13 Week Marathon Training Plan

Somehow I convinced my new-found soul sister and co-founder of FitCityBlonde, Christina, to run the Chicago Marathon with me! Since she is a bit late in the training game, I devised a 13-week training plan that focuses on mileage to prepare for the long-haul of a marathon, sprinkled with progression and tempo runs to help increase speed. I figured she wasn’t the only one in the world that signed up last minute for a race so I wanted to share it with all of you in case you found yourself in a similar situation!

Some key things that you should remember if you have limited time to train is that the mileage is the most important part. Don’t worry about your time or if you need to walk several times throughout your run, just get the miles done. If you do try out the progression or tempo runs and feel that they are going to push you over the edge, turn it into a comfortable pace then increase your speed as you can.

Which I don’t think I’ve ever explained what a progression or tempo run is and they’ve been all over my plans, so I’m sorry if I confused some of you! A progression run builds to improve your fitness by running negative splits towards your marathon pace. For example, if you need to do a 3 mile progression run and your marathon pace is 10 minutes, you would run the first mile at 10:40, the second at 10:20, and the third at 10 minutes. A tempo run works to increase your metabolic fitness by running a consistent fast pace. For example, if you are to do a 5 mile tempo run, start with a 2 minute warm up at turtle pace then jump into your marathon pace and hold that strong for 5 miles. Finish it up with another 2 minute cool down.

Since it has been so hot and humid the last couple of weeks, I’ve been adding rests in between each mile of my progression or tempo runs. So after each mile, I will slow down to my turtle pace and jog it out for a minute or two then hop back into my progression or tempo pace.

As always, the most important thing to remember is that you need to listen to your body. Learn your limits and if you need to go extra slow or skip a day completely, do it (just don’t make skipping a habit). The worst thing you can do is burn out or injure yourself after putting in all that time and work.

And lastly, have SO much fun. A marathon is a huge accomplishment and not something everyone can complete. Be proud of yourself and don’t be scared to brag about it to everyone you meet 😉


Find both the 18-week and 13-week training plans on GoogleDocs here!




  1. July 19, 2017 / 4:09 pm

    Great post! I’m keen to take on my first marathon – what level of fitness would you need to have before attempting this program?

    • July 19, 2017 / 5:19 pm

      Anyone can run a marathon so long as you put your mind to it – it’s a huge mental game! However, I would definitely recommend running a 5k then a half marathon before going for the full so it preps you a bit for the extensive training and to make sure you actually like running! It would be horrible to pay all that money then start training and realize you hate running

      • July 19, 2017 / 5:33 pm

        Thanks for the advice – I have run a half marathon but that was quite a while back! The running shoes need a bit of a dust off 🙂

        • July 19, 2017 / 5:35 pm

          Oh then you are good to go girlfriend! Let me know what you decide and I’d love to help you make a training plan 😊

  2. Rose
    December 28, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Great plan! Would it ruin the plan to move the Sunday miles in between Thursday and Friday. I always long run Sundays and have club runs Tuesday and Thursday so want a 13 week plan which fits with those.

    • Connie
      December 28, 2017 / 9:41 am

      The beauty of training is that you can make it fit your schedule! I would actually suggest making the short miles/rest on Mondays then cross-training Wednesdays and Fridays and moving those medium distance miles to Saturday. That way you can accommodate your long runs on Sundays and club runs Tuesdays and Thursdays!

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