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Beginner Marathon Training Plan

The Get-Across-The-Line Plan

This beginner-friendly plan, which is meant for first-time marathoners who have run 15-25 miles weekly for at least 3 months, is designed by Andrew Kastor, an accomplished runner, president of the High Sierra Striders and husband of Olympic bronze-medalist and amazing marathoner Deena Kastor. (Sorry to say, it does not guarantee Deena-esque times, but does aim to get you across the line happy and healthy.) Also, I’m posting it as I get it, which is in four week chunks.
If you’re interested other plans, engineered by Kastor, for everything from a beginner 10k to an advanced marathon, check out these options for sale on Training Peaks.

M Tu W Th F Sa Su
Week 1 Off 3 XC 3 4 XC 6
Week 2 Off 4 XC 4 4 XC 7
Week 3 Off 4 XC 5 4 XC 8
Week 4 Off 4 XC 5 4 XC 9
Week 5 Off 4 XC 6 4 XC 8
Week 6 Off 4 XC 6 4 XC 12
Week 7 Off 4 XC 7 4 XC 12
Week 8 Off 4 XC 7 4 XC 14
Week 9 Off 4 XC 8 4 XC 15
Week 10 Off 4 XC 8 4 XC 16
Week 11 Off 4 XC 6 4 XC 17
Week 12 Off 4 XC 8 4 XC 18
Week 13 Off 4 XC 5 4 XC 20
Week 14 Off 4 XC 8 4 XC 14
Week 15 Off 4 XC 6 4 XC 10
Week 16 Off 4 XC 5 3 XC 26.2!
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Monday: Off.
Tuesday: Run at a conversational pace.
Wednesday: 60 minutes of non-impact exercise (bike, swimming, elliptical).
Thursday: Run at conversational pace. At end of run, do 4-6 sets of strides: gradual accelerations of about 80 meters or 10-15 seconds. The stride should end with you at about 90% of maximum speed.
Friday: Run at conversational pace.
Saturday: 60 minutes of non-impact exercise (bike, swimming, elliptical).
Sunday: Most important run of the week. Run at conversational pace; be sure to drink a fluid/carbohydrate/electrolyte replacement drink every 20-25 minutes on this run.
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28 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2010 11:27 am

    I LOVE that you are sharing this with us. I am going back to work in a few weeks so a plan like this is a must if I want to do a fall marathon. My running times begin at 5 am. Can’t wait to keep track alongside you!

  2. Melissa permalink
    July 19, 2010 11:46 am

    Wow…thank you for sharing! I start my (first!) marathon training in 2 weeks and have been cobbling together various plans, I am really excited to see the plan that Andrew has created!

  3. Dede permalink
    July 19, 2010 2:10 pm

    Thank you from me too. I’m a little ahead of this plan in terms of miles per day, but it helps to firm up my plan. I am running my first full in Santa Barbara in Nov. 6, and while I am excited, I am also a little nervous. I want to make sure that I am fully trained and ready. I love long runs; can’t seem to explain to people why. “Getting lost in my head” just doesn’t seem to make sense to most non-runners. Recently I got ahold of my hs cross country coach, and was so proud to tell him I was running again: a few 5k’s, a few 10k’s, and a few 1/2’s which are my favorite… Now, the ultimate hurdle. Full, here I come. Watch out, “Momma’s runnin’ “.

  4. Megan permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:32 pm

    A HUGE thank you from me too!! My husband and I are targetting Seattle at the end of November and I needed something easy for him to settle into!! This is PERFECT!!

    Thanks Dimity and happy training!! I’m thrilled you are more excited too!!

  5. Brenda permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I’m trying for a fall marathon too (my first). I ran (no pun intended) into a new achilles injury while training earlier in the year so didn’t run the spring marathan I’d registered for. I’d rather stay as close to injury free as possible rather than run a marathon too soon. As such, I think I’m more of a 3x/week runner than a 4-or-more x/week runner. I’d be interested to know if I should still be targeting the weekly total distance (and if so, how to best spread the distance across those 3 runs), or just skip one of the shorter runs entirely and have a lower weekly total. I’ll print this off, jot down the km equivalents (I’m from Canada), and see how close I can can stick with a plan.

    • July 20, 2010 11:43 am

      Hey Brenda–
      I think you’ve got a good idea: start with the plan, see how your body does, and adjust accordingly. If anything, I’d skip the shortest run of the week and not add the mileage onto the total. But I would probably crosstrain that day to get your body used to a higher workload. Whatever you do, if your achilles flares up, back off and heal that. Sounds like you already know to do that, but just playing mom here. 🙂

  6. JnetRuns permalink
    July 19, 2010 5:02 pm

    Thanks so much for this. I’m doing a half marathon in Nov and I can use this plan but just cut the long runs down, I think. I struggled in the last mile of my first half back in March; I was using RW Smart Coach plan and I think 3 runs a week was not enough for me so I’m going to give this one a go. Good luck in your training.

