rest 4 mil CT 4 mi CT or Rest 8 mi 3 mi EZ
7 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 10 mi 3 mi EZ
8 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 8 mi 3 mi EZ
9 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 12 mi Rest
10 4 mi EZ 4 mi Rest 4 mi CT or Rest 10 mi 3 mi EZ
11 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 14 mi 3 mi EZ
12 Rest 5 mi CT 5 mi CT or Rest 10 mi 3 mi EZ
13 Rest 4 mi CT 5 mi CT or Rest 16 mi 3 mi EZ
14 Rest 4 mi CT 5 mi CT or Rest 12 mi 3 mi EZ
15 Rest 4 mi CT 5 mi CT or Rest 18 mi Rest
16 3 mi EZ 5 mi Rest 6 mi CT or Rest 12 mi 3 mi EZ
17 Rest 4 mi CT 6 mi CT or Rest 20 mi 3 mi EZ
18 Rest 4 mi CT 4 mi CT or Rest 12 mi 3 mi EZ
19 Rest 3 mi 20 minutes 3 mi CT or Rest 8 mi 3 mi EZ
20 Rest 2 mi 20 minutes Rest Day 20 minutes Race Day! Rest Day!

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