Be Marathon-Ready in 3 Months

12-Week Marathon Training Schedules for Experienced Marathoners

Mature man running along waterfront, New York, USA
Cultura RM Exclusive/Edwin Jimenez

If you’ve already done a marathon and you run on a regular basis, you don’t need to spend several months preparing for your next marathon. Below is a 12-week marathon schedule that will get you race-ready and running to your full potential.

Keep in mind that this schedule is not for someone who is brand-new to running or has not been running for the past few months. To start this training schedule, you’ll need to have a training base of about 20 miles per week and you should be able to comfortably run up to 10 miles at a time.

If you aren’t quite at that level, you may want to try a longer marathon training program. Check out these marathon training plans for different levels and longer training periods.

Weekly Training Runs

Your training includes tempo runs, intervals runs, long runs, and easy run, which are all explained below. See the weekly schedule (below) for the exact details on exactly how much to run and at what pace. The schedule doesn’t indicate which day to run each workout, so it’s up to you to decide when you want to run them. But try to avoid doing tempo runs, interval runs, and long runs on back-to-back days. You should take a rest day or do an easy run or cross-training in between.

Tempo Run (TR):  For tempo runs, you’ll start and finish with some miles at an easy, comfortable pace. More advanced runners can always add on some additional miles to their warmup or cooldown. You should run the tempo run pace portion of the run at your 10K race pace.

If you’re not sure of your 10K race pace, you should run at a pace that feels comfortably hard.

Interval Run (IR): Interval runs are repeats of a certain distance (i.e, 400m) at your 10K pace and then a recovery periods after each interval. For example, 5 x 800m at 10K pace with 90 second recovery in between, would mean running a total of five 800m repeats with 90 seconds running at easy, recovery pace in between repeats.

Interval runs can be done anywhere, but it’s easier to do them on a track. You should first warm up at an easy pace. Then, do the intervals/recoveries for the set number of repeats. Finish your intervals with a 10-minute cooldown.

Long run (LR): Some long runs will be done at a comfortable, conversational pace for the designated mileage. Others will be done at a specific pace, based on your targeted marathon pace (TMP). You can use this race time estimator calculator to get an estimate of your marathon time by using a recent time from a race of another distance.

Easy Runs (ER) and Cross-training: Cross-training or easy runs can be done on the other days of the week, as your schedule permits. It’s recommended that you take at least one complete rest day per week. Easy runs should be done at a comfortable, conversational pace.

Cross-training can be any activity other than running that you enjoy, such as cycling, rowing, swimming, yoga, or strength-training. You should do the activity at a moderate intensity. Aim for at least one day of strength-training per week; two days per week is even better. Your strengthening workout doesn’t have to be too long or intense, and can be just bodyweight exercises, as in this sample workout.

Note: Warm-ups and cooldowns should also be done at easy pace.

12-Week Marathon Training Plan

Week 1:

  • Run #1: Tempo run (TR): 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 2 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: Interval run (IR): 10 minute warm-up; 8 x 400m at 10K pace with 90 second recovery (easy pace) in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: Long run (LR): 10 miles at easy, comfortable pace
  • Run #4: Easy run (ER): 4 miles

Week 2:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 miles easy pace for warm-up; 2 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 5 x 800m at 10K pace with 90 second recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 11 miles at TMP (target marathon pace) + 30 seconds/mile
  • Run #4: ER: 4 miles

Week 3:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 miles easy pace for warm-up; 2 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 5 x 800m at 10K pace with 90 second recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 12 miles at easy, comfortable pace
  • Run #4: ER: 4 miles

Week 4:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 miles easy pace for warm-up; 1 mile at tempo pace; 1 mile easy; 1 mile at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 4 x 1200m at 10K pace, with 400m recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 13 miles at TMP + 30 seconds/mile
  • Run #4: ER: 5 miles

Week 5:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 miles easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 6 x 800m at 10K pace, with 90 second recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 12 miles at easy, comfortable pace, then finish with 2 miles at TMP
  • Run #4: ER: 5 miles

Week 6:

  • Run #1: TR: 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 2 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 10 x 400m at 10K pace with 90 second recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 15 miles at easy, comfortable pace
  • Run #4: ER: 5 miles

Week 7:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m at 10K pace, with 400m recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 16 miles at TMP + 30 seconds/mile
  • Run #4: ER: 5 miles

Week 8:

  • Run #1: TR: 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 3 x 1600m at 10K pace, with 400m recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 18 miles at easy, comfortable pace
  • Run #4: ER: 4 miles

Week 9:

  • Run #1: TR: 2 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 5-minute cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 6 x 800m at 10K pace, with 90 second recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 20 miles at easy, comfortable pace
  • Run #4: ER: 3 miles

Week 10:

  • Run #1: TR: 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 5-minute cooldown
  • Run #2: IR: 10 minute warm-up; 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m at 10K pace, with 400m recovery in between; 10 minute cooldown
  • Run #3: LR: 8 miles at easy, comfortable pace, then finish with 2 miles at TMP
  • Run #4: ER: 3 miles

Week 11:

  • Run #1: TR: 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 3 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: ER: 5 miles
  • Run #3: LR: 6 miles easy pace
  • Run #4: ER: 3 miles

Week 12:

  • Run #1: TR: 1 mile easy pace for warm-up; 2 miles at tempo pace; 1 mile cooldown
  • Run #2: ER: 3 miles
  • Run #3: ER: 2 miles

A Word From Verywell

Doing your weekly training runs is only part of your preparation for running a marathon. It's important that you mentally prepare yourself for the race by developing strategies for dealing with the discomfort and mental challenges you'll undoubtedly experience. You should also make sure you're taking good care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep and practicing healthy eating habits. If you experience pain that lasts longer than 7 to 10 days, consult your health care professional to determine possible causes and treatment.

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