How do I train for a marathon in just 10 weeks? - Women's Running

How do I train for a marathon in just 10 weeks?

Author: Laura Fountain

Read Time:   |  March 8, 2022

Laura Fountain explores your last minute marathon training options and shows you how to put together a 10-week marathon training plan

Training for a marathon in just 10 weeks isn’t the ideal way to prepare. But, depending on the level of fitness you’re starting from, it might be possible to do it successfully. If your marathon is 10 weeks away, I’d hope that you were already capable of running 10 miles as a long run.

Now let’s talk about how to build a 10-week marathon training plan. The final three weeks of training for a marathon will see your mileage decline as you taper towards race day. So, although you may have 10 weeks to go on the calendar, you only have seven weeks of building up your runs. Look at how long your longest run is right now. Could you reasonably build up from there to 18 miles (or 30k) in the next seven weeks without it jumping up too quickly?

There are two scenarios that I find runners end up with just 10 weeks to get ready for a marathon. Firstly, it’s runners who have been training for a half marathon who have a great race and decide that they may as well carry on training for the full 26.2 miles.

In this instance, the key will be to make sure you’re recovered from your half before you push on with upping your mileage. So, take it easy for a week and see how your legs feel. If your half marathon training has been going well, there’s no reason to change it up too much. It’s clearly working for you.

You’ll, obviously, need to build up your long runs. Take them up to 18-20 miles as a longest run. 18 miles is plenty to run a marathon off of, and there’s very little benefit to most runners in doing more than 20.

Need inspiration? Here are some top tips from real-life marathon runners.

More time on your hands? Here’s our 16-week marathon training plan.

If you have a goal time in mind for your marathon, you’ll want to add in some marathon paced miles into your week. This could be in the form of a tempo run (6-8 miles midweek at marathon pace) or as the final miles of your long run.

The other group of runners who often find themselves hovering over the ‘enter’ button on marathon websites with just 10 weeks to go are those who’ve just run a marathon that didn’t go to plan. For those, the 10 weeks needs to include a recovery period from the previous marathon, some maintenance weeks, and a taper. It will also need a lot of reflection on what went wrong in that first marathon. Was it undertraining or was it an outside factor on race day?

If you found yourself the victim of bad luck (bad weather, illness, freak accident) then it’s absolutely a good idea to get another marathon in while your fitness is still high. If injury forced you to drop out or hobble your way to the finish, speak to a physio before you sign up.

Before you commit the next 10 weeks to training for a marathon, there’s a few important questions to ask yourself.

Why do you want to run this marathon? Is it FOMO or is it a chance of a lifetime?

What result would you be happy with? And could you achieve that result with just 10 weeks of training?

Written by

Laura Fountain

Laura Fountain

Journalist, run coach and author of the The Lazy Runner, Laura has run over 20 marathons

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