18 Week Training Program for Your First Marathon

People who start this program should already be running about three to four days a week, totaling 15 to 20 miles a week. I also recommend that you complete a race at 5-K or 10K distance. First-time marathoners should both train and race conservatively. The following 18-week training schedule tells you simple how many miles to run each day. The week’s work divides into four phases:

BASE (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) Midweek runs should be run at easy pace

REST (Monday, Friday) Friday’s rest day is to get ready for the weekend long run; Monday’s rest day is to recovery. Rest is very important part of marathon training program.

DISTANCE (Saturday) A long run is scheduled for Saturday but can be done any day. Run at the pace at which you hope to run the marathon.

CROSSTRAINING (Sunday) A day of active rest. Spend an hour doing some easy cross-training like walking, cycling, or swimming.

Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun.

1 Rest 3 mi. 3 mi. 3 mi. Rest 6 mi. Cross

2 Rest 3 mi. 3 mi. 3 mi. Rest 7 mi. Cross

3 Rest 3 mi. 4 mi. 3 mi. Rest 5 mi. Cross

4 Rest 3 mi. 4 mi. 3 mi. Rest 9 mi. Cross

5 Rest 3 mi. 5 mi. 3 mi. Rest 10 mi. Cross

6 Rest 3 mi. 5 mi. 3 mi. Rest 7 mi. Cross

7 Rest 3 mi. 6 mi. 3 mi. Rest 12 mi. Cross

8 Rest 3 mi. 6 mi. 4 mi. Rest 13 mi. Cross

9 Rest 3 mi. 7 mi. 4 mi. Rest 10 mi. Cross

10 Rest 3 mi. 7 mi. 4 mi. Rest 15 mi. Cross

11 Rest 4 mi. 8 mi. 4 mi. Rest 16 mi. Cross

12 Rest 4 mi. 8 mi. 5 mi. Rest 12 mi. Cross

13 Rest 4 mi. 9 mi. 5 mi. Rest 18 mi. Cross

14 Rest 5 mi. 9 mi. 5 mi. Rest 19 mi. Cross

15 Rest 5 mi. 10 mi. 5 mi. Rest 14 mi. Cross

16 Rest 5 mi. 8 mi. 5 mi. Rest 20 mi. Cross

17 Rest 4 mi. 6 mi. 4 mi. Rest 8 mi. Cross

18 Rest 3 mi. 4 mi. Rest Rest Rest Marathon

Marathon Tips:

  • Remember to start slow and do not let your nervous energy get the best of you
  • If you have to walk its OK you want to completed the marathon do not worry time
  • Take in fluids during the race especially on a warm day
  • Focus on your training towards that marathon goal
  • Run an occasional race so you can gauge your fitness
  • Most of all have fun
About Paul Stofko

Paul "Crazy Legs" Stofko is a Fitness Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, and Ultra Marathoner. Read Paul's full bio here and learn more from him on his website.

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