Three Runs a Week Marathon Training Program To Get You to the Finish


The Finish with FIRST Training Program is designed for runners looking to complete their first marathon.

If you are an experienced runner and a looking for a “Three Runs a Week” training program for a faster marathon time then please click here

The Finish with FIRST training program below includes weekly long runs starting at 8 miles and gradually increasing to 20 miles three weeks before the marathon date.

Previous FIRST marathon training results indicate that runners are able to run a successful marathon running only 3 days a week, following a specific training plan, and cross-training. 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.

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. The paces in training program are based on current best 10K RACE pace.

For Key Run #1, the pace is faster than your current 10K pace. For example, a 45 minute 10K run averages 7:15 / mile during the 10K race. For Key Run #1, the pace averages 45 seconds per mile faster than 10K race pace. In this case, 6:30 / mile (7:15 – 0:45 = 6:30/mile) pace for the given distance. A 400m repeat would be run in 1:37 while an 800m repeat would be run in 3:15, for example. The amount of rest/recovery interval (RI) between repeats is indicated in parentheses and may be a timed rest/recovery interval or distance that you walk/jog.

For Key Run #2, the pace is slightly slower than 10K race pace but faster than average training pace. This pace is referred to as “tempo” or “threshold” pace. Using the 45 minute 10K time as an example, the tempo pace for Key Run #2 is 15 to 30 seconds slower than race pace or 7:30 – 7:45 / mile.

For Key Run #3, the pace is determined by your Planned Marathon Pace ( PMP = 10K pace plus 45 seconds). For the 45 minute 10K performer, PMP = 8:00 /mile pace (7:15 plus 45 seconds).


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 minute warm-up6 x (1 minute fast then 3 min. easy)

10 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,2 miles @ Tempo pace

2 miles easy

Distance: 8 milesPace: PMP + 30 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

17

13 minute warm-up6 x (1 minute fast then 2 min. easy)

13 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,2 miles @ Tempo pace

2 miles easy

Distance: 9 milesPace: PMP + 15 sec. / mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

16

10 minute warm-up4 x (3 minute fast then 3 min. easy)

10 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,3 miles @ Tempo pace

1 miles easy

Distance: 10 milesPace: PMP + 30 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

15

10-20 minute warm-up12 x 400 (90 sec. RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy4 mile run @ Tempo pace

1 mile easy

Distance: 11 milesPace: PMP + 45 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

14

10-20 minute warm-up6 x 800m (90 sec. RI)

10 minute cool-down

5 miles @ Tempo pace Distance: 12 milesPace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

13

10-20 minute warm-up3 x 1600m (3 min. RI)

10 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,3 miles @ Tempo pace

2 miles easy

Distance: 10 milesPace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

12

10-20 minute warm-up5 x 1K (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy4 miles @ Tempo pace

1 mile easy

Distance: 12 milesPace: PMP + 45-60 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

11

10-20 minute warm-up5 x (2 min. fast / 2 min. easy)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy7 miles @ Tempo pace Distance: 13 milesPace: PMP + 15 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

10

10-20 minute warm-up4 x 800m ( 1:30 RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy5 mile run @ Tempo pace Distance: 14 milesPace: PMP + 30 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

9

10-20 minute warm-up2 x (4 x 400) (1:30 RI)
(2:30 RI between sets)

10 minute cool-down

8 miles

10K pace + 40 sec.

Distance: 12 milesPace: PMP + 20 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

8

10-20 minute warm-up1 mile (400m RI), 2 miles (800m RI), 2 x 800 (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,3 miles @ Tempo pace

2 miles easy

Distance: 16 milesPace: PMP + 30-45 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

7

10-20 minute warm-up1K, 2K, 1K, 1K (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

9 miles

10K pace + 40 sec.

Distance: 13 milesPace: PMP + 10 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

6

10-20 minute warm-up3 x 1600m (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy4 miles @ Tempo pace

1 mile easy

Distance: 18 milesPace: PMP + 30 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

5

10-20 minute warm-up10 x 400 (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy5 mile run @ Tempo pace Distance: 10 milesPace: PMP
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

4

10-20 minute warm-up5 x (2 min. fast / 2 min. easy)

10 minute cool-down

8 miles

10K pace + 40 sec.

Distance: 20 milesPace: PMP +30 sec./mile
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

3

10-20 minute warm-up2 x 2 mile (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

1 mile easy5 mile run @ Tempo pace Distance: 13 milesPace: PMP
Weeks to Go Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

2

10-20 minute warm-up5 x 1K (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

2 miles easy,3 miles @ Tempo pace

1 mile easy

Distance: 8 – 10 milesPace: PMP
Race Week Key Run Workout #1 Key Run Workout #2 Key Run Workout #3

1

10-20 minute warm-up6 x 400 (400m RI)

10 minute cool-down

3 mile run @ PMP Marathon DayDistance: 26.2miles

Pace: Marathon Pace