RW's Ultimate Marathon Schedule: Sub-4:15

The best 16-week marathon schedule you'll find anywhere



A 4:15 marathon is approximately 9:30 per mile. To break 4:15, you should eventually be capable of a sub-1:55 half-marathon (8:45 per mile) and sub-55:00 10K (8:20 per mile). Right now, you should be running at least 20 miles per week and you should be able to run for at least an hour non-stop. This schedule has been devised by long-time RW staffer and running coach Steve Smythe.

Key Paces

Marathon: 9:30
Half-marathon: approx 9:00
10K: 8:30
Mile/5K: 8:00
Steady: 10:00
Easy: approx 10:30

For The Month Ahead...

Your Goal A sub-54:00 10K or sub-42:30 5-mile race (Week 4). More...
Your Theme You build your base. More...



Week One (24M)
Mon 3M (miles) (30 mins) easy
Tue 3M (28 mins) at marathon pace
Wed 3M (30 mins) steady
Thu 4M - middle 2M at 10K pace (38 mins in total - 17 mins fast)
Fri Rest
Sat 3M hills or hilly circuit
Sun 8M (84 mins) easy

Week Two (28M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 12 x 200m at mile/5K speed (55 secs), with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 4M (40 mins) steady
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 4M (40 mins) fartlek or parkrun
Sun 10M (1:45) easy

Week Three (31M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, 3 x 1M or 1600m (8:30) at 10K pace, with 400m (2-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 5M (52 mins) easy
Thu 6M - 1M jog, then 4M (36 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 4M inc hills or hilly circuit
Sun 10M (approx 1:40) steady

Week Four (30M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 5 x 1000m (5:15) at 10K pace, with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 6M (63 mins) easy
Thu 5M (approx 50 mins) steady
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 10M (approx 1:39) - first 5M (52 mins) easy, last 5M (47 mins) at half-marathon pace

For The Month Ahead...

Your Goal Complete a run of around 2 hours 30 mins (Week 7). More...
Your Theme You add volume and speed. More...

Week Five (35M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 10 x 400m (2:00) at mile/5K pace, with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 7M (73 mins) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 4M (approx 40 mins) fartlek or parkrun
Sun 13M (2:16) easy

Week Six (34M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 3 x 2000 (10:30) at 10K pace, with 400m (2-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog.
Wed 8M (84 mins) easy
Thu 4M inc hills or hilly circuit
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 13M (2:10) steady

Week Seven (39M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 15 x 200m (55 secs) at mile/5K pace, with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M kog
Wed 9M (94 mins) seasy
Thu 6M - 1M jog, then 4M (approx 38 mins) at marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M hills or hilly circuit
Sun 15M (2:30) steady

Week Eight (40M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, 4 x 1M or 1600m (8:30) at 10K pace, with 400m (2-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 10M (approx 1:45) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 15M (approx 2:29) - first 7M (73 mins) easy, last 8M (76 mins) at half-marathon pace

For The Month Ahead...

Your Goal A sub-2:00 half-marathon (Week 12). More...

Your Theme
You reach your highest mileage. More...

Note that the ‘approximate’ targets for training sessions are exactly that, especially on longer runs. By now, your training and racing should be giving you a clearer idea of your marathon (steady) and half-marathon (brisk) paces. Also, the times in the Tuesday speed sessions are alternatives to the distances, rather than targets. You should be running them as fast yet evenly as you can; roughly between 5K and 10K pace.

Week Nine (42M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 6 x 1000 (5:15) at 10K pace, with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 9M (94 mins) easy
Thu 4M hills or hilly circuit
Fri Rest
Sat 4M (approx 40 mins) fartlek or 5K parkrun
Sun 18M (3 hours) steady

Week Ten (42M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 12 x 400m (2:00) at mile/5K pace, with 200m (or 1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 10M (approx 1:40) steady
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 18M (approx 2:59) - first 9M (90 mins) easy, last 9M (85 mins) at marathon pace

Week Eleven (45M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 16 x 200m (60 secs) at mile/5K pace, with 200m (or 1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 11M (approx 1:55) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 4M (approx 40 mins) fartlek or 5K parkrun
Sun 20M (3:30) easy

Week Twelve (40M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 4 x 2000m (10:30) at 10K pace, with 400m (2-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 9M (94 mins) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (28 mins) at marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun Half-marathon race (plus 1M warm up and cool down)

For The Month Ahead...

Your Goal A serious taper and a rewarding marathon. More...



Week Thirteen (44M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, 5 x 1M or 1600m (8:30) fast, with 400m (2-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 8M (approx 84 mins) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 20M (approx 3:20) - first 10M (105 mins) easy, last 10M (95 mins) at marathon pace

Week Fourteen (39M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 6 x 1000m (5:15) at 10K pace, with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 7M (70 mins) steady
Thu 6M - 1M jog, 4M (38 mins) at marathon pace, then 1M easy
Fri Rest
Sat 4M (approx 40 mins) fartlek or 5K parkrun
Sun 15M (2:30) steady

Week Fifteen (29M)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 10 x 400m (2 mins) at mile/5K speed fast with 100m (1-min) jog recoveries, then 1M jog
Wed 6M (63 mins) easy
Thu 5M - 1M jog, then 3M (27 mins) at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog
Fri Rest
Sat 3M (31 mins) easy
Sun 10M (1:40) steady

Week Sixteen (14M plus race)
Mon Rest
Tue 1M jog, then 12 x 200m (55 secs fast), with 200m (1-min) jog recoveries, the 1M jog
Wed 4M (42 mins) easy, with 5 x 100m strides at marathon pace
Thu 3M (31 mins) easy, with 4 x 100m strides at marathon pace
Fri Rest
Sat 2M (approx 21 mins) easy, in racing kit, with 3 x 100m strides at marathon pace
Sun The race


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Discuss this article

I thought with marathon plans you were supposed to have an easier long run every 4 weeks, so 3 weeks getting longer then one week lower mileage for recovery. That does not seem to happen here. Am I mistaken?
Posted: 01/12/2012 at 18:54

Yes-most do have a cut back week, this one just seems to not actually progress steadily, but never really cuts back- that seems odd- there are planty other options around- perhaps look out for hal higdon, or p&d schedules instead? I also don't know how the person writing these expects you to know what marathon time you are aiming for, unless you've done several before.

Good luck!


Posted: 02/12/2012 at 10:42

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