How to Write Your Own Marathon & Half Marathon Training Plans & Great Run Competition

How to write your own training plan for marathons & half marathons

I get a lot of emails asking about training plans…whether I write them for people, asking for the best half/full marathon training plans and affordable coaches. Prices (and quality) can vary a lot, so it’s best to do some research into a coach that will work best for you – whether thats monthly coaching or having someone write you a 16/20 week dedicated training plan for a one off fee.

A lot of runners I know write their own training plans, with varying levels of success. Whilst many would say you can write your own plans, I’ve been warned by far wiser runners than myself, that it can also be a sure fire way to get injured.

How to write your own training plan for marathons & half marathons

But you can edit, utilise your previous running experience and training cycles to cut and paste a plan that works for you. You might find this round up of Free Marathon Training Plans  helpful.

  • Look around at the free training plans online to suss out the ones that you like, and why you like them.
  • Work out how many days a week you want to run/train. And more importantly, how many you can actually fit into your schedule. Make sure you can be consistent with it. I wouldn’t recommend any less than 3 or more than 6 days running per week. You can add in other cardio like swimming, cycling, gym workouts, weights, yoga etc as it suits you.
  • Don’t forget to give yourself enough time – 12-16 weeks for a half/full if you have a solid base, longer if you don’t.

How to write your own training plan

  • Running coach Kindal (runningwithstrength) advised that you decide your training plan ‘bricks’ – that’s the tempo, long, speed etc that make up your training. Work out what days these will work best on and try to keep that consistent, however it’s important give yourself a bit of flexibility for life to happen. Make sure your hard workouts are not back to back – there should be at least 1 full day in between.
  • Work backwards from your goal race, and plan out your long runs first. Anna (annatheapple) believes that the long runs are the most important aspect of your training, so build them up gradually, adding a few miles per week (no more than 10% increase week on week). Every three weeks or so, include a cut back week, with a shorter ‘long’ run, to avoid burnout. Take into consideration any travel plans, weddings etc that are already in your diary.

How to write your own training plan for marathons & half marathons

  • Add some races into the plan to keep motivated and encouraged, but don’t RACE them all. See the end of the post for a fun race entry! 
  • Have someone to keep you motivated and accountable – without a coach to text after each workout it can be tempting to skip or edit your runs. Stay honest with yourself – sometimes it is better to skip the workout and rest instead, but sometimes you just have to slog it out.
  • Find out if there’s a local running club or group that you could join for a weekly run and find a way to work this into your schedule if you can. Running with other people is a great way to run faster, smarter and to make great accountability friends!

I love Kindal’s final piece of advice – ‘make your training plan challenging, but most of all FUN’.

How to write your own training plan for marathons & half marathons

I’ve teamed up with the Great Run Series to give you entry to one of London’s Great Races; , where you can run on the symbolic Olympic track just weeks before Bolt and Mo Farah make history on it again at London 2017 World Championships. It’s one of the best finish lines I’ve ever crossed!

running in the Olympic park

The Simplyhealth Great Newham London 10KM Run in partnership with Newham Borough Council takes place on the 2nd July, there’s also a family 2KM fun run so all ages can take part and finish on the track inside the stadium.

Entries are now open for the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run 10km and 2km Family Run on July 2. Grab your running gang and sign up here.

 I’ve got two places to the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run 10KM on the 2nd July to give away to two lucky runners. To enter… simply comment below and tell me what your GREATEST RUN has been.  

My new greatest run has got to be the London Marathon 2017 – running with Tom, smiling from start to finish and thanking the Royals as we crossed the finish line!


  1. Dave Warman
    May 19, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    My greatest run will always be my first marathon, after not getting through the London ballot AGAIN I decided to make my first race special, so I signed up for the Vancouver marathon & had a holiday as well, it was the hardest 4 months of my life to get in shape but I regret nothing.

    • charlotte
      May 19, 2017 / 4:20 pm

      The Vancouver marathon sounds amazing – I’d love to visit. I’ve got the Lululemon Seawheeze half on my bucket list for next year!

  2. May 19, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    I think you have hit the nail on the head, have someone who you are accountable to, be that a coach or a friend you run with, especially one who is training for the same race as you. Often I have gone out on training runs that I maybe wouldn’t have done just because I had arranged to run with a friend and it’s bad form to let them down. As for my greatest run has to be New York Marathon, I had tried for many, many, many were talking 10 years plus to get a place in the ballot and last November I finally got in :0) London crowds are amazing but the crowds in NY were unlike anything I had ever experienced, Americans dont hold back they go crazy with their support, I felt like I was carried along those never ending streets.

