Our 20 week advanced marathon training plan is designed for experienced runners who are really looking to push their limits; whether it’s a new PB or another ambitious target, this training program is intense from week 1 and rachets things up from there.
Note that it starts with a 10 mile long run, and includes 3 x 20 mile long runs.
Who Is It For?:
Runners who have a good existing running base and want to really push their limits in their marathon effort. Perhaps you’ve already run a few marathons and are looking to set a new PB. You should already be capable of training several times per week, and run 10 miles continuously.
Five months // 20 weeks.
This plan starts off with a good level of intensity, and continually rachets it up.
Training Runs are there to add to your mileage and get time on your feet – both essential in any marathon training schedule. These should be done at close-to your target marathon pace; they should be sustainable but requiring some effort.
Pace Runs should be done at your intended marathon pace. If you’re not training for a particular marathon finishing time, you may wish to consider one of the intermediate training plans instead.
Cross Training is there to compliment your run training, and give your legs a break. Swimming is always a good option that helps build your cardio; weights are also good as they build core strength, but keep the load light.
Intervals are included so you can work on your speed; the method included in this training plan is essentially that of Yasso 800s. Run for 800m at a high-intensity level, where you are uncomfortable, and then bring it right down to a comfortable job for 800m. Repeat as many times as the plan calls for.
Tempo Runs also build speed; you should start off slow and easy (first 10 mins), then gradually build speed until you are pushing yourself to marathon pace, or to the point of discomfort; then slow down back to an easy run for the last 5-10 minutes.
Long runs should be performed at a slow, conversational pace – don’t worry about speed when doing your long runs, focus on getting the hours on your feet in. If you try and do your long runs at marathon pace, you’ll end up overtraining and getting fatigued. If in doubt, run the long runs at 60 – 90 seconds per mile slower than your planned marathon pace. Note that the training plan includes 3 x 20 mile runs to really solidify your base. Anything over 20 miles really just increases the risk of burnout.
Get The Complete Guide
My guidebook, 4-Hour Marathon, is available now for instant download. It maps out the complete training strategy and rationale behind the sub-four hour marathon training schedule supplied. It walks you through your week-by-week training and preparation to get you to the finish line in under four hours.
The guidebook goes into detail with the training plan, and includes many practical tips for marathon preparation.
Download The Training Plan Here
Enter your email and I’ll send you this free training plan now, in PDF and Google Sheets formats (completely customisable), in both miles and kilometers.
Check Out The Premium Version of The Advanced 20 Week Marathon Training Plan . . .
Access the plan via the TrainingPeaks website and app, track your workouts in real-time against the plan, and get performance data analysis on your progress.
The most comprehensive plan you will find
I had run a couple of half marathons and was in reasonable shape coming into the plan and it was a good rise in intensity throughout. You need to want to do an event like this – I was getting up at 3am to get my long run in before kids weekend sport etc and this was hard. When you combine the plan with the online community through the Marathon Handbook FB page and website, you get complete support. Have used this plan with great success and now looking at upping the pace in the marathon space… GREAT JOB!
Broken links - can't get the plan
Thanks for all the useful information here, it really helps me in my running journey. I used your 6-month plan to prep for a marathon, and it was a great experience! Now I wanted to download the 12 weeks plan for a half marathon but it seems to be a problem, and I can’t find the place to leave my email address / download the plan. Since I didn’t find any other contact info, I’m leaving this comment here in the hope you will read it and can send me the plan. I would really appreciate cause I know how much easier it makes the preparation. Thank you!
Couch to Half Marathon
So I am a fairly sedate person, but this year I turned 40, and for some odd reason I wanted to start doing some running. I’ve done some 5k races 5-6 years ago, but was never very ino running. There’s a run coming up in my home town at the end ofJuly, but it’s only a half marathon or 5k and I wanted to challenge myself to something harder than the 5k, so I started the couch to Half Marathon plan, but was fairly confident I wouldn’t be able to handle the mileage. It’s week 14 and although I haven’t been perfect, I’ve actually been able to get most of the workouts in. I have been totally amazed. 1 week until the half, and although I won’t be breaking any speed records, I’m fairly confident I’ll finish, which is my real goal. Thanks to Thomas for having a plan that works, even for old non active people 😁, I’m super excited and very grateful!!
I would like to download this training plan
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Sending Training Plant
Please send me the training plan for Marathon in 6 months
Proven Training Plans by a UESCA-certified Running Coach
Every one of our training plans has been developed by Thomas Watson, a UESCA-certified running coach.
Thomas is also a podium-finishing ultra-marathon runner, and has dozens of marathons under his belt.
Each training plan has been road-tested by hundred of runners, refined and improved – and are free to download and customise to suit your needs!