RW First-Timers Marathon Plan (16 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

If you're ready to run your first marathon, this plan is for you. It is geared for those who have run for at least a year, and have been running an average of 20 miles per week for the last three months. Each week features four days of short runs, a long run, and two days of rest. The plan also includes Yasso 800s to help ease you into speedwork, and marathon-pace runs to help you get used to running at the pace you'd like to target in the race.

Sample Day 2
4mi
4 Miles Easy

Maintain a comfortable, conversational pace, and keep your heart rate at about 65 percent of VO2 max. Or you can cross-train on a bike or an elliptical trainer. Don't worry so much about how fast you're going during these runs. Just try to focus on covering the distance feeling good.

Sample Day 3
4mi
4 Miles Easy

It's okay to cross-train on easy days instead of hitting the road. Just swim, bike, or use the elliptical machine for the same period of time you'd spend running. Try to use the same level of effort that you'd hit on the run.

Sample Day 4
3mi
0-3 Miles Easy

Run at an easy pace today. Just focus on shaking out any stiffness you may have from yesterday's long run.

Sample Day 5
4mi
4 Miles Easy

It's important to keep your easy days easy throughout training so that you have the energy and fitness to give your all to the quality workouts, like Yasso 800s and long runs. In order to do that, it's a good idea to learn the best target pace for all your runs on the schedule. If you have run a race within the past six months, plug that time into our training calculator at runnersworld.com/tools. Look at the 'training paces' to find your pace for each of the runs on the schedule. If you don't have a recent race time, do a one-mile time trial. Here's how: Go to a track or any one-mile stretch of road. After a 10-minute warmup, time yourself while running four laps (or one mile) as fast as you can. Note your time, then cool down with 10 minutes of walking and jogging. Plug your time into the training calculator.

Sample Day 7
10mi
10 Miles LSD

This long, slow distance run is meant to build endurance. These should be done at an easy pace, slower than you usually go on shorter runs during the week. If you're a beginner, go as slowly as your body dictates. Walk if you want to. Your goal is to cover the distance for the day without feeling utterly exhausted.

Sample Day 9
4mi
4 Miles Easy

Training logs can be great tools to track your progress and help prevent injuries. Write down details about the mileage you ran, how you felt while you were on the run, what the weather was like, and how you felt afterward. Be sure to include your race goals and the reasons you're training for a marathon. When you feel the urge to call it quits, pull out that log. Seeing all your plans and all that you've already accomplished can help get you out the door.

Sample Day 10
5mi
5 Miles Easy

The first four weeks of marathon training are about building a base, establishing a routine, and getting accustomed to following a plan. If you want to integrate cross-training into your marathon preparation, it's best to start now, while the mileage is still very low, so that it can be a part of your regular regimen from now until race day. It's a good idea to incorporate strength training into your routine; it can help boost your endurance and stave off midrun fatigue. Just don't lift the day before key running workouts. It will sap the strength you need to run long or hard.