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Marathon Training Program
Novice endurance athlete

A training program has to be developed to meet the individual needs of the athlete and take into consideration many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. As all athletes have different needs, a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible.

The aim of this page is to provide an insight into a 26 week endurance training program for an novice endurance athlete wishing to compete in a marathon race. It should be noted that this program also needs to be supported by general and specific strength training, nutrition, mobility and psychology programs.

Before You Start

Prior to starting any training, it is recommended you have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.

The following program is suitable for an athlete who is currently training 3 hours per week and has successfully completed a 10km race in under 50 minutes.

If you are not training for 3 hours a week then it is recommended that before commencing this 26 week program you should complete a general endurance training program in which time you build up the distance you run each week to 20 miles. The weekly increment should not exceed 10% of the current mileage.

Any application of the following training program is at the athlete's own discretion and risk.

Marathon Training program - time based

All figures in the table are minutes.

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 40 R 40 R 45 30 50
2 R 30 50 R 40 30 40
3 R 45 40 R 40 30 65
4 R 25 R 45 R 25 50
5 R 50 25 R 60 25 80
6 R 50 25 R 65 25 65
7 R 40 65 R 65 25 90
8 R 50 65 R 65 25 80
9 R 65 50 R 80 25 105
10 R 40 70 40 70 R 90
11 R 80 45 80 50 R 120
12 R 85 50 40 50 R 105
13 R 80 40 65 45 R 130
14 R 90 50 80 50 R 120
15 R 90 40 80 45 R 140
16 R 90 50 90 40 R 130
17 R 90 45 90 45 R 160
18 R 110 50 100 50 R 140
19 R 105 60 90 50 R 170
20 R 105 50 100 30 25 160
21 R 110 45 100 25 25 180
22 50 105 50 50 45 R 170
23 50 120 50 120 50 R 200
24 R 120 50 120 50 R 80
25 50 R 50 40 R 40 25
26 30 20 10 R R R Race

All figures in the table are minutes and a "R" indicates a rest day.

Post Race

After the race take 4 of 5 days off training and increase your Vitamin C and Zinc intake. Research has shown that in the first week after a marathon, the efficiency of your immune system is reduced and you will therefore be prone to infections. An increase in Vitamin C and Zinc during training can also be considered.

Marathon Training Speed Calculator

Enter your Marathon Target Time and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Target Time mins  
Speed for a fast  session: min sec/mile   Speed for all other sessions: min sec/mile

Race Time Calculator

For an estimate of a race time enter details of a recent distance and time, the race distance and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Distance km   Time mins   Race Distance km
  Predicted Time mins

Free Calculator

Prediction based on marathon time

It is possible to predict your 400 metres, 800 metres, 1500 metres, 3 km, 5 km, 10 km and ½ Marathon times from your current marathon time using Frank Horwill's four second rule for male athletes and Frank Horwill's five second rule for female athletes.


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2004) Marathon Training Program - Novice endurance athlete [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/longdist/tpmartime.htm [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • How to Teach Track Events, M. Arnold