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Full Marathon - 20 Week Training Plan

Plan description Plan workouts calendar volume graph
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author : mikericci
comments : 3

Who is the plan for?

This program should be used for an athlete whose goal is to run a marathon in the 3:00-4:30 range and has a good running base in the past 8-12 weeks.

Plan schedule

The schedule consists of 3-5 runs per week and it is run specific. There are 2 days of strength training and core work included as well. The maximum volume is around 10 hours toward the middle and at the end of the 20 weeks. Most of the weeks are around 6-8 hours with some lower volumes thrown in there in the beginning.

There is testing every few weeks throughout the program to test your fitness level so you can re-adjust your HR Zones if you train with a HRM. If you don’t train with a HRM, that’s fine as the tests are still good training and you can measure improvement based on time.

Background requirements

You should be able to run at least 90 minutes. It’s ok if you have to use the run/walk method for the running (more on that below).

For the first few weeks of the program you will be focusing on frequency and how many run workouts you can get in week-in and week-out.


Heart-Rate training

This plan uses heart-rate training zones for intensity specific training. See 'Related Links' at bottom for testing protocol and how to determine and setup your heart-rate zones.

If you have a running background and feel the need to add volume to the program, you are welcome to do that. 


If you are currently proficient in running

If you are a weak runner and you need to use a walk/run plan that is perfectly ok. I have many runners who use an 8/2 method. This is where the athlete runs for 8 minutes and walks for 2, getting their HR back down into their aerobic zone. I have had marathoners use this method that run in the 3:00 range for 26.2 miles, so don’t feel like you are less of a runner if you use this method.

Weight Training and Core Strength
The program that I am using this time around is adapted from The Training Bible and has been tweaked to include some exercises that I think are important. The program should be fairly balanced between core and strength training. You will be using AA1 to AA4 for this program.


Good Luck in your Full Marathon!

Train Smart,
Mike Ricci
USAT Level II Coach
USAC Expert Coach