The Weekend Lover’s Marathon Training Guide

weekend lover's marathon training guide_edited-1

You guys. I had no idea so many of you runners dread weekend long runs as much as I do!

Fridays certainly produce a halo effect though, don’t they? I mean, even when you have to pull yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn to run 18 miles before work, it’s Friday––which is not only way better than Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but the Friday morning long run also has this ability to make Saturday and Sunday exponentially better too.

Several of you have asked me about my training plan so I put together this Weekend Lover’s Marathon Training Guide which incorporates my weekly workout agenda and long run mileage goals. I put this plan together for myself a few weeks ago essentially by modifying two different marathon training plans from two different running coaches.

Friday long run marathon training plan

Weekly Workout Agenda

My weekly workout agenda for the next 16 weeks incorporates 3 days of running with 2 days of cross-training and 2 days for rest and recovery. I intentionally omitted specific weekday mileage goals to make it more flexible. Personally, I’ve never really been able to sustain increases in both my short run and long run mileages without my legs burning out, so this time I’ll be letting my legs dictate the shorter runs, which will probably range anywhere from 3-5 hilly miles. As far as cross-training goes, I’ll be doing some full-body conditioning + agility classes at the gym in combination with power yoga and 2 strength workouts geared for runners that my darling friend Jacquelyn put together. I’ll be posting them both this coming week if you runners are interested! My active rest days will generally include 2 miles of casual walking (either while I’m commuting or strolling to the farmer’s market) in addition to some light stretching and foam rolling.

Weekly Long Run Mileage

Since this is my first marathon, I’m focusing purely on finishing the long runs which start at 8 miles and increase from there. After comparing a beginner and more intermediate training plan, I decided that incorporating speed work into a 19 mile run was probably too much, too soon––so this one is kind of a hybrid of the two. I’m hoping to stick to it fairly closely but if Week 15 rolls around and I feel like 12 miles the week before the marathon is too much, I won’t hesitate to dial it back a bit.

We’ll be doing the majority of our long runs on Friday mornings but during last week’s run, Erin and I decided to schedule our 2, 20+ milers for early on Saturday morning––purely because we won’t have the time to run, stretch and foam roll and get to work for 9AM.

That and we’re both a little afraid of not being able to keep our eyes open at work later that afternoon.

There you have it! If you missed it, check out these 5 simple breakfast foods to fuel an early morning workout. I’ll be having myself a slice or two of avocado toast before my 10 miler this coming Friday!

Runners, how’d you approached training for your first marathon? Was your plan more rigid or fairly flexible too?

P.S. I just wanted to remind you I’m a Registered Dietitian, not a personal trainer or running coach, and this is a training guide, not a personalized training plan. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen and run safe out there!

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  • I love getting my long runs done during the week so I don’t have to worry. The past few weeks I’ve been doing them very early Saturday morning which also works for me – I don’t like to have to plan around a run on the weekend. My first marathon I followed a somewhat similar plan, although I did one speed work run and was focused on paces – but I was training for a specific time, so I think your plan is perfect for a goal of finishing. SO excited for you! It’s a huge time commitment, but I felt so accomplished just completing the training.

  • Way to focus your approach your way! Marathon training is a huge commitment. I trained with friends and did Saturday morning long runs. I mostly napped, did chores, and ate after Saturday long runs and then could go out with friends (and have some adult beverages) Saturday nights. This worked out for me!

  • I ran one half marathon four years ago, the Disney Princess. Although I ran the race with my girlfriends, we trained separately. I ran did something similar to you, in that I ran two short runs during the week, did two strength training sessions (which were BODYPUMP of course) and did one long run on Saturday or Sunday. I usually ran outside in Orlando, where I lived at the time. I think I got up to about 10 miles before the actual race, which was plenty. Disney races are expensive, and even though the race bag is great and there is tons of entertainment, most of the course is on boring streets behind the theme parks.

    Hope your running is going well this week. :)

  • I’ve only done one long run on a Friday – and it was (only) 10 miles… I used to do my long runs on Sundays but now I just wake up early and get them out of the way on Saturdays. Maybe I’ll start trying Fridays, especially now that I will have more daylight!

  • Your Friday morning dedication seriously impresses me, Elle! I think I would try to do most of my long runs on Friday mornings had I not signed up for a training group. My only concern is that I typically need to curl up in a ball for a few hours after any run longer than 14 miles so those Fridays I would definitely have to take off of work, haha. Can’t wait to continue to follow your training plan!

  • Girl you are speaking my language! I definitely blogged about doing most of my long runs on Friday as I LOVE getting them done and enjoying the weekend!