3 30 Marathon Pace: How to PR Faster NOW

How do you master 3 30 marathon pace? There is a way to make 8:00 mile or 4:58 per kilometer to feel more manageable and in control. That being said, this isn’t going to be easy. No one races a marathon at this pace without being in very good shape. It is one thing to go out and hold 5 to 16 miles at this pace but we all know the marathon is no normal event.

You have to be thinking differently in order to run this fast for the marathon distance. The methods I teach are rather simple but much harder to actually follow through on. It is much easier to say I want to run a 3 hour 30 minute marathon and actually do it. What do I suggest? Well, to sustain 8:00 mile pace for 26.2 miles simply train often at 6:00 mile pace. Obviously, you are not going to be able to run very far running 2 minutes faster than your goal marathon race pace.

That being said, if you want to make 8:00 mile pace feel easy spend more time running at speeds that far exceed goal marathon race pace. It is simple to write in theory but much harder to do in the implementation. 

Is 3 HR 30 Minute Marathon Time Good?

Yes, a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon is a very good time. In fact, there are less than 6 percent of marathoners world-wide who run a time this fast each year in world marathons. So, you have to be in fantastic aerobic as well as anaerobic shape to run 3:29:59 or faster. 3 30 marathon pace is sustaining 8 minute mile or 4 minutes and 58 seconds per kilometer.

Below are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your 3 hour and 30 minute marathon.

  • Physiological adaptations will occur. The test is allowing for them to take effect. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will not go from doing 4 to 15 mile tempo runs in a matter of a few weeks. It takes the body 21 days or approximately 3 weeks to adapt to any stress load your place upon it

  • Increase the paces of your long runs. This is my number one recommendation. The long run is the hardest workout I do leading up to 5K to marathon races, not track sessions nor hill repetitions. It is the main reason why I was able to drop from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 for the marathon. I spent more time running at a higher heart rate.

More importantly, I was patient enough to allow the physiological adaptations to occur. What are those by the way? One, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard so pace increases. Two, your body is able to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up which means you can run more efficiently without going into oxygen debt.

How Do I Train for a 3 HR 30 Marathon?

I would focus first on spending 4 weeks running easy, aerobic base mileage. No speed workouts, tempo runs or even harder long runs. Yes, you can do strides 2 times per week. I recommend doing 4 to 6, 100-meter sprints. Of course, these don’t have to be all out. So, just focus on gradual increase in speed until you are all out about the last 20 meters of the sprint. Once you have built your fitness you can start focusing on the types of workouts listed below.

Train at paces that are 1 to 2 minutes faster than your goal race pace and often. The name of the game is pace sustainment. You want 8:00 mile or 4:58 mile pace to feel easy, at least up until around mile 20. Everyone hurts in the race no matter how intense we train at. That being said, the best way to improve your lactate tolerance is to train at speeds you know you cannot sustain for the race itself.

I would do 6×1 mile hitting between 4:45 to 4:47 per repetition at altitude when I lived in Colorado Springs. This would have been around 4:35 mile pace at sea level. Obviously, there was no way I was going to sustain that pace over the marathon distance. That being said, it helped make 5:25 mile pace (2:22:00 marathon) feel much more in control. The result? I was able to hold 5:19 mile pace for 26.2 miles (2:19:35). Hopefully this makes sense because this is commonly missed by many athletes.

20 Week Sub 330 Marathon Training Plan

Is 20 weeks enough time to run a marathon under 3 hours and 30 minutes? I believe so. In fact, I always tell my athletes to run 4 weeks of easy, relaxed mileage before starting the 16 week sub 3:30 marathon training plans I have here at rundreamachieve.

The Sub 3:30 Marathon Bootcamp course I teach here also concludes with a 16 week 3:30 marathon training plan. 