The London Marathon is scheduled for the 27 of April 2025. This means that if you start your training in the first week of January you have exactly 16 weeks to prepare. 

Almost four months of training for the London Marathon is more than enough time to train, even if you’re a beginner with only a little running experience.

In this article, we’re going to share with you a fail-proof London Marathon training plan specific to your level of experience so that all you have to worry about come race day is crossing that finish line…

  • How Long Does It Take To Train For The London Marathon?
  • When You Should Start Training For The London Marathon
  • How To Train For The London Marathon
  • 12-Week London Marathon Training Plan
  • Tapering For The London Marathon

Let’s begin!

How Long Does It Take To Train For The London Marathon?

The length of time it takes to prepare for the London Marathon depends on an individual’s running background and experience.

If you’ve got absolutely no running experience but have set this goal for yourself, fantastic! We’ve put together a specific couch to London Marathon guide just for you. You can find it here.

For runners who have some experience, or loads of experience, the table below depicts the weekly training hours based on your level of experience as well as your London Marathon race goal time.

Training Time Required For The London Marathon According To Running Experience

Level Of ExperienceRace GoalAmount Of Training Weeks RequiredAverage Weekly Training HoursTraining Program
Little to none.Finisher0 to 5km = 12 weeks5 to 10km = 12 weeks10 to 21km = 12 weeks21 to 42 km = 12 weeks
Total: 48 Weeks
6:31Couch To London Marathon
Have at a minimum completed a 21 km distance in a race or training, preferably close to 2:20. Finisher12 Weeks6:31Finisher Marathon Plan 
If you have completed 21.1km recently & you can get close to these times:
10km: 61 min
21km: 2:13
Marathon: 4hrs45
Sub 4:30 hour12 Weeks6:21Sub 4:30 hour Marathon Plan
Have run 10km recently & are close to these times:
5km: sub-25
– 10 km: 51min
– 21km: Sub 1:55
-Marathon: 4hrs12
Sub 4 hour12 Weeks6:54Sub 4-hour Marathon Plan
Has achieved the below set times:
5km: 24min10km: 49min21km: 1hr50Marathon: 3hrs45
Sub 3:30 hour12 Weeks6:08Sub 3:30 hour Marathon Plan
Capable of running one of the below times AND have been following at least a 5-day-a-week regime in the recent past.
5km: 18:30
10km: 38:30
15km: 59:30
21km: 1:25:30
42km: 3:05-3:10
Sub 3 hour12 Weeks8:45Sub 3-hour Marathon Plan

Now that we know how long your training is going to take, let’s calculate when you should start training…

When You Should Start Training For The London Marathon

The date at which you should start training for the London Marathon depends on your level of experience and time goal. 

If you are following the couch to London Marathon training you should have started training in May 2024. The reason for such an early head start is that runners doing the couch to London Marathon would first start with a 5km training plan, then move to a 10km then a 21km, and with 12 weeks to go until race day (21 April 2024) they will begin their London Marathon specific training plan.

Experienced runners, they should start their training at the latest 12 weeks before race day.

This does depend on which training plan they are following.

For example, if a runner wants to finish the London Marathon in under 4 hours but has not run a sub 2 hour Half Marathon before then they should first do a sub 2 hour 21km training program which will add on an extra 12 weeks of training, therefore making their training start date the first week of November 2023.

With that being said… I think it’s time we have a look at how you should go about training for the London Marathon…

How To Train For The London Marathon

Training for the London Marathon does not involve only training runs… It involves 8 key ingredients that make up part of the training, which will give you a shot at achieving your London Marathon goal.

London Marathon Training Broken Down:

  1. Training Runs
  2. Long Runs
  3. Nutrition
  4. Rest Days
  5. Time Trials
  6. Strength and Conditioning
  7. Cross Training
  8. Tapering

Training Runs

Easy training runs help you add weekly volume to your running plan. By easy we mean EASY. You should be able to hold a conversation with someone next to you and not be struggling to get a breath in at the same time. 

Most Coach Parry plans have 2 or 3 easy training runs to do a week. 

Long Runs

Long runs are vital to you completing the London Marathon.

The purpose of a long run is to achieve several outcomes, the most important is to develop your endurance to supply energy and oxygen to working muscles over longer distances.

The long run, therefore, plays an important role in improving the running economy. 

Long runs teach us to be on our feet for a long time and they physiologically prepare us for going longer distances. They also allow us to experiment with different nutrition to find out what works best and what doesn’t work for our stomachs.

The longest run 3-4 weeks from race day is one of the most important runs to help prepare you mentally and physically for the London Marathon. 

London Marathon Long Run: Your Longest Run Before Tackling London


A marathon training diet should be well-balanced and include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and an adequate amount of Micro and Macronutrients.

Once you start training you may notice that after a morning of training… you struggle to keep your eyes open come lunchtime and by mid-afternoon, you’ve made your way to the couch for a much-needed nap.

One of the reasons you feel fatigued and sleepy after a tough morning of training is that your nutritional intake after that morning’s training session is not what it should be.

A large majority of the fatigue is from the training but a big portion of that can be alleviated by improving your nutrition.

If you’re interested in learning about what your marathon training nutrition plan should look like, chat with Nicki de Villiers our Sports Nutritionist.

Nicki graduated as a dietitian at the University of Pretoria and completed a postgraduate diploma through the International Olympic Committee and a master’s degree in dietetics.

