24 Week Intermediate Minimalist Competitive Marathon Training Plan

This 24 week minimalist competitive marathon plan uses one workout per day with three scheduled workout days per week. This marathon training program that is designed for intermediate level competitive runners that either have limited training time or prefer a minimal training program that includes more rest or cross training days. This program includes high intensity workouts, weekly long training runs and high intensity strength training. The 24 week program begins with a long run base of 4 miles. If a minimalist plan does not meet your needs take a look at our other marathon training plans.

Is This Program For You?

Minimalist training programs are a relatively new type of training. There are both advantages and disadvantages with this type of training, especially for competitive runners. The additional rest or cross training days will assist you if you have problems with frequent over use injuries, are performing concurrent training for other sports or have limited training time. The downfall of minimalist training is related to performance. While some runner’s are able to perform at very high levels with minimalist training most runners will struggle to reach their peak performance levels with minimal training.

Running Workouts

This minimalist marathon training program concentrates on quality versus quantity. All workouts are quality oriented with high intensity levels and concentration on goal pace running. There are seven specific types of running workouts in this minimalist marathon training program.

Endurance Runs – This type of run is also known as aerobic conditioning. Endurance runs make up the highest percentage of overall mileage for a distance runner. Endurance runs build your overall endurance, increase your blood volume, improve your ability to store energy supplying fuel, and improves the ability of your system to deliver oxygen to your muscles. These workouts are performed at about 55 to 75 percent of your VO2 max (your body’s ability to process oxygen). This pace should feel easy and “conversational” in nature.

Lactate Turnpoint Runs

These workouts, which are also called anaerobic conditioning, are intended to improve your body’s ability to process accumulating lactic acid to produce energy. They also improve your ability to continue to run with rising potassium levels (a cause of running fatigue). LT runs are typically performed at between 75 percent and 90 percent of your VO2 max. Your LT pace is about 2 to 4 percent slower than 10K pace. These workouts are performed at or near 10K race pace because you are flooding your system with lactic acid and potassium at that pace, which makes 10K pace very efficient at improving your LT.

Progressive Runs

Progressive runs are a workout that combines endurance training, tempo training, lactate turn point training. When performing progressive runs you should start at an easy endurance pace and gradually increase your pace through out your training run. Increase from endurance pace to lactate turnpoint pace through all but the final mile of your progressive run. Then speed up to speed or 5K pace for the final mile. For example, if you are doing a 6 mile progressive run you should start at endurance pace and gradually speed up to lactate turnpoint pace through the first 5 miles. Then speed up to goal 5K pace for the final mile.

Hill Training

One of the best ways to improve your running strength and running economy is through the use of hill running. Hill running also helps improve your LT pace.

Long Runs

These runs improve your endurance, goal pace endurance and mental toughness. They also improve your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel and conserve carbohydrates. Long runs are performed at an easy pace, goal pace or a combination of the two paces.

Goal Pace Training

One of the most important and often forgotten competitive training paces is goal pace running. Goal pace training will improve your goal specific neuromuscular function and make you a more efficient runner at goal pace.


Strides are a form of sprint training that is often done just before a post training cool down. In this program, strides are 100 meter runs in which you start your stride at a moderate pace and smoothly accelerate to full sprint pace at about 80 meters. You then use your forward momentum to “coast” the final 20 meters.

Rest/Cross Training

The remainder of your weekly workouts are either rest days or cross training days. On these days you may either rest completely or perform other types of activity such as swimming, walking, cycling, etc. If you are highly fatigued I would suggest complete rest as the purpose of this minimalist training program is to provide more rest to prevent fatigue or injury and keep the time requirements of your training program to a minimum.


Some workouts are either compound sets or interval training that includes recovery intervals. Your recovery intervals will be either active recovery or passive recovery. Active recovery is rest intervals in which you run at a very easy pace between the harder repeats. Passive recovery refers to complete rest intervals.

What about tempo runs? Most training programs depend heavily upon tempo training runs. Tempo runs are moderate to long distance run that are performed at between marathon pace and about 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace. Tempo training intensity is slightly less than lactate turn point intensity. The purpose of tempo running is to improve your ability to run long distances at paces that produce a significant amount of metabolites without the limiting factor of reaching your lactate turn point. Why doesn’t this program include tempo runs? It does – this program uses many goal pace training workouts. Your marathon goal pace is on the low end of tempo run pace. We use this tempo pace because it is critical to develop your neuromuscular efficiency at your goal marathon pace.

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Minimalist Intermediate Competitive Marathon