How Long Does it Really Take to Train for a Marathon?

Have you ever found yourself watching marathon runners cross the finish line and thought, “Hey, maybe I could do that too?” Well, you absolutely can! But you might be wondering just how long you’d need to prepare for such an epic feat. Training for a marathon doesn’t happen overnight, and the timeline can vary quite a bit. Here’s a closer look at what it might take.

Starting From Scratch

For those new to running, the journey to a marathon will be the longest. Beginners should focus on building a base level of fitness before jumping into specific marathon training. Typically, a beginner should expect to spend about 6–12 months gradually increasing their running capacity. Starting with shorter races like 5Ks or 10Ks can be helpful.

The Standard Marathon Training Plan

For runners who already have a solid base—meaning they can comfortably run for 30 minutes or more several times a week—a standard marathon training plan typically lasts around 16 to 20 weeks. This timeframe allows you to incrementally increase your weekly mileage.

Advanced Runners

Advanced runners often focus more on improving their time and performance rather than just aiming to finish. Their training might still span 16 to 20 weeks, but the intensity and volume of the workouts will be higher.

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