Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

2.30 Marathon Pace Domination: Keys To Success

2.30 marathon pace is 5.43 per mile or 3.33 per kilometer. Can anyone run this time? Sadly, I would vote no. You need to have a level of talent and even more of a work ethic to achieve a 2.29.59. I have known numerous athletes over the years who trained like monks and never broke the barrier.

I know how difficult break the sub 2.30 marathon is as I only did it twice myself. My personal best for the marathon is 2.19.35 and my second fastest time is 2.26.42. My life revolved around running in order to achieve these times. I'm certainly not saying you cannot still have a good time. That being said, you had best have your head on straight if you plan on running 2.29.59 or better.

It takes an immense amount of work and focus in order to sustain such a pace over the classic 26.2 mile distance.

How Do I Break A 2.30 Marathon?

A sub 2.30 marathon requires more of a focus on quality than quantity. Yes, I would advise at a minimum running 80 miles per week and up. That being said, the best advice I received is to plan your work and work your plan. What percentage of your weekly mileage are you training faster than 5 minute mile pace?

How often are you training at 4.45-5.00 mile pace? You will need to get accustomed to these types of intensities in order to sustain 5.43 mile pace or 3.33 per kilometer over this distance. The key is teaching the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the blood stream. There is no easy way to do this. You will not break a 2.30 marathon by doing long runs at 7.00 mile pace.

How does one break the 2.30 marathon? Well, it involves a great deal of patience on the part of the athlete. The marathon is not the 5K or 10K. It is vastly different than the half-marathon as well. In fact, we know it is double the distance so requires more emphasis on hydration, mental capability and proper training.

It doesn't matter if you can sustain the pace for a half marathon. 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles are vastly different. That being said, if you can run 1.15 for the half it surely tells me you are capable of running a 2.29.59 marathon. 1.15.00 is a very respectable time over the 13.1 mile distance. In addition, it is a highly competitive and aggressive pace.

Now, to do this over the marathon distance is a whole other task in and of itself. You need to start varying up the paces of your long runs.

What Steps Should I Take To Run A Marathon Under 2 Hours and 30 Minutes?

One of the main strategies I used to break 2.30 was to run my long runs faster. That being said, I didn't start initiating this tactic until I was very fit. Long runs are already very difficult and take a lot out of you as it is.

The long run was the hardest workout I did leading into running 2.19 for the marathon. You have to get 5.43 mile pace or 3.33 kilometer pace to feel more in control. Unfortunately, since you are already very fit it makes this task even more difficult. Make sure to check out the video below from the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel.

How can you make 5.43 mile pace feel easier? Well, you need to train at around 4.40 mile pace or faster. Yes, you will not be able to spend that much time at this type of intensity. That being said, you can spend some time running this fast. You can also incorporate strides into your routine as well. The key is training at very high heart rates to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers.

The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more efficient you are going to run. You will not achieve this physiological adaptation by running slow. Running slow is still important in training to break the 2.30 marathon. You still need to know when to back off so you can get the biggest return on your time investment.

Example Long Run for a Sub 2.30 Marathon

So, you need to start focusing on running your long runs at faster speeds. Here is an example of a long run I would do leading into my sub 2.20 marathon.

24 miles: first 5 miles easy@140-50BPM (6.15-30 mile pace when fit), 1 mile in 4.50, 5 miles@160BPM (5.25-45 mile pace when fit), 5 miles easy@140-50BPM, 1 mile in 4.50, 5 miles@160BPM, 2 miles easy@140-50BPM

Do you see the significant difference in how this workout it set up? This is not a leisurely jog right? This is a very aggressive effort which leads me to the next step you must follow in order to succeed. The fact that you are running at solid clip and than being forced to drop a sub-5 minute mile is asking a lot.

The reason we do this is to improve our lactate tolerance. You are teaching yourself to surge when already fatigued. In addition, it gets you out of your comfort zone. It is not an easy task to run a 4.50 mile in the middle of a long run. That being said, this is what many of the world's top marathoners do their long runs.

