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16 Week Marathon Training Plan

16 Week Marathon Training Plan

16 Week Marathon Training Plan


16 week marathon training plan – Marathon training can be exciting, and highly motivational most especially when you’ve just signed up for them.

The joy that you are going to participate in something so incredible, is quite frankly second to none, but after the ecstasy comes to the moment of truth.

When you realize you will have to train for the upcoming marathon.

For a newbie, selecting a training plan can be scary, and what is even scarier is knowing that you will have to run 20 miles at least once before the D-day.

Get your body use to the distance

There are lots of marathon training plans out there, and most of them recommend a 20-mile run four weeks prior to the marathon run.

You will come across many personal trainers encouraging their trainees, to go the extra length and clock 23 miles before marathon day.

The point of this was knowing how those extra 3 miles feels like, will better prepare any runner for the extra 3miles ahead.

So, why the magic 20 miles, is there anything special about it you ask?

The answer is that there is no scientific reason why you should hit the 20-mile mark. Although on a psychological side of things training to get to the 20mile target can help with your confidence.

It will also better prepare you physically and mentally for the challenging marathon day.

So, this leads up to a follow-up question, if the target isn’t 20mile, just how far should one run?

The answer to that question will depend on your marathon goal…


First timers and people who just want to finish the marathon…

For first-time runners and newbies who have never ventured into the treacherous waters of a 26.2 mile run before, it can be a bit scary, and even clocking 20miles can seem a bit challenging.

Well, don’t feel all gloom and sad, even if you haven’t tried 26.2 miles run before, you can still go a long distance.

As long as you’ve clocked in some good 16 to 18 miles before, your body will be more than ready to go the extra distance.

But rather than focusing on mileage, and distance, it will do you a whole lot of good if you concentrate on the time spent running.

The essence of a marathon is how fast one can cover a distance, and not reaching the distance alone.

How to use distance over time for your 16 week marathon training program.

For example, a person might clock 20miles in 2.5 hours, and another person in 4.5 hours. You can’t compare the level of stress on both bodies.

Although you don’t want to either go below 16 miles or less than 3 hours, whichever will come first.

You should get used to being tired, and going the extra distance even at that, that’s the target. You are pushing your body and your mind to do more even when it doesn’t want to.

Marathoners who want to beat their last running time…

As soon as you get yourself familiar with what 26.2 miles feels like, the focus now shifts to putting more efforts rather than just enhancing your confidence.

Even at that, you still must keep your run under 3.5 hours.

It is expected that faster runners can clock in more distance in 3.5 hours than average runners. So, it becomes paramount to implement goal time.

Let’s take an example; suppose an average runner runs a 10minutes mile; then we can assume their longest run will be 21 miles.

Staying injury free is the key!

A faster run of say 8-minute miles will be able to finish a marathon under 3.5 hours. If you are a PR-chaser, you should cap your long run between 20 to 22 miles.

Your chances of staying healthy are increased if you stay within that range.

Rather than getting close to the entire marathon distance, try and familiarize yourself with different quality training.

Mix things up a bit, run hard one to two times a week, run on different terrains, and employ different tempos, and speed work.

To get faster, you have to run faster, that’s just basic math.

The idea is to keep yourself fresh for the big day, and you should remember that long runs are for practice.

It is common to find several runners trying to clock up several numbers, and end up exhausting themselves and burning out before the D-day

What benefit will it be if on marathon day if you are fully motivated mentally, but your body doesn’t move?

I’ve been able to create a 16-week marathon training plan that will leave you primed and ready for race day. Check the plan below.3

16-week running marathon training guide to make you hit 4 1/2 hours

Week 1

•             Day 1-4K-easy

•             Day 2-5k-2K easy, 1K faster, 2K-easy Day

•             3-5K easy

•             Day 4-8K run.

