18-Week Marathon Training Program for First-Timers

© Believeinme | Dreamstime

How long? 18 weeks

How many days per week? 3-4

How many miles? Peak week is 39 miles

Longest long run? 20 miles

Speedwork? Minimal

Race plan? To finish

Rest or cross-train Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Add 6 x 100 meter sprints during weeks 10 through 16 at the end of each run.

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday Sunday
1 2 miles 3 miles 2 miles 6 miles
2 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles 8 miles
3 3 miles 3 miles 4 miles 10 miles
4 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles 7 miles
5 4 miles 4 miles 3 miles 12 miles
6 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles 14 miles
7 4 miles 6 miles 3 miles 16 miles
8 4 miles 4 miles 4 miles 11 miles
9 4 miles 4 miles 4 miles 18 miles
10 4 miles & sprints 6 miles 3 miles 20 miles
11 4 miles & sprints 6 miles 4 miles 15 miles
12 6 miles & sprints 5 miles 4 miles 18 miles
13 7 miles & sprints 7 miles 3 miles 20 miles
14 6 miles & sprints 7 miles 6 miles 15 miles
15 7 miles & sprints 7 miles 5 miles 20 miles
16 6 miles & sprints 6 miles 5 miles 15 miles
17 5 miles 4 miles 4 miles 10 miles
18 3 miles 3 miles 2 miles Race Day!

 

Here are five adages to live by when you train for a marathon:

Build your base

The more miles you can get to before starting this plan, the better. Walk, run, or do a walk run/combo. You should be able to complete 15 miles a week without any problems before starting.

Avoid too much, too soon

The 10% rule exists for a reason. Increase your weekly mileage and weekly long run by no more than 10% to avoid injury and burnout.

Pain or soreness

Pain is bad. Soreness is expected. Know the difference between the two to keep running or avoid prolonged injury.

Long run, long run, long run

If you can do 3 runs of 20 miles in training, you can finish a marathon. This is the most important workout to not skip during training.

Taper smart

During the last 3 weeks of training, keep the pace the same, but lower the mileage. Get plenty of sleep and fill your plate with plenty of nutritious foods.

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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