Furthermore, this tactic is one of the main reasons I was able to lower my PR from 2.43.36 to 2.19.35. I also ran 2.26.42 by using the same strategy. So, if you are currently in that 2.59 to 2.30 range and looking for a new way to get to 2.29.59 this is it. Of course, there are other strategies you need to be following in order to run under 2.30 for the marathon.

The long run itself is not the only way but a very critical part to your success.

Alternate Your Long Run Efforts

I recommend running one harder long run one weekend and the next weekend jog for 18 to 24 miles. Remember, the benefits of your hard work come in the rest, not from the workout itself. So, you need to allow time for your body to adapt and recover from those harder long runs.

This may be new territory for you. The fact you are seeking to sustain 2.30 marathon pace tells me you are already highly competitive. I already know you have done long runs in the past but perhaps not quite like this. I had never done workouts like this until I started being trained by a Boston Marathon champion.

There are reasons these marathoners make it look so easy. They train at speeds that far exceed what they plan on racing at over 26.2 miles. Yes, you are not going to sustain 4.40 mile pace for 26.2 miles. That being said, you can do 4-6, 1-mile repetitions on the track at this pace.

How will 5.43 mile pace feel after you have trained your body to sustain 4.40 mile pace? You guessed it, more relaxed and in control. 5.43 mile pace isn't that fast over 3 to 6 miles. It is a very fast and competitive pace over 26.2 miles. Thus, the reason so few athletes are able to do it.

Suggested Plan for Sub 2.30 Marathon

I am currently working on a new training course for athletes seeking to break the sub 2.30 marathon. The course is called the Sub 2.30 Marathon Mastermind. I will be discussing, in detail, all the specific strategies I used to break the sub 2.30 marathon barrier.

2.30 marathon pace

I would highly recommend investing in your personal development and join this course. One of the best things you can do is bypass the mistakes of others and learn how to master this barrier.

Start doing your long runs at 160 beats per minute. Have you considered doing heart rate monitor training? If not, I'd suggest you start implementing this into your training routine. The reason is it keeps you in the correct training zone. In addition, it also ensures you are not overtraining. Below are my top recommendations for using heart rate monitors.

Easy pace – 140-50 BPM

Moderate – 151-60 BPM (perfect training zone for conducting your long runs)

Anaerobic Threshold (AT or Tempo runs) – 165-174 BPM

Aerobic Capacity – 175+ BPM i.e. track intervals such as mile, 200m, 400m, 800 and 2-mile repeats

What Else Should You Do To Break A Sub 2.30 Marathon?

Spend some time running at 4 minute mile pace. Yes, you and I will not sustain this type of pace for very long. That being said, these highly aggressive workouts will make 5.43 mile pace feel like jogging.

You can do repeat 200m, 300m and 400m intervals at sub 4 minute mile pace. In addition, you can do mile and 2-mile workouts at paces 30 seconds to a minute faster than your goal sub 2.30 marathon race pace.

This is why athletes running sub 2.20 and sub 2.30 times make it look easy. They have spent sufficient time training at speeds much faster than 5.43 mile pace. I focused a lot of my time running at 4 to 5 minute mile pace.

Consistent Training Makes Sub 2.30 Marathon Pace More Manageable

You need to also sustain consistent weekly mileage between 80 to 100 miles per week. Do not get caught up in volume for volume sake. So what if you ran 100 miles a week for 8 straight weeks. My question is what percentage of that mileage was spent training at 88 to 95% of your maximum heart rate? A great way to find out your estimated maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.

2.30 marathon pace will only feel easy by persistent and consistent training at efforts much faster than than 5.43 mile pace. Remember, this will not be easy. Do not get discouraged when you don't see the results quite as fast as you would like. The most common trait I saw in the sub 2.30 marathoners I trained with is they never lost enthusiasm.

Marathoners training to run under 2 hours and 30 minutes for the marathon are highly disciplined. These athletes know what they are training to do very few people achieve. They understand the amount of hard work necessary to achieve this time barrier.

So, be persistent and consistent with your preparation. You need to be putting in consistent 80 to 100 mile weeks. That being said, the majority of those miles need to be quality. In addition, you need to be jogging on your easy days. You cannot continue to push your body and expect adaptation to occur without proper rest.