•             Total-22k

Week 2

•             Day 1-4K-easy

•             Day 2-5K-2K easy, 2K faster, 1K easy

•             Day 3-5K easy

•             Day 4-10K run

•             Total-24K

Week 3

•             Day 1-5K easy

•             Day 2-5K-1K easy, 3K faster, 1K easy

•             Day 3-5K easy Day 4-12K run

•             Total-27K

Week 4

•             Day 1-Easy 6K

•             Day 2-5K-Time Yourself-Aim for 29:00 or better

•             Day 3-5K-Easy

•             Day 4-14K Run

•             Total-30K

Week 5

•             Day 1-5K-easy

•             Day 2-6K tempo-3K of it at a faster pace-15 seconds slower than your goal pace for the marathon

•             Day 3-5K easy

•             Day 4-15K run

•             Total-31K

Week 6

•             Day 1-5K-easy

•             Day 2-6K-4K of it at a faster pace

•             Day 3-5K-easy

•             Day 4-18K run

•             Total-34K

Week 7

•             Day 1-5K-easy

•             Day 2-8K at a steady pace

•             Day 3-5K easy

•             Day 4-20K

•             Total-38K

Week 8

•             Day 1-5K Easy

•             Day 2-8K-Steady pace

•             Day 3-5K easy

•             Day 4-22K run

•             Total-40K

Week 9

•             Day 1-5K-easy

•             Day 2-8K

•             Day 3-5K easy

•             Day 4-15K run-30-40 seconds slower than your projected marathon pace

•             Total-33K

Week 10

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-8K

•             Day 3-5K-easy

•             Day 4-24K

•             Run Total-42K

Week 11

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-2×1600 meters (on track or road) 9:15 for each, 800-meter slow jog in between-8K total

•             Day 3-6K-Easy

•             Day 4-25K run

•             Total-44K

Week 12

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-10K-Easy

•             Day 3-5K-Easy

•             Day 4-30K run

•             Total-50K-All easy workouts to prepare for the 30K

Week 13

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-Tempo-Easy 1K, 5K-around race pace, 1K-easy-8K-total

•             Day 3-5K-Easy

•             Day 4-15K-30 seconds slower than race pace

•             Total-33K

Week 14

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-8K-Easy

•             Day 3-5K-Easy

•             Day 4-35K run

•             Total-53K

Week 15

•             Day 1-5K-Easy

•             Day 2-8K-30 seconds slower than race pace

•             Day 3-5K-Easy

•             Day 4-20K run

•             Total-38K

Week 16 – Rest, relax, slower paced runs. Good quality workouts are the keys to a successful marathon.


17 Marathon Training Tips For Your 16 Week Marathon Training Plan

16 week marathon training plan

1) Choose quality runs over quantity.

Marathon beginners often make the mistake of thinking that more is better when practicing. Well, this is not always the case.

  • It’s more important to have few effective training sessions than going on multiple training runs that don’t end up contributing much to your preparedness.
  • Three runs weekly is a good way to start your marathon-running journey as a beginner.
  • The first session should be at a threshold pace, followed by either of the sprint/hills session and finally a long slow session.

2) Ensure that you do not raise your weekly long slow run distance by over 10%.

  • Your body needs time to adjust when you’re trying to increase your running distance, so it’s important to factor this in when trying to achiever longer miles. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

3) Do a prior check on your next marathon route.

  • Your training conditions should resemble, as closely as possible, what you’ll experience on the actual marathon track.
  • For instance, if there is a hill along the route, add a bit of hill training to your session, and if you observe cases of off-roads, factor in some trail running in your training.
  • In cases of cobbles, you’d need a session of cobble running.
  • This will prepare your body for the race proper and you’ll know what to expect.

4) Get your diet right.

  • Marathons require a substantial amount of energy – it is what keeps you going. However, while energy gels can suit some people’s body, it can make others vomit.
  • Be sure that whatever energy gels or drinks you ingest on race day are ones you have taken before, you never can tell how your body might react to a new product.

5) Start practicing with your new trainers early enough.

