How Long Does It Take To Train For A Marathon? Complete Guide
Running a marathon is not easy. It can take months of training and dedication to cover the 42.195km (26.2 miles) distance.
To make sure you get to the finish of a marathon, you need to follow a well-thought-out training program or at least have knowledge of the training needed to complete the distance.
But how long does it take to train for a marathon?
Everyone is different, and everyone responds differently to mileage and intensity. That’s why there is no set way that everyone should follow when training for a marathon.
However, there is a time frame in which you should be able to complete a marathon, based on your current fitness level and background.
In this article, we discuss how long it takes to train for a marathon, regardless of whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner.
How Long Does It Take For A Beginner To Train For A Marathon?
For the beginner who has no experience with running, training for a marathon can take between 24 and 52 weeks.
The time it takes for a beginner to run a marathon will depend on whether they already have a base level of fitness. For example, someone who goes to the gym regularly or plays a sport may find they will be able to complete a marathon in well under 52 weeks.
The beginner who has no fitness background is more likely to take longer. Sometimes this can take as long as 52 weeks to prepare correctly.
However, preparation time can depend on many factors outside of your base fitness level. People that are more prone to injury will need more time to prepare. While others that are less prone, are more likely to be able to prepare for a marathon much quicker.
In short, if you are a beginner planning to run a marathon for the first time, plan to have at least 24-36 weeks of training before you enter your first event. While you may be able to complete a marathon in a much shorter time, giving yourself more time will allow you to have a safer build-up.
How Long Does It Take To Go From Couch To Marathon?
A couch to marathon is a training plan designed to take a beginner from no exercise (from the couch) to the marathon in a specific amount of time.
Most couch to marathon training programs is 24 weeks. However, some vary up to 30 weeks or more.
When choosing the right couch to marathon training plan, it is important to choose a plan that includes:
– A gradual build-up with shorter runs in the beginning
– Gradual build-up of your long run
– Added intensity later in the training plan to condition your cardiovascular fitness.
– Mix of other cross-training activities
– Recovery weeks and regular recovery days
– Tapering into the event
While you may think the shorter the training plan is, the better. It is better to have a slow build-up so your weekly mileage and long runs don’t increase too quickly.
Can An Average Person Train For A Marathon?
While having some existing fitness does help make training for a marathon much easier. It is 100% possible for an average person to train and complete a marathon.
It is normal for most people to start marathon training from different backgrounds and ability levels. Because of this, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and this is why choosing the right training program can help you immensely when training for a marathon.
How Long Does It Take To Train For A Marathon With No Running Experience?
If you have no running experience, we recommend you first train for a 10km event.
Once you have completed your first 10km, move into the half marathon distance. Once both are completed, you should be able to complete a marathon within 24 weeks.
However, if you want to bypass all other events and go straight to running a marathon, you will need at least 24 weeks. However, we highly recommend you take longer. This is so you can build up safely to the distance without injuries, illness, or burnout.
How Long Does It Take To Train For A Marathon as an experienced runner?
While there are many marathon training plans available, the time needed to train for a marathon will depend entirely on you.
Some of the factors that you need to factor in are:
– Current training volume
– Longest run
– Longest race
– Current and past injuries
– Time available
If you are already running high mileage (80+km a week), you may be able to get away with a short 12-week training plan. However, this depends on how long your current long run is.
If you run less than 60km a week, you may need more time to build your long run. So, utilizing a training plan that lasts 16 weeks will be a better option.
If you are inconsistent with your long runs, or training in general it is recommended to aim for 24 weeks. That way, you will have time to build up your mileage, and long-run and still have time to add in some intensity to bring up your overall speed.
Alternatively, if you are unsure how long it will take you to train for a marathon, reach out to a running coach. They can look over your past training and give you a rough estimate of how much build-up time you need. They can also give you some key ideas on how you can train safely and prevent overuse injuries that are common when training for a marathon.
Sportcoaching provides a range of marathon plans to get you to the start line healthy, fit, and injury-free. None of our programs are pre-built, and each training plan is customized to each individual and comes with a 60-minute consultation. This allows us to customize the plan around your lifestyle, fitness, and time available. For more information, check out our online training plans here. Alternatively, check out our monthly running coaching if you need access to a running coach regularly.