What It Took For Me To Break 2.30 For The Marathon

  • Longer and faster long runs – I started doing my long runs at 160 beats per minute. I once did a 20-miler in 1.50.02 or 5.30 mile pace at 160 beats per minute. This was at around 85 of my maximum heart rate.

This workout was done 5 weeks prior to running 2.26.42 at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon where I placed 5th overall.

  • Consistent mileage of 80 to 100 miles per week – I focused on quality versus quantity and always kept quality in mind. I knew to sustain 5.43 mile pace I had to spend time running quality efforts.

For example, paces from 4 to 5 minute mile pace were the norm. I would repeat 200, 300 ,400 and 600 meter repeats at sub 4-minute mile pace. Furthermore, I would train at 4.40 mile pace for repeat miles on the track. In addition, I would do repeat 2-miles on the track at 4.55 to 5.05 mile pace

JOG on Your Recovery Days

  • I would jog on my easy days – I trained very hard on my hard days and extremely easy on my easy, recovery days. I could have cared less if I was running at 12 minute mile pace on my easy days.

What mattered most to me was recovering from the very hard track and road sessions. So, I never was caught up with what pace I was running at on my easy days.

  • I visualized myself running under 2.30 for the marathon – Athletes, in general, disregard mental training. We all become very focused on the physical aspect of training and disregard mental training.

I spent about 20 to 30 minutes per day visualizing myself getting across the finish line with a 2.29.59 or faster on the clock. In fact, my goal when I was still a 2.43 marathoner was to run 2.21.59 or faster.

The 2008 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials “B” standard time was 2.22.00. So, I knew I had to do some very heavy work in order to sustain 5.25 mile pace for 26.2 miles. How does an athlete go from being a 2.43 marathoner to 2.19? Well, the strategies I am covering here are the main reasons I did it.

The Hard Facts Regarding The 2 HR 30 Minute Marathon

The are no guarantees of success here. Sustaining 2.30 marathon pace for 26.2 miles is not easy. There is a reason so few runners achieve this each year around the world. A 2.29.59 marathon is a highly respected throughout the world. The athletes that are doing it are putting in consistent training and are wholeheartedly focused on their event.

Furthermore, you cannot be lukewarm or merely interested and run a 2.29.59 marathon time. The Sub 2.30 Marathon Mastermind course I am working on is going to show you exactly what needs to be done in order to achieve this. Are there guarantees? Of course not. That being said, you have a much better chance of success by knowing the exact strategies to make it a reality.

You are going to have to make some changes in order to break this barrier. Again, I know how difficult it is as I only broke the sub 2.30 marathon barrier twice in my own career. It will be one of the hardest things you ever do as a runner. That being said, once you have finally broken the barrier then you will know it can be done again. In fact, then you may focus on 2.25 or running a sub 2.20 marathon.

Closing Thoughts

I commend you for wanting to become a sub 2.30 marathon runner. I have known many athletes over the years that have achieved this goal. So. I am certain it is doable. That being said, it will require much out of you. There is a major difference between commitment versus interest. You will not run a 2.29.59 marathon by being merely interested.

You will need to have a white hot, razor sharp focus in order to run a marathon under 2 hours and 30 minutes. I have touched on a few of the strategies I used to run 2.19 for the marathon. I understand how difficult breaking not only 2.30 but 2.20 for the marathon is. So, am certain that what I can teach you will help you become a faster marathon specialist.

2.30 marathon pace is difficult for a reason. 5.43 mile pace or 3.33 per kilometer is very aggressive running. There are many people who can run at this pace for a given period of time. That being said, it is an art form to be able to sustain this pace over 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers.

Focus on Leverage

You will need to be thinking outside the box and conducting yourself as a professional in order to run 2.29.59. Few people achieve it for a reason. It is a very fast time. My goal with this post and the Sub 2.30 Marathon Mastermind course is to help you to work smarter. Lastly, to use leverage to get the results you are seeking with less work.

Working hard isn't always the answer. There are plenty of hard working athletes who don't run under 2 hours and 30 minutes for the marathon. That being said, smart athletes do provided they are setting up their training correctly. Click the graphic below to learn more.

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2.30-marathon pace

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