BIG Marathon Index

All you need to know before taking on a marathon, from training plans to nutrition advice



Whether you're new to the marathon or merely reintroducing yourself to an old friend, we're here to help you plan your race build-up down to the last detail.

Here's everything you need to know to prepare for - and complete - your best 26.2 miler.


Our Essential Marathon Newsletter

Our free, weekly marathon email is designed to keep you on top of your training.

Short enough to be readable, long enough to be useful, it contains at-a-glance schedules for every pace, themes and hurdles for the week, and all the cheer you need for the dark days of winter.

Request it now and it'll pop into your inbox from December through until April.


Training Schedules

How to choose the right schedule
You know that our schedules are tried and trusted, but which to choose? Better to err on the side of caution to avoid injury if you're unsure. Use our race-time predictor for an indication of what target you should set yourself. Bruce Tulloh's failsafe guide to getting ready to start a marathon schedule will also help you choose a target that is suitable for your current levels of fitness.

Our schedules
We have five sets of marathon-training schedules for you to choose from:
  • Our no-nonsense schedules are for non-subscribers. They're simple, but they work.

  • Our three-day schedules are based on the Furman Institute (FIRST) schedules and include three good quality runs (two speed sessions and a brisk long run) and two cross-training sessions per week.

  • Our ultimate marathon schedules are a bit more detailed. They include a monthly goal and a monthly theme, some more creative sessions, and a little extra guidance about pace.


Untitled Document
No-nonsense Schedules 3-Day schedules Ultimate schedules
Basic Universal Sub-3:00
Intermediate Sub-3:15
Advanced Sub-3:30
Sub-3:45
Sub-4:00
Sub-4:30
Get you Round
See schedules See schedules See schedules

Of course, if none of these schedules suit, you could always use our interactive SmartCoach tool to create your own tailor-made marathon schedule. Simply input a selection of details and SmartCoach will equip you with a fully-personalised training plan, designed to fit your preferences and lifestyle.

Or, if you're willing to train seven days a week, you can also enjoy these Hard Training schedules and advice from Mike Gratton. You don't have to be fast for these, just dedicated...


Of course, if none of these schedules suit, you could always use our interactive SmartCoach tool to create your own tailor-made marathon schedule. Simply input a selection of details and SmartCoach will equip you with a fully-personalised training plan, designed to fit your preferences and lifestyle.

Or, if you're willing to train seven days a week, you can also enjoy these Hard Training schedules and advice from Mike Gratton. You don't have to be fast for these, just dedicated...


Marathon First-Timers

If it's your first marathon, make sure you check out our guide to running your first marathon. It's packed with all the info, tips and advice you need to get kitted out and ready to go.

If you're completely new to running, then our Get-Started Schedules will take you from zero to running hero. You'll be running 30 minutes non-stop within eight weeks - perfect preparation for starting our Get-You-Round 16-week schedule come January.

In the meantime, if you're in need of advice, a pick-me-up or just a good natter, join spring marathoners on the forums.


Your Questions Answered

You'll find stacks of useful information in the marathon section of our BIG Q+A Index. Here's a selection of your most popular puzzlers:


Nutritional Necessities

As you ramp up the mileage during training, it's essential your diet steps up to the challenge as well. Keep your body in tip-top shape with these expert guides to eating before, during and after training, as well as on marathon day itself.


ASICS Target 26.2 is our flagship spring marathon project, preparing a crack team of runners for the Paris Marathon in April 2012.

With just five spots in the team, it's a truly elite marathon training and racing experience. In the run up to their VIP Paris Marathon experience, the Target 26.2 runners are enjoying expert coaching, physio, nutrition and sports psychology advice, as well as being kitted out head to toe in the latest ASICS kit.

But it's not just the Target 26.2 team who benefit - you too can get advice from top coaches Steve Smythe and Sam Murphy, the expertise of the ASICS PRO Team and more via runnersworld.co.uk. As well as popping up regularly on the team's forum threads, our marathon experts are appearing in podcasts, technique videos and webchats - all with the aim of seeing you achieve your best ever marathon.

Throughout their marathon training, the five members of the Target 26.2 team are recording all their training trials and triumphs live in the forums - visit the ASICS Target 26.2 hub to get started!


Getting Ready For The Big Day

Don't forget to wind down during your final few weeks of training and look ahead to the logistics of race day. After all, it's the details that can make all the difference. Wise up to the importance of tapering - and find all the information you need to get to the start line in style - in these choice reads:


Fundraising Focus

Running for charity? Wondering how you'll have time to fit in your fundraising as well as your training? No need to panic - help is at hand in our real-life guide to making fundraising easy. It's packed with tried-and-tested strategies and imaginative ideas to help maximise your fundraising potential.

And don't forget: if you're lucky enough to have a ballot place, hundreds of charities would still love you to raise as little as £100 for them. There are numerous benefits in running for charity - visit our extensive charity gallery to search for non-profit groups by category or locality. All the organisations listed have vast experience of supporting runners in the build-up to the marathon and on the day itself.


Get Inspired, Stay Motivated

Real London Marathon Stories
For a sense of just why it's so worth running the London Marathon, read these first-hand accounts of the 2010 event. Long and short, fast and slow, they give an incredible insight into the emotions of race day.

Chat London Chat
Want to tap the knowledge of your fellow runners? Don't be shy - post a message on our busy Spring Marathon forum. Among the hundreds of conversations taking place, you'll find some that have become designated 'meeting places' for people with similar targets.

Virgin London Marathon 2011: A Pacer's Story
Every year the Runner's World Pacing Team take part in the VLM and help runners hit their target times. Find out what the iconic race is like from the other side with our pacer's story.

Mile 17
If you're lucky enough to take part in the VLM this year - or if you just want to get involved in the event - you can enjoy the cheers and festivities at Mile 17. Every year our forumites flock here to encourage runners and give out treats. Flick through photos of last year's Mile 17 gathering.

Marathon Man: Steve Edwards
Get inspired by Steve Edwards who has notched up a whopping 500 sub-4:00 marathons. .

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Discuss this article

Garmin Schedules: 

Virgin London Marathon (April 22, 2012)

The page above has the VLM date correct, but the link takes you to last year's schedule.

 Downloading that schedule as .wkt, the workouts don't match what's displayed on the webpage

Lazy programing/editing, surely not .....


Posted: 04/01/2012 at 12:07

I tried to download a schedule but it all appears out of date and pages are missing.  RW can you help out or update the pages as was keen to follow one of these plans leading up to 21/04/2013?
Posted: 27/12/2012 at 21:49

i was also hoping to use a schedule but as mentioned the page doesnt reference VLM 2013 and the downloaded training plan doesnt match the description on the page - can someone pls clarify??????????
Posted: 16/01/2013 at 21:53

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