Marathon: The Training Plan

Picture of people doing cardio training on treadmill in gym with the words "The Training Plan" and ApexNetwork Physical Therapy logo on the bottom of the image.

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Congratulations! You have signed up for a marathon, ideally, your upcoming race is about 5- 6 months out, September – October 2023, so you will be able to give yourself plenty of time to train accordingly, 16-22 weeks. One of the most common causes of a running injury is building mileage too quickly, so give yourself plenty of time to build up your base. It is recommended to consistently run 20-30 miles per week for about 6 months to 1 year before committing to training for a marathon. Most runners will be successful if they have a specific training plan. These are easy to come by and you can find or purchase training plans on the internet, or through a local running store.  Here are some of my suggestions if you are looking for some good resources to get started.   


Some Resources

A few great resources to find multiple training plans for runners of varying levels are,,  or do a search for Jack Daniels Ph.D., (not the whiskey guy) he wrote a book called The Running Formula, which has specific plans to meet your training intensity, fitness level and selected race distance. Some training plans require a purchase, but these usually will be more detailed plans and may have interactive, weekly e-mails to help motivate and tailor your training as you go.   


How Do I Know What Level to Select?  

There are special considerations to be noted between experienced runners and more novice runners to manage training load and injury prevention. Different reasons may drive your decision to choose to train for a marathon, a competitive athlete’s training will look very different than the recreational runner whose primary interest is fitness, and the novice runner, who has less than 1 year of experience with consistent running. There are several systematic reviews that cite running injury risk increases in novice runners.  Factors that contribute to running injury include volume and increased loading rates. Avoiding injury and overuse is key when beginning a long-duration and high-intensity training block.   


Some key considerations when selecting the appropriate training plan: 



If your running history consists of > 1 year of regular training between 20-30 miles per week consider the novice or beginner training plan. These plans tend to involve less mileage and have more cross-training and recovery days built in. They will still build your base and endurance level appropriately, reducing the risk of overloading with a lower volume of mileage. Consider a beginner training plan also if you have experienced an injury in the past 0- 3 months because a previous running-related injury is the most predictive of a new injury.  



Ideal for the running athlete who is regularly running between 32-48 miles per week over 5-6 days. These plans may have timed goals associated with them and may be anywhere from 16 –20 weeks in duration. They will still have rest and cross-training days built in, however, to achieve the higher volume of training you will be running more consistent and consecutive days per week. Also, great for someone with a marathon or half marathon race experience and has a goal of completing the race with a particular finish time.    


Advanced or Competitive Training:

These tend to be for runners who have a higher volume of base training and are currently running between 40 –50 miles per week, and will build up to 60 or more miles per week over 6-7 days. They have fewer rest days built in, longer base mileage, and will also include more workouts, tempo runs, etc. Select if you have a competitive goal time and can commit to the training workload. Also consider that these plans have fewer rest days and therefore may not be conducive for someone with a busy schedule, lifestyle, or traveling frequently. If you are planning to run a Fall marathon but do not intend to train consistently over the summer due to travel or possible weather inconveniences, this may not be the selection for you this time of year. 



WRITTEN BY: Angela Dirnbeck PT, DPT, CMPT 

Angela, Physical Therapist at Chesterfield, MO ApexNetwork Physical Therapy, working on a patient.BIO:  Angela is a Physical Therapist and clinic manager at the Chesterfield ApexNetwork location in Chesterfield, MO.  She  graduated in 2013 with her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Des Moines University.   She has extensive training in manual therapy and a certification  from the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT) and has been with ApexNetwork for almost 10 years and enjoys treating a variety of orthopedic and musculoskeletal injuries, including runners and endurance athletes.   Angela has a comprehensive understanding of injury prevention and treatment being a distance runner herself for > 20 years.  She competed as an NCAA D1 athlete in cross country and track for the University of Dayton.  Following  undergraduate competition she began running half marathon and full marathon distances, completing 4  marathons, 2 of which were the Boston Marathon.  Over her years of practice, she has incorporated a lot of her experience and knowledge into treatment and patient care and has helped many patients and athletes rehabilitate and  teach biomechanics for greater awareness of  injury prevention and return to sport.