Marathon 12-week advanced running guide

This training guide will get you improving your marathon time in 12 weeks.

If you have completed a couple of marathons and are looking to aim for a personal best (PB), then this training program is for you.

Everyone is an individual and your base level of fitness may vary. For those who have already been doing some running, this general program should help increase your speed and endurance so that you can achieve a PB.

This 12-week training guide is just that, a guide, so feel free to be a little flexible with it so that it works for you.

Download your marathon 12-week training guide as a pdf

Training days explained

Long runs: The key to the guide is the long run on weekends, which ranges from 16km to 32km. Consistency and quality is the goal of these long runs – run at a comfortable pace, find your rhythm and enjoy building your endurance.

Run consistently: Do your long runs at a comfortable pace – do not run at your goal marathon pace as this will cause too much regular stress on your body leading to fatigue and possible injury.

Run home: On the long runs, use your experience as a runner to determine how you are feeling. If you feel fresh and have a good amount of energy, having run at a comfortable pace, you can slightly increase your pace and rhythm to cover the last of the distance. Keep in mind that consistency is more important than speed on your long runs.

Midweek training: Sessions during the week should be done at a solid, consistent pace – below race pace.

Hill runs: In the guide hill runs are included on Thursdays. Hill runs are mixed in with tempo and interval runs for variety, key to endurance training. Hills will strengthen your quadriceps muscles and there is less impact running up a hill than running fast on the flat.  Find a hill roughly about 400m long, run up the hill solidly, with a sustained and consistent effort, then jog (or walk) back down and repeat.

Interval training: Best completed on an athletics track, but can be done anywhere, interval training in this guide is designed around longer, sustained, speed efforts of 800m. Run the 800m at faster-than-marathon pace, rest by jogging and/or walking 400m, then start again.

Tempo runs: A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle. The peak speed will last for about 3-6 minutes in the middle of the run. A 30-40 minute tempo run would start with 10-15mins easy running, build to peak speed during the next 10-20 minutes and finish with 5-10 minutes easy running. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for those few minutes mentioned above. You should feel fresh after a tempo run, not fatigued.

Pace: Most of the Saturday runs are done at race pace. This is defined as the pace you need to run to achieve your personal best. If you are aiming to beat a 3:30 marathon time then your pace would be 4:58/km. Therefore when you run your pace runs you need to run them at this speed.

Rest: Days designated to rest are very important. Muscles regenerate and get stronger during rest and rest helps prevent injury. The key to this guide is consistency – so if you are feeling particularly tired at any stage, take an extra rest day and get your energy back to keep going.

Download the full guide here.

Recommended reading - Eat clean recipe book

Recipes

Wild Quinoa Salad Recipe

A colourful, nutty salad to brighten up your summer weeknights.

Read more
Recipes

Goji-Nut Bar Recipe

Packed with the protein of nuts and the natural sweetness of dates, these snack bars are a winner

Read more
Recipes

Apple-Passion Bircher Recipe

Start your day out right with a fantastically fresh and light bircher muesli

Read more
Recipes

Mini oat pancakes recipe

Indulge your tastebuds in these sweet and nutritious pancakes.

Read more
Recipes

Zucchini and Carrot Salad Recipe

Mix it up with buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice and add avocado sauce for a finishing touch

Read more
Recipes

Coco-Cacao Truffles Recipe

Power up your afternoon with these scrummy treats

Read more
Recipes

Papaya, Coconut and Flax Smoothie Recipe

Fresh and light, this papaya and coconut smoothie whisks you away to a tropical island

Read more
Recipes

Avocado Sauce Recipe

Creamy and delicious, this avocado sauce is great for dressings, tacos, as a spread or as a dip

Read more
Recipes

Herbed Buckwheat with Brown Rice and Quinoa Recipe

Get the most out of your grains with this nutritious blend

Read more
Recipes

Lentil Salad Recipe

Whip up this salad in a flash for a warm, crunchy and herb-infused dish

Read more
Recipes

Sweet Potato Pizza Toast Recipe

A healthy way to indulge your pizza craving, with the rich goodness of sweet potato and tomato

Read more
Recipes

Brown Rice Fritters Recipe

These yummy and nutritious fritters are delicious in salads, sandwiches and wraps

Read more
Recipes

Seeded Snack Bar Recipe

Crunch on these tasty snack bars for a revitalising afternoon lift

Read more
Recipes

Vermicelli Noodle Salad Recipe

A crunchy, veggie-ful dish to keep you feeling nourished and vibrant

Read more
Recipes

Spinach Sesame Recipe

Bring out the green goodness of this nutritional powerhouse

Read more
Recipes

Broccolini and Cauliflower Soup Recipe

This creamy soup is as filling as it is flavoursome

Read more
Recipes

Sweet Potato Hummus Recipe

Impress your guests with a yummy rosemary-infused hummus

Read more
Recipes

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

Did someone say fries? Try a lighter take on a fast-food classic with the goodness of sweet potato

Read more
Recipes

Blueberry and Lemon Infused Water Recipe

Refresh and recharge with this sweet, light summer beverage

Read more
Recipes

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Here's how you make Brussels sprouts delicious- seriously

Read more
Recipes

Mini Chocolate Cakes Recipe

These naturally sweet little cakes are the perfect chocolatey treat

Read more
Recipes

Green Smoothie Recipe

Get your green fix with this refreshing smoothie, the perfect way to energise your day

Read more
Recipes

Sweet Potato Medley Quinoa Recipe

With the fresh flavours of pomegranate and avocado, this colourful salad is a summery delight

Read more
Recipes

Pumpkin and pea risotto recipe

Nothing says comfort like a creamy risotto – and this one is as light as it is tasty

Read more
Recipes

Fresh Salsa Recipe

You'll never buy packaged salsa again with this yummy recipe

Read more
Recipes

Bean Salad Recipe

Chop up your veggies, toss them in a jar - this colourful and filling salad couldn't be easier

Read more
Recipes

Spicy Bean Dip Recipe

Light and tasty, this protein-rich dip is sure to be a hit.

Read more
Recipes

Homemade Toasted Muesli recipe

This muesli is quick and so yummy – especially when you have a serve straight from the oven.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.