Learning from a Professional Runner’s Training Schedule


"It’s not important to succeed. It is how you prepare and plan to succeed that is critical. If you prepare well in what you’re doing, success will come and wait for you." Eliud Kipchoge

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When it comes to top men’s marathoners in the world today, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya is certainly on that list. He is the reigning men’s marathon gold-medalist from the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Also, he participated in the Nike Sub2 Project which attempted to break through the 2:00:00 barrier in the marathon whereby he missed this mark by 25 seconds in 2017 and broke the barrier in 2019. 

Now what do these Herculean stats have to do with us self-coached marathoners? Well, Kipchoge shared his training schedule (HERE) leading up to his attempt to break the world record of 2:02:57 at the Berlin Marathon in September 2017. In the end, his finishing time fell a little short on this day at 2:03:32. However, we get some pretty good information on how the best in the world train. I personally found the schedule easy to follow.

Training Environment
Kipchoge’s training took place near Eldoret, Kenya and, after reading his schedule, I’d have to conclude training would be under less than optimal conditions. Eldoret is near the equator at altitude (about 2100 m). The average temperature in August is 22℃ and is the wettest month of the year with close to 180 mm (7 inches) of rain on average. Runs on hilly terrain were described; as were runs on dirt roads that could quickly turn to less than ideal. For instance, the August 10 journal entry described the run as, “...had to take a detour loop as the course was too muddy in parts…”

What I take away from this description of the training environment is Kipchoge embraces whatever obstacles are presented to him in his training schedule. A little rain and mud...no problem...thin air because of altitude...OK. By the time race day arrived in Berlin, a fairly flat course at lower altitude, it probably seemed relatively easy to him. Therefore, as a self-coached runner, I need to embrace obstacles presented to me in my training build-up. While I don't live at high altitude, it's possible for me to track elevation climbed in my build-up, so race day seems relatively easy. Also, soft surfaces are to be sought out whenever possible. Perhaps the soft shoulder of the road or shoulder of a paved path makes sense.
“A good plan is crucial for me. I have always put all of my trust in my coach Patrick Sang. When I start a race I don’t have doubts. I know I have prepared myself as well as possible. I can trust that my preparation will push me to win.“

Total Training Volume
The journal shows Kipchoge ran as part of a training group maintaining consistently high volume throughout the weeks leading up to the marathon. In the five full weeks that were part of his training journal, I counted total training volume of roughly 189, 146, 193, 176, and 190 km run. (190 km give or take the week before his race!)

What I take away from this description of total training volume is that, with the exception of week #2, Kipchoge ran over 160 km (100 mi) per week during this training schedule. Moreover, he didn't seem to taper in his weekly mileage as he got closer to race day. What I take from this training program is that tapering may be overrated for the professional runner. While it’s tempting to try, this self-coached runner is still going to taper heading into a key race. 


Breakdown of Kipchoge’s Training Schedule from August 10th - September 19th

*Benchmark Pace from September 24th Berlin Marathon Finishing Time*

Finishing Time = 2:03:32 (2:55/km)


Number of Runs


Relation to Benchmark Pace





Easy - Moderate














2:45/km during “on” phase




2:37/km during repetition




The graph above shows a breakdown of Kipchoge’s workouts and associated paces heading into the Berlin Marathon. When discussing these training paces, I consider it helpful to compare to a known benchmark. We’re fortunate to have a very useful figure for comparison purposes. We do know Kipchoge’s finishing time for the Berlin Marathon (2:03:32) and average pace per kilometer (2:55/km or 4:42/mi).

Easy and Moderate Runs
Kipchoge's training journal reported 59 runs from August 10th to September 19th. Of the 59 runs, a total of 47 were run slower than his marathon race pace. The pace for 18 of them was described as “easy” and 14 runs were described as “easy-moderate”. As reported in the journal most easy pace runs were done at around 4:00/km (or 6:26/mi) pace and easy-moderate runs at around a 3:56/km pace. For instance, on August 16th, in the morning, Kipchoge ran an 18 km easy-moderate pace taking 71 minutes. In the afternoon, he ran 11 km at an easy pace taking 44 minutes.

Kipchoge ran seven days a week and used easy pace for his second run of the day to help recover. These easy runs allowed for increased blood flow to the legs while not providing much in the way of cardiovascular stress. Likewise, for the self-coached runner, it may be beneficial to include a 45 minute brisk walk in the afternoon of a run day aimed at increasing blood flow to the legs and setting the table for recovery. OR does running easy need to be considered a learned skill, like running fast? To give some frame of reference, following Kipchoge's example, the average marathoner would expect to cover roughly 5k in a 45 minute easy run at a 9:00/km pace.

