Three Runs a Week Marathon Training Program For a Faster Finish

The FIRST to the Finish Training Program was developed for marathon runners who want to try to get faster.

If you are not an experienced runner and would prefer a “Three Runs a Week” training program to help you complete your first marathon then please click here

The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) marathon training program is based on results from FIRST’s 2003 and 2004 marathon training studies. Results indicated that runners were able to run a successful marathon running only 3 days a week, following a specific training plan, and cross-training. For more on the background to the FIRST program please click here

Pacing is a crucial component to this training program. From our running experience and previous research, it appears that training intensity is the most important factor for improving the physiological processes that determine running performance. Training program paces are based on current best 10K RACE pace.

This training program has produced good results with Key Run #1 run on Tuesday, Key Run #2 run on Thursday and the long run completed on the weekend. Runners can do the three key workouts in any order throughout the week; however, you need to allow at least one day between the key workouts. Runners are encouraged to either cross-train or complete easy runs on other days of the week.

 

Key Run #1 Paces

(adjust from 10K race pace)

Key Run #2 Paces

(threshold runs)

Key Run #3 Paces

(long runs)

  400m @ 10K pace – (55-60 sec.) Short Tempo (ST) = 10K pace Planned marathon pace (PMP)If unsure of PMP, use 10K + 40 sec.

for PMP then adjust per schedule.

  600m @ 10K pace – (50-55 sec.) Mid Tempo (MT) = 10K+15 sec.
  800m @ 10K pace – (45-50 sec.) Long Tempo (LT) = 10K+30 sec.
1000m @ 10K pace – (42-47 sec.) Example: 42:00 10K race is a 6:45/mile pace;*  The pace for 800m would be a 6:00/mile pace or ~ 3:00 for the 800 m

*  The pace for a MT run would be 7:00 / mile ( 6:45 + 15 sec.)

*  The pace for a PMP long run is 7:25; a PMP + 30 sec run is 7:55 /mile

1200m @ 10K pace – (40-45 sec.)
1600m @ 10K pace – (35-40 sec.)
2000m @ 10K pace – (30-35 sec.)

For Key Run #1, RI= Rest Interval, which may be a timed rest/recovery interval or a specified distance that you walk/jog.

FIRST Marathon Training Program Sample Week

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cross-train or Easy Run

Key Run #1

Cross-train
30 – 45 min.

Key Run #2

Off

Key Run #3

Cross-train 30 – 45 min.
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

18

10-20 minute warm-up

12 x 400 (90 sec. RI)

10 minute cool-down6 mile run: 2 miles easy,

3 miles @ Short Tempo pace

1 mile easyDistance: 13 miles

Pace: PMP + 30 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

17

10-20 minute warm-up

 

400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400 (400 RI)

10 minute cool-down5 mile run @ Mid Tempo paceDistance: 10 miles

Pace: PMP + 15 sec. / mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

16

10-20 minute warm-up

 

6 x 800m (90 sec. RI)

10 minute cool-down6 mile run: 2 miles easy,

3 miles @ Short Tempo pace

1 mile easyDistance: 13 miles

Pace: PMP + 30 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

15

10-20 minute warm-up

 

1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200 (200m RI)

10 minute cool-down7 miles @ long tempo paceDistance: 15 miles

Pace: PMP + 45 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

14

10-20 minute warm-up

 

5 x 1K (400m RI )

10 minute cool-down5 mile run @ Mid-Tempo paceDistance: 17 miles

Pace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

13

10-20 minute warm-up

 

3 x 1600m (1 min. RI)

10 minute cool-down6 mile run: 2 miles easy,

3 miles @ Short Tempo pace

1 mile easyDistance: 18 miles

Pace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

12

10-20 minute warm-up

 

2 x 1200m (2:00 RI);
4 x 800m (2:00 RI)

10 minute cool-down5 mile run @ Mid-Tempo paceDistance: 20 miles

Pace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

11

10-20 minute warm-up

 

6 x 800m ( 1:30 RI)

10 minute cool-down8 miles @ Long Tempo paceDistance: 13 miles

Pace: PMP + 15 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

10

10-20 minute warm-up

 

2 x (6 x 400) ( 1:30 RI)
( 2:30 RI between sets)

10 minute cool-down6 mile run: 2 miles easy,

3 miles @ Short Tempo pace

1 mile easyDistance: 18 miles

Pace: PMP + 30 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

9

10-20 minute warm-up

 

1 mile (400 RI), 2 miles (800 RI), 2 x 800 (400 RI)

10 minute cool-down

10 miles

@ PMP OR 10K + 40 sec.

Distance: 15 miles

 

Pace: PMP + 20 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

8

10-20 minute warm-up

 

3 x (2 x 1200m) (2:00 RI)
(4:00 between sets)

10 minute cool-down5 mile run @ Mid-Tempo paceDistance: 20 miles

Pace: PMP + 30-45 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

7

10-20 minute warm-up

 

1K, 2K, 1K, 1K (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

10 miles

@ PMP OR 10K + 40 sec.

Distance: 15 miles

 

Pace: PMP + 10 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

6

10-20 minute warm-up

 

3 x 1600m (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

5 miles

@ PMP OR 10K + 40 sec.

Distance: 20 miles

 

Pace: PMP + 30 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

5

10-20 minute warm-up

 

10 x 400 (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

8 miles

@ PMP OR 10K + 40 sec.

Distance: 15 miles

 

Pace: PMPWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

4

10-20 minute warm-up

 

3 x 2000m (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

5 miles

@ PMP OR 10K + 40 sec.

Distance: 20 miles

 

Pace: PMP +30 sec./mileWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

3

10-20 minute warm-up

 

6 x 800m (1:30 RI)

10 minute cool-down5 mile run @ Mid-Tempo paceDistance: 13 miles

Pace: PMPWeeks to GoKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

2

10-20 minute warm-up

 

5 x 1K (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down6 mile run: 2 miles easy,

3 miles @ Short Tempo pace

1 mile easyDistance: 8 – 10 miles

Pace: PMPRace WeekKey Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

1

10-20 minute warm-up

 

6 x 400 (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down3 mile run @ PMPMarathon Day

Distance: 26.2miles

Pace: Marathon Pace