Marathon | 6-month training programme

Lloyd Anthony Lloyd Anthony Personal Trainer at Nuffield Health
Train for your upcoming marathon with this programme from Personal Trainer Lloyd Anthony.

Marathons have held the reputation as the ultimate physical challenge for centuries, and for good reason. Running 26 miles and 385 yards (those extra yards really count!) takes its toll on your body, no matter what your fitness. It's a mission that many of us feel is beyond us. But every journey begins with a single step and with the proper training and a pinch of dedication, you'll be amazed what you can achieve.

About the programme

The following six-month training programme will help you complete a marathon and could help improve your time if it's not your first marathon. Before you embark on a marathon, you should speak with a GP or health professional who can perform some tests to ensure there are no underlying issues that may prevent you taking part.

The plan requires three runs per week:

  • Speed - shorter, faster  
  • Interval - 200m – 1km distance
  • Endurance - Long and steady 

It also incorporates one to two strength and conditioning sessions per week:

  • Full body resistance
  • Metabolic conditioning 

And one to two active recovery sessions:

  • Myofascial release (foam roller / lacrosse ball / orb / tiger tail / rumble roller)
  • Stretch techniques (PNF / Band assisted/distraction)

Month-by-month programmes

With six months to go you've got plenty of time to prepare for your marathon, no matter how unfit you feel. This first month should be used to build a base level of fitness and start to build confidence in yourself.


In your second month this plan will help you to build strength and increase aerobic capacity to cope with increased training load and to help avoid injury.


With four months to go you should focus on improving strength with an emphasis on active recovery. Incorporate weights into your strength and conditioning sessions to continue with improvements in muscle gain and strength. 

At the half way point you should be increasing your training load, including weights in strength and conditioning sessions, to continue with improvements in muscle gain and strength. 

With two months to go the end is in sight, but it's not the time to slack off yet. This month's training has an emphasis on post-workout recovery and mobility to avoid injury. It also adds maximal effort dynamic movements and short, high intensity cardiovascular intervals to your strength and conditioning.

In your final month you might be tempted to go full force with your training, but in fact it's most important you protect yourself from injury. So this month is broken down into two sections -  the first, a continuation of your programme; the second a deloading of effort to give your body rest before race day. 

Last updated Sunday 12 February 2023

First published on Thursday 9 June 2016