Marathon Training Program – 16 Week Plan

Got a target marathon time you want to hit and don’t know where to start training? This marathon training program will help you meticulously plan your training over the next 16 weeks to be in optimal condition for race day.

We have teamed up with Bradley Scanes, otherwise known as Physio Brad the personal physio to F1 world champion Max Verstappen to bring you this guide. Brad is an avid runner with a very competitive marathon time, he has recently launched an app providing bespoke training and rehab plans, you can find him on Instagram @Physiobrad.

Pacing

This programme is set up for pacing for going just below the 4 hour mark. To change your pacing numbers a useful website is https://lukehumphreyrunning.com/hmmcalculator/race_equivalency_calculator.php

Here you will be able to input your results from a race like a 5km or a 10km and it will give you what your training paces will be for slow runs, long runs, fast runs etc. 

If you’re aiming for a 4 hour marathon then you need to target 5.40 mins per km.

Pacing is the hardest thing to get right. Don’t do anything different from your race strategy and ensure during training that you practice pacing runs. 

You will have a target time, which will equate to a target pace – stick to it. You will lose much more time at the back end of the race if you run out of steam than you will going slower at the start. It is a long race, you have plenty of time to make up the seconds. What you want is to arrive around 20 miles / 32 km feeling good and ready to kick on, to achieve one of runnings holy grails of a negative split. For example if you want to run a sub 4, sit behind the sub 4 group, keep them in site and then kick on at 30-32km.

Key points:

  • Don’t dodge in and out of people at the start. Just go with it. After a couple of kilometres the crowds will filter out and you will be able to settle into your pace
  • Run as though you are trying to hold yourself back to start. Its a long race, you will catch the time easy, but if you are hanging on at the end you will lose much more time
  • The race does not start until 20 miles, so arrive there feeling good, and then kick on if you can 
  • Don’t be a slave to the watch, work out what your 5km times should be and check them instead of looking every 1km

Practice Races

Running races in the lead up to your marathon is a great way to get some race practice and determine the best pacing strategy for training and for race day.

I’d recommend a 5km around 3-4 weeks in, 10km around 7-8 weeks in and a half marathon around 11-12 weeks into your program.

Nutrition & Hydration

As a rule of thumb if you haven’t trained with it then don’t race with it. You want to learn through your training what works for you, tweak and optimise throughout, then emulate that on race day. The last thing you want is to try something new on race day that throws you off.

General rule of thumb when racing is sip water every 3 miles / 5 km. Most races will have water stations at these locations or near enough. And an energy gel every 10km or 1 hour, which ever comes first. However, everyone will need to find where their own tolerance levels are, for example my tolerance to gels is around 8-9km, that’s when I need to take one for my energy levels. 

Pre-race again you’ll want to find what works best for you, but for me I find the following to work best:

Wednesday to Friday leading up to the race – an increase in carbs. For me 2 pasta meals and a rice meal.

Saturday – normal meal, relatively light, as I don’t want to be waking up full and bloated in the morning. Sip water all day. Pre load electrolytes in evening. 

Sunday Race Day – breakfast a couple of hours before the race, and what you would normally have before long runs or have practiced with, for me it’s 4 pieces of toast with jam, 2 coffees. Energy gel around 30 mins before race start. Sip water throughout. 

Macrocycle

Try to establish a routine that you can stick to come rain or shine, get used to running 4 times per week consistently. Easy days will be Tuesday and Saturday, speed work on Thursday, and Sunday will be the long run day. You can adapt the days you do this on to fit your routine but keep them in the same order as this with the same S&C and rest days to optimise recovery.

Training Phase 1 – Fundamentals 1

WeekTotal Run TimeLong Run Time
12:150:45
22:401:00
33:151:15
43:001:00

Training Phase 2 – Specifics 1

WeekTotal Run TimeLong Run Time
53:301:30
64:101:45
73:202:00
83:401:30

Training Phase 3 – Specifics 2

WeekTotal Run TimeLong Run Time
94:252:15
103:552:30
114:552:45
123:551:30

Training Phase 4 – Specifics 3 & Taper

WeekTotal Run TimeLong Run Time
135:053:00
145:152:30
153:401:30
16Marathon

Recovery

WeekTotal Run TimeLong Run Time
170:500:30

Mesocycle

Week 1

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:30
WS&C
TEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:30
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:45
Total2:15

Week 2

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session0:4010 minutes easy running warm up, then straight into 4 x 1km in 4:30 – 4:45 per km with a 1.5 minute rest between.
Jog cool down the time remaining.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:50 pace1:00
Total2:40

Week 3

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides with a walk back to start recovery.
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
8 x 2 minutes fast, 2 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:45 minutes per km. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace1:15
Total3:15

Week 4

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides with a walk back to start recovery.
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
6 x 3 minutes fast, 2 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace1:00
Total3:00

Week 5

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides with a walk back to start recovery.
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
5 x 4 minutes fast, 2 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:45-5 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace1:30
Total3:30

Week 6

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides 40 secs jog in between
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
3 x 6 minutes fast, 3 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:30-4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace1:45
Total3:55

Week 7

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides 40 secs jog in between
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
3 x 8 minutes fast, 3 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:30-4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace2:00
Total4:10

Week 8

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 min easy warm up jog.
10 x 60 secs quick.
60 secs slow jog in between.
10 min cool down jog.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace1:30
Total3:30

Week 9

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace0:50
WS&C
TRun session0:5030 mins @ 5:15 per km
20 mins @ 5:00 per km
10 mins @ 4:45 per km
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 5:20 to 5:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:10 to 5:30 pace2:15
Total4:25

