RW Beginners Marathon Plan (16 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

If you're ready to take the challenge of covering 26.2 miles, why not do it with the best? Train with Runner's World, the worldwide authority on training and racing for more than four decades. This 16-week program will help you cross the finish line fit and injury-free. It is geared for those who have run for at least a year, three to four times per week on average. Each week features three days of running at an easy pace, a long run, and three days of rest. The long runs, which many rookies dread from the get-go, start at just eight miles and gradually build to 20 miles a week toward the end of the program.

Sample Day 2
2mi
2 Miles Easy

Keep a comfortable conversational pace. Or you can cross-train on a bike or an elliptical trainer. Don't worry so much about your pace 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
2mi
2 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 comfortaible no matter what the weather conditions are. Be sure to get new shoes. Worn out or ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of injury. Be sure to go to a specialty running shop where you can get help finding the pair that offer the fit and support that your feet need.

Sample Day 6
2mi
2 Miles Easy

Low-carb diets have become popular in recent years, but for runners, they're not the best approach. Carbs are the muscles' primary source of fuel, and if you cut back too much, you won't have the energy to get through workouts. That doesn't mean you have to eat pasta by the pound. About 60 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, and ideally, most of them should come from unprocessed sources, such as apples, oranges, berries, and carrots.

Sample Day 7
6mi
6 Miles LSD

This is a long, slow distance run to build endurance. These should be done at an easy pace, slower than you usually go on shorter runs during the week.

Sample Day 9
3mi
2 Miles Easy

To keep cool on hot days, hit the trails instead of pounding the pavement. Hard surfaces can retain a lot of heat, and the shade from trees will help you keep down your core temperature.

Sample Day 10
5mi
5 Miles Easy

If you have to change your running time from morning to afternoon, or vice versa, give yourself a few weeks to adjust. At first, you may not feel energized to run, and your legs might feel heavy.