20-Week Foolproof Beginners Marathon Training Programme

This 20-week plan, designed by Runner’s World Editor-at-Large Amby Burfoot, allows for a gradual build-up plus cutback weeks for recovery.

Image by Ferdinand Van Huizen

Image by Ferdinand Van Huizen

 

The first four weeks are low mileage on four runs per week; the final four are higher mileage on four runs per week.

RELATED: 7 TMI Things That Happened When I Trained for My First Marathon

The payoff: you’ll stay healthy during training, and arrive at the starting line ready to go. To begin this plan, you should’ve been running regularly at least four times a week for three months.

WEEK

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

SUN

TOTAL

1

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

20km

2

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

6.5km

21.5km

3

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

8km

23km

4

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

20km

5

6.5km

Rest

5km

Rest

6.5km

10km

4km

32km

6

6.5km

Rest

6.5km with 3km @ marathon goal pace (MP)

Rest

6.5km

13km

5km

37.5km

7

6.5km

Rest

6.5km with 3km @ MP

Rest

6.5km

16km

5km

39.5km

8

6.5km

Rest

6.5km with 3km @ MP

Rest

6.5km

10km

5km

34.5km

9

8km

Rest

8km with 5km @ MP

Rest

8km

16km

5km

45km

10

8km

Rest

8km with 5km @ MP

Rest

8km

20km

5km

49km

11

8km

Rest

8km with 5km @ MP

Rest

8km

23km

8km

55km

12

10km

Rest

11km with 5km @ MP

Rest

10km

17km

Rest

48km

13

11km

Rest

11km with 6km @ MP

Rest

11km

26km

Rest

59km

14

11km

Rest

11km with 6km @ MP

Rest

11km

28km

Rest

61km

15

12km

Rest

13km with 6km @ MP

Rest

13km

32km

Rest

70km

16

10km

Rest

10km with 6km @ MP

Rest

10km

22km

Rest

52km

17

12km

Rest

13km with 8km @ MP

Rest

13km

32km

Rest

70km

18

11km

Rest

11km with 8km @ MP

Rest

11km

22km

Rest

55km

19

8km

Rest

8km

Rest

8km

26km

Rest

50km

20

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

5km

Rest

RACE

15km

RELATED: 5 Essential Marathon Training Survival Tips

Got something to say?

15 Responses to “20-Week Foolproof Beginners Marathon Training Programme”

  1. Manana Phea says:

    I’m happy for this program, wish I can be part of the running organisation next to my Location

    • Richard says:

      Hi,

      At what pace should the runs be? Should I do interval training of just always run at an easy pace?

      I started week 1 this week

      Thanks

      Richard

    • TT says:

      Hi,

      I completed week 1 and I feel great…..week 2 two here I come!! 🙂

      thanks

    • Danny says:

      I’m on week 6 and doing great so far. I registered for a 30K race on week 15 to keep my motivation. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for the great training program

  2. Daniel says:

    I’m 53 and have been inactive for the last 15 years. Last summer I decided to run the 2015 Montreal Marathon. I looked at different training programs and decided to follow this one. I’m really happy I did. I’m now on week 18, slowly gearing down for the big day in 3 weeks. Training went really well with NO injuries. This training program thats you up slowly in milage and gives you enough time at each to get accustomed to the distance. Never thought I could run for that long. The marathon is 3 weeks away and I feel really confident and excited to do this. Last weekend’s 32 KM was a good test, I felt really good and had the energy to run the 10 more Km for marathon distance. If you are looking for a training program to run a marathon and don’t have much experience in running, I highly recommend this one, it worked really well for me.

  3. Daniel says:

    Just wanted to give an update on yesterdays marathon. I’m happy to say that I finished in 4:59 and am quite happy with the result. This training program really helped me succeed in starting me from scratch and bring me to the point of being able to run a Marathon without any major issues. This is a fantastic training program to make you finish a Marathon. I would probably add a few speed training sessions which would have helped in achieving a better time. That’s my plan for next year. If your thinking of running your first marathon, I suggest that you go for it, its hard and demanding but the accomplishment is worth it. I am really proud of myself. Go out and start running……

    • Penelope Cairns says:

      Congratulations Daniel from all of us at Runner’s World! What a spectacular achievement and we are so thrilled to have helped you on your journey.

  4. Julia Lyndall Haddon says:

    Well done, Daniel

  5. Ramen Kun says:

    is this program can be used for 42KM run, its my 1st time so I was very excited and wanted to do the best for it. 🙂

  6. cookiechan says:

    I’m starting this. Good luck to me!

  7. Peter Rolland says:

    I ran and finished the 87km Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa earlier this month running with my two sons. This was my 6th finish after a 25 year break. My sons where instrumental in getting me to do the race with them.
    I want to use this program to prepare for a marathon qualifier for next year’s Comrades. Quietly looking to complete 10 Comrades and be awarded a permanent number.

  8. Scott Westaway says:

    This was huge help and doing the speed training helped a lot and I would recommend doing this if you want to get a good time.

  9. Alexander says:

    I’m using this program now. At week 11 and really happy w it. But one question: What does “MP” mean??

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