Beginner's marathon training plan

Advice Lucy Miller
16 Jun 2010
Get marathon fit

Follow this 14-week marathon plan if your aim is to get around a 26.2-mile course rather than clock a certain time.

If you've been inspired by watching the London Marathon and fancy tackling the classic 42km distance, this 14-week plan will get you round in a time you can be proud of without you having to pound the pavements every day and abandoning everything else in your life.
 
'Running a marathon is about consistent training,' says Martin Yelling, Lucozade Sport's endurance consultant. As a man who has gathered athletic achievements such as completing 10km in under half an hour and qualifying for the World Ironman Triathlon Championships, he knows what he's talking about when it comes to distance training. 'It isn't made up of isolated runs or irregular workouts,' he says. 'Instead it's about following a plan that works with your lifestyle and gives you frequent and consistent training. This three-times-a-week plan gives just enough of a routine for the busy runner to adapt to regular training without taking over your life. It also builds up to the long runs gradually so it's not so much of a shock to the body.'
 
Who should follow this plan?
People who can run at a decent pace for at least 30 minutes and want to run a marathon.
 
How often will I need to run?
Three days a week.
 
How long will a marathon take?
Under five hours.
 
What's the plan?
It's a 14-week plan designed by endurance running coach Martin Yelling.
 
Key
Effort level

1-3 – Easy up to a gentle pace
4-5 – Able to hold a conversation
6-7 – Getting out of breath
8-9 – Can’t talk, uncomfortable
10 – Flat-out sprint
 
Week 1
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 30min walk at level 2.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min brisk walk at level 2, 20min run at level 4, 10min walk at level 2.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 15min walk at level 2, 30min run at level 4, 10min steady walk at level 2.
 
Week 2
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - Brisk walk for 5min at level 2, run for 5min at level 5. Repeat 4 times.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min brisk walk at level 2, 20min run at level 5, 10min brisk walk at level 2.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 10min steady walk at level 2, 20min run at level 5, 10min steady walk at level 2, 20min run at level 5.
 
Week 3
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - Brisk walk for 3min at level 3, run for 7min at level 5. Repeat 4 times.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min brisk walk at level 2, 25min run at level 5, 10min brisk walk at level 2.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 15min steady walk at level 2, 20min run at level 6, 15min steady walk at level 2, 20min run at level 5.
 
Week 4
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - Brisk walk for 2min at level 3, run for 8min at level 5. Repeat 4 times.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min brisk walk at level 2, 30min run at level 6, 10min brisk walk at level 2.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 10min steady walk at level 2, 25min run at level 6, 10min steady walk at level 2, 25min run at level 5.
 
Week 5
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - Brisk walk for 1min at level 2, run for 9min at level 6. Repeat 4 times.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min brisk walk at level 2, 35min run at level 6, 10min brisk walk at level 2.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 10min steady walk at level 2, 30min run at level 6, 10min steady walk at level 2, 30min run at level 6.
 
Week 6
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 10min run at level 4, 1min tempo run at level 8, 2min recover at level 3. Repeat 6 times. 10min jog at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min run at level 6, 5min walk at level 2. Repeat 4 times.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 5min steady walk at level 2, 35min run at level 5, 5min steady walk at level 2, 35min run at level 5.
 
Week 7
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 12min run at level 4, 2min run at level 8, 2min jog at level 3. Repeat six times. 12min jog at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 12min run at level 7, 3min walk at level 2. Repeat 4 times.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 40min run at level 6, 5min steady walk at level 2, 30min run at level 6, 5min walk at level 2, 20min run at level 4.
 
Week 8
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 15min run at level 4, 3min run at level 8, 1min walk at level 2. Repeat 6 times. 15min run at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 30min run at level 3.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - Half marathon race.
 
Week 9
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 30min run at level 5.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min run at level 4, 8min run at level 8, 2min run at level 2. Repeat three times. 10min run at level 4.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 25min run at level 4, 5min walk at level 2. Repeat 2 times. 25min run at level 4.
 
Week 10
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 35min run at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min run at level 3, 10min run at level 6, 10min run at level 8, 10min run at level 6, 10min run at level 3.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 35min run at level 6, 3min walk at level 2. Repeat 4 times.
 
Week 11
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 40min run at level 5.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min run at level 5, 40min run at level 7 (faster than your marathon race pace), 10min run at level 5.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 5min walk at level 2, 60min run at level 6. Repeat. 10min brisk walk at level 3, 30min run at level 5, 10min walk at level 2.
 
Week 12
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 20min run at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 10min run at level 4, 30min run at level 7, 10min run at level 4.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 90min run at level 6.
 
Week 13
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 25min run at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 5min run at level 4, 30sec run at level 8, 30sec walk at level 2. Repeat four times. 5min run at level 4.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - 60min run at level 5.
 
Week 14
Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 20min run at level 4.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - 5min run at level 4, 1,500m run at level 7 (marathon race pace), 5min run at level 4.
Friday - Rest.
Saturday - Rest.
Sunday - RACE DAY
 
If you want to run a marathon in four hours, follow our intermediate marathon training plan.

For more exercise, weight-loss and diet tips, get the magazine. Subscribe now and we'll give you 5 issues for £5! Alternatively, get MF's brand new interactive edition.