How to train for a marathon: The definitive guide

Advice
7 Jan 2015

Follow one of our three tailored guides, depending on what level you're training at, to ensure you hit your marathon running targets

If your new year's resolution is to get fit enough to tackle a marathon and your aim is to complete the  classic 42km distance one of our three detailed marathon training programs will get you in perfect shape to achieve what you set out to do. Whether you're a beginner that jsut wants to be able to finish the race or if you're advanced enough to want to hit a specific (quick) time, follow one of these 14-week plans and get yourself ready to destroy that 42km.

'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.'

If you want to run a marathon in four hours, follow our intermediate marathon training plan.

If you want a plan that will help you run 26.2 miles in three and a half hours, follow this advanced marathon plan.  

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

Click on the next page below for our intermediate marathon training programme.   

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