If you’re considering a couch to marathon program, you’re not alone. Most of us assume that those who run marathons have been running for years prior to finishing. However, you might be surprised to find that that’s not always the case.
Thousands of runners go from couch to marathon each year – usually after only about 6 months of training.
If you’re considering trying a couch to marathon program, this free training plan will take you from running 1 minute at a time to finishing 26.2 miles in 6 months.
How long does it take to go from couch to marathon?
Most people are able to make the transition from couch to marathon in about 6 months to one year. This 24 week training plan takes you from run/walking for 20 minutes at a time all the way up to running 26.2 miles on race day.
If you are consistent and stay motivated, you’ll be able to complete the couch to marathon program in 6 months.
Can I really go from couch potato to marathon runner?
For some, a 6 month training program might sound too good to be true. Many find themselves wondering whether it’s really possible to go from true couch potato to marathon runner.
Well, good news! It is. If you are committed, consistent, and have no underlying health issues, you can absolutely go from complete couch potato to marathon runner.
>>Download the 6 Month Couch to Marathon Training Plan!
What fitness is needed to start marathon training?
If you’re hoping to make the most out of your couch to marathon training, it’s best to begin once you have a small fitness base. This means that you’re able to run consistently for about 5 minutes at a time, and regularly complete some sort of physical activity – even just a short walk a few times per week.
There is no need to spend time creating a huge fitness base or working up your time on the run – that will come with training. However, for best success, you’ll want to be sure your body is used to moving around and getting some steps in regularly.
Even once you’re fully committed to couch to marathon training, the end goal may feel a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you throughout the training process.
6 Tips for Couch to Marathon Training
Take it slow.
One of the quickest ways to set yourself up for injury or burnout is to push yourself too hard. Many new marathoners make the mistake of starting out too fast, or pushing themselves too hard during training.
Try not to let the initial excitement get the best of you as you begin couch to marathon training. Listen to your body and if you find yourself struggling or feeling especially tired, take it easy. The goal of this training plan is to increase mileage and endurance; speed and pace will come with time.
Get plenty of time to rest.
The increased mileage and activity level will likely leave you feeling a bit more tired at the end of the day. Pay attention to your body’s cues and be sure to prioritize rest and sleep as training increases.
Completing a couch to marathon program is no easy task. As your activity increases, be sure to hit the hay a little earlier each night. In addition, make sure to take advantage of your rest days by spending time off your feet.
Many new runners are surprised to discover just how much the act of “recovery” entails. Recovery means more than simply completing your rest days as scheduled.
Prioritize recovery each day and each week. Take the time to stretch and wind down after a workout, incorporate some gentle yoga sessions, refuel and hydrate properly, and allow your body plenty of time to rest and sleep.
Follow the plan.
No matter how good you might be feeling, it’s important to stick to the couch to marathon training plan. Many self-proclaimed couch potatoes find themselves feeling better than expected during the first few weeks of run/walk intervals, and are tempted to do more than is scheduled.
Rather than pushing further, enjoy how easy the workouts feel now and take advantage of being able to finish with energy leftover. Remember that it won’t be long before you’re running double digit mileage in a single day.
Working towards any goal for a 6 month period of time requires commitment. Your motivation is bound to falter at least a few times throughout the course of your couch to marathon training.
Have strategies in place for those times when you feel unmotivated, and be prepared to deploy them when you feel like skipping a run or giving up. Remind yourself why you started, and just how far you’ve come.
Trust the process.
Going from couch to marathon is certainly not going to be easy. But with consistent training, you might be surprised by what your body can do. Trust the process, lean into the challenging moments and celebrate the wins. You’ll never believe what you can accomplish in 6 months.
24 Week Couch to Marathon Training Plan (Free PDF!)
If you’re ready to go from couch to marathon, this free training plan will help you get there in just 6 months.
Download the full Couch to Marathon Training Plan PDF here for free!
Couch to Marathon Training Details
- Weeks 1-4 feature a run/walk program
- 3 runs per week: one weekend long run and two easy mid-week runs
- One rest day per week
- One optional yoga or rest day per week
- One cross training day per week
- One strength training day per week
This training plan will take you from couch to marathon in just 6 months. You don’t need any running experience to get started with week one and work your way up to the final 26.2 mile race. Accomplish that goal, improve your health, gain fitness and learn to love a new hobby in 24 weeks!
Saturday 13th of May 2023
I will be 61yrs old this year, besides work I'm fairly inactive, looking to do a 10k first then maybe a marathon next year, please help.
Tuesday 27th of December 2022
Do you have this in Excel so we can upload to a calendar app?
Thursday 13th of October 2022
Loving this! Really informative and love all the choices and all the different types of training. I would like to get into using my dumbbells instead of them sitting getting dusty nd I’m hoping to eventually run a marathon using your couch to marathon programme.
Runnin' for Sweets
Wednesday 19th of October 2022
Thanks so much for reading! So glad the site has been helpful for you. :) good luck with your training and happy running!!
Saturday 8th of October 2022
How do I sign up for your emails? Thank you!
Runnin' for Sweets
Monday 10th of October 2022
Hi Becca! Check out the sidebar on the right side of the homepage -- scroll down slightly and you'll find a section titled "Newsletter". Submit your info there and you should be all set to receive the bimonthly emails!
Tuesday 22nd of February 2022
Please add me to your newletter list. Thank you!!!