marathon intermediate training plan

Marathon Intermediate Training Plan

You are an intermediate-level runner targeting a 3:45, 3:30, 3:20, or 3:10 hour marathon time goal.

Not an intermediate runner? Check out the beginner or advanced plan.

The key to running a faster marathon lies in improving your endurance, lactate threshold, VO2 max, and speed. These physiological abilities can be developed by adjusting 3 training variables: 

  1. Purposeful running workouts
  2. A balanced training week
  3. Smart training progression

Purposeful Running Workouts for the Marathon

A fast marathon time allows for no weakness in any of the training zones. However, marathon preparation emphasizes endurance and lactate threshold training more than is typical for shorter race distances. 

The following  12 training zones and sub-zones are part of the marathon intermediate training plan:

  • Recovery run
  • Easy run / Long run
  • Moderate pace
  • Marathon pace
  • 30K pace (aerobic threshold)
  • HM pace
  • 15K pace (lactate threshold)
  • 10K pace
  • 5K pace
  • 3K pace (VO2 max)
  • 1500m pace
  • Power 

The Marathon Intermediate Training Week

The 4 to 5-day running week consists of 2 key workouts and 1 long run. The plans that feature a 5-day running week, can be reduced to 4 by replacing one easy run with aerobic cross-training. You can also switch the workout days around (e.g. have the long run on Sunday instead of Saturday), as long as it doesn’t result in consecutive challenging workouts. 

  1. Key workout 1
  2. Easy/moderate
  3. Key workout 2
  5. Long run
  6. (Easy)

Smart Training Progression for the Marathon

The marathon intermediate training plans consist of four phases: conditioning, base, support, and race-specific. That means the training intensity gradually transitions from general to race-specific efforts. 


During the 4-week conditioning phase, you will focus on improving your general endurance and speed. Your weekly mileage will gradually increase, and you will also do hill sprints on 2 of your easy runs to build muscular strength. 

  1. Easy + hill sprints
  2. Easy + hill sprints
  3. Moderate
  4. Long run
  5. (Easy)  

Base Training

During the 6-week base phase, you continue to increase your overall mileage and building your long run distance. The first key workout features a Fartlek training with short segments of 5K to 3K pace. The second key workout is dedicated to aerobic work with a segment at either moderate or marathon pace. 

  1. Fartlek
  2. Easy
  3. Moderate / Mar pace
  4. Long Run 
  5. (Easy)

Support Training

The 6-week support phase aims to enhance your VO2 max and, more importantly, lactate threshold by gradually increasing the number and duration of intervals/segments towards the end of this training phase. 

  1. Intervals 10K/5K pace
  2. Easy
  3. Tempo 30K/HM/15K pace
  4. Extended Long Run
  5. (Easy)


In the last few weeks before the race, focusing on running at your marathon goal pace for longer periods is essential. The other key workout of the week maintains a high lactate threshold. The race taper begins in the final 2 weeks. 

  1. HM/10K pace
  2. Easy
  3. Marathon pace
  4. Long Run
  5. (Easy)

Personalizing the Marathon Advanced Training Plan

You can choose an intermediate marathon training plan from 48 different versions based on 4 criteria. You can choose between a 20, 16, 12, or 8-week training plan. If you have recently trained and participated in races with a strong foundation of endurance and speed, you can go with the 12 or 8-week plan. 

  • Time goal 3:45, 3:30, 3:20, or 3:10 h
  • Plan duration 8, 12, 16 or 20 weeks
  • Imperial or metric (miles or km)
  • TrainingPeaks or FinalSurge

Marathon Intermediate Training Plans



Sub 3:45 h

26 - 40 mi per week, across 4 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16, 20 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 3:30 h

31 - 45 mi per week, across 4 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16, 20 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 3:20 h

36 - 50 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16, 20 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 3:10 h

41 - 55 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16, 20 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access
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