Johnson Fitness and Wellness

How to Train for Your First Marathon

Training Plan Marathon
You’re all signed up for your first marathon! Now it’s time to prepare your body and mind for the challenge ahead. This marathon training plan is geared to those who want to train for their first marathon, and who have been running at least 3-4 miles three times per week for 4-6 weeks. If you’re running less, no worries, simply invest in a few more weeks of training to build your running time up to that level so you’re ready to tackle the demands of this program. Keep reading for marathon training tips and tricks for running a strong race! This program is twenty weeks in duration to allow your body time to adapt to the demands of building your mileage up to run the marathon distance, while allowing for life’s detours along the way (such as a vacation or illness). When you download the Best Series First Marathon Training Schedule, you’ll find a gradually progressing 20-week plan that includes three-to-four runs per week, two cross-training days, and one or two rest days. The Zones The plan refers to three training zones. While training for your first marathon, you will spend most of your time in the yellow zone, which means you’re putting in a healthy effort, but could talk without pausing to catch your breath.

Warm ups and Cool Downs

Warm up for at least 5 minutes before every running workout. Start with an easy walk, build to a brisk walk, and close to running pace by the end. This gradually increases breathing rate, heart rate and circulation to the working muscles. Cool down after every run, starting at a brisk pace and slowing towards the end. This will bring your body back to a resting state.

Easy Runs

The shorter, easy yellow zone runs bridge the gap between your long runs, build your aerobic fitness and aid in allowing your body to recover from the demands of the faster and longer runs. If you’re having a tough week, feel free to drop the short, easy run on Friday and run three runs that week instead.


Mix up your program on the cross-training days and include lower impact activities like biking, elliptical, pilates, and strength. For example, you could perform the elliptical machine for 20-30 minutes at an orange zone effort followed by a total body strength program or class. Strength and flexibility are your best friends on this journey. Keep them close, and make sure to include them twice every week because they will keep you running happy and injury free.

Rest Days

These are your off days from training and activity. They aid in passive recovery from the demands of the progressive training plan. It may be tempting to skip them, but don’t. They are as important as the workouts.

Long Runs

The longer runs on the weekends gradually build to twenty miles to prepare you to run the marathon distance. I know what you’re thinking … why not 26 miles? The key is to balance the build up with enough miles to finish, but not so many this first time that you get hurt along the way. Twenty is plenty to prepare you to run 26.2 miles, and it will help you toe the start line healthy and finish strong!

Speed Runs

The speed runs are shorter in time, but pack a punch with red zone running intervals. You’ll improve your speed with these fun runs.

Speed Workout

Speed and Hill Workout

Tempo Runs

These are a favorite among runners because they’re done at an effort that feels good and empowering. It’s somewhere between and easy and hard running effort, and can be quite the cathartic experience when you’re finished.

Tempo Workout

Warm up walking for 3 minutes, starting easy and build to a brisk pace by the end. Finally, tune into your body and let it be your guide. It will tell you when you’re too tired to train and when you’re ready to push farther. Week by week, you’ll improve and get ready to rock your your first marathon. Good luck!
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