Run a 3:15 Marathon.

Average Weekly Training Hours 08:37
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 08:37
Training Load By Week

If your goal is to run a marathon in 3:15 this is the plan for you! If you're a triathlete it's even better as you can keep on swimming and biking to maintain your base fitness. For the pure runner the swim and bike workouts provide for variety with cross-training options to avoid leg stress, running injuries, and burnout. This 12-week marathon training plan was created by Joe Friel using the principles described in his popular article, "The Fast Marathoner." You can find this article to preview the specific details of the plan by going to http://www.trainingbible.com/bkp-all/pdf/TheFastMarathoner.pdf. In order to reasonably assume that you are capable of running a marathon in 3:15 with proper training it is assumed that you have run other marathons within 20 minutes of this goal time or have run a 10k in the past year in at least 42 minutes or faster or a half marathon in at least 1:32. If that is not the case then you may need to reconsider your goal and purchase a different goal-time plan. This plan is based on 3 weeks of increasing intensity load specific to your marathon goal followed by 4-5 days of recovery and then self-testing before resuming training for the next 4-week period. Alternative cross-training workouts are suggested for recovery days along with easy run options. Weekly run-only volume varies from 5 hours per week to 8 hours per week (the weekly hours in the chart below are not accurate as there are options to choose from each week and the final week's hours reflect the double workouts you will select from based on whether your race is on Saturday or Sunday). Most weeks are scheduled for around 7 hours of running (if you do the optional swim or bike workouts the total weekly run hours are decreased by about 3 hours). There is a day off every Monday to allow for recovery and rejuvenation. On purchasing the plan you will receive an email within a few days giving you more detailed information on assistance should you have training problems along the way. You should start this plan 12 weeks prior to your marathon. It will guide you day by day to your goal. All you need to do is follow the daily workout schedule. It has worked for many runners over the past several years. You will need a heart rate monitor and a speed-and-distance/GPS device to make the best use of this plan. Your run heart rate and pace training zones should be set before starting the plan. (For a detailed description of how to set your zones go to http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009/11/quick-guide-to-setting-zones.html.)

Sample Day 2
1:00:00
Race Pace Rehearsal.

BT: Warm-up 10-20 minutes and then start a continuous 30 minute tempo run at a pace of 7:15-7:20/mile (4:30-4:35/km) on a mostly flat road course. This is the pace you will run for miles 4-20 in the marathon. Your heart rate should not exceed the 3 zone. If it does you MUST slow down. (Go to http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009/11/quick-guide-to-setting-zones.html or The Triathlete's Training Bible for details on heart rate zones.) Cool down with slow jogging or walking for a few minutes afterwards and then stretch.

Sample Day 3
0:45:00
Easy Run.

Run in heart rate or pace zone 1 on a flat, soft surface such as on a trail or in a park. VERY easy. This is best done alone. If feeling very tired shorten this run or don't do it. You may also opt to do one or both of the accompanying swim and bike workouts in place of this run as cross-training. Regardless of which you do, the idea is to keep it easy so you are recovered for tomorrow.

Sample Day 3
1:00:00
Easy Ride.

Ride in heart rate zone 1 or power zones 1-2, mostly 1 zone. Flat to gently rolling course. Low effort--light on pedals. Comfortably high rpm. Road or indoor trainer. This is an alternative recovery workout which may be done in place of running to reduce the stress on your legs.

Sample Day 3
0:30:00
PDLC Swim.

(Print swim workouts for each session, put today's in a zip lock bag and take it to the pool.)

This is an alternative workout which may be done in place of running to reduce the stress on your legs. 

PDLC Swim (intended to improve your swim technique which is the major contributor to swim times).
Swim for the scheduled workout duration doing only 25 repeats moderately fast while focusing on only Posture, Direction, Length, or Catch. Focus on only one of these--your worst (“limiter”) of the 4. (20-30sec rest after each)

POSTURE: head in neutral position (nose pointing at bottom of pool). DIRECTION: extended arm pointing directly forward at wall (no crossover). LENGTH: Extended arm reach is so long that body rolls slightly onto side. CATCH: At full arm extension fingers point at bottom of pool and maintain that position until hand exits. Read more about PDLC here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10154489274639345&id=221276784344.

Sample Day 4
1:00:00
Race Pace Rehearsal.

BT: Warm-up 10-20 minutes and then start a continuous 30 minute tempo run at a pace of 7:15-7:20/mile (4:30-4:35/km) on a mostly flat road course. This is the pace you will run for miles 4-20 in the marathon. Your heart rate should not exceed the 3 zone. If it does you MUST slow down. (Go to http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009/11/quick-guide-to-setting-zones.html or The Triathlete's Training Bible for details on heart rate zones.) Cool down with slow jogging or walking for a few minutes afterwards and then stretch.

Sample Day 5
0:45:00
Easy Run.

Run in heart rate or pace zone 1 on a flat, soft surface such as on a trail or in a park. VERY easy. This is best done alone. If feeling very tired shorten this run or don't do it. You may also opt to do one or both of the accompanying swim and bike workouts in place of this run as cross-training. Regardless of which you do, the idea is to keep it easy so you are recovered for tomorrow.

Sample Day 5
1:00:00
Easy Ride.

Ride in heart rate zone 1 or power zones 1-2, mostly 1 zone. Flat to gently rolling course. Low effort--light on pedals. Comfortably high rpm. Road or indoor trainer. This is an alternative recovery workout which may be done in place of running to reduce the stress on your legs.

Joe Friel
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Joe Friel Coaching

An endurance coach since 1980, Joe Friel has worked with triathletes and cyclists from all over the world helping them achieve their race goals. He also trains coaches around the world and has consulted with national federations and national Olympic team coaches. Coach Friel offers personal camps, and seminars for clubs and teams, and consults with professional athletes. He is currently not accepting one-on-one coaching clients.