How to Prepare for a Marathon in 5 Weeks – Easy To Follow Training Plan

Ever wondered why a marathon is exactly 26.2 miles? It could’ve been rounded up to 26 or even just 25 miles.

Well, we have a combo of the Greek legends and the 1980s Royal Family to thank for this odd distance.

It all makes a fun story, but you’re probably here because you signed up for a marathon, and the race day is closing in on you.

Now, you’re left wondering how to prepare for a marathon in 5 weeks only. So, let’s not waste any more precious training time and jump right in!

How to Prepare for a Marathon in 5 Weeks Training Plan

Running a marathon is a bucket list item for a lot of aspiring runners, but most people get stuck on the training part.

The good news is that if you completed a half marathon, you won’t have a hard time preparing for the marathon.

Before we get on the training plan, you might want to look at how much free time you have on a typical week. You’ll need 3-4 days for running sessions.

Find Your Start Point

The smartest thing to do at the beginning of any race training plan is to evaluate your current capacity.

For the first day, go for a 15-minute warm-up then, run a mile at an easy pace and time your mile.

A semi-regular runner can run a mile in around 10 minutes. This pace translates to 4-5 hours on the marathon race. It might sound like too much, but it’s average timing.

Two days later, try going for your best long run at a pace that’s a bit slower than your regular timing. You’ll be adding mileage on this distance as you go.

Increase Your Weekly Mileage Gradually

Boosting your mileage by more than 30% in one week can result in running injuries. Instead, you want to build up endurance gradually.

For each week, you can go for three casual training sessions plus one more day for the long runs.

We recommend adding 2-3 miles to the long run of the week. This way, you can expect an increase of around eight miles to your current capacity by week three.

Notice that we left the last two weeks from our calculations. That’s because we want to set at least a week aside for tapering.

Ease Down During Your Taper

So, what’s the deal with tapering, and why is it such a big deal in the marathon training schedule?

Tapering is 7-10 days of a gradual decrease in the mileage and training time right before a marathon.

By the last week, bring down your workout time to half. You can still keep up your best marathon pace, but try to stay away from long runs.

It’s also better to steer clear of any intense activity that might cause sore muscles. Think of the taper as your chance to recuperate before the race day.

Never Skip Warm-Ups

How to Prepare for a Marathon in 5 Weeks: A Runner Warming Up

An eager runner might ditch the warm-ups and jump right into the interval training. This might seem like a good energy burst, but it’s just too risky.

A simple pre-run warm-up takes less than 10 minutes, and it can reduce running injuries and muscle soreness.

For some people, warming up before a run is as simple as walking a mile and doing some basic stretches.

Other runners might prefer a more organized approach with a stretching sequence to increase flexibility and muscle tone.

Grab a Quick Pre-Run Meal to Go

Breakfast is critical for runners

We all skip breakfast more than we’d like to admit. When it comes to race training, this is just not going to cut it.

Intense running on an empty stomach can do more harm than good. Plus, it doesn’t even help with significant weight loss goals, so let’s scratch this idea out from our training program.

Instead, you need to have four or five handy meal ideas ready to grab. It’ll fuel your muscles up and get you ready for a long run.

Granola bars, oats, bananas, and peanut butter are all great ingredients to mix up in your pre-run meals.

Use the Walk Run Method

We’d like you to recall how long a marathon race track actually is — 26.2 whooping miles!

The idea that you might cover this much distance running non-stop is a bit of an overreach. You’ll take breaks more often than you think, and that’s perfectly okay.

Many runners like to use the walk run method to give their bodies a chance to catch up. You can take a walking break every mile or even as frequently as every five minutes.

If you’re going for a run that’s way above your regular mileage, don’t shy away from dividing it into two separate sessions of long runs.

Shift to Cross-Training

Somewhere around week two, the training schedule might seem a little repetitive. You can break the cycle with some light cross-training sessions.

Cross-training won’t help with speed all that much, but it can enhance aerobic endurance and general fitness.

Swimming makes a great cross-workout because it increases the heart rate and keeps the core engaged.

On the other hand, hitting the gym for a weight lifting session might not be the best idea this close to a race.

Be Mindful About Your Clothing Choice

A runner is only as good as his training and gear. When you’re putting a lot of effort over five weeks, you don’t want to waste it all because you chaffed too soon in the race.

Wear properly fitting athletic clothes made from synthetic fibers (not natural cotton) to keep the chafing down to a minimum.

As always, we recommend that you break in any brand new running shoe before you take it on for a long run.

Stocking blister tape and talcum powder might not be a terrible idea. It could save your running schedule in a pinch.

Ice Baths for the Win!

Do you know how you can chill after a long, exhausting run? Jump into an ice bath, crank up some music, and take a break.

The idea that cold water immersion aids recovery has been up for debate for a while now. Research indicates that it has no significant impact on inflammation at a cellular level.

However, we can all agree that sitting in a cold tub still sounds like a nice way to end your training day.

Feel free to make use of any other “chilling” breaks that you like better. Some people like a quick power nap, while others prefer a calm walk.

Set a Race Day Strategy

The marathon morning is always an emotional rollercoaster. You’re hyped up for the race and inspired by your fellow runners. At the same time, you’re also a bit nervous.

All these feelings are perfectly normal, but you still need to keep things under control with a thorough race day strategy.

Plan to start at a comfortable pace for at least a mile. Don’t give your best at once and then hit the wall.

Instead, mix a moderate marathon pace and interval walking with short bursts of intense running.


Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the marathon training plan:

Q: Is it possible to prepare for a marathon in only 5 weeks?

A: For a beginner, tackling a 26.2-mile marathon with a little over two months of training isn’t realistic in most cases.

However, it’s achievable if you have experience running other long-distance races like the half marathon.

Q: What happens if I miss days of the training plan?

A: People can miss a day or two on their training schedule, and it happens more often than you think.

Don’t try to overcompensate the lost session. Move along the training week plan and gradually catch up on the marathon pace and mile count as you go.

Q: Do I need strength training to run a marathon?

A: Strength training can be beneficial over the long run by adding muscle mass. Yet, in such a short period, you won’t get to reap the benefits.

If you feel inclined to lift weights, do it with supervision and keep it limited to the first week or two of your training schedule.

Q: Is speed work necessary for a marathon runner?

A: Yes, speed work is a focal point for any professional marathon runner. It can help you increase your pace over extended mile counts.

As a general rule, you should keep your pace expectations realistic for your first marathon to avoid the risk of injury.

Q: Can a running coach boost my marathon training plan?

A: Yes, running coaches can customize a plan that caters to your needs. For shorter distances, like the 5k, coaching might not be necessary.

As you get into longer races, like the half marathon, evaluate your performance to see if you’re satisfied training on your own.

Q: How do I identify my current pace?

A: There are two ways to know your pace. The first, more direct approach is by timing your run over a mile on a straight track, and that’s your mile pace.

The other way involves doing a bit of math, but it can be more accurate for long races. Time your entire running session, breaks and all, and divide it by the total distance your GPS tracked.

Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Marathon in 5 Weeks

Wondering how to prepare for a marathon in 5 weeks?

In short, you do it gradually, with a bit of motivation and a ton of commitment. Every week is going to be a little more intense, but it’s still achievable for a moderately experienced runner.

Completing a marathon is challenging, but getting to the finish line is a rush that makes it all worth it.