Marathon Training Plans: A Plan For Every Skill & Time Goal

About half a million people each year finish a marathon.

They do it in times ranging from 1:59 (looking at you Kipchoge) to 6+ hours.

They come in different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, skill levels, ages, genders, races.. you name it.

But marathoners are united by the unique and binary challenge of running 26.2 miles as fast as they can.

There’s something beautiful about that.

A marathon training plan for everyone

The original marathon plan on this site was build & designed for runners looking to break the 3 hour barrier & qualify for Boston, Chicago or New York.

That plan (which you can find below) got such an overwhelming response, that it became clear more needed to be developed for different experience levels and speeds.

The mission is to provide a plan that will help any runner, of any skill, reach their desired time goal at the marathon distance, whether they’re looking to run a 2:45 marathon, or simply cross the finish line.

Considerations in marathon training

For as many people as there are running, and training for a marathon, there is an equally high number of folks that get injured while doing so.

A marathon, or any physical goal for that matter is useless if you’re constantly sidelined with injury.

For this reason, these plans are designed differently from what you’ll find on most running websites online.

The wave method

All of these plans follow what we call the wave method.

This is a format by which your volume and intensity and training grow for 1-3 consecutive weeks, followed by a 1 week “rest week”.

This is done intentionally to allow your body to absorb the new fitness you’ve gained, before piling more work and miles on.

We follow two key rules when writing out these plans:

No more than a 10% increase in mileage over a two week period.

80% of the miles run will be slower than race pace each week. 

These plans are carefully planed and written out to keep you healthy! Years of collegiate track and after taught me the most important thing is getting to race day HEALTHY, that is what these plans will do!

There are too many plans out there that just increase volume every single week until race day – that’s an irresponsible recipe for disaster and you deserve better.

By allowing your body proper time to rest, you’re more likely to get to race day feeling good, ready to tackle the course.

Tommy Rivvs Puzey said it best:

“Most people don’t run the easy runs easy enough, or the hard runs hard enough. They spend too much time in between and burn themselves out”

Anyone can run a marathon – if you’re willing to work

(Sorry for all the quotes but here’s another good one):

“What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”
– John L. Parker Jr., Once a Runner

There’s no magic pill to becoming a sub-[whatever time] marathoner.

It’s just work.

Smart, thoughtful, and patient work.

That said though, if you’re willing to do the work, train smart, train hard, eat well, rest well – you can run the distance under the time you want.

It’s one of the best bets you can make. If you put the time in – you will exceed your goals. It will take some longer than others, but any step in the forward direction is progress that you wouldn’t have otherwise made.

That’s why these plans exist – to help show you the way.

We’ll provide the guidance, the runs, the workouts, the dietary advice, even the coaching – but the reward of any good marathon training plan – is the athlete entering the plan as one person, and being spit out the other side as a marathoner.

The Marathon Training Plans

(Note: I’m constantly working to add, improve, and exceed your expectations on these plans. If you don’t see one for your time goal yet, it’s because it’s in progress and will be here soon)

Sub 3 hour marathon training plan

There’s not much extra that needs to be said to describe this plan. For those athletes looking to join the elite – this is the plan for you. Push yourself beneath the required 6:50/mi pace and blast yourself beneath 3 hours in the quest for joining the 1% of marathoners. Those who’s time starts with “2”

This is the very plan our running coach Kevin, wrote and followed himself after years of trying other plans.

Sub 3:30 marathon training plan

Ready to drop that pace under 8 minutes? This is where to go. Not many people can say they run 7-minute-something miles – none the less for a full marathon, but with this plan, you can. This plan contains some of the additional injury prevention measures of the sub 4 hour plan, but also some of the tough, and grueling workouts of the sub 3 hour plan. The perfect blend to break into new territory.

Sub 4 hour marathon training plan

The elusive 3:XX finishing time. Want to end a marathon in under 4 hours? Welp, this is the place to start. Designed for runners looking to achieve that 9 minute mile or better pace, this plan was designed specifically for this pace knowing that this training differs from those that run <7 minute miles. You’re on your feet longer, so this plan takes that into account with added injury prevention considerations and is specifically tailored to get you under 4 hours in a way that’s unique to this pace group.