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18 Week Marathon Plan - Beginner


Coach Pittman

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18 Weeks

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Plan Description

This plan is designed for the beginner athlete who is running their first marathon or attempting a plan for the first time. This plan is ideal for anyone looking to run between 4 and 5 hours in the marathon.

You will find that each workout is prescribed an RPE. This is Rate of Perceived Exertion and describes what effort you should be running at to get the desired physiological adaption. It's very important that you follow this RPE scale so that you don't risk getting injured. Keep your running easy and controlled and have fun! This plan only prescribes efforts between RPE 1 - 3.

RPE 1 - Recovery effort. Walking, jogging very easy, and able to carry a conversation comfortably.
RPE 2-3 - Aerobic. Able to carry a conversation and feel like you can sustain this effort for hours.
RPE 4-6 - Tempo. Moderate activity that you feel like you can hold for hours, but breathing is harder.
RPE 7-8 - Anaerobic. Uncomfortable, short of breath, hard to complete sentence.
RPE 9 - VO2Max/Speed. Can barely speak and can only sustain for around 3 minutes.
RPE 10 - Power. Unable to speak, max effort, unsustainable for even short a period of time.

Your training plan is a simple and safe progression of mileage where you build for 2 weeks and then drop mileage for 1 week in order to recover and adapt to the training stimulus.

This is a heavy and dominate load of aerobic endurance. That's because a marathon is an aerobic event and requires aerobic fitness. If you are looking for a plan with speed and tempo work, check out the intermediate plan I offer.

Ensure that before every workout, you get a proper warm up with dynamic exercises. Here is a sample dynamic warm-up:

10 squats
10 alternating lunges
10 calf raises
10 leg swings
10 high knees
10 butt kicks

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x4
0:01 hrs 0:20 hrs
Day Off x3
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
0:01 hrs 0:20 hrs
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • GPS

All supported devices

Coach Pittman

Fit 2 Endure

USA Triathlon Coach and Running coach

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