RW Intermediate Marathon Plan (16 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

If you've finished a marathon, and now want to finish faster, train with Runner's World, which has been recognized as the worldwide authority on training and racing for more than four decades. This 16-week plan is geared for those who have been running for two to three years, have gone through regular cycles of logging up to 30 miles a week, and have finished a few half marathons and at least one marathon. It will help you develop the speed and endurance you need to run your best marathon yet. Each week features two days of rest and five days of running. That includes hill work and the ever-popular Yasso 800s to build leg and lung power, plus marathon-goal pace runs.

Sample Day 2
3 Miles Easy

Keep a comfortable, conversational pace, about one to two minutes slower than your 5K pace. Or you can cross-train on a bike or an elliptical trainer.

Sample Day 3
5 Miles Hills

Run on the hilliest route you can find. Hills build leg and lung power, and they prepare you for speedwork later in training. You won't feel fast going up hills, but you'll feel strong.

Sample Day 5
5 Miles Easy

Take your easy runs at a comfortable, conversational pace, about one to two minutes slower than your 5K pace. These easy days are meant to strengthen muscles, build endurance, and burn fat, but the key is to keep the effort conservative so you're not worn out for the hard workouts ahead. Don't go so hard that you're sore tomorrow.

Sample Day 6
0-3 Miles Easy

Maintain a comfortable, conversational pace, or cross-train. Save your energy for tomorrow's long run. 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 7
10 Miles LSD

Your first long run is just 10 miles. Be sure to take it at a comfortable pace, one to two minutes slower than your marathon goal pace. Long runs build endurance and help you get comfortable spending more time on your feet. Each week, you'll add one to two miles to your long run. Once a month, you'll go a shorter distance on the long-run day to get some recovery time.

Sample Day 9
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. 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 10
6 Miles Hills

Run the mileage for the day on the hilliest route you can find. Even a small amount of hillwork can help you build strength, aerobic capacity, and running economy (how efficiently your body uses oxygen).