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Your First Marathon - 12 Weeks to the Finish Line.


Joe Friel

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12 Weeks

Plan Description

Train smart with a marathon training plan by Joe Friel, best-selling author and internationally recognized endurance coach.

  • Prepare for your first marathon (26.2 miles) in 12 weeks.

  • This plan is intended for a first-time marathoner who has been running for at least 6 months and several times a week.

  • Receive two follow-up emails from Joe with more information on the plan (must provide email address at time of purchase).

  • If plan is not working for you within the first 2 weeks, you can switch to a plan of equal value or receive a full refund.

“Joe Friel is one of the world’s foremost experts on endurance sports.” Outside magazine

“Following your plan, I had a great race and first marathon. Your plan was the fine-tuning I needed.” —Bruce, marathon first-timer

Who is this plan for?

This 12-week plan is intended for the first-time marathoner whose goal is to finish the race smiling. If you are an experienced runner looking to do your first marathon, you may consider one of my other marathon plans based on your goal finish time.

When should you start the plan?

This plan should be started 12 weeks prior to your marathon. Before starting the plan, you should have been running for at least 6 months, have completed a 5K or 10K race, be free of injuries, be running several times a week recently, and have completed a long run of at least 1 hour recently.

What does the training look like?

This plan includes 4 weekly runs in most weeks with 3 runs in recovery weeks every fourth week. A bike workout is scheduled weekly to help avoid injury and to speed recovery while maintaining aerobic fitness. Long runs are scheduled for the weekends and build from 75 minutes in Week #1 to 3 hours in Week #9. All run workouts are given in minutes and call for alternating running and walking, just as you do in the race. With this strategy, you will avoid training injuries while learning to finish all long runs—and the race—strongly. Your fitness and confidence will soar!

Do you need any devices or apps?

A heart rate monitor or pacing device is not required for this training plan but may prove helpful. Note that this plan does not include expected workout TSS and does not use the TrainingPeaks “Workout Builder” format. TSS, however, is still calculated on completion of every workout.

After your event, please provide feedback on how this plan worked for you. Thanks again for your interest in my training plans, and I hope your training and racing go very well this season.

How it Works

Load Your Plan

Quickly view upcoming workouts in the TrainingPeaks app.

Workout and Analyze

Upload completed workouts from your favorite tracking app or device.

Track Your Progress

Get feedback, stay on top of your training and perform at your best.

Learn More

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x4
03:33:00 03:00:00
Day Off x3
—— ——
Bike x1
00:51:00 01:00:00
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
03:33:00 03:00:00
Day Off
—— ——
00:51:00 01:00:00

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

Joe Friel

Joe Friel Coaching

An endurance coach since 1980, Joe Friel has worked with triathletes, cyclists, and runners around the globe. He trains coaches and assists various national federations and national Olympic team staff. He also consults with professional athletes and sports-related businesses. Coach Friel occasionally offers personal camps and seminars for clubs and teams. He has authored 17 books on training including the best-selling Training Bible series. For more info, go to his blog at

  • This plan includes a Free Basic TrainingPeaks Account.
  • Access your training plan anywhere on the TrainingPeaks mobile and desktop apps.
  • Track your performance with robust data tracking and detailed graphs.
  • Plan for your event in the TrainingPeaks calendar.
  • Track your weight, sleep, hours, fatigue and stress while you train.
  • Syncs daily with other popular apps like Garmin and MyFitnessPal.

Refund Policy

This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

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