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Your First Marathon - 12 weeks to the Finish Line.


Joe Friel

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12 Weeks

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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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Plan Description

This detailed 12-week training plan was created by TrainingBible Coaching Head Coach Joe Friel for the first-time marathoner who is fairly new to running. This plan is intended for the runner whose only 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.

Before starting this plan you should have been running for at least 6 months, have completed at least one race of 5k or 10k distance, be free of injuries, have been running at least 3 times a week recently, and have completed a long run of at least 1 hour recently.

The plan includes 4 weekly runs in most weeks with 3 in recovery weeks every third week. One or two bike workouts are scheduled weekly to help avoid injury and to speed recovery while maintaining aerobic fitness. Long runs are schedulled for the weekends and build from 75 minutes in week #1 to 3 hours in week #9. All run workouts call for alternating running and walking just as you will do in the race. With this very successful strategy you will avoid training injuries while learning to finish all long runs - and the race - strongly. Your fitness and confidence will soar!

A heart rate monitor or pacing device is not required for this training plan but may prove helpful.
As a Training Peaks subscriber, if you have training questions, you may post them on the Training Peaks Athlete Forum and they will be answered by a TrainingBible coach. 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 may opt to jhave the workouts emailed to you in advance daily, or you can access them on your password-protected free account at

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.

When purchasing this plan if you check the box to share your email address with Joe Friel when prompted you will receive two follow-up emails from him with more information about your plan and you will also be able to contact him should you run into a problem. Your email address won't be used for anything else. Also, after your event please provide feedback on how this plan worked out for you.

(Note that this plan does not include expected workout TSS and does not use the "workout builder" format. TSS, however, is still calculated on completion of every workout. Those plans with "NEW" in the title include both expected TSS and use the workout builder feature.)

NOTE: If in the first two (2) weeks after buying this plan you decide it isn’t the right one for you, contact Joe Friel ( and he will help you make the right choice and a swap - at no cost to you (assuming they are the same price) or a full refund.

Thanks again for your interest in my training plans. I hope your training and racing go very well this season.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
3:33 hrs 3:00 hrs
Day Offx3
—— ——
0:51 hrs 1:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
3:33 hrs 3:00 hrs
Day Off
—— ——
0:51 hrs 1:00 hrs

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • GPS

All supported 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

Sample Day 1


This is an easy run-walk workout today. Start by walking briskly for a couple of minutes before breaking into a slow run. Walk whenever you feel like it.

Sample Day 3


Run-walk for 30 minutes just as you did on Tuesday. No need to push yourself to go faster or farther today. We'll do that on Saturday.

Sample Day 5


This is your longest run of the week. If Saturday doesn't work for you it's OK to swap the Saturday and Sunday workouts although it is not quite as good that way as your legs won't be as fresh. But life isn't always on our side, is it? Run for 10 minutes easily and then walk for 1 minute briskly throughout the workout. Drink 1-2 mouthfuls of the same sports drink that will be at the aid stations in the marathon (go to their website to find out what that will be). Start the first run conservatively. In other words, hold back a little at the start. It will feel very easy at first. But if you start too fast it will come back to haunt you in the last part of this run.

Sample Day 6

Easy ride

Ride at an easy effort on a flat course, stationary bike or indoor trainer. Low effort--light on pedals. Comfortably high rpm. Avoid pushing a hard gear slowly with a lot of effort. It is best to 'spin.' Riding a bike will also boost your aerobic/cardio fitness but without placing undue stress on your legs after a long run.

Sample Day 8


This is a mini-long day. Alternate running and walking. Run 10 minutes slow and easy and then walk 1 minute briskly. This is best on a mostly flat course or a treadmill. Use the same sports drink that is used in the race. You may buy a waterbottle 'holster' at a running store to make this easier to carry.

Sample Day 9


Run slow and easy on a flat course or treadmill today for 30 minutes. Or ride your bike for 30 minutes easy on a flat course on stationary bike.

Sample Day 10


This is a day for building run-specific strength. Run on a rolling to hilly course or a treadmill on which you can alter the grades to simulate a rolling/hilly course. Run up the hills but walk otherwise whenever you feel like it. The uphills are the most important parts of this run today so get all you can out of them. Use the same sports drink that is used in the race.

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