My First Marathon Training Plan


I am looking for some advice, I intend to do my first marathon in January. The plans I looked at online are not suitable due to the level I am at just now and the amount of days I want to run (4 days anymore I end up injured)


I ran 2 x 10ks last year just under 50 minutes and a half just under 2hrs however I have been plagued with injury and never really managed to push that on much more.

Saturday - Long Slow Run starting at 10 miles (which I am already able to do)

Sunday - Rest

Monday - Between 5-8 miles steady

Tuesday - Hills/Speedwork

Wednesdays - Steady 5-8 miles

Thursday - Rest

Friday - XT 60-90 minutes

Does this sound like a decent plan to you ? A lot of the other plans that I see are 5 days and I am sure I will get injured doing 5 days so I wanted to concentrate on 4 "quality" runs. I also would "like to run my mara in under 4 hrs however I wont be sad if its sub 4:30.  I currently have around 18 weeks to go (Dubai Marathon BTW) And if its not what are the principles of a decent plan, apart from the LSR what other workouts are a "must"


Any input would be appreciated, I am going mad reading up stuff on the net that doesnt really suit me, the beginners plans mileage is much lower than what I am currently doing and the intermediate ones are usually 5 days.

Sorry if my question seems dumb, I am pretty clueless on this subject!




PS when I say "steady" I suppose I mean my intended marathon pace or slower by 30 seconds per mile




  • Hi there mabs (hope you don't mind the name shortening) 

    I'm no expert but also train for marathons on no more than 3-4 runs per week (end up injured if i go above this).

    i'd probably suggest something like:

    saturday long run (30-90 secs slower than pace you want to average for marathon), monday - speed work (intervals/ fartleks/ hill sprints),
    weds - x-train/ easy run,
    Thursday - 5+ miles tempo run, 
    friday - easy run (if x-trained on weds) / x-train (if ran on weds).

    Would mix it up and add in a few marathon-pace runs as well (swap the 5+ miles tempo for something about 8-10 miles at your hoped for marathon pace) or try to run the 2nd half of your long run at marathon pace to help you get used to running at that speed with tired legs. would also include some strength training a couple of times a week if you can (squats, lunges, core work etc - all help to prevent injury).


  • 25th January, eh?  So you have four months of training before you taper.  Unfortunately that includes Christmas and New Year, but I'm sure you won't let these affect you so close to the race!

    So, what's your intended marathon pace?  4:00 or 4:30?  Can't be 4:00, surely, as you've only done a half in just under 2?  If you were training at an intended MP for a 4, that is your present HMP.  If you add 30s to it, you're making it just about (a touch slower than) your present MP.  I would never run 8 miles at MP four months out from the race.  Couldn't do it.  Too hard.  Doing it twice per week I would expect to get injured.  It wouldn't be the extra days of running that would injure me, it would be the too many miles of MP either side of a hills/speedwork session.

    Do you live in Dubai?  No worries if you do but if you don't expect it to be around 25 degrees when you finish.  That's tough for marathon running, and I'd advise stamina training over strength.  I'd advise the same for a first marathon anyway.  You will not go wrong with running longer and slower if training for a first marathon.  It also makes it easier and safer to fit in more miles.  30pw is only a little bit more than you'll be running on the day - though of course you'll be on many more in a few months.  It also is of great benefit to run a second, midweek long run, at least 2/3 the length of the long.  I'd put this in on your Weds rather than the steady.

  • Hi I live in Abu Dhabi (1hr way) and have been running throughout the summer, tough, very tough but I hope it pays dividends. My hope was 4hrs, I have been running throughout the summer since my 2 hr half, thats about 6 months of training since so I think its possible maybe not materialise though!

    2/3rds of my long run you say once as a midweek run, should I start that now or wait until closer to race?  I am doing 15-18k long runs every saturday at the moment, slowly though so should I start that 2/3rd thing now? Infact I think I am almost doing that just now, I am doing 5-7 miles at 9:20 minute most wednesdays at the moment, just by chance there was no strategy behind this! 

  • That's cool, Christmas and New Year definitely won't affect you then!  (I once lived in the Emirates, but air-conditioning hadn't been invented then.)

    If you really want to estimate your present MP you should do a race if any is available.  Any distance can give you an estimate, though the closer to your chosen distance the better.  It is safer to train at speeds you are presently capable of, and then adjust them as you improve, rather than risk training at speeds you think you will be capable of in a few months time.  6 months of training may have improved your paces, but you won't know until you try your legs out.  And if you had no plan for training for a race, why would unstructured training without a goal have improved your paces?

    Yes, you are pretty much doing a midweek long at present.  I would extend this now in line with increasing your long run, and keep it at least 2/3rds of the long, but preferably as close as you can take it to 3/3rds (except if you have 20+ milers in your plan later, as this may tire you too much for a first marathon plan - maybe cap at 16-18 miles.)  Treat it as a long run, and keep it slow.  Most vital for you for this marathon is training the "fat-burning paces" - training to make your body rely on more fat in the fuel mix.

  • Thanks, great advice.

    I have a half marathon in November which is 12 weeks before full marathon. Maybe I should concentrate in a decent time for this primarily then adjust my paces once that time has been logged?

    The half distance I'm sure I could run tomorrow if I had to but very slowly, maybe my focus could be the half then look to the full. Would this be a better approach?
  • Try giving Shades a shout. She has a plan based on 3 to 4 runs per week. This got me GFA in my first marathon.

  • 12 weeks is time enough for a good improvement, and you could treat your plan that way.  In fact it sounds like a good idea.  Concentrate on training to complete the half rather than being able to run the first 8-10m fast and then hanging on.  This will prep you better for the full, and give you a slightly better time estimate for the full.

  • Postie Postie, how do I get in contact with Shades?

  • Message her through her training thread on here.

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