Free 10k, half marathon and full marathon training plans for all levels

Turning up at the start line is the end of a long journey, especially if you're training for a marathon. It's an opportunity to see the benefits of all the hard work you've put in training over the weeks and months before. As long as you've followed the right plan and put in the effort, it can be an experience you'll be proud of for years to come.

How to choose the right training plan?

Choosing the right training plan for your fitness level and goals is the most important decision to make when training for a race. Many beginner runners set expectations that are beyond their current ability, which not only leads to disappointment on race day but also increases the risk of injury.

A beginner plan is generally focused on gradual mileage increases and walk-run intervals to adapt the body and build a good base of fitness. Experienced runner plans tend to focus on developing speed and endurance

Consider your time commitment and schedule flexibility. Do you work better with a clear structure or prefer to train flexibly? If you're looking for advice on the best way to prepare for a race, our Personal Trainers can provide personalised recommendations for reaching your goals.

The right plan isn't just about getting the mileage in, it should prepare you physically, keep you motivated, and make training something that fits comfortably into your life.

Free 10k training plans

The 10k race distance is the perfect entry point for new runners looking to test their abilities and set a goal to work towards. It can, however, be a tricky distance to pace correctly – you need a training plan that can help you to build up your fitness and cross the finish line comfortably.

Free half marathon training plans

For many runners the half marathon is the perfect race distance. It offers a rewarding challenge to aim for without the time-consuming level of training required to complete a full marathon. Like the marathon though, a successful half is all about getting your pacing right so you have plenty of energy left for the final few miles.

Free marathon training plans

Whether you're aiming to cross the London Marathon finish line as a bucket list experience or you're a seasoned runner set on a new PB, 26.2 miles is a long way to run. Getting the right training plan and putting in the hours is essential to run the distance safely. It's also important that you find one that fits around your lifestyle, as marathon training can be time consuming.

What is the right running pace?

Finding the right running pace depends on a number of factors. We recommend beginners start with a comfortable conversational pace, allowing for a sustained effort to build endurance and avoid burnout.

For experienced runners, targeting paces based on past race times and training can be helpful. Striving for a faster second half, known as a negative split, is common and suggests that your body has the developed to handle the distance and speed effectively. You should be able to maintain a consistent pace across the full race distance.

Training plans will often include different types of session, with some focused on building endurance and others aiming to develop speed. By following a plan you should be able to understand the right pace for you and adapt your level of effort and expectations to make sure your race strategy works on the big day.

Should strength training be part of my plan?

Strength training is an important part of any training plan, helping to improve your overall performance, prevent injuries, and enhance your running economy. 

By targeting specific muscle groups, such as the core, glutes, and legs, strength training can improve stability, power, and endurance, ultimately improving your running form and efficiency.

Be sure to include exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, and calf raises to build strength and muscular resilience. Aim to complete two to three strength training sessions per week, focusing on different muscle groups. 

Remember to prioritise proper form and gradually increase weights and repetitions over time. Speak to one of our Personal Trainers to tailor a strength training program that complements your marathon training goals and needs.

New to strength training? Try this free full body workout.

Warning signs: when to ease off

Recognising warning signs during marathon training is important to prevent overexertion and injury. Listen to your body and make adjustments when necessary. Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Persistent fatigue: Feeling excessively tired and struggling to recover after workouts indicates the need to ease off. Rest is crucial for repair and rebuilding.
  • Lingering pain: If you experience pain beyond normal soreness, take a step back. Ignoring persistent pain can lead to serious injuries. Seeking expert advice is a good idea if you are concerned. Click here to seek guidance from Nuffield Health's physiotherapist team.
  • Decreased performance: Sudden declines in performance, like struggling with pace or workouts, may signal overtraining. Allow plenty of time to recharge and recover.
  • Elevated resting heart rate: Monitoring your resting heart rate reveals stress levels. A consistently high heart rate suggests overtraining and calls for a break.
  • Mood swings and irritability: Overtraining can affect your mental wellbeing. Frequent mood swings, irritability, or lack of motivation indicate the need for a break.
  • Recurring illness or weakened immune system: Intense training without recovery weakens the immune system. Frequent illnesses are another indication your body needs rest.
  • Sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep patterns indicate excessive training stress. Quality sleep is essential for both your recovery and performance.

If you experience any of these warning signs, adjust your training accordingly. Prioritise rest days, reduce intensity, and focus on recovery strategies. Remember, it's better to ease off and recover than risk setbacks.

Races to sign up for

Finding the right race depends on your goals as well as other factors like location and the difficulty of the course. Here are some of our top picks for races in the UK to sign up for.

10k races:

The Asics London 10k

If you want the size and scale of the London Marathon without the distance, this central London event is a great alternative. Like the London Marathon, it takes in some of the capital's biggest landmarks and sees huge crowds line the streets to cheer you on in the final few kilometers of the race. Thousands of runners take part every year creating an atmosphere similar to the marathon. As it's in June you're also likely to get much better weather.

Leeds 10k

Taking place in the summer, the Leeds 10k is a popular event that sees plenty of cheering crowds dotted along the city centre route. Since it started 15 years ago the race has become a calendar highlight, raising thousands of pounds for charity and giving runners the chance to enjoy some of the city's famous locations.

Half marathons:

London Landmarks Half Marathon

There's no shortage of half marathons to sign up for in the south east, but few offer the sort of route you can expect at London Landmarks. The race winds it way around some of the capital's most famous buildings, starting in Trafalgar Square and finishing near Westminster. Like the London Marathon, it's becoming one of the country's milestone running events and provides a rare opportunity to run through London on closed roads.

The Great North Run

The Great North Run is one of the biggest races across the UK and sees almost 60,000 people turn up to take part from around the world. The historical route takes runners 13.1 miles from the centre of Newcastle all the way to the coastal town of South Shields, lined with cheering crowds all the way. For the duration of the weekend the city turns into a festival of running, with dozens of events taking place to welcome anyone visiting to take part in the race.


Brighton Marathon

Since 2023 the popular coastal race has been taken over by the team that puts on the London Marathon. As a result the event is quickly becoming one of the most popular marathon events in the UK and is a the go-to option for people who are unlucky in the London Marathon ballot. The course mainly takes place along the coastline, featuring scenic views of the sea as well as Brighton's many famous landmarks. Expect streets lined with cheering holidaymakers and some of the best post-race fish and chips in the country.

Manchester Marathon

Manchester Marathon has become a popular alternative to London in recent years due it offering an fast, flat course and the fact you don't have to enter a ballot to take part. The route is a celebration of the city and takes in some of the areas most iconic locations as well as many of the county's suburbs.