RW Break 5:00 Marathon Plan (16 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

Want to break 5:00 in the marathon? This plan, developed by the Runner's World experts, will help you do it. The program starts with 24 miles a week and an 8-mile long run, and peaks three weeks before the race with 45 miles and a long run that's 20 miles. Most weeks feature one day of rest and six days of running, and include workouts like intervals, Yasso 800s and tempo runs to help you get fitter and faster. Each daily workout includes detailed instructions on pace and distance, plus Runner's World's best tips on nutrition, gear, racing, and staying motivated and injury-free.

Sample Day 2
3mi
3 Miles Easy

This pace should feel comfortable and conversational. If you are huffing and puffing, then you're running too hard, and it's best to back off to a pace that feels more sustainable. (Pace:13:00-13:15/mile)

Sample Day 3
6mi
6-7 Miles with Intervals

Your marathon plan includes 'Interval Wednesday' and these workouts will assist you in becoming a bit faster and stronger. You may choose to opt out of the intervals (and that's okay) and cover the total distance for the day in one continuous run. The most important goal of this plan is to keep you healthy and build your fitness through race day. If you do choose to perform the intervals, the first bout follows: 2 miles of easy running 6x400 at 2:30 pace with 200 easy run recovery 2 miles of easy running KEY: Wednesday will be interval day and here's how it works. You begin with an easy warmup run (in this instance, 2 miles). You then want to use a track or path that is measured with 1/8 mile (200 meters), 1/4 mile (400 meters), 1/2 mile (800 meters), 3/4 mile (1200 meters), and 1 mile (1600 meters). In today's workout, you will run 1/4 mile in 2 minutes and 30 seconds and then run easily (jog) 1/8 mile. You will repeat that 1/4-1/8 sequence for a total of 6 intervals. Follow that with 2 miles of easy running as your cooldown and you are done.

Sample Day 4
3mi
0-3 Miles Easy

At the end of each easy run, you should feel like you have the energy to run one more mile. (Pace:13:00-13:15/mile)

Sample Day 5
4mi
3-4 Miles Easy

Sunday is your first long run, and it's best to prepare for it. For any run of 75 minutes or more, you may need to refuel while you're on the road. You'll need 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour, and you can get that from a variety of energy gels, chews, or sports drinks. Test out different brands and flavors to figure out which products give you a boost without leaving you with an upset stomach. (Pace:13:00-13:15/mile)

Sample Day 7
8mi
8 Miles LSD

Your first long run is 8 miles. Long runs build endurance and help you get comfortable spending more time on your feet, as you'll have to do on race day. Each week, you'll add 1 to 2 miles to your long run. Maintain a pace that is between 13:00 and 13:15 per mile. You should expect to do these longer runs at the slower range of your easy pace. Naturally, as you run longer, you'll fatigue and your pace will slow. Don't worry too much about long-run pace. Just focus on covering the distance for the day feeling strong. To stay energized throughout the run, be sure to refuel at regular intervals, say every 45 minutes. Don't wait until you get hungry or fatigued. (Pace:13:00-13:15/mile)

Sample Day 9
3mi
3 Miles Easy

Now is the time to invest in high-quality running gear. These items may seem like extravagant expenses, but the investment you make now will pay off for hundreds of miles. Shirts, shorts, and pants that wick away moisture will help protect you from chafing and keep you comfortable no matter what the weather conditions are. (Pace:13:00-13:15/mile)

Sample Day 10
7mi
7 Miles with Intervals

Once again, you may choose the total distance for today in one run or perform the interval session. 2 miles of easy running 3x400 at 2:30 pace with 200 easy run recovery 2x600 at 3:35 pace with 400 easy run recovery 2x400 at 2:30 pace with 200 easy run recovery 2 miles of easy running In this early stage, you'll want to establish a routine that blends well with everything else in your daily life. Figure out what times of day are most convenient to run, and scout out some safe routes that you can regularly take. If possible, get into the habit of heading out at the same time each day. If it's built into your schedule, you're less likely to skip a run and more likely to look forward to the next day's workout if you do miss a day. Wednesday will be used to work on your leg strength and turnover by completing a series of progressive interval workouts.