12 Week Marathon Training Schedule to Get you Ready

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In my opinion, a 12 week marathon training schedule is the absolute minimum length for a thorough marathon preparation.

Without adequate preparation, it will be difficult to reach the finish line, not to mention the possible injuries you could get before, during and after the marathon.

Does the marathon fit into your daily personal life, or do you need to make some changes to fit it into your schedule?

If you are determined enough, you will find the time to make it a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Two-time Olympic marathon runner, Marius Bakken, has created a unique and proven marathon training plan. If you are thinking about competing in a marathon in the next 3 to 12 months I recommend to check out my review of his 100 Day Marathon Plan. It tells you all about Marius Bakken’s revolutionary and highly effective method to train for a marathon.

Advantages of a 12 Week Schedule

If you ask me, the main advantage of choosing a 12 week marathon training schedule is that it lowers your commitment time. For some people, 18 weeks of specific marathon preparation is simply too much.

If you are an experienced runner who likes to run more than two marathons a year, you might be better off with a short training schedule. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t run full-out all the time.

12 Week Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners

Can you find 4 days per week to train for your marathon? Based on my own experience, I have created a 12 week marathon training schedule for inexperienced marathon runners.

Before starting with this schedule, you should be able to run at least 25 miles a week, and preferably have been running for at least 6 to 12 months. It is an advantage if you have already participated in a shorter (half marathon) race.

As you will see in the schedule, it is important to cut back your training volume in the last three weeks. This change to your marathon schedule is necessary to refresh yourself mentally and well as physically for marathon day. See this article about the marathon taper for more details.

Please find the 12 week marathon training schedule below.

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 10 mi long run
2 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 12 mi long run
3 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
8 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 14 mi long run / 8 mi MP
4 Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 12 mi long run
5 Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
9 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 16 mi long run
6 Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
10 mi aerobic / 6 mi LT Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 17 mi long run
7 Rest
or CT
7 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
11 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 18 mi long run / 10 mi MP
8 Rest
or CT
5 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
8 mi aerobic Rest or CT 10K race 15 mi long run
9 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
12 mi aerobic / 7 mi LT Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 20 mi long run
10 Rest
or CT
5 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
10 mi aerobic Rest or CT 10K race 14 mi long run
11 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic Rest
or CT
8 mi aerobic Rest or CT 5 mi recovery 10 mi long run
12 Rest
or CT
6 mi aerobic 5 mi recovery Rest Rest 4 mi recovery Marathon Race!

Terms Used in 12 Week Marathon Training Schedule

Recovery runs
Recovery runs are short-distance runs at an easy pace to accelerate recovery for your next workout.

Cross Training (CT)
Cross training refers to easy walking, cycling or swimming. On Cross Training days you can choose to take a complete rest or do some light cross training.

Aerobic runs
A moderate-effort run is a standard element of your marathon preparation. Aerobic runs are usually done at a pace that is 20 percent slower than the marathon race pace.

Long runs
The main goal of the marathon long run iis to build enough endurance for your marathon race. Depending on your level, these runs usually start at 10-12 miles in length and build up to 20-22 miles. The farther you run, the more time you need for your recovery.

Marathon Pace (MP) runs
These runs are partly done at your predicted marathon pace. So, for example: “18 mi long run / 10 mi MP” means that 10 of those 18 miles should be done at marathon pace.

Lactate-Threshold (LT) runs
Lactate-threshold runs are tempo runs of at least 20-25 minutes at this so-called lactate-threshold pace. Depending on your level, these runs are usually around 15K to half marathon pace. If an aerobic run of 10 miles calls for 5 miles LT, it means that half of the run should be done at lactate-threshold pace.

I would recommend adapting the marathon training schedule (as well as days that you train or rest) to your specific needs.

Reasons to Take More Time to Prepare

I prefer allowing more time to get ready for my marathon, usually around 18 weeks. This way I have plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations to my body and improve my marathon performance.

Besides that, a longer preparation schedule gives you flexibility in case of illness or a minor injury.

A 12 week marathon training schedule should be sufficient to run a good marathon. On the other hand, your preparation won’t be as thorough as if you allowed even more time to prepare.

Good luck with your choice of schedule and I hope you run a great marathon!


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