Marathon base training plans - Women's Running

Marathon base training plans

Author: Kate Sellers

Read Time:   |  March 23, 2022

Too far out from race day to start your training plan? Try our marathon base training plans to prepare...

Often, you find out about your marathon spot months before it’s time to start your race day training plan. So, what do you do in that time? We’ve got you covered with our marathon base training plans.

Never heard of marathon base training? Read this: What is marathon base training?

These plans will give you some focus with your running, without causing you to overtrain ahead of your actual training block. Read on for all the info you need to know before you get started and scroll to the bottom to download our marathon base training plans.

Got the opposite problem? Here’s how to train for a marathon in 10 weeks

Before you start

Find your easy pace

While one runner’s ‘slow’ miles might be around10 mins/mile, another runner may have this as their goal 5K pace. Speed is all relative, and so is ‘easy’. As a rough guide though, easy runs should be 1-2 mins slower per mile than marathon pace. For those who mainly run 5K or 10K races, it’s a couple of minutes per mile slower than your PBs. You should feel comfortable holding a conversation while running.

Learn about strides

Strides are a great addition to your base training. Over time, they can help make you a more efficient runner and as they’re short efforts not at maximum effort, they won’t work you too hard.

At the end of your run, find a stretch of ground free from road crossings or obstacles, around 60-100m long. Strides are about running strong with good form and faster than your usual pace but not sprinting.

For the first 15m, accelerate smoothly, then run strong for 30m.
Think about running tall as though you have a balloon coming out the top of your head pulling you up. Pump your arms, concentrating on driving your elbows back, and pick your feet up. Then gradually decelerate to the end. Have a 30-second rest, then turn round and repeat for 4-6 reps.

Remember, this is not sprinting, this is running strong and you should max out at no more than 90% of your top speed.

Plan in some short races

This base training plan includes a 5K parkrun and a 10K race. These are a good opportunity to test your speed and a great way to keep focussed. You might be surprised how much of a difference a few weeks of regular, easy running can make to your running fitness.

As you head into marathon training, the times for the races included in your base period will be valuable in setting training paces for any tempo runs and speed workouts that you might include in your marathon plan. They can even help predict what your marathon goal should be.

Download a plan

We’ve put together two plans to help you with your marathon base training. Pick the one that most resembles your current running on Week 1 – here’s a preview:

marathon base training preview


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Written by

Kate Sellers

Kate Sellers

Kate loves running for fun, especially on a trail with her dog in tow! She's also a qualified Personal Trainer and yoga teacher, so she knows her stuff about workouts and stretching.

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