A full 26.2 mile race is certainly a major undertaking, and one that many people never complete even once in a life time. If you’re reading this post, though, you’re likely a regular runner that’s looking to tackle the marathon distance again – and that’s awesome! This 12 week marathon training plan for intermediate runners is ideal for improving your marathon pace and achieving those PRs.
This plan was produced in partnership with the coaches over at Multisport Mastery – find more details for them at the bottom of the post, and if you’re looking for individualized help as an intermediate or advanced athlete, definitely give them a shout.
Here’s everything you need to know about this intermediate 12 week marathon training plan:
Feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post to view and print the training plan, but be sure to read over these important tips before starting it:
Who is this training plan for?
This plan is designed for intermediate runners who have completed at least one marathon recently, and are looking to improve upon their performance.
As different athletes have different definitions of “intermediate”, let your own intuition guide you when it comes to using this plan. We’ve provided some suggestions as far as intermediate runners who may be on different sides of the spectrum (i.e those who are more on the advanced side versus those who are more on the newer-intermediate side) when it comes to cross training versus rest on Mondays, and the long run structure on Saturdays.
But above all, the plan should be something that seems challenging yet attainable given your current fitness level. If you consider yourself an intermediate athlete but this plan seems too difficult, consider looking at one of our beginner plans and adding in an additional speedwork day instead.
Is this plan good for beginners?
This plan is not designed for true beginners, as there is a considerable amount of speedwork involved.
Instead, beginners can opt to use either the 6 month marathon training plan or the 20 week marathon training schedule – both include a far more gradual increase in mileage and less speedwork to keep beginners injury-free.
What level of fitness do I need to start?
Athletes should be regularly running a minimum of 25 miles per week with a comfortable long run of at least 10-12 miles prior to beginning this plan.
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician; check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
What is the time commitment for this intermediate marathon training schedule?
The plan is designed to help you get from a solid running base to peak marathon condition in 12 weeks.
It includes 5 run workouts each week with an optional cross-training day on Mondays. Mid-week runs range from 20 minutes to approximately 90 minutes. Weekly long runs range from 8 miles to 20 miles.
Your Weekly Schedule
Your week is broken down as follows:
- Monday – Rest or cross training
- Tuesday – Track speed workouts
- Wednesday – Easy runs
- Thursday – “Strength Runs” – Hills, Pace, or Tempo Runs
- Friday – Rest
- Saturday – Long runs
- Sunday – Easy runs
Here are the descriptions you’ll see on the 12 week intermediate marathon training schedule so you’ll know how to complete each workout:
CROSS TRAINING workouts – For the purposes of this training plan, cross training should be low-intensity/low-impact exercise such as gentle yoga, easy cycling, or swimming to promote recovery.
EZ Runs – Just like it sounds, these runs should be easy and comfortably paced. Aim to complete them around 60-90 seconds slower than your goal marathon pace. Don’t try to “fit in” more speedwork. These easy runs are necessary to promote recovery and training adaptations.
PACE runs – These should be done at your goal marathon pace, and should start with 10-15 minutes of easy running to warm up, along with 10-15 minutes of easy running to cool down.
TEMPO runs – These should be done around 30 seconds faster than your goal marathon pace, and should start with 10-15 minutes of easy running to warm up, along with 10-15 minutes of easy running to cool down.
HILL repeats – After a warm up of 10-15 minutes of easy running, run up a hill for 60 seconds, walk back down, run easy for 2 minutes. This is one rep. Repeat as indicated in the schedule and cool down with 10-15 minutes of easy running.
TRACK workouts – On the Tuesday track workouts, you’ll notice a few different connotations listed specific to these runs. These include:
- Mile Pace = pace from a recent mile time trial
- 5K Pace = recent 5K race pace
- 10K Pace = recent 10K race pace
- HM Pace = recent 13.1 race pace
- R = Rest interval
- Descend = start easy and get faster each rep
Long Run Breakdown – The image of the plan below includes the total long run mileage. You can do this mileage as-is, or you can follow the plan as our coaches wrote it with the following pacing strategies. (Note that negative split = run the second half faster than the first half, and you’ll find all the other pacing details above).
- Week 1: 4 miles EZ/ 3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ (12 miles)
- Week 2: 5 miles EZ/3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/1 mile PACE/1 mile TEMPO/2 miles EZ (13 miles)
- Week 3: 14 miles Negative Split
- Week 4: 10 miles all EZ
- Week 5: 5 miles EZ/2 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/1 mile PACE/1 mile TEMPO/5 miles EZ (15 miles)
- Week 6: 4 miles EZ/3 miles PACE/2 miles EZ/3 miles PACE/4 miles EZ (16 miles)
- Week 7: 14 miles Negative Split
- Week 8: 10 miles EZ/6 miles descend by 10 sec. per mile each mile/2 miles EZ (18 miles)
- Week 9: 5 miles EZ/4 miles PACE/2 miles EZ/4 miles PACE/3 miles EZ/2 miles PACE (20 miles)
- Week 10: 4 miles EZ/ 3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ (12 miles)
- Week 11: 3 miles EZ/1 mile PACE/1 mile EZ/1 mile PACE/2 miles EZ (8 miles)
- Week 12: No long run – race prep with 4X(3:30 EZ/1 min. build/:30 fast)
Training Plan Modifications
Depending on where you are in your running journey, you may want to slightly modify this schedule to fit your needs. If you picture a pendulum, this schedule leans towards intermediate athletes who may fall more towards the advanced side.
Of course, there are also plenty of runners that would classify themselves as intermediate but perhaps aren’t ready for the full intensity of this plan. Maybe most of your training has been at a relatively easy intensity. In that case, here are a few modifications you might consider:
- Mondays include an optional cross training day, but some athletes will want to utilize this as a full rest day.
- The long runs include some pace-based work. For athletes on the lower intensity intermediate level, do not worry about the alternating between EZ versus PACE/TEMPO (as shown below). Instead, just complete the miles as listed at an EZ pace.
Warm Ups, Cool Downs, and Stretching:
Remember, all of your Tuesday track workouts and Thursday “strength run” workouts (hills, pace, tempo) should begin with 10-15 min. of easy running to warm up, followed by the Main Set as indicated in the schedule, and conclude with 10-15 minutes of easy running to cool down.
Stretch after your runs. If you struggle with tight muscles on a regular basis, consider adding foam rolling.
12 Week Marathon Training Plan for Intermediate Runners
There you have it! All the key info you need to know to rock your next marathon.
This plan was produced in partnership with Multisport Mastery. Multisport Mastery specializes in individualized performance plans for multisport athletes of all abilities. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, compete in a triathlon, ride in a week-long cycling event or finish an Ironman, they offer customized coaching to bring out the best in each athlete no matter who you are or where you want to go.