You've done your research, found your ideal marathon and pressed the "register" button—what now?
You're probably flooded with a wide range of thoughts and emotions, from excitement and an eagerness to get started, to anxiety and maybe even a little bit of self-doubt.
All of this is normal—and expected.
While you won't be able to control all the ups and downs that go along with running a marathon, you can, for the most part, control one thing: the preparation.
But where should you start? What's the best way to prepare?
There's no perfect answer for this. Some athletes are self-trained, some hire a coach or join a local running club and some buy a book or find an online marathon plan to guide them through the process.
We're focusing on the latter in this article, gathering the best sites for online marathon training plans for both beginners and more experienced marathoners. These include everything from free articles to paid interactive services.
Have you used an online marathon training plan before? Let us know in the comments, below!
This is the gold standard for online marathon training plans and programs. If you're a runner, you've likely heard of TrainingPeaks or used the app for tracking your training efforts, but you might be surprised to know it offers training plans for a wide range of events as well—including the marathon.
Expert running coaches have put together over 400 different plans, ranging from a 24-week beginner plan, all the way to a sub-three hour marathon training plan. Use the filters on the left to find the right plan for you. Note: these are paid plans, and some come with coach email access.
Learn more about TrainingPeak's library of online marathon training plans.
The Boston Marathon is essentially the Super Bowl of the sport—it's the event that's recognized even by non-runners, and it's one that many runners work for years to qualify for. The Boston Athletic Association has developed four levels of training plans to help you reach your goal, and these can be used for any marathon, not just Boston.
They're free and feature a weekly/daily breakdown of mileage goals and training efforts. These plans are "designed to challenge you while also minimizing the risk of training too hard."
Learn more about the Boston Marathon training plans.
We couldn't create an "online marathon training plan" article without including our own content, right? While you already know you can find and register for marathons all around the country on ACTIVE.com, you can also find a robust backlog of marathon training articles that include everything from a training schedule for marathon beginners to a three-month marathon training plan.
Learn more and browse our running content.
Runner's World+ Training Plans
Runner's World has long been a go-to source of running news, gear reviews and training tips, but it's also a great hub of marathon knowledge, including training plans. The new Runner's World+ subscription service not only gives you access to premium content, but it also includes five downloadable marathon training plans.
These range from everything from a guide for first timers (16 weeks, 16 to 44 miles per week), all the way though breaking three hours (16 weeks, 34 to 65 miles per week). For a complete overview, check out the guide on getting ready to race a marathon.
Learn more about the Runner's World+ Training Plans.
Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Plans
As far as coaches go, Hal Higdon is a legend in the sport of running. He's authored three dozen running and marathon training books, is one of the founders of the Road Runners Club of America and is the longest active writer for Runner's World.
He's taken some of his most effective marathon training plans found in his books and put them on his website, ranging from his popular Novice 1 Marathon Training Program all the way through the Advanced 2 Marathon Training Program. These are his free schedules, but you can find his interactive training plans at the TrainingPeaks link listed above.
Learn more about Hal Higdon's marathon training plans.
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