  3. Gemma
    May 19, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    Oooo mine has to be my first 5km a few weeks back after being out for 6 months through illness and injury! I literally never thought I would be able to run again like I did before so I am looking forward to getting back to it!

  4. Mel
    May 19, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    Mines definitely the Royal Parks Half that I ran a couple of years back. Stunning course, a PB and my first for charity. The best run I’ve ever had!!

  5. Ep37597
    May 19, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    My greatest run – my first marathon London marathon 2015 where I pipped my target time (4hrs) coming in at 3:58! Trained so hard for it and was lovely to have so much support on the day from friends and family!

  6. Georgie
    May 19, 2017 / 5:59 pm

    My greatest run would be the first time I raced 10k in under 50 minutes. I had been trying for it for months, consistently training but not managing it on race day. When I finally did it, tears rolled down my face as I crossed the line!

  7. May 19, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    My greatest run would be the inaugural Nepal International Marathon – it was an incredible experience, an incredible race, and in running it we were supporting the local community. This was tied with us helping to lay a pipeline to the nearby village so they could get fresh water, helping to clean the streets of Kathmandu, fundraising for local projects, and encouraging them to be active through running.

  8. Dave Moran
    May 19, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    London Marathon 2015 – best running achievement to date!

  9. Michelle Dorrington
    May 19, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    My greatest run as got to be the Yorkshire 10 mile last year….somehow I ran a super speedy 10 miles although I started too fast and was first female for a while (having a cycle marshal for a few miles was quite nice!) but then my pace caught up with me! I finished 3rd female, replicating the same position I had finished in the year before! Overall the atmosphere was amazing and the weather a tad warm but lovely and sunny and the race really well organised!

  10. Rebecca Bradshaw
    May 19, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    Mine was my first half marathon – Tunbridge Wells. Had no confidence I could finish it and was on the top of the world as I ran up the finishing straight. Topped off by getting my medal from Dame Kelly Holmes – wow!
    Ps love your blog!

  11. May 20, 2017 / 7:28 am

    It is really hard. I think my best race had to be cambridge half 2016 when, for the first time I really enjoyed the race from start to finish and got a great ( for me) time.

  12. Nathan Jones
    May 20, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Hi Charlie. My greatest run was guiding Erich, a blind runner from Germany, during the British 10k a couple of years ago. His guide dropped out and after a last minute request from Noel Thatcher I was able to help. It was the most enjoyable, humbling and all round amazing race to run. Erich talked me through his preferences and we ran through the streets of London. My Greatest ever run, and a day I’ll never forget!

  13. Kim Smith
    May 20, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    My greatest run was the first Nike ‘We Own The Night’ 10k in London as it was the first 10k I ever ran without stopping. It wasn’t a speedy time but felt amazing at the end to know I’d got all the way around without stopping or walking and that all my hard work training had paid off.

  14. Stacey Emery
    May 22, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    Hi Charlie, my greatest run has to be the Tissington Trail half marathon. I ran with my Mum in 2015, on her 50th birthday – we ran together the whole way and managed to smash a sub 2hr for the first time, crossing the line together in 1.58.08. Such an incredible feeling!

  15. Dana
    May 23, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    My greatest run has to be my first ever team relay: I got asked 12 hrs before the 190 mile, 10 person, 24 hr relay started to sub in for an injured runner. I was running regularly but hadn’t trained for this type of event. One of our runners got injured 1 mile into her first run so the team had to pick up her miles- In 24 hrs, I ended up racing near 20 miles (and had only signed up for 12), through the night, in strange conditions, on little sleep, with mostly strangers! It was such an incredible experience. I can’t wait for this years White Cliffs Ragnar for another chance at this amazing experience!

  16. Kathy
    May 23, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    My greatest run has to be running round Central Park with my husband on our honeymoon! Of course followed by a huge breakfast

  17. Simona
    May 29, 2017 / 3:34 pm

    Superb post and tips! My greatest run (so far!) has been Liverpool Rock’n’Roll marathon 2016. It was my first marathon ever and I smiled throughout the whole course. I was so happy and incredibly proud to have a body which can finish a whole marathon. My legs carried a tan ‘mark’ for the rest of the year (forgot sun cream) to remind me of this as well 🙂

  18. June 6, 2017 / 10:55 am

    my greatest run was a local 10 k (Bieg Wisły in Warsaw, Poland) where I was pacing my friend and heling her to achieve a sub-50. I had double the fun helping her, that I would have had if I only run for my own result.

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