Total Beginners
16 Week
Training Plan

This plan is for first time runners with little experience of running and that can commit to 3 weekly runs. It starts off gently and builds up to get you round 26.2.

Easy or recovery runs. (less than 60% effort)

During an easy run you should feel relaxed. You should be breathing comfortably and be capable of holding a conversation throughout the run. If you’re a new/novice runner then you’ll probably be questioning whether any runs feel easy and holding a conversation may feel impossible. Slow down, walk if necessary and control your effort.

Steady runs. (60-70% effort)

These are the bread and butter of your training, the ‘miles in the bank’. Steady runs build the aerobic base that acts as the foundation for the rest of your training. Conversations are still possible at this pace but in sentences rather than long gossip.

Tempo runs (70-75% effort)

Running at tempo pace is great for improving your running economy. It’s a sustained cruise pace that requires concentration but you can hold on to. You will find them slightly uncomfortable and they’ll require concentration but they are well worth the effort.

Threshold running (80% effort)

This is is a little harder than tempo running. You’ll only be capable of uttering a four or five words as you run. As you get fitter and more experienced you’ll learn how to find your own threshold pace and this will change the fitter, stronger and faster you get. These runs are all about ‘controlled discomfort”.

Long runs.

These are a real focus of the build up. They should be used to develop strength and endurance but also to practice your target marathon pace (TMP – 8 minute mile pace) and control.

16 weeks to go: The next 4 weeks is all about increasing time on feet and building a good base to do your marathon training on.

Tue: 30 min steady walk

Thur: 10 min brisk walk. 20 min easy run. 10 min brisk walk = 40 min

Sun: 10 min walk. 30mins jog. 10 min walk. = 50 min

15 weeks to go: The first few weeks are important. Find the time to fit your workouts in.

Tue: (10 min walk, 10 min run) x 2. = 40 min

Thur: 10 min brisk walk. 30 min easy run. 10 min brisk walk = 50 min

Sun: 10 min walk. 20mins jog. 10 min walk. 15 min jog. 10 min walk. =65 min

14 weeks to go: You’re doing a great job. The more you do the easier it feels!

Tue: 5 min walk, 30 min easy run, 5 min walk = 40 min

Thur: 5 min brisk walk. 40 min easy run. 5 min brisk walk = 50 min

Sun: 10 min walk. 30 min jog. 10 min walk. 20 min jog. 10 min walk. =80 min

13 weeks to go: The first block of 4 weeks is almost done. Stick to your plan this week and build up your longest time on your feet at the weekend.

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 5 min brisk walk. 45 min easy run. 5 min brisk walk = 50 min

Sun: 10 min walk. 30 min jog. 10 min walk. 30 min jog. 10 min walk. = 90 min

12 weeks to go: A lighter week to allow for adaptation to the training loads.

Tue: 20 min easy run

Thur: 30 min easy run

Sun: 25 min easy, 2 min walk, 25 min easy = 52 min

11 weeks to go: This is when the marathon training kicks in, building more time on feet, and introducing some beginner intervals to give you that added fitness boost.

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy jog (30 s faster running, 2 min walk) x 8. 10 min easy jog = 40 min

Sun: (20 min jog, 10 min brisk walk) x 4 = 2 hours.

10 weeks to go:

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy jog (45 s faster running, 1 min 45s walk/jog) x 8. 10 min easy jog. = 40 min

Sun: (20 min jog, 10 min brisk walk) x 4 = 2 hours.

9 weeks to go: Really attack the intervals and feel your heart pounding and your breathing quicken. This means you are pushing some fitness boundaries.

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy jog (60 s faster running, 2 min walk/jog) x 10. 10 min easy jog. = 50 min

Sun: (25 min jog, 5 min brisk walk) x 4 = 2 hours.

8 weeks to go: Race practice- enter a 10k or similar distance to familiarize yourself with pre-race routines, such as pre- race meal, race clothing and hydration strategies.

Tue: 10 min easy (3 x 3mins at a tempo pace with 2 min jog recovery) 10 min easy

Thur: 30 min easy run.

Sun: Race.

7 weeks to go: Building endurance: the next 4 weeks are all about the long run, building your capacity to cover the marathon distance. Do not worry about covering the race distance before race day, just trust the training and you will be ready on race day to tackle the 26.2 miles. Practice your hydration and fuel strategies on your long runs.

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (4 min tempo run, 3 min easy jog/ walk recovery) x 4. 10 min easy

Sun: (27 min easy run, 3 min walk) x 4. = 2 hours

6 weeks to go: Just 3 more weeks of hard training left before the taper.

Tue: 45 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (5 min tempo run, 3 min easy jog/ walk recovery) x 5. 10 min easy

Sun: (27 min easy run, 3 min walk) x 5 = 2.5 hours

5 weeks to go: You could run a half marathon this week in place of the long run.

Tue: 50 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (6 min tempo run, 2 min easy jog/ walk recovery) x 4. 10 min easy

Sun: (28 min easy run, 2min walk) x 6 = 3 hours

4 weeks to go: The next 4 weeks leading into your marathon are about getting to know your race pace. Have a target time in mind and work out your pace per mile. Learn what your race pace feels like.

Tue: 50 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (10 min steady, 10 min @ Marathon pace, 5 min faster) 10 min easy

Sun: Longest run: (27 min easy, 2 min walk) x 7 = 3.5 hours

3 weeks to go: The long run is reducing in volume now. Don’t be tempted to do more or you will risk being tired on the start line.

Tue: 40 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (3 min at Marathon pace, 3 min faster) x 6. 10 min easy

Sun: (45 min easy run, 2 min walk) x 2.

2 weeks to go: The taper is here. Doing less is all about recovering from the hard training so you can stand on the start line fresh-legged ready to do your best.

Tue: 30 min easy run

Thur: 10 min easy running (20 min at marathon pace, 10 min faster) 10 min easy

Sun: 70 min easy run

1 week to go: You can only do too much this week. Spend the your spare time relaxing and leave any jobs until after the marathon. Look back at your training and see how far you have come. You are ready.

Tue: 30min easy run

Thur: 5 min easy run (12 min at Marathon pace) 5 min easy run

Sun: Race day – your marathon. The key is to start sensibly at your race pace, and stick to your race plan. Trust the training you have done and believe you are ready to go the distance. Smile and enjoy yourself. You can do it.

© Yelling Performance 2014

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