RW’s Ultimate Marathon Build-up

The time has come to take the first step on the long, hard road to marathon glory. But don't worry; we'll be with you every step of the way, whether you're looking to crack three hours or simply aiming to complete the marathon in daylight.

Here, you'll find Runner's World's finest marathon schedules. You'll also find advice on making the most of your training sessions, tips for overcoming obstacles, and success stories from Runner's World readers who hit their targets.

  • The links below are all part of our premium section, for subscribers to the UK edition of Runner's World magazine. Subscribers get a great online package, as well as 30 per cent off the UK's favourite running magazine. If you're not a subscriber yet, find out more - or see our basic marathon schedules.

The Schedules

Which schedule should you choose? By each schedule, we list suggested 10K and half-marathon race performances that you should have achieved or think you can achieve during the programme. There's also a monthly goal for each schedule, which will help you to see whether or not you're on target.

All the schedules follow a similar pattern and to some extent can be mixed and matched. For instance, if you are following the sub-3:00 schedule and miss a week's training with a cold, you could restart on the sub-3:15 or sub-3:30 schedule until you feel ready to resume the sub-3:00 schedule.

If you fall between two schedules – for example, you think you can run 4:15 – follow the slightly faster schedule and just do the runs at a slower pace. For the small number of you who plan to run much faster than three hours, either do the suggested runs slightly quicker (eg run the steady runs at 6:30 pace instead of 6:50, if you are aiming for 2:50) or add three slow morning four-mile runs (preferably Tuesday to Thursday).

  • Sub-3:00 Starts at 35-40 miles per week, over six or seven sessions. Eventual standard: sub-1:23 for a half-marathon; sub 38 minutes for 10K.
  • Sub-3:15 Starts at 30-35 miles per week, over six sessions. Eventual standard: sub-1:30 for a half-marathon; sub 40 minutes for 10K.
  • Sub-3:30 Starts at 25-30 miles per week over 5 sessions. Eventual standard: sub-1:37 for a half-marathon; sub 43 minutes for 10K.
  • Sub-3:45 Starts at around 25 miles per week; you ought to be able to run for 1:15 non-stop. Eventual standard: sub-1:45 for a half-marathon; sub 46 minutes for 10K.
  • Sub-4:00 Starts at around 20 miles per week; you ought to be able to run for an hour non-stop. Eventual standard: sub-1:50 for a half-marathon; sub 50 minutes for 10K.
  • Sub-4:15 Starts at around 24 miles per week, over six sessions.
  • Sub-4:30 Starts at around 20-30 minutes four or five times a week. Eventual standard: sub-2:00 for a half-marathon; sub 53 minutes for 10K.
  • Get You Round The run-walk programme. Starts with around three hours a week over four sessions. Eventual standard: enough to enjoy the marathon and finish with a smile on your face.

The Extras

Help!


Your marathon training questions - answered!

How I beat...


Hit these goals - just copy these people...
  • Three hours, four hours, my first marathon

How I overcame



What if...


Last-minute disaster - changeable weather - or even the race going too well... here's the complete guide to getting on top of any marathon situation.

Checklists


Packed your pins, written down your splits and found your lucky socks? Here's a final reminder of what to do and what to take for the big day.