How To Train for a Marathon if You’re Brand New

Running your first marathon is a major endeavor, even if you have some 10 milers and half marathon races under your belt. If you’re ready to start marathon training, we are here to help you with a training plan that will have you ready and confident on race day. Read on to learn more about how to train for a marathon and get to the finish line–without hitting the wall. 

How To Train for a Marathon if You’re Brand New

If becoming a marathoner is on your bucket list, you’ve got to into with a plan. The biggest goal is to get to where you can build up to a 20-mile training run comfortably so you can tackle the 26.2 miles on the big day. 

If you’re brand new to running, you’re going to want to give yourself at least 12-16 weeks to get ready to toe the line on race day. For the purposes of this guide, let’s go with a 12 weeks of training in this marathon training plan. Lace-up your running shoes, and let’s go! 

Marathon Training: Week One 

Let’s start out with running three days per week. Depending on your fitness level, you may be able to run a mile or two at a time, or you might need to incorporate some walk breaks–start with what’s comfortable. 

Pro:tip: Don’t forget to start each run with a warm-up and end it with a cool-down: See them from Coach Holly:

 

 

Monday: Go for a total of two miles. You can run for one to three minutes and walk for one. Play with what’s comfortable for you. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run/walk for a total of two and a half miles. 

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: Cross-training day. Do some activity that gets your heart rate up, but that’s low-impact on your lower body to help reduce your risk of injury. Swimming, the elliptical, and biking are great options. They improve your cardiovascular ability while limiting the pounding of your feet on the ground. 

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long-distance run day on Sunday. Work for a total of 30 minutes. 

Sunday: Run/walk for a total of four miles. 

Total weekly mileage: 8.5

Marathon Training: Week Two 

Monday: Run/walk for three miles. If you’re incorporating walking, strive to lengthen your run time and shorten your walk breaks. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run/walk for a total of three and a half miles. 

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 30 minutes

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run/walk for a total of five miles. 

Total weekly mileage: 11.5

Marathon Training: Week Three 

Monday: Run/walk for four miles. If you’re still incorporating walking, strive to lengthen your run time and shorten your walk breaks–we will be getting rid of them soon! 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run/walk for a total of four and a half miles. 

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 35 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run/walk for a total of six and a half miles. 

Total weekly mileage: 14.5

Marathon Training: Week Four 

Monday: Run/walk for five miles. If you’re still taking some walking breaks, aim for this to be the last week. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run/walk for a total of five miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of two miles–we’re bumping it up four days of running a week to build a solid base. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 35 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run/walk for a total of seven miles. 

Total weekly mileage: 19

Marathon Training: Week Five 

Monday: No more walk breaks. We’ve built up a solid base over the last month and it’s time to work in some more specific workouts. Today, run a total of six miles, with the middle two miles at your goal marathon pace. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of six and a half miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of three miles. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 40 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of nine miles. 

Total weekly mileage: 23.5

Marathon Training: Week Six 

man running

Monday: Run a total of seven miles. This workout will be speed work interval workout where you run at race pace for four minutes and an easy pace for two minutes for the duration of the run. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of seven and a half miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of three and a half miles. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 40 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 10 miles–your first double-digit run!

Total weekly mileage: 28

Pro-tip: Now that your long runs are getting a bit longer, bring a sports drink or gel with you to help you power through the last few miles if you feel like you need it. You’ll want to have some with you on race day, too! 

Marathon Training: Week Seven 

woman running up grass hill

Monday: Run a total of eight miles. Today, we will do some hill work. Warm up for a couple of easy miles and find a moderate hill that takes about a minute to climb. Do six to seven hill repeats (jogging down the hill easy) and run the rest of the eight miles at a comfortable pace. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of eight and a half miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of four miles. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 45 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 12 miles


Total weekly mileage: 32.5

Marathon Training: Week Eight

Monday: Run a total of nine miles. Run the middle four miles at race pace for a nice tempo run. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of nine and a half miles. 

Thursday: Go for a run of five miles, pushing yourself to race pace the last mile. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 45 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day to get you ready for your long run day on Sunday. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 15 miles.

Total weekly mileage: 38.5

Marathon Training: Week Nine

Monday: Run a total of 10 miles. We’ll go back to an interval run. Run easy for two miles, then run at race pace for five minutes and run easy for two minutes until you have two miles left. Finish up with an easy two miles. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of 10 miles. 

Thursday: Go for a run of six miles, pushing yourself to race pace the last mile and a half. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 50 minutes.

Saturday: Jog an easy two miles. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 17 miles.

Total weekly mileage: 47

Marathon Training: Week 10

Monday: Run a total of 11 miles. We’ll go back to an interval run. Run easy for two miles, then find a moderate hill you and do about eight to 10 hill repeats until you have two miles left. Finish up with an easy two miles. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of 11 miles. 

Thursday: Go for a run of seven miles, pushing yourself to race pace the last two miles. 

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 50 minutes.

Saturday: Jog an easy four miles. 

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 20 miles.

Total weekly mileage: 53

Marathon Training: Week 11

These last two weeks, we’ll start tapering a bit to get you ready for race day, so we will back off a bit. Still, we will keep your long run the same to so you’re used to the distance. 

Monday: Run a total of eight miles. Run the middle three miles at race pace. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of seven miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of five miles.

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 40 minutes.

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: Run comfortably for a total of 22 miles.

Total weekly mileage: 42

Marathon Training: Week 12

Look how far you’ve come in just three months! This week we will tone things down to have your legs nice and fresh on race day. 

Monday: Run a total of five miles. Run the middle two miles at race pace. 

Tuesday: Rest day

Wednesday: Run for a total of four miles. 

Thursday: Go for an easy run of three miles.

Friday: Cross-training day, same as last week. Work out for 25 minutes.

Saturday: Run an easy two miles to keep your legs fresh.

Sunday: You’re ready to toe the starting line. It’s race day! 26.2 miles–you’ve got this! 

Total weekly mileage: 40.2

Of course, there’s a lot that goes into marathon training for new runners, but this plan is a great marathon training program you can adapt to your personal needs. To wrap up, let’s hear three marathon training tips from Coach Nate: 

Now that you know how to train for a marathon, don’t forget to download our new mobile app for access to coaching advice, daily video workouts, injury prevention tips, and complete training programs that will help motivate and inspire your training program!