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Get ready to race with our trail marathon training plan

SuuntoRun — 9 December 2019

Signed up for a trail running marathon and now wondering how to prepare? Let our team coach get you to the start line. 

Nicknamed the “marathon whisperer” Denise Sauriol knows the distance inside out. She should do after running more than 112 marathons in locations across all seven continents. She is one of our Suunto multisport team coaches and has designed this plan for trail runners.

Denise began running as a child and ran her first marathon in 1994. She continued advancing as a marathoner until August 2009. She was running to Central Park to race in the New York Half Marathon, but never made it to the start line. A car struck her, breaking five of her vertebrae, and temporarily ending her running career. To give back to the sport she loves dearly, she transitioned to coaching.

“I loved coaching so much that in 2016 I left my 26-year career to become a full-time running coach,” she says. “I have a lot of practice on what to do and what not to do with training and on race day. I coach runners of all abilities, ages and race goals. I have helped my clients run their first mile, all the way to helping some of them run a 100 mile ultra.”

Click here to access Denise’s 20 week trail marathon training plan!

Denise Sauriol made this 20-week training program.
Ready to train? Let coach Denise guide you! 

Denise has created a 20 week trail marathon training plan for beginners. Available for download on Training Peaks, it’s designed for runners who are already averaging between 32 and 40 km per week and can comfortably run a 12 to 16 km long run each week. It assumes people following it have a strong endurance base.

The plan has a four week cycle: In the first three weeks the volume and long run distance increase by 10% each week. Then both decrease on the fourth week. This ensures a balance of build up and recovery time. The training volume continues increasing up until two 32 km long runs. This gives athletes plenty of time on their feet and more confidence than if they only complete one 32 km long run. “The plan also allows for a three week taper,” Denise says. “During the taper the volume drastically decreases, allowing the body and mind to rest and reset for race day.”

Denise advises athletes following her plan to make sure they do their long runs on trail, not on roads or treadmills. She says this is one of the most common mistakes she sees trail runners make. “You have to train on trails to race trails,” she says. “Trail running is a different beast than road running. You can run some of your training miles on a treadmill or on the road, but I recommend a high percentage of your weekly miles, especially the long runs are run on trail.”

The plan is available for free as part of Suunto Value Pack via TrainingPeaks, one of Suunto’s key partners, and provides easy to understand, week-by-week, session-by-session, training guidance. Your end of the bargain is doing the work.


To download Denise’s 20 week training plan, login or sign up to TrainingPeaks and find the plan here