How to Prepare for a Marathon in 12 Weeks – Easy Training Plan

“It’s difficult to train for a marathon, but it’s even more difficult to not be able to train for a marathon.” — Aaron Douglas Trimble

Marathons; 26.2 miles to cross; one of the biggest mental and physical tests for humans. Everyone can run a marathon, but not everyone knows how to train for a marathon.

We aim to change that!

If you’re looking forward to running your first marathon, this is the place to be. We’ll show you how to prepare for a marathon in 12 weeks.

How to Prepare for a Marathon in 12 Weeks

Our 12-week marathon training plan will have a mix between running days, strength training days, and rest days.

Before getting into the training plan, you need to understand some expressions that we’ll implement in it.

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

Rate of Perceived Exertion is a method used to measure the intensity of a certain activity. In our case, this activity is running.

Depending on how fast your pace is, you’ll either find it easy or difficult to hold a conversation as you run.

RPE measuring system goes from 0–10. The higher the number, the harder the run is.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Conversation difficulty while running
1–2 Very easy to talk while running
3 Almost no effort is required to talk
4 Little effort is required to talk
5 A moderate effort is required to talk
6 hard to talk while running
7 Difficult to talk while running
8 Extremely difficult to hold a conversation while running
9–10 No talking; extreme speed zone

Pace Runs

Pace runs are designed to improve your average pace while running. Regardless of how long or how short you’ll run, the pace run should have a 4–5 RPE.

Training Runs

Training runs are the ones that will make you comfortable crossing long distances while still challenging your body.

They are usually longer than pace runs but have a lower RPE, which ranges between 3–4.

Long Runs

Long runs are longer than training and pace runs. However, they have the lowest RPE of them all; 2–3 to be exact.

Long runs are the bread and butter of your marathon training. They will gradually increase to make your body comfortable while crossing those long miles.

Easy Runs

Easy runs are the shortest and easiest runs of the bunch. Their main purpose is to keep your body in shape without fatiguing your muscles. Easy runs usually have an RPE of 2–3.

We won’t be using easy runs in our training plan except for the last few days before the marathon.

Strength Training

Strength training makes your muscles stronger, leaner, and able to produce more power without consuming too much energy.

A runner’s strength training should last anywhere between 45–60 minutes.

Hill Intervals (Speed)

A speed-oriented hill interval aims to improve your top speed. To do a speed hill interval, run uphill as fast as you can for 5–15 seconds.

Hill Intervals (Fatigue Resistance)

Fatigue resistance hill intervals make you run longer before losing your breath. To do such an interval, sprint uphill for 20–30 seconds.

How to Prepare for a Marathon in 12 Weeks: The Training Plan

How to Prepare for a Marathon in 12 Weeks: The Training Plan

Now for our 12-week training plan, you’ll notice how the severity of the training would gradually increase until the last 2 weeks before the marathon.

In those last two weeks, the training aims to keep your body ready for the marathon without exhausting it. So, the severity will reduce considerably.

Week 1

Sunday Pace run 3 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 4 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 6–10 intervals
Friday Long run 8 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 2

Sunday Pace run 4 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 5 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (fatigue resistance) 6–10 intervals
Friday Long run 9 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 3

Sunday Pace run 5 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 6 miles (3–4 RPE)
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 8–12 intervals
Friday Long run 9 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 4

Sunday Pace run 6 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 7 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (fatigue resistance) 8–12 intervals
Friday Long run 13 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 5

Sunday Pace run 4 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 7 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 12–14 intervals
Friday Long run 11 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 6

Sunday Pace run 5 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 7 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (fatigue resistance) 12–14 intervals
Friday Long run 16 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 7

Sunday Pace run 6 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 7 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 12–14 intervals
Friday Long run 18 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 8

Sunday Pace run 5 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 8 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (fatigue resistance) 12–14 intervals
Friday Long run 15 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 9

Sunday Pace run 6 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 8 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 15 intervals
Friday Long run 21 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 10

Sunday Pace run 4 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 5 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (fatigue resistance) 8 intervals
Friday Long run 13 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 11

Sunday Pace run 3 miles
Monday Strength training 45–60 minutes
Tuesday Training run 4 miles
Wednesday Off Off
Thursday Hill intervals (speed) 8 intervals
Friday Long run 8 miles
Saturday Off Off

Week 12 (The Marathon Week)

Sunday Off Off
Monday Training run 3 miles
Tuesday Off Off
Wednesday Easy run 3 miles
Thursday Off Off
Friday Easy run 2 miles
Saturday The Marathon 26.2 miles (5 RPE)

Woman workout on treadmill and trainer with timer

A Few Extra Words on How to Prepare for a Marathon in 12 Weeks 

Training for a marathon will test your body, mind, and soul. You will stop in your tracks many times and ask yourself if it’s worth it.

You’ll see some of your friends having the tastiest (but also the unhealthiest) meals out there. The temptation to quit will be high and the frustration will reach its peak.

Don’t quit and keep going. Remember, it always seems impossible until it’s done.

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