  • Getting your trainers early, if required, will help you get settled fast.
  • A time frame of four weeks before the D-day would be a good way to acclimatize your feet to the feel of the new running shoes and give you a better chance at completing the marathon or even clinching a top three position – fingers crossed 😊.



6) Take part in short races in the course of your marathon training.

  • Let’s assume that you have eight weeks to prepare for the race, you can sign up for a half marathon.
  • Although running within a large number of people can be initially tedious, you will get used to it with time and ultimately improve your speed.

7) Develop a plan.

  • Just like any endeavor in life, you need a plan, especially if it is your first ever race.
  • Your plan must factor in both pacey and long slow runs.
  • Ideally, you should be recording 60-90 seconds lesser per mile on such runs than the time per mile in the real race.
  • Understand your pace and master it through training – this will determine your eventual speed on the day of the marathon.

8) Don’t be too pacey at the beginning of the race.

  • Undoubtedly, your energy and adrenaline are high at the early stages of the race.
  • However, running at high speeds initially will only fatigue you earlier than expected (perhaps, before reaching 26.2 miles).
  • Instead, stick to your devised plan, and if you are feeling good after covering 18-19 miles, put in a little more speed, while taking into consideration the extra miles ahead.

9) The best time to be hydrated is the day before the race, and not on the morning of the race day.

  • It’s best if you have an almost clear coloured pee before going to bed on the night preceding the race day.
  • Likewise, getting well hydrated on the night before will ensure that you do not drink too much the next morning while removing any last minute rush to use the toilet.

10) Be on the ground very early.

  • This gives you much time to prepare and rest before the race. Also, you will not experience the stress that comes with rushing, which ultimately takes away your focus on the race.

11) Spoil yourself, a bit.

  • Keep face towels or flip-flops with your friends at the drop-off, alongside some sweet edibles that can be easily digested on the run.

12) The number of sessions for each week.

  • While the number depends on an individual, three times can be a realistic idea consisting of one long run and two short runs.

13) Weekly target distances per session, depending on the marathon.

  • During preparation, your weekly distance should be a bit longer than the actual distance of the marathon.
  • For example, if it’s going to be a 30 km race, then you should be aiming for between 32 and 35 kilometers weekly.

14) Building up distance and achieving a uniform pace.

  • This depends largely on the individual – there are no hard and fast rules that guide choosing a uniform pace.  The mistake most people make is to underestimate the marathon distance.
  • Thus they rush and end up fatigued a few kilometers into the race.
  • You can work out your pace by working backward from your proposed time of completion of the marathon.
  • For instance, a 5-minute mile may require three hours and 30 minutes to complete, which means you can run at different speeds per mile.

15) Combine different kinds of running sessions.

  • When you combine time trails, hills, intervals, and Fartlek among others, you will not be only improving your leg strengths but also improving your resistance skills.
  • Try to maintain a stable pace in every training run, irrespective of the distance.

16) Take days off.

  • You need to rest, as much as you need to train.
  • If you have no viable recovery plan, your marathon plan would be adversely affected.
  • Consume sufficient amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and keep your body system well-hydrated.

17) Stretching.

  • Before you get on the track, ensure there are no cramps and your tissues are well stretched and kept flexible.
  • This eases your paces.
  • Likewise, moving your feet, hamstrings, hips, ankles, and spine in various three-dimensional directions will get your body ready to face the challenges of a marathon race.
  • This is even more useful in marathons where the courses run cross-country or off the road.

Sticking to these tips as a beginner marathon sprinter not only get you started strong but also increase your chances of coming out tops. Good luck!

Are you running your first marathon? I would love to here your comments and to know if you found this post helpful. Please share this post and leave a comment below.

Topic: 16 week marathon training plan

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Hi, I'm Gerald

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Gerald has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise, Nutrition & Health. He is an NASM qualified behaviour change specialist, and a qualified personal trainer. Gerald has developed his own C.H.A.N.G.E method, which he uses to help his clients lose weight.

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