Progressive Training Plans

PB Marathon: 14week progressive programme

The primary goal is to arrive on the start line injury-free so every member needs to listen to their bodies and adjust accordingly. Long run distances are just a suggestion and can be amended to suit everyone’s training. The midweek sessions will cater to everyone’s level of fitness with faster runners doing longer distances.

The training cycles explained:

Macrocycle – The entire training from 6 months out to your actual race.

Mesocycles – Smaller blocks of up to 4 weeks. Each mesocycle ends with a recovery week where you reduce training load (either total miles or perform shorter long run) which enables the body to recover and come back stronger.

Microcycles – A microcycle is 7 days of training and will include 2-3 harder sessions and 2-3 easier sessions depending on your plan.


Phase 1. Endurance. Weeks 1-4. Increasing mileage to improve pure endurance. In the initial stage, we will focus on midweek hills and steadily increasing the long-run distance each Sunday. Long runs will be slow-paced to encourage your body to burn fat for fuel, and off-road and hilly routes to build strength. The focus in phase 1 will be the overall structure of training and the things you can do outside of training to improve performance such as strength work, stretching, diet, cross-training, and lifestyle choices.

Phase 2. Endurance + Speed. Weeks 5-8. The 2nd mesocycle will focus on improving lactate threshold with further endurance gains a secondary objective. To replicate the challenges of the marathon distance, we will start to perform a medium long run on a Saturday to create accumulative fatigue for the Sunday long run and some marathon-specific long runs.

Phase 3. Race Preparation. Weeks 9-12. These are the peak training weeks so the midweek sessions will be marathon-specific workouts to simulate the fatigue you will need to overcome to finish with a PB. The focus in this session is preparing mentally for the challenge as well as the logistics of fuelling and pace strategies. The long runs in this stage will be more specific to the race in terms of on-road and flat.

Phase 4. Taper + Race. Weeks 13-14. During the taper, we reduce running volume to leave you feeling sharp for race day, whilst maintaining the intensity.

Phase 5. Recovery. Weeks 15-18. Post-race, your body will need several weeks of recovery. This part will be done individually.




Phase 1 - Endurance

Week 1 – Thursday 29th June

Predictor Run – Lower Pound Lane Marlow

A ladder of 2min/4min/6min/8min/10min all run @ goal marathon pace with half effort time as recovery.

Aim = To practice goal marathon pace through feel and not from watch. The goal times will be marked on pavement and you run

Sunday 4th July

Medium Long Run

10-12 miles (depending on previous training)

Off-road and hilly. Pace below marathon goal pace to encourage body to transition to burning fat as fuel

Week 2 – Tuesday 6th July

Long Hills – Bourne End

Series of Long Hill repeats between 60-120 seconds with jog back down the hill as recovery. Focus on form not effort.

Aim = To build strength and stamina for later phases

Sunday 11th July


Medium Long Run

13-14 miles

Off-road and hilly. Pace below marathon goal pace to encourage body to transition to burning fat as fuel

Week 3 – Thursday 15th July

Downhill session – Quarry Woods, Marlow

A series of downhill efforts with easy return uphill as recovery. Focus on form.

Aim = Running downhill is a form of ‘overspeed’ training that helps recruit more muscles. There is also evidence that downhill running helps alleviate delayed onset mucle soreness (DOMS)

Sunday 18th July


Long Run

16 miles

Off road and hilly

Week 4 – Thursday 22nd July

Kenyan Hills – The Ridgeway, Marlow

Series of timed efforts around hilly circuits. Aim is to run the up and down at same effort levels (pace will be different)

Aim = to maintain an even effort during a race

Sunday 25th July Recovery week)


Long Run

15 miles

Off road and hilly


PPhase 2 – Endurance + speedhase 2 – Endurance + speed

Week 5 – Tuesday 27th July 2020

Predictor - Yasso 800s

Run 6-8 800m repeats with equal recovery time. The average time for all your repeats (say 3min 30 secs) should equate to your potential marathon time in hours and minutes (3 hours, 30 mins)

Aim = Predictor of potential finish time

Sunday 1st August


Long Run

16 miles.

