Running a marathon is a challenging journey. You could prepare for months and still struggle on race day.

Most people (especially beginners) approach marathon training by simply running daily, but, it’s more than that.

To win a marathon, you need a structure- a marathon training plan. And if you can spare 3 months before race day, then, you need a 3-month marathon training plan.

In this article, we’ll show you a simple 3-month marathon training plan you can follow, thereby increasing your chances of winning on race day!

Benefits of following a 3-month marathon training plan

Marathon race day

A marathon training plan can have a multitude of benefits for runners of all levels. Here are some of the benefits of following a 3-month marathon training plan:

The 3-Month Marathon Training Plan

Follow the sample plan below. Ensure you customize it to suit your lifestyle.

Month 1: Building Endurance

Endurance is the foundation of any fitness program, and building it is essential for improving your overall fitness level. 

In the first month of your training plan, use the following types of training and workouts to build endurance:

1. Distance Running

Start with short runs of 1-2 kilometers and gradually increase the distance to 5 kilometers by the end of the month. Aim to run 3 times a week, with rest days in between.

2. Strength Training

Then, start compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups in your body, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups. Use weights to increase resistance and challenge your muscles. Aim to do strength training 2 times a week, with rest days in between.

3. Cross-Training

Vary your workout routine by incorporating activities such as cycling, and swimming. Aim to do cross-training 1-2 times a week, with rest days in between.

Tips for Avoiding Injuries

Injuries can set back your training plan and hinder your progress. Here are some actionable tips to help you avoid injuries:

  1. Warm-up: Start your workout with a 5-10 minute warm-up, such as a light jog or jumping jacks.
  2. Stretching: After warming up, do dynamic stretching exercises that mimic the movements you’ll be doing in your workout. For example, if you’re running, do leg swings and hip circles.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop exercising and rest until you feel better.

Month 2: Increasing Speed and Intensity

In month 2 of your marathon training plan, you’ll focus on increasing your speed and endurance. By challenging yourself with more intense workouts, you’ll build your fitness level and prepare yourself for the upcoming marathon.

1. Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity running and periods of rest or low-intensity activity. This type of training is an effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase your speed. 

To get started, incorporate interval training into your workouts at least twice a week. Begin with shorter intervals and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time.

2. Hill Training

Hill training involves running up and down hills to build strength and endurance. While this type of training can be challenging, it’s an effective way to improve your overall running performance. 

To begin hill training, incorporate it into your workouts once a week. Start with smaller hills and gradually work your way up to steeper inclines.

3. Tempo Runs 

Tempo runs involve running at a steady pace that’s slightly faster than your normal training pace. This type of training helps you build endurance and improve your overall speed. To start, incorporate tempo runs into your workouts at least once a week. Begin with shorter distances and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time.

Nutrition Tips for Runners

Proper nutrition is essential for runners to fuel their bodies and support their training. Here are some tips to keep in mind during month 2 of your marathon training plan:

1. Stay Hydrated

It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts to stay hydrated and prevent cramping.

2. Eat a Balanced Diet

Fuel your body with a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This will help you perform at your best and recover more quickly after workouts.

3. Refuel After Workouts

Eating a post-workout snack or meal that includes both carbohydrates and protein can help your muscles recover and rebuild.

Month 3: Fine-Tuning and Tapering

In the final month of your marathon training plan, the focus shifts towards fine-tuning your fitness level and tapering your training to ensure that you are rested and ready for race day.

1. Recovery Runs

Recovery runs are short, slow-paced runs designed to help your body recover from more intense training sessions. Incorporate these runs into your workouts at least once a week during the final month of your training plan. Keeping the pace slow and steady will allow your body to recover fully.

2. Easy Runs

Easy runs are longer, low-intensity runs that help maintain your fitness level without adding additional stress to your body. Aim to include easy runs into your workouts at least once a week during the final month of your training plan. These runs should be longer in duration but slower in pace compared to your typical training runs.

3. Tapering

Tapering is the process of reducing your training volume and intensity in the weeks leading up to the marathon to allow your body to recover fully and be ready for race day. Gradually reduce your training volume and intensity during the final two weeks of your training plan to help your body recover and be fresh for the marathon.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Tapering

Tapering is an essential part of your marathon training plan, but it can be challenging to get it right. 

