"It is horrible, yet fascinating, this struggle between a set purpose
and an utterly exausted frame."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - after observing Dorando Pietri collapse
three times in the last 100 meters of the 1908 Olympic Marathon.
A 21-week Marathon Training Program
Author: Christoph F.
The training schedule has been derived from talks with other runners,
reading the Runner's World and Galloway's book, the writings of
Bill Rodgers and Owen Anderson, and from personal needs, such
the need to have a lot of rest days. If you have any comments, especially
good/bad experiences with similar schedules, please send e-mail to:
last updated: January 12, 1998.
The training schedule that is listed and explained in the following
incorporates the following ideas and beliefs:
- It has been designed for a runner that likes or needs a lot
of rest days or who can only run 4-5 days per week, but who
doesn't mind to have 2-3 longer or
harder workouts per week.
- It is suitable for runners that want to run a marathon between 2:55
4:15. I, myself currently use it to train for running a 3:20 marathon.
- It follows the hard-easy approach; after a long or hard run, there
will be a rest day or a short easy run.
- It stresses that being injured is the worst that can happen to
a runner. Consequently, it does not contain much trackwork faster
than 8K-pace, and recommends rest days after hard workouts.
- It has a lot of similarity with Galloway's marathon training
- Long runs every other week; distance of long runs increases to
marathon distance near the end of the training period.
- Mile repeats at 20K-pace are used as the major speedwork routine
in the last two months of training.
- Not much stress is put on weekly mileage, which is quite
low compared to other schedules.
- It assumes that doing a significant number of intervals at
slower pace is more productive than running fewer intervals at a faster
- It is based on the idea that running too often too fast in
training is counterproductive: "train slowly, race fast".
- It is based on the belief that very fast trackwork is not very
beneficiary for races of 20K and longer. It recommends to
consider races as a form of fast speedwork, instead.
- It assumes that long runs of 13+ miles should be done at a more
leisurely pace (typically 30-70 seconds slower than marathon goal pace;
1min 20sec to 2 minutes slower than 10K-pace): most
importantly, you exercise to be 2-3.5 hours on your feet.
- It is assumed that occasional runs of 7-13 miles at marathon pace are
quite useful when preparing for a marathon. However, this is the only form
of tempo run that the proposed training plan uses.
- It is based on the belief that hill running is highly beneficiary
for improving running performance, in general. Consequently,
hill running is done once a week in the first 8 weeks of training.
- It is also assumed that you ease into training sessions, running
the first or the first two miles as slow as you like. Consequently,
timed workouts such as 10 Miles at marathon pace, basically mean
to run the first mile as slow as you like, and running the remaining miles
or near marathon pace.
- The schedule assumes that you ran 3-6 races prior to your
The proposed schedule has to be adapted to incorporate your individual
races; as a general rule, if you plan to run a race, cut or drop workouts
in the week
of the race worth: (race-distance+3) miles!
BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE 21-WEEK TRAINING PROGRAM
Week 0: 11 Miles + Marathon
Week 1: 25 Miles
Week 2: 30 Miles
Week 3-12: Phase III (weekly mileage of 40 miles with 3 easy weeks of 25
a) long runs (18 miles to 25 miles) every 2 to 3 weeks
b) 12x400@2M-pace(Walk200;4 min Rest after 6x400)
4-12x1M repeats at 20K-pace(1 min. rest, LT workout)
c) 2-3 5-13 Mile runs incl. 1 Run at or near Marathon Pace every
d) races every 2-3 weeks that serve as fast speed-work
e) easy runs to get the mileage up to 40 Miles
Week 13-16: Phase II(weekly mileage 30-38 miles)
a) long runs of 14-17 miles every other week
b) 5-7x1200@8K-Pace(3min rest between repeats) every week
c) 80-110 minutes on hilly course every week(incl. "easy"
d) easy runs
Week 17-20: Phase I(weekly mileage 26-32 miles)
a) Long Runs of 10/11/12/13 Miles every week
b) 70-90 minutes on hilly course every week
c) easy runs
DETAILED TRAINING PLAN
Week Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Total Mileage
20 5M 1OM 5M 70minHill 28
19 5M 11M 5M 70minH 29
18 5M 12M 4M 80minH 30
17 5M 13M 4M 80minH 31
16 9M 5x1200 8M 100minH 32
15 80minH 6x1200 4M 15M 34
14 9M 6x1200 8M 100minH 33
13 80minH 7x1200 4M 17M 37
12 10M 12x400 4M 9M 12M 41
11 9M 4x1M 7M 19M 41
10 3M 12x400 4M 6x1M 4M 26(easy)
9 9M 6M@Mara 6M 21M 42
8 4M 8x1M 3M 5K-race 25(easy)
7 6M@Mara 9x1M 7M 16M 40
6 7M@Mara 6M 4M 23M 40
5 12x400 6M 6M 5K-race 25(easy)
4 7M 10x1M 4M 7M 11M@Mara 41
3 9M 7M 25M 41
2 3M 7M 5x1M 3M 12M@Mara 32
1 6M 5x1M 5M 1OM 28
0 6M 3M@Mara 2M Marathon 11+Marathon
If you run a race, cut workouts in the week of the race by