Week 10 (final week of specific training)
Sunday: Long run, 13 to 14 miles easy
Monday: Off (60 minutes non-running exercise)
Tuesday: 5 to 6 miles, easy
Wednesday: Warm up 3 miles, followed by 12 400m at 5/10K effort, with 200m walk between each interval. 2-mile cooldown.
Thursday: 9 miles, relaxed
Friday: Short run, plus eight 30-second uphills (slight grade) to conclude the run
Saturday: Athlete choice, rest day
Week 11 (start of taper)
This will be the first week where your overall volume of running will begin to diminish. For example, if you have capped your volume at a peak of 35 to 40 miles during weeks 6 through 9, this week would be roughly 25 percent down (28 to 30 miles). The long run this week will be 15 to 16 miles.
Sunday: No true long run, 11 miles max, relaxed
Monday: Non-run day (rest); optional non-running aerobic exercise
Tuesday: Easy 4 miles, with eight 100m to finish post-run
Wednesday: Final tough session; 7 miles, with the final 5 miles to be run as a cut down (begin final 5 miles 8 to 10 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace. Finish the final 2 miles 8 to 10 seconds per mile faster than goal marathon pace).
Thursday: (Optional non-run workout) or off day
Friday: 6 miles with 10 200m accelerations on the track or on a flat bike path stretch. These 200s should be run light and relaxed
Saturday: Short, easy run of your choosing (or off day).
Week 12 – The Taper (final week)
Tapering for a marathon is the least scientific element to the event. Some athletes prefer a longer 2- to 3-week taper, and others prefer a shorter taper. As a general rule, your taper should be inversely proportionate to the duration of the build-up. If you have a long 14+ week build-up, a 2.5 week taper is very reasonable. However, a shorter 12-week plan demands a shorter drop into race day, as we have only been working for 9 to 10 weeks. Drop your volume an additional 25 to 30 percent so that your final week (excluding the marathon) is roughly half of your peak.
Sunday: 7 to 8 miles, controlled; finish with eight 100m accelerations post-run
Monday: Non-run day (rest)
Tuesday: Warm up 2 miles; run 3 miles at goal marathon race pace; cool down 1 mile
Wednesday: 3 miles, relaxed
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Pre-race day, 20 minutes easy with six 100m strides
Saturday – Race!
As with any endurance endeavor, the best laid plans—while important—are still no match for an athlete who has the ability to listen to his or her body. Have a plan to follow, but keep in mind that an additional rest day is always preferable to a long-term injury. Heed the advice your body gives you and train hard but intelligently, and you will toe the line healthy.
Sign up for a race.