Of the 59 runs, 9 were described as “moderate” and 6 as “tempo”. These runs were done at around 3:22/km (5:25/mi) pace. For instance, on August 14th, Kipchoge ran 21 km at moderate pace taking 70 minutes. On September 14th, he ran 40 km(!!!) at tempo pace in 2 hrs 15 min.

Compared to his marathon race pace, these runs mentioned are all SLOWER than race pace. Many running coaches and exercise physiologists discuss the importance of 80 to 90 percent of run training each week should be done at an easy to moderate pace. For example, in this post (HERE) I mention that running coach, Steve Magness, advises 80 - 90 percent of run training should take place at a “Talk with Ease” breathing pattern. It seems that Kipchoge’s training schedule follows this pattern as 47 of 59 runs (80%) were run slower than his marathon race pace. Therefore, it appears that the self-coached runner can also benefit from this percentage of easy - moderate training in their marathon schedule. 

Fartlek and Track Runs
The remaining 12 out of 59 runs are FASTER than marathon race pace. Fartlek runs (6 runs) seemed to target marathon pace, even slightly faster, for a certain period of time followed by an easy jog for a certain period of time. Some runners and coaches call these “lactate shuttle” runs. For instance, on September 2nd, after a 10 min warm up, Kipchoge did 25 intervals of 1 min at 2:45 / km pace (marathon race pace is 2:55 / km), followed by 1 min easy jog, after these intervals a 15 min cooldown. This type of fartlek may be beneficial for the self-coached runner, although from a different starting point.

Kipchoge scheduled 6 track runs (roughly 10 percent of total) during this training block. These runs usually took place on Tuesdays. As reported in the journal, track runs did range from 200m to 2km distances. Just to highlight, Kipchoge ran 800m on a couple of occasions. For example, on September 12th, after a 15 min warm up, he ran 14 ✖ 800m targeting a time of 2:11 with 90sec recovery, followed by a 15 min cooldown, These 800m runs work out to a pace of 2:37/km. This type of interval training on the track may be beneficial for the self-coached runner, although from a different starting point.

This video below shows what Kipchoge’s track runs look like - in a fairly large group running in single file.

Future Focus
This training schedule of a professional marathoner gives the self-coached runner good information on how the best in the world train. For future focus, it would be interesting to compare Kipchoge's schedule to that of a 5K / 10K specialist. Moreover, it would be good to know about the training schedule of a professional female marathoner, and whether or not the 80 to 90 percent of running done at an easy to moderate pace applies.

Thanks for reading...I'm interested in your thoughts! Easy pace running - is it a learned skill like fast running? Where does brisk walking fit into the training picture? What do you make of large group runs - beneficial?

For more, check out the Training & Racing Section in the EOOC TABLE OF CONTENTS.

And readers may be interested in these related posts:
Kipchoge's fartlek runs were done a bit differently than described in this post on - Fartlek is for All Runners .

Kipchoge ran a weekly track workout usually on Tuesdays. For runners interested in introducing interval training into their program, check out this post - Intervals are for All Runners .



Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel.


A reader on Facebook commented...” Really good read. My takeaway is: it confirms that I don’t run my easy runs well. That is to say I go too fast. His easy runs are around 2min/mi slower than marathon pace. For me that would be ~9min/mi. I just can’t (or don’t) do that.”
Another reader replied...” Other than water cooler talk, there's not much relatable to pro athletes. The major takeaway is that the best pro athletes have great, consistent training over a long period of time. They don't get 5 hrs of sleep trying to cram extra training in before work. When a race is going badly, they quit bc just finishing is worth very little.”
A reader commented, “This is why many never reach their potential by not going truly easy on the days that need to be easy. Every runner should be doing their easy runs at around 3:30-4:00 minutes slower than their current mile time trial best. But because that is a glorified walk pace for many, they should be using other training modalities to get the same physiological adaptations but without the musculoskeletal stresses of running. “ The reader gave these examples, “With the hundreds of athletes I've coached over the years, some of my staples are long continuous tire pulling (walking/power hiking), incline treadmill walking or hiking, kick bike, rollerblading (if you're proficient on them), skate skiing, water running and sled pushing.”