  7. Caroline permalink
    July 19, 2010 7:20 pm

    thank you for sharing…I am interested in knowing what you will do for XT days
    I struggle with those days..always feel like I did not do enough

    • July 20, 2010 11:46 am

      Hey Caroline–
      XT: I actually work pretty hard on those days, mostly b/c my running now is as slow and easy as it goes. I ride a bike in the basement (we have an indoor trainer) with a heart rate monitor, and have a goal for the workout: I’ll post some above when I do them. Also, the gym is good: I like to do the gauntlet (the step machine where the steps rotate, not where you keep your feet on pedals). O.k., don’t really like to do that, but it gets the job done. Same with stationary bike: work harder than you think you should. A heart rate monitor is a good gauge. For steady state on the bike, I keep it between 140-150, which is the equivalent of 150-160 on a run, or a pretty easy run. Hope that helps.

  8. Sherisa permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:58 pm

    I echo the thanks and this is perfect timing. Today, I need to rest. Tomorrow I will join in knowing that I’m working alongside others. I’m pretty sure that is going to help when I don’t feel like it. I’ll just imagine all these women waiting for me to show up!

    • July 20, 2010 11:46 am

      Oh Sherisa: we’re all waiting for you. Don’t forget that. 🙂

  9. Kristine permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:24 pm

    Thanks for posting! I am also doing NYC and it’s been 3 yrs since my last Marathon; I have several 1/2 marathons lined up as “training runs” and this will also help me get to the finish line, thank you!!

  10. Rebecca permalink
    July 20, 2010 5:33 am

    This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I’m doing a half-marathon in October and will use your plan and just shorten the long runs 🙂

  11. July 20, 2010 3:10 pm

    Any advice on adjusting the chart for a half? I’m just getting back out there after stopping when my knees started really hurting me at 6 miles a year ago. Maybe since I was running every day that was the problem. Anyway, I can do 3 miles no problem, been pushing it back out to 5, hills & straights pretty even on my course.

    I think I need to try & get some Yoga in to ease my muscles. Time is so limited!

    Also, any advice on working up speed? This is not my strong point at all. I am a slow runner, if you can call it running. Thank you!

  12. July 23, 2010 3:19 pm

    Am I missing something? I only see four weeks of the plan and only three days of week one on Dimity’s plan. Help?

    • July 26, 2010 7:22 am

      No, Sylvia. Not missing anything. As it stands right now, I’ve only seen four weeks of the plan. But I’ve asked Andrew if he can send me more. Will keep you posted. And I’m just a slacker when it comes to doing a log, but I’ve just updated up ’til today. Will try to do better. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      • July 26, 2010 9:07 am

        Gotcha! By the way, I gave you and Sarah a shout out in my blog this week. Your book could not have arrived in my mailbox at a more needed time. I’m really enjoying it.

  13. Amanda permalink
    July 24, 2010 10:38 am

    Are you going to share the plan in it’s entirety or just as you do it? I’m looking for a plan for the Vegas full in December, after having done two halfs (and one in October). I was focused on the Higdon Intermediate 1, but I’m not sure I can run 5 days a week because of kids’ schedules. And, did you get needled?

    • July 26, 2010 7:42 am

      Hey Amanda–I just asked Andrew if I can get more weeks early (I only have four weeks now.) Will keep you posted. No needling yet, but it’s on my short list of things to do/investigate if Pilates and rolfing don’t produce the combo I need. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  14. Wendy permalink
    August 22, 2010 7:41 pm

    Can you recommend any good 1/2 marathon plans? Could be as simple as cutting this one in 1/2? I am running the Rock ‘n Roll in San Antonio in November. Thanks.

    • August 23, 2010 2:00 pm

      Wendy – I am currently using Hal Higdon’s 1/2 marathon plan.

      • Wendy permalink
        August 23, 2010 5:40 pm

        Thank you Syl. I have seen this plan. I like that he’s not trying make me run fast! Ha.

        • August 24, 2010 6:34 am

          Ha, ha. His beginner plan is definitely all about building endurance!

  15. jose permalink
    August 24, 2010 12:50 pm

    I like u plan,Im first time marathon men. Im focus on los angeles marathon on 2011

  16. April 20, 2011 5:26 pm

    I’m bookmarking this page. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. July 20, 2013 7:52 pm

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