Gradual tapering is essential to ensure that your body is rested and fresh without losing your fitness level. 

However, there are several common mistakes to avoid during tapering. One mistake is over-tapering, which involves reducing your training volume and intensity too much. 

This can leave you feeling sluggish and unprepared on race day. It’s important to find a balance between resting and maintaining your fitness level.

Another common mistake is overeating. During tapering, your body isn’t burning as many calories as usual, and it’s common to feel hungry. 

However, it’s essential to avoid overeating and stick to a healthy and balanced diet. This will ensure that you don’t gain excess weight that could impact your performance.

In addition to physical preparation, tapering is also a time for mental preparation. Ignoring mental preparation is another mistake to avoid. Use this time to visualize your race and mentally prepare for the challenges ahead.

Best Practices for a 3-Month Marathon Training Plan

Marathon running

In addition to your training plan, there are several additional tips and best practices to keep in mind as you prepare for your marathon. These practices can help you stay motivated, prevent injuries, and perform at your best on race day. Here are some key tips to consider:

1. Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is just as important as physical training. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line and completing the marathon successfully. This will help you stay motivated and focused during your training.

One way to prepare mentally for a marathon is through positive self-talk. Positive self-talk can help you stay focused and motivated during tough training sessions. Encourage yourself with positive affirmations such as “I am strong,” “I can do this,” and “I am getting closer to my goal.”

Also, create a mantra. A mantra can be a powerful tool to keep you motivated and focused during the marathon. Choose a short phrase that is meaningful to you, such as “Strong and steady” or “One step at a time.”

2. Rest and Recovery

Getting enough sleep is critical for your body to recover and perform optimally. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night, especially during the final weeks leading up to the marathon.

Active recovery is another means to help your body recover faster after intense training sessions. Activities such as yoga, stretching, or swimming can help alleviate muscle soreness and improve flexibility.

Pay attention to your body and how it feels. Rest when you feel tired or experience pain or discomfort. Pushing through pain can lead to injury and set you back in your training.

3. Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration is crucial for peak performance during the marathon. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily and carry a water bottle during your training runs to stay hydrated.

Ensure you fuel your body by eating a balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. A balanced diet provides your body with the energy it needs to train and perform at its best. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoid processed foods and sugar.

4. Equipment and Gear

Invest in quality running shoes. Good running shoes are essential to prevent injuries and provide support and cushioning for your feet. 

Also, investing in a GPS watch can help you track your pace, distance, and heart rate during training runs. This information can be valuable to fine-tune your training plan and stay on track.

5. Injury Prevention

It’s important to always warm up before each training session and cool down with stretching afterward to prevent muscle soreness and injury. 

Additionally, incorporating cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, or weightlifting can help prevent overuse injuries and improve overall fitness. 

Remember to pay attention to any pain or discomfort in your body and take time to rest and recover, as ignoring pain can lead to serious injuries and set you back in your training.

Incorporating these additional tips and best practices into your marathon training plan can help you stay motivated, prevent injuries, and perform at your best on race day. Remember to listen to your body, stay focused, and trust in your marathon training plan. 

Final Thoughts

Running a marathon is no easy feat. But, the right preparation and plan make the process easier.

A 3-month marathon training plan gives you adequate time to prepare for a marathon whether  you’re a beginner or not.

With this guide, you have all you need to run a marathon and win. To ensure you’re on the right track, grab our marathon checklists so that you don’t miss out on any detail in your preparation for race day.

Now, it’s time to put your training to the test and participate in the OC Marathon Festival.

We can assure you that this 3-month marathon training plan will prepare you well for the race. 

With your newfound endurance, strength, speed, and mental toughness, you’re ready to conquer the marathon.

But the OC Marathon Festival is not just about the race. It’s about the experience of being a part of a community of runners, volunteers, and spectators who come together to celebrate the sport of running.

It’s a chance to challenge yourself, meet new people, and create lasting memories.

So, if you’re ready to take on the challenge and experience the excitement of the OC Marathon Festival, sign up today

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to push your limits and achieve your goals. We’ll see you at the starting line!