Low-Mileage Marathon Training Plan

Training plans call for running 1-2 key workouts per week. Plans include primary and secondary key workouts. Primary workouts stress your body in a way gets you ready for your specific race. Secondary workout focus more on speed and help support your next primary workout.

Guidelines

  • Run 2-5 days per week
  • Space your key workouts so that you have at lease 48-72 hours recovery between key workouts
  • Key workouts should begin with 1/2 mile to 1 mile warmup
  • Run the second key workout only if you are feeling completely recovered
  • On the non-key workout days rest, walk, cross-train, or run easy 20-60 min
  • You can substitute a race of approximate workout length for a key workout
  • Run key workouts at maximum speed and intensity
  • Start at a pace that allows you to finish faster than you started
  • On your easy runs, incorporate occasional 10-20 second sprints during the course of your run. Include 1-2 sprints per mile

Marathon Training

The marathon training plan assumes that you can comfortably run at least 6 miles and alternates between primary and secondary key workouts. Remember, only complete the second key workout if you are feeling completely recovered.

For the longer runs between 10-20 miles, experiment with using walk breaks. Every 1-2 miles, take a 30 sec – 1 min walk break. Many runners have found that such walk allow their muscles to take a break and they actually end up running faster overall because of the walk breaks.

If you are an experienced marathoner, you may be able to get away with running shorter long runs than prescribed below. I’ve spoken one such runner named Jeff Ford, who only runs a long run of 13 miles in training, yet can run a 2:51 marathon.

If you are running the marathon for the first time, I suggest running at least 18 miles to get the feel for what it’s like to be out on the road for that long. You’d be surprised the issues that come up during longer runs that you may not be used to. Things like blister, chaffing, GI issues, and overall mental fatigue start to play a greater role than you might expect.

Primary Key Workouts

  • 10-20 mile time trials
  • 8-12 x 1 mile w/ 1 min rest
  • 4-7 x 2 mile w/ 2 min rest

Secondary Key Workouts

  • 4-6 mile time trials
  • 6 x 1/2 mile w/ 1 min rest
  • 3 x 1 mile w/ 2-3 min rest
Week Key Workout 1 Key Workout 2 (optional)
1 10k time trial 6 x 1/2 mile w 1 min rest
2 7 x 1 mile w 1 min rest 3 x 1 mile w 3 min rest
3 4 x 2 mile w 2 min rest 4-6 mile time trial
4 8 x 1 mile w 1 min rest 6 x 1/2 mile w 1 min rest
5 4 x 2 mile w 2 min rest 3 x 1 mile w 3 min rest
6 8-10 x 1 mile w 1 min rest 4-6 mile time trial
7 5 x 2 mile w 2 min rest 6 x 1/2 mile w 1 min rest
8 10-12 x 1 mile w 1 min rest 3 x 1 mile w 3 min rest
9 5-6 x 2 mile w 2 min rest 4-6 mile time trial
10 10-13 mile time trial 6 x 1/2 mile w 1 min rest
11 12 x 1 mile w 1 min rest 3 x 1 mile w 3 min rest
12 14 – 16 mile time trial 4-6 mile time trial
13 6-7 x 2 mile w 2 min rest 6 x 1/2 mile w 1 min rest
14 18-20 mile time trial 3 x 1 mile w 3 min rest
15 10 miles at marathon pace 6 miles at marathon pace
16 Marathon!

Also see Low-Mileage 5k, 10k and Half-Marathon training plans

2 thoughts on “Low-Mileage Marathon Training Plan”

  1. Hi Aaron, i have 2 questions for you:
    First, what is a time trial?
    Second, i love to run so why would i want to run as little as possible?
    I tend to get injured very easily and i do a lot to prevent that from happening (lots of stretching, core stability exercises ect.) but i really hate it when i have to limit my mileage

    1. I know you love you love to run, that is why you need to limit yourself! Because otherwise you will run yourself into the ground. Give up the stretching, it may be doing more harm than good!

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