She has been working in the field of dietetics for around 20 years and has been concentrating on sports nutrition for the last 14 years. She started working at the High-Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria around 10 years ago.

Nicki currently works as a private consulting dietitian at her own practice in Hatfield.

Nicki consults for various PSL teams, professional rugby teams, the Comrades Marathon Association, and individual athletes at all levels.

Work with her here.

Rest Days

Rest days are as important as training days. Most runners don’t realize that in order to get the full benefit of our training we HAVE to recover. Our bodies only adapt to the training we have done during recovery so without recovery you won’t get the full benefit of your training. 

Rest days also help prevent injuries which is key to continuing your training for the marathon.

With our training plans rest days are included in your schedule and placed on specific days where you will get the most benefit from them. For example, rest days are added around the time trials and your long runs so that you can benefit fully from the training you are doing.

Consistency is important… Even when it comes to rest.

Allowing yourself time to recover after your runs is what makes it possible for you to come back better adapted-for your next run. Here is a Practical Guide To Running Recovery.**Link**

Time Trials

Time trials are scheduled every four weeks in your program. You can use these as an indicator of your progress and adjust your program if necessary.

The time trials are 5km or 8km depending on your time goal and should be run in the best time possible.

Strength and Conditioning

Strength and conditioning are extremely important for runners, for two main reasons. The first is for injury prevention, and the second is to improve your running performance by making you a faster and more efficient runner.

Strength training plays an integral part in the Coach Parry training philosophy and that’s why we include our Strength and Conditioning plans as part of the training program.

Read more about the importance of strength training here.

Note: You can get strength training plans anywhere, there are plenty of options on google… But it’s not just about the plan, but how you implement it. The technique is vital and at Coach Parry, we are all about technique.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Cross Training

When we run, we hit the ground hard, which results in eccentric muscle contractions. Our muscles contract while they lengthen in order to act as shock absorbers and protect bones and joints.

Cross-training is a great way to work different muscles in the body that one normally wouldn’t. Cross-training allows more training without eccentric contractions, reducing eccentric load, meaning less damage to the body.

Examples of great cross-training sports to include in your training for the London Marathon include:


Tapering refers to the practice of reducing volume leading to an important competition.

It is one of the most important aspects of marathon training and yet, it is also one of the most difficult to implement because runners fear cutting back on training.

Tapering is in essence reducing mileage, it is vitally important for full recovery from training and for peak performance.

The idea of the taper is to keep you ticking over with some training stimulus.

Your body is so used to training, but we’re also trying to freshen you up and make sure that you are as strong as possible come race day. 

We have a look at the reasons you should taper, how to taper correctly, marathon tapering mistakes, and if it’s possible to taper too much in this article.

These 8 aspects that make up your London Marathon training may seem like a lot to take in at first…

That’s why we have created a proven, step-by-step 12-week marathon training plan to get you from where you are today, to having a London marathon medal around your neck in the time you are chasing.

Our team will ensure you arrive at the start line, fit and most importantly injury free…

…to give yourself a shot at achieving your London marathon goal.

The London  Marathon Training Roadmap guides you through every step of your marathon journey. Training, recovering, tapering, and race day.

With our wide range of plans to choose from, you can pick a training plan by your current running experience, the amount of time you have available for training, and your London Marathon goal.

Let’s have a look at what the London Marathon training plan includes…

12-Week London Marathon Training Plan

To help you achieve race day success, this plan has been carefully thought out and trialed, and tested by hundreds of runners over the last 18 years…

The Coach Parry 12-Week London Marathon Training Plan Includes:

  1. Daily Training Sessions

– Every training session is broken down into exactly what you need to do.

– There are pacing guidelines for every run so that you know exactly how fast to run them.

– The perfect amount of recovery is included to make sure you benefit from all of the training sessions.

  1. Strength Training

– There are plans for all abilities so if you’ve never done S&C or a master, we’ve got you covered

– Warm-up routines and stretching plans are also included.

– No need to go to a gym or buy expensive equipment. Everything can be done at home.

  1. Big Picture Planning

– See how each training session fits into the overall Marathon Training Roadmap.

– Analyse your training data within the plan so that you can see how you are responding to the overall training.

– Know exactly when and how long your long training runs should be.

I guess the next question is… Where do you find these plans…

  • Couch To London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here
  • Finishers London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here
  • Sub 4:30 hour London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here
  • Sub 4-hour London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here
  • Sub 3:30 hour London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here
  • Sub 3-hour London Marathon Training Plan: Click Here

Tapering For The London Marathon 

How best to taper for a marathon can be highly personalized depending on your adaptation, race experience, and even your physiology.

In one study, they found that tapering can improve your time by 5.6%.  If we look at this percentage in terms of the London Marathon, that is the difference between a 3hr20 and a 3hr31!

As a guideline when tapering for a marathon,  the shortest taper should be no less than 10 days, with the longest period of three weeks. 

We recommend a three-week taper where you gradually decrease your mileage leading up to race day.

We wrote this article to tell you exactly What a Marathon Taper Should Look Like.

The journey ahead of you is one you will never forget. Remember to stick to your training program as much as possible. Yes… That includes the rest days and enjoying every session knowing that it’s one step closer to the London Marathon finish line.

Ps. This is an article you don’t want to miss: London Marathon Drinks Stations: What Can You Get & Where

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