The Only Marathon Training Plan You Need as a Beginner Marathon Runner

The Only Marathon Training Plan You Need as a Beginner Marathon Runner


Marathon training plan
Marathon training plan
Marathon training plan

Running a marathon is a dream for many beginner athletes. But covering a distance of 42 km is a demanding task for anyone be it beginners or experienced runners. The planning and preparation that goes into running a marathon play a crucial and pivotal role in making sure you are mentally and physically ready to run it.

Let’s understand the essential steps, including the duration of training, weekly targets and crucial precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable marathon experience.

Assess Your Base Level

It requires repetitive use of the same muscles and joints for a long duration of time when you run a marathon. Due to that, there’s a high risk of injuries related to joints, muscles and tendons.

Before you embark on a journey to train for a marathon, make sure that you’re not suffering from any underlying injury or any other problem since running a marathon can also cause an injury or make your injuries worse if proper care is not taken.

If you’re not a runner or have been living a sedentary life, make sure to see a doctor for a basic health check-up before you start your training. It may feel unnecessary but this basic step can save you from any grave injuries.

Best training plan

Running the marathon is only a part of the journey, whereas most of the effort actually takes place during the preparation phase. Many training programs generally last between 12-20 weeks. The fundamental idea behind choosing a training program is not only to make your body accustomed to running for long periods but also to make sure that you enjoy this process.

Pick a marathon that you want to run and plan your training period between 4-6 months which is about 16-20 weeks.

Weekly training schedule

You need a holistic approach to training for a marathon which includes daily runs, rest days, strength training etc. Let’s discuss in detail how you can cover all these boxes to prepare yourself for the marathon day:

3-4 Days of Running

You can start by running for 3-4 days initially. The initial phase should not feel too difficult or overwhelming. You should alternate between walking and running and pick a pace that feels right for you.

In the initial phase, it’s important to aim for a distance-based target rather than a time-based target. Once you become comfortable with running, you can include one long run per week, where you slowly build up to running up for 21 km about three weeks before the marathon. You can use an app like Fitmint to build a consistent running habit while making it fun and rewarding. The app can help you turn running into a game and connect you with runners worldwide. You can participate in weekly challenges with other runners and earn rewards for completion. It helps you experience the fun of competition while also keeping you accountable towards your bigger goals.

For the last 3-4 weeks of your preparation, you need to focus on D-day rather than pushing your running limits. Reduce the running distance in these weeks and focus on rest and cross-training to make sure you’re in the best shape for the marathon day.

Rest Days

Rest days are not just passive breaks but play an active part in your marathon preparation. During your runs, your muscles undergo stress and develop microscopic tears, which is your body’s way of stimulating growth. Rest days allow these tears to repair and rebuild stronger muscles. Another reason is that running depletes your glycogen stores which are the primary energy source for your muscles. Appropriate rest allows your body to restore glycogen giving you adequate fuel for your next run.

But you don’t need to be completely inactive during your rest days. You can engage in low-impact activities like stretching, walking, yoga, swimming, cycling etc.

For beginners, aiming for 2-3 rest days per week is ideal. The key is to listen to your body. If you’re constantly experiencing fatigue, and not able to recover, you might need more rest days.


Cross-training plays a crucial role in avoiding overuse injuries when you prepare for a marathon. Cross-training can help you target various muscle groups that may not be adequately addressed by running alone. This helps you strengthen your overall musculature and reduce the risk of imbalance-related injuries. Cross-training can help you improve your cardiovascular health and endurance even when you’re not running. It can help you avoid a plateau in your running performance.

Running is a repetitive exercise and you can experience boredom and fatigue which leads many people to give up on marathon running. Cross-training can make your routine more fun and rewarding while keeping you on track of your marathon goal.

You can pick low-impact training activities such as cycling, swimming or elliptical training for 2-3 days per week depending on your fitness level and the chosen activity.

Strength Training

Strength training plays a vital role in improving your balance, efficiency and performance during the marathon. It strengthens your muscles, tendons and ligaments that support your joints making them more resilient to the repetitive impact of running and reducing the risk of many running-related injuries such as the runner’s knee, shin splints and stress fractures.

Strength training can help you improve your core and lower body strength which is important for your overall balance and stability. Having stronger lower body strength allows you to generate more power with each stride helping you run efficiently while reducing the energy expenditure required to maintain your pace.

You can incorporate 1-2 strength training sessions per week to especially target lower body and core strength with exercises such as squats, lunges, planks and sit-ups.

Incorporate light strength training 1-2 times a week to build the muscle support needed for running long distances.

The 10% rule

The 10% rule can be an important guideline for beginner marathon runners to prevent injuries and ensure sustainable training progression.

The rule means that you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% compared to the previous week. For example, if you ran for 10 km in a given week then in the next week you should not run more than 11 km.

This rule helps prevent overuse injuries, which are common when runners increase their mileage too quickly. By gradually increasing the mileage, you make sure not to overstress your body minimising the risk of overuse injuries.

Pushing yourself too hard can also lead to burnout, fatigue and loss of motivation. This rule allows you to steadily progress towards your long-term goal of running the marathon.

Nutrition and Sleep

While preparing for a marathon, proper nutrition, hydration and sleep are as important if not more than physical training itself.

Proper nutrition is required to give sufficient fuel to your body for optimal performance during training and recovery. You need to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats make sure you’re covering the basic elements of a good diet such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre. As a thumb rule, you can aim for 1.4-1.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight to help your body build muscles and aid in recovery. Staying hydrated ensures that your body functions properly and is important for your energy levels, and recovery.

Sleep plays an important role in the optimal recovery of the body and mind of any individual but it becomes even more crucial while preparing for a marathon. It allows your body to repair muscles, replenish energy stores and help you improve your running technique.

You should aim for 7-8 hours of daily sleep to recover optimally. The key is to build a consistent sleep schedule to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

By prioritizing nutrition, hydration and sleep, you’ll be providing your body with the tools that it needs to perform at its best and achieve your marathon goals.

Precautions and Injury Prevention

Preparing for a marathon is a challenging task and you must keep some precautions in mind. While you may feel like ignoring some pain or fatigue, they can be limiting to your goal of running the marathon.

These are some basic tips that you can keep in mind during your preparation:

Listen to Your Body: Never ignore pain or discomfort. Early intervention can prevent minor issues from becoming serious injuries.

Proper Gear: Invest in a good pair of running shoes that suit your gait and provide adequate support.

Rest and Recovery: Do not underestimate the power of rest days. Your body needs time to recover and strengthen.

Flexibility Training: Incorporate stretching or yoga into your routine to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.

Gradual Progress: Avoid the temptation to increase distance or speed too quickly. Follow the 10% rule for a safe progression.


Training for a marathon is a journey that requires dedication, discipline and patience. A well-structured plan well ahead of time makes sure that this journey is not met with unexpected problems such as injuries and fatigue. While running is the task main task, strength training, cross-training, sleep and nutrition play an equally important role in this preparation. By following a well-structured plan, gradually increasing your mileage, and taking the necessary precautions, you can set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable marathon.

Remember, the goal is not just to finish the marathon but to enjoy the training journey and arrive at the start line healthy and ready.

Mar 4, 2024

It’s never too late to start your fitness adventure


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It’s never too late to start your fitness adventure


© Fitmint 2023 • Privacy policyGoogle API Policy