Training For A Marathon On A Treadmill

Treadmill Running

Africa Studio/

By Simon Gould

The marathon is the ultimate distance for every runner. It's 26.2 miles that will take a good few hours. Marathon's are shown on TV with many people running in costumes. A lot of money is raised for charity and everyone looks like they're having a really good time. If you're a runner you'll be proud of running a marathon, you've done the distance.

To run the marathon takes a lot of preparation. Beginners are advised to take the distance very seriously. We advise you only undertake a marathon if you've been running for at least 6 months and maybe you've entered a few 10k races or such like already. Our plan is 26 weeks which is exactly 6 months. We assume you can run for 30 minutes and we take the plan from there.

The marathon plan

This is a 6 days a week plan which is a big commitment but then so is the marathon. We've taken the training for the event seriously but remember the time you run if it's your first isn't so important, do remember it though. Just do your best and see if you can run quicker the next time you run it. The plan is not written in stone, feel free to modify it for your own ability but stick to the fact that to run a lot of mileage you need to train a lot of mileage.

We have one rest day on Monday. This is important that you stick with this as a rest day because it is after your long run. What ever day you choose to do your long run always have a rest day after. We've only selected one rest day, you can have another should you feel tired for Friday. This is only a strength training or speed work day so that can be missed on the odd week you may need it.

On the strength training day we advise you train the whole body but stick with few sets so as to not exhaust yourself. The strength part is to train your supporting muscles mainly for injury prevention. Speed work is up to you. The outside part of the plan is quite important. You need to do some training outside to properly prepare for an outside race.


  • CT & LCT - This is a cross training day. You still need to do a cardio workout but the equipment changes. Try an elliptical, bike or swim on these days. LCT means a light cross training session which as the name suggests for you to take it easy with the long run on Sunday in mind.
  • O - This means try and do this run outside. We recommend one a week or more if possible. Only if your marathon race is outside. If this is not always possible then set your treadmill to a 1% incline to replicate the conditions you'll get running outside. We want to get this run to replicate what you'll be doing outside as much as possible. So vary the incline if the marathon has some hills.
  • RP - Run at race pace or faster when you see these initials on a day. This will help improve your time. These will be low in mileage to really allow the pace to be quick.
  • ST/SW - This stands for strength training or speed work. Being an experienced runner we trust you'll know what strength training or speed work suits you best. As suggested earlier take this as a rest day on a tough week if you need to.
  • mi. - Means miles. The Sunday has time spent running.

The plan tapers off as you get toward the race. This is to give you the best opportunity to do a good time. Your muscles and body will be crying out for some exercise and it will get some on marathon day. On the day before eat some pasta or other carb loaded food in order to give your muscles plenty of energy.

1Rest2 mi. OCT2 mi. RPST/SWLCT30 minutes
2Rest3 mi. OCT2 mi. RPST/SWLCT40 minutes
3Rest4 mi. OCT3 mi. RPST/SWLCT50 minutes
4Rest5 mi. OCT3 mi. RPST/SWLCT60 minutes
5Rest6 mi. OCT4 mi. RPST/SWLCT70 minutes
6Rest7 mi. OCT4 mi. RPST/SWLCT80 minutes
7Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT90 minutes
8Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT100 minutes
9Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT110 minutes
10Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT120 minutes
11Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT130 minutes
12Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT70 minutes
13Rest8 mi. OCT5 mi. RPST/SWLCT140 minutes
14Rest9 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWLCT75 minutes
15Rest9 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWtLCT150 minutes
16Rest9 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWLCT80 minutes
17Rest9 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWLCT160 minutes
18Rest10 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWLCT85 minutes
19Rest10 mi. OCT6 mi. RPST/SWLCT170 minutes
20Rest10 mi. OCT7 mi. RPST/SWLCT90 minutes
21Rest10 mi. OCT7 mi. RPST/SWLCT180 minutes
22Rest10 mi. OCT7 mi. RPST/SWLCT90 minutes
23Rest10 mi. OCT7 mi. RPST/SWLCT190 minutes
24Rest11 mi. OCT7 mi. RPST/SWLCT70 minutes
25Rest8 mi. OCT4 mi. RPRestLCT50 minutes
26Rest6 mi. OCT3 mi.RestRestMarathon!

As you can see the longer runs on Sunday are alternated between short runs when the mileage gets particularly high. The reason is we don't want you to train for a marathon by running a marathon on the treadmill every week. This will make you exhausted and in no way in the mood to run for the main event.

So that's it. Six months of training on a treadmill for the marathon. You're running a lot of mileage there especially in week 23. Note in week 26 you'll be running some miles but don't do them at race pace. The slow taper is still on for the main event. Remember to hydrate and with some water and electrolytes during the run and you should make it in one piece.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? See my top 3 recommended treadmills for 2021

Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

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