London Marathon Training Plans

Marathon Training Plans

There are just under 16 weeks to go until the London Marathon, and if you haven’t started training yet, DON’T PANIC!! I know a lot of people started weeks and months ago, but personally, a 12-16 week training programme works best for me.

The London marathon falls at the end of April this year, with the Paris marathon the first weekend and the Boston marathon in the middle of the month (does someone want to give me their place please, thanks!)

I thought I would share some of my favourite marathon training plans for those of you looking for help with your 26.2 training. I’ll also be sharing a 3 day a week plan of my own tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that if you think that’s the sort of plan that would work for you.

Hal Higdon 

I used the Novice Supreme for my first marathon I was nowhere near a runner when I signed up for the Virgin London Marathon a few years ago, so this was a great, simple plan for me. I think his Novice plans are brilliant for first-time marathoners, without too much jargon or too many runs. You can also up the ante with his Intermediate or Advanced plans.

Run Less, Run Faster

For those that are fans of efficiency, this plan might work for you. Each workout, including your cross training, is very structured. You’ll run 3 days a week and cross train 3 days a week. In my opinion it’s probably not the best for your first marathon unless you’re a seasoned half-marathoner.

My Sub 4 hour 3 Day a week marathon training plan is most like this one.

marathon training plans

Runner’s World SmartCoach 

Create a plan that’s tailored to you using the Runner’s World SmartCoach, you can select the number of weeks you have to train, your training effort, your weekly mileage etc and boom – a plan made for you! I haven’t actually used one of these plans but know plenty of people that have and who loved them.

My Asics

You can have fun with this online tool, messing around with how many days you want to run, your pace level and when your marathon date is to create a plan that works for you. I actually prefer this plan to the SmartCoach because of it’s simplicity and flexibility.

London Marathon Plans 

Written by ex GB athlete, Martin Yelling has written a beginner, intermediate and advanced training plan specifically for London marathon runners. They are done based on time rather than distance, so great for those without a lot of run tech.

The Hansen Method

Almost the opposite of the ‘Run less, Run faster’ philosophy, this programme gets you to run more often (up to 6 days a week) with lots of easy, shorter distance runs. The long mileage caps out at 16 miles, so good for those with less weekend free time for 20 mile slogs. Read this great review of how the Hansen Method worked really well for Cathy! 


Getting your training plan written specifically for you can be a great option if you can afford it. My friends Cat and Laura both write bespoke training schedules for people, as does the lovely Jess. There are plenty of other coaches available out there, both in person and online, take a look around if you’re in the market for it!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of marathon training options but they are the ones that I’ve heard the most about or have personal experience of. Check back over the weekend for a 3 day a week beginner marathon training plan. If you’ve run a marathon, which training plan did you use?

Photos taken by Coastal Flicks. 


  1. January 8, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Thanks for sharing! I typically write my own plans but it’s always good to look around at what else is around there. Greg McMIllan is also a good one to check out 🙂

  2. Jasmine
    January 8, 2016 / 11:25 am

    I like Hal Higdon – I used Intermediate 2 for my first marathon last year (Brighton) and found it great, especially as it’s a bit forgiving; he allows for changing or even missing out the occasional run during the week but recommends never skimping on long runs. This is some of my best marathon advice! I’m using the same plan for my second marathon (London).

    Great post Charlie!

  3. January 8, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing these! I’ve always penciled in my own mileage to work around my life but tend to find a plan online to base my training on first. Annoyingly the Asics plan only seems to show 2/3/4 days and no more. I like training 5/6 days a week as a lot of my goal races are marathon distance and above. I love the Runner’s World SmartCoach planner though. I’ve not seen this before. Will pin for later! 🙂

  4. W. Purves.
    January 9, 2016 / 1:45 am

    Boston? I thought you were resting from Marathons for a bit? G.

  5. January 9, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    thanks for this, I am running my first ever marathon in November and need to put a good plan together so that i can complete it!

    • charlotte
      January 10, 2016 / 8:51 am

      Good luck!! Which marathon are you running?

  6. January 9, 2016 / 4:19 pm

    Thanks for putting all of these together, I’m always looking to try a new plan.

    • charlotte
      January 10, 2016 / 8:51 am

      No problem Fiona, there’s so many plans out there than sometimes it can feel overwhelming!

  7. Sarah Addventures
    January 11, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    Thanks for this compilation, I’ll definitely come back to it when I start training for the Berlin marathon in a few months! For my first marathon I made my own plan based off of Jenny Hadfield’s intermediate plan, with four runs per week, which I really liked. She had a wide range of different free training plans which are all simple to follow and well explained. I think I might try My Asics as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

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