Week 10

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes steady run warm up.
4 x 20 seconds fast strides 40 secs jog in between.
Take a minute or two to gather yourself.
3 x 9 minutes fast, 3 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:30-4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace2:30
Total4:40

Week 11

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:0030 mins @ 5:55
20 mins @ 5:40
10 mins @ 5:25
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace2:45
Total4:55

Week 12

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:00Run 10km in 55 mins
(5:30m/km)
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace1:30
Total3:40

Week 13

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session0:5515 minutes warm up, nice and easy running.
2 x 12 minutes fast, 3 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:30-4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace3:00
Total5:05

Week 14

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session0:3510 mins jog warm up.
3km @ 5:35-5:40 min/km.
Jog cool down remaining time.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace3:30
Total5:15

Week 15

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:40
WS&C
TRun session1:0015 minutes warm up, nice and easy running.
2 x 15 minutes fast, 3 minutes jog in between.
Fast section at approx 4:30-4:45 minutes per km speed. Jog very slow.
10 minutes easy run cool down.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:30
SEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace1:30
Total3:40

Week 16

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MRest day
TEasy steady run at 5:50 to 6:20 pace0:30
WS&C
TRun session0:3010 mins jog.
2km @ 5:35 – 5:40 min/km.
Cool down remaining time.
FS&C
SEasy steady run at 6:20 to 6:40 pace0:15
SRace DayTarget sub 4Target Pace 5:35/40 until at least 20 miles, then if you feel you have more you can attack from there.
Total5:15

Week 17

DayRunDaily TotalOther
MNo run
TNo run
WNo run
TNo run
FNo run
SEasy run0:20
SEasy run0:30

Strength & Conditioning

S&C is a key component of your marathon training. A lot of people think just running is sufficient, but you’ll see huge improvements from incorporating a consistent S&C regime into your program. As shown above in the mesocycle this should be done twice per week, for me on Wednesday & Friday.

Weeks 1-4

ExerciseSets & RepsCommentsVideo
Double leg glute bridge3 x 12 – 20Start with 3 sets of what you can, aim to get up 3×20 and be comfortable on each one, and then progress. https://youtu.be/Z-ZFkRRoXOI
Double leg hamstring bridge3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/PBzKEWuPfHI
Double leg calf raise3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/yu1jcm049XY
Side straight leg raise3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/bakwY5nFdcI
Seated knee extension3 x 12Banded, increase resistance of band rather than reps when easyhttps://youtu.be/ZZ9W8DkRUH8

Weeks 5-8

ExerciseSets & RepsCommentsVideo
Single leg glute bridge3 x 12 – 20Start with 3 sets of what you can, aim to get up 3×20 and be comfortable on each one, and then progress. https://youtu.be/FsNk5MVwuGY
Single leg hamstring bridge3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/gU0Ygz-pyG0
Single leg calf raise3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/q5BCe853H1M
Side straight leg raise3 x 12 – 20As abovehttps://youtu.be/bakwY5nFdcI
Seated knee extension3 x 12Banded, increase resistance of band rather than reps when easyhttps://youtu.be/ZZ9W8DkRUH8

Weeks 9-12

ExerciseSets & RepsCommentsVideo
Squat3 x 12Add weight when reps are comfortablehttps://youtu.be/juiHLghhvgc or https://youtu.be/PIdL9wsNS2E or https://youtube.com/shorts/pLYjJhjUeOc?feature=share 
Deadlift3 x 12Choose weight based on difficulty, you want this to be challenging but able to complete 12 repshttps://youtu.be/KXnZ3n3e-aY or https://youtu.be/wcG2jbZm0rA or https://youtu.be/8Qb7wmtmJn8 
High step up3 x 12https://youtu.be/Yc1ot8TaRcc
Single leg hamstring bridge on step3 x 12https://youtu.be/EWzXWIAPSrw
Single leg calf raise3 x 12Weightedhttps://youtu.be/RESlowo67Ok or https://youtu.be/y35-dYiXZqE or https://youtu.be/AZVH7wjtwXM
Seated knee extension3 x 12Banded, increase resistance of band rather than reps when easyhttps://youtu.be/ZZ9W8DkRUH8

Weeks 13-16

ExerciseSets & RepsCommentsVideo
Squat3 x 12Weightedhttps://youtu.be/juiHLghhvgc or https://youtu.be/PIdL9wsNS2E or https://youtube.com/shorts/pLYjJhjUeOc?feature=share 
Single leg Bulgarian split squats3 x 12Weighted when reps feel comfortablehttps://youtu.be/0P7pcZn11Rc
Single leg glute bridge3 x 20https://youtu.be/FsNk5MVwuGY
Deadlift3 x 12Choose weight based on difficulty, you want this to be challenging but able to complete 12 repshttps://youtu.be/KXnZ3n3e-aY or https://youtu.be/wcG2jbZm0rA or https://youtu.be/8Qb7wmtmJn8 
High step up3 x 12https://youtu.be/Yc1ot8TaRcc
Single leg calf raise3 x 12Weightedhttps://youtu.be/RESlowo67Ok or https://youtu.be/y35-dYiXZqE or https://youtu.be/AZVH7wjtwXM
Romanian Deadlift3 x 12Choose weight based on difficulty, you want this to be challenging but able to complete 12 repshttps://youtu.be/BYO51UxEjmU or https://youtu.be/mxe3KWMzRrk
Single leg hamstring bridge on step3 x 12https://youtu.be/EWzXWIAPSrw

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