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16 Week Marathon Training Plan

Written by Joaquim Anjos


Posted on March 01 2024

Before taking the first step, it's crucial to understand the importance of a well-structured marathon training plan, because a solid plan not only improves the athlete's performance, but also helps prevent the risk of injury.

The marathon training plan needs to be applied in a natural way, because if you start preparing abruptly, several injuries can appear and as a result you may not be able to prepare yourself properly.

Remember that this marathon training plan is ideal for those who already have a solid running base and who usually run between 7 and 10 km. For the best preparation, in addition to the running plan that we're going to present, you need to coordinate your training with strength work, daily stretching sessions to prevent injuries, adequate rest and, of course, a healthy, controlled diet. You can find more diet tips on our blog.

The marathon is much more than just a physical test. It's a real test of mental endurance. Do you have any idea how long it takes to cover 42.195 km?

All marathon runners face a series of challenges that go beyond the simple physical endurance of a race of this level.

The monotony of the race, the aching muscles, the extreme fatigue and the fight against the inner voice that tells you to give up, requires an enormous amount of mental strength, which in turn requires an enormous amount of mental preparation, because it's a journey full of loneliness combined with physical exhaustion. 

After this introduction, it's time to get down to work and find out what marathon training plan we have for you, combining running and strength.

5 Phase Planning

Weeks 1 to 4: Building the base

During these first few weeks, the focus is on building a training base to support the more intense training throughout the process. During this period, training should consist mainly of low to moderate intensity running, with the aim of gradually increasing endurance and aerobic capacity. Below is an example of a marathon training plan for these weeks:

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 5km run at an easy pace.
  • Wednesday: 6km run with controlled acceleration (1km warm-up at an easy and moderate pace, fast 4×800m with 400m recovery, 1km at an easy pace for a controlled cool-down).
  • Thursday: Light activity for active recovery (such as walking, swimming or yoga).
  • Friday: 7km run at a moderate pace.
  • Saturday: Rest.
  • Sunday: 12km run at a comfortable pace.

In terms of strength training, during these weeks it's important to do strength training, with 2-3 sessions a week, so that our bodies can get used to the rapid addition of muscle and build a strong foundation, so we should not only do some exercises for the upper body (chest, back, arms and shoulders), but we shouldn't forget the core, prioritising the abdomen, through planks and different abdominal variations, which will help us later during our run, as a strong and developed core can improve our performance. But of course, the lower body is where we need to focus most, with exercises such as leg presses, leg curls, leg extensions, squats, calf raises and walking lunges. In the first phase (the first 2 weeks), the exercises can be performed in a time-controlled manner, trying to do as many repetitions as possible in a short period of time (e.g. 45 seconds), and then through drop sets, already with the adapted loads that were correctly defined in the first phase.

Weeks 5 to 8: Increasing intensity

Now that you have a solid foundation, it's time to increase the intensity of your workouts and the distances you run. Long training runs become more challenging and interval training is essential to improve speed and endurance. Below is an example of a marathon training plan for these weeks:

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8km run at a moderate pace.
  • Wednesday: 8km run (1km warm-up at a moderate pace, 5km at half-marathon pace, 2km cool-down).
  • Thursday: Activity at a moderate pace for active recovery (such as walking, swimming or yoga).
  • Friday: 6km run at a moderate pace.
  • Saturday: Rest.
  • Sunday: Long run at a comfortable pace, gradually building up to 18 km.

As a marathon training plan applied to strength, the focus during these weeks is on increasing intensity and muscular endurance, so we should be working in a way that challenges the muscles more and promotes progressive strength gains through muscular hypertrophy. What does this mean? Well, muscle hypertrophy is the growth of muscle fibres through contraction, damage and repair, which increases muscle glycogen storage. Examples of exercises we can use are those mentioned above, but with a change in technique, using less load and doing more repetitions, thus promoting hypertrophy.

Weeks 9 to 12: Peak training development

We are now entering the peak phase of the marathon training plan, the most intense period of training. The aim is to test your limits with longer runs and also to train interval running, which is an excellent way to improve speed and endurance. At this stage it's important to be aware of what your body is telling you and to adjust if you feel any discomfort or pain. For the next few weeks, the marathon training plan can be based on the following:

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 10km run at a moderate pace.
  • Wednesday: Uphill and interval training with a 10km run at maximum speed.
  • Thursday: Day of rest.
  • Friday: 7km run at an easy pace.
  • Saturday: Light activity for active recovery (such as walking, swimming or yoga).
  • Sunday: 30km long run.

In terms of strength, you should continue to develop your muscular strength and joint stability in order to be able to withstand long distance running. In the first phase (up to week 10) it is ideal to maintain hypertrophy in your strength plan, and then you should opt for the high volume and functional strength phase. 

To do this, choose a set of 6 exercises, such as heel raises, side lunges, hamstring curls, alternative weighted step-ups, seated med ball twists (abdominal crunches), with the load you've defined, and do 20 repetitions in a circuit of 5 sets, so that you can impose the high-volume phase you need for the marathon.

Weeks 13 to 15: Maintenance and tapering:


In the final weeks before the marathon, it's important to reduce the intensity of your training, focusing on maintaining physical and mental fitness while gradually reducing the volume of training to avoid injury and improve recovery. The intensity should be more moderate and you should include shorter runs in your training sessions, not forgetting tapering sessions (gradually reducing the training load) to ensure that your body is ready for the marathon. Here's a marathon training plan for this stage:


  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7km run at a moderate pace.
  • Wednesday: Speed training of 4 x 800m at an easy pace, interspersed with a 2km run at an easy pace.
  • Thursday: Light activity for active recovery (such as walking, swimming or yoga)
  • Friday: 5km easy pace run
  • Saturday: Rest.
  • Sunday: Long run from 20km to 15km with a gradual reduction over the weeks.

As a strength plan applied to the marathon training plan, we will also carry out tapering to maintain muscle strength and stability, doing mainly light, low impact exercises to maintain conditioning without compromising performance.

Week 16: Marathon week

This week we should work on both strength and running in a very light way, with a sense of conditioning and active recovery.

Below is the marathon training plan you should follow for the week of the race:

  • Monday: Light activity (such as swimming or yoga).
  • Tuesday: Rest or a very easy run of no more than 5km.
  • Wednesday: Rest or very easy walking of no more than 5km.
  • Thursday: Complete rest.
  • Friday: Complete rest.
  • Saturday: Relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation.
  • Sunday: Marathon day.

The Secret to Completing 42 Kilometers

When following the marathon training plan, it is important to understand that the importance of consistency, combined with a balanced diet, adequate hydration and proper recovery, is the secret to being ready to face the 42km of pure challenge with confidence and strength. In addition to the marathon training plan provided, you should always consult a specialist to get the best results for you.

For more tips, read our article on the 10 best marathon training tips.



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