Fast finish long run. 10-12 miles below marathon goal pace with last 4-6 miles at marathon goal pace and quicker

Week 6 –Thursday 5th August


Lactate threshold – long intervals 

5x6 min @ 10k pace with 2 min walk recovery


Sunday 8th August


17 mile Long Run

Week 7–Tuesday 10th August

Mile repeats 

4 x 1 mile @ 10k pace with 4 min recovery

Sunday 15th August


Burnham Beeches Half 13.1 miles

Tune up race

Week 8–Thursday 19th August


Lactate threshold – long intervals 3 x 2 km @ LT pace with 1 km Jog recovery

Sunday 22nd August (Recovery week)


Long Run – 17 miles

Fast finish long run



Phase 3 – Race Preparation

Week 9 –Tuesday 24th August

Marathon Specific Workout: Negative split run

1 mile warm-up

Run 4-6 miles (approx. 40mins) @ 10-20 seconds faster the marathon pace

Rest 10 minutes (by standing still)

Run back to starting position, try to be quicker than 40 minutes.

1 mile cool down

Aim = To run 2 x 40 minutes faster than goal marathon pace, with a negative split on the 2nd effort. The key to this workout is the 10 minutes rest. This allows you to run 10-20 seconds faster than marathon goal pace for the first 40 minutes. Standing still for 10 minutes drains blood flow from legs, so when you start your 2nd leg, you will feel lethargic, with a dead leg feeling like the end of a marathon. Forcing yourself to run fast on these tired legs is great physical and mental simulation for how it will feel on the day.



Sunday 29th August


Long Run – 18 miles


6 miles 15-20 secs below marathon pace

6 miles @ goal marathon pace

6 miles  15-20 secs below marathon pace

Week 10–Tuesday 31st August

Marathon Specific Workout: Hills to Tempo:

1 mile warm-up

10 x 60 second up hill @ 5k pace with jog down rest

3 minutes rest

4- 6 miles @ Goal marathon pace

1 mile cool down

Aim = to fatigue legs & muscles with series of hill repeats and then maintain your goal marathon pace on tired legs


Sunday 5th September


Long Run 17 miles


Surge long run. 10 miles at easy pace. Then after 10 miles do a 90 second ‘surge’ of Half marathon pace, followed by 10 minute recovery at goal marathon pace

Week 11–Tuesday 7th September

Marathon Specific Workout: Progression Run:

In this workout you will run 3 paces, +1 min over race pace, race pace and 30 seconds faster than race pace, judging the pace on feel (set your running watch to display miles only)

Mile 1 Warm up, Mile 4 Recovery , Mile 7  Recovery, Mile 10 Cool down = Marathon pace + 1 min

Mile 2, Mile 5, Mile 8 = Marathon goal pace

Mile 3, Mile 6, Mile 9 = Effort, half-marathon pace or above

Aim = to judge pacing ‘effort’ on feel, see how closely you can hit your target paces


Sunday 12th September


Long Run – 20 miles (or longer)


3 weeks out this should be your longest run. Try to break the run into 2 parts. For first 8-10 miles run slower than race pace. From 10 miles start to dial into marathon goal pace and finish the last 1-2 miles as fast as you can.

Week 12–Tuesday 14th September

Alternating tempo:

1 mile warm-up

6 -8 miles alternating between 5-10 seconds faster than marathon goal pace and 5-10 seconds slower than 10 k pace, so 3 hr marathon paces may be 6:45-6:40 and 6:15-6:20. The faster paced miles flood body with lactate, and you ‘recover’ by clearing lactate at faster than marathon goal pace.

1 mile cool down

Aim + to adapt the body to clear lactate efficiently whilst still running race pace



Sunday 19th September (Recovery week)


Long Run – 18 miles


8 miles below goal marathon pace

8 miles @goal marathon pace

2 miles cool down


Phase 4 – Taper + Race

Week 13 – Tuesday 21st September

Predictor - Yasso 800s

Run 10x 800m repeats with equal recovery time. The average time for all your repeats (say 3min 30 secs) should equate to your potential marathon time in hours and minutes (3 hours, 30 mins)

Aim = Predictor of potential finish time. Compare results to Wk 5

Sunday 26th September


Medium Long Run

12 miles. Run for feeling rather than any specific pace. Practice your pre-race routine with same evening meal, breakfast and run in race kit.

Week 14 –Tuesday 28th September

Taper run – Marlow

Goal marathon pace run. Breaking the race down into specific blocks and having a plan for each section in terms of fuelling and focus.

Sunday 3rd October


London Marathon – Race 26.2 miles