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Full marathon training plan?

jimmersHalf Marathon

Sorry if this is a FAQ but can anyone suggest a training plan for a full marathon? I followed @roseabi’s half marathon plan and completed the Chichester Half Marathon a month ago. Since then I kind of lost my running mojo a bit but have entered two (!) full marathons for next year: the off-road Lewes Moyleman marathon on 15 March and the on-road Brighton marathon on 19 April. I am not sure if it is madness to enter both but I probably need to get cracking!?! Thanks!

17 Replies

Hi - there are lots of free plans online or in books. I used a couple of these as reference and found they follow similar approaches. I used the Bupa intermediate marathon plan as that suited my training schedule best, there are also plans from VMLM and many others that you can use as a basis and tailor to your needs. I liked that the long run only extended every other week to allow better recover. I think the long runs are key, and I cut back on some of the shorter runs in a week when I felt I needed more recovery, so make sure to listen to your body and don’t just follow the plan regardless. Some flexibility is required, but I did not ever go too much off the plan. Good luck - a trail

Marathon is more about covering the distance and not worrying about the time. Your road marathon should feel easier I would have thought.


I agree with Macmac, a free online plan gives you a good starting point, and you can adapt it to fit in with your life. Also check out Hal Higdon's website, there is a good variety of simple plans on there.

If I were you I would treat the trail marathon as a training run for Brighton. Take it very easily, and then use the final weeks in between that and Brighton as your 'taper' - that is to say each week after your peak long run, reduce your total weekly distance roughly by half. The training plan will cover it. Training for the trail marathon will be great for your fitness - is it a hilly one? If so, of course train on hills, but do bear in mind that the second half of the Brighton Marathon is pretty much completely flat, so do some runs that have a long flat section at the end - you'll be surprised how hard it is!

Good luck, have fun with your training, and keep us posted!


jimmersHalf Marathon

Thank you both for your considered responses @macmac and @roseabi . I will read and digest. I am not really concerned about speed. Just want to get to the end! The idea of using Lewes marathon as training makes sense. I think it is hilly. Chichester half had one big hill in it so am moving more from running on flat to trail running. Thanks! Will try and share plan when I have scribbled my altered version in my notebook!!! All the best.

roseabiAdministrator in reply to jimmers

No worries 😊😊😊

And thanks for the tip about the Lewes marathon! I am interested as it is local to me - I found someone's run on Garmin Connect - yes it is very hilly!!



jimmersHalf Marathon in reply to roseabi

My chiropractor told me about it! And I’ve recognised a few people I know from previous run photos.


I’ve got a free marathon plan with the Nike running app It also has on it loads of Coached runs which I find absolutely brilliant It’s worth downloading the app just for those 😃

The app does my head in at times when my runs won’t sync with the plan, but I’ve stuck with it and am nearing the end now.

RunkeeperGo app uses myasics plans, and I’ve used those to do the marathon. I got a year for free though. I find the Nike plan easier than the myasics ones, where I seemed to be regularly exhausted 😤.

Good luck with your training 💪👍🙂

jimmersHalf Marathon in reply to misswobble

Thanks @misswobble ! I use the Nike Run app and like it a lot. I tried using a plan before but got muddled with that and trying the new Garmin app I had just got and in the end found it easier to just work things out in a scrap of paper! I have more time to plan this time though so will check it out. I generally like the coached runs it offers and that was the big appeal for me too.

misswobbleMarathon in reply to jimmers

The Nike app plans are good but you have feed in the correct stats to get the plan that’s right for you. once you get a plan from the Nike app it gets tweaked according to your progress. However, when the app fails to sync your runs to the plan it does my head in 🙈.

I love the coached runs to bits. Coach Bennett is my hero 🥰

My marathon plan is 20 weeks, which is what I expected from the stats I put into the app, which were based on most recent race times across the usual race distances from 5k to marathon


Following a plan broke me. Just go up gradually on your long runs. Allow time to recover in between. Plans don’t allow for recovery. Well not in my case. Next time I’ll go up one week and drop the next, starting at a half. Simple.

jimmersHalf Marathon in reply to Tasha99

Thank you @Tasha99. I’ve accidentally taken some time off running after the half - maybe I needed to recover a bit. So am going to start testing how I am with a 5k 10k and longer run over the next couple of weeks before starting any plan. Cheers!


I found a four hour plan online that I dialled back the paces on and it worked for me. It was a longer plan at 20 weeks. I also simplified it and reworked it around my scheduled club run days. I can share it if you like. It is in Google sheets.

jimmersHalf Marathon in reply to Decker

I would be very interested in seeing it! I wanted to start earlier and build slower but the plans I saw were for 16 weeks? Thanks @Decker !

DeckerModerator in reply to jimmers

Sure jimmers, here is a link to it. I am not sure if you can edit or not. The grey bars are what the plan called for and the green bars are what i did in my training. docs.google.com/spreadsheet...

jimmersHalf Marathon in reply to Decker

Thanks! I’ll take a look!

MadDaveHalf Marathon

I’ve joined a marathon training group at my running club to help me do my 1st Marathon, with a target time of under 4.5 hours. Yes there’s lots of free plans out there, but they don’t coach you or help you adapt your plan to real life. My target race is cambridge boundary run on 1st March, which I can cut to a HM or 20 mile if I can’t make it all the way. Our club coaches are really helpful with a fantastic amount of knowledge & experience and I feel really lucky to get their 1:1 attention.

Basically the overall plan for me is that I’m now in week 3 of a 20 week programme running about 25 miles a week, adding a mile or two a week, with the focus on long runs at easy pace, with some speed and tempo sessions (and the odd race). By the end of January I should be peaking in terms of volume then reducing distance but increasing intensity. Also at the end of January I’m booked to to a muddy trail HM (Gransden fun run) - by then I’ll know what my form is.

Every 3-5 weeks is a cutback week (reduced volume) to consolidate progress - these fit around family / life events etc.

I’ll try to remember to post updates on the forum so we can compare notes 👍🏃‍♂️😊

misswobbleMarathon in reply to MadDave

My Nike app free plan does adapt It coaches as well. It has loads of voiced-over coached runs too which are ace. I’ve trained for several races using the app and am currently doing a marathon plan

I want to love the app as it’s brilliant when it functions properly but when it gives wrong it drives me mad. I like the plan itself though and am doing well on it thus far

jimmersHalf Marathon

Hi @MadDave. This sounds really really good!! I’m not even part of a running club yet so will look into it. I’ve been pretty solitary apart from Parkrun. I will definitely give some thought to your approach when figuring out what to do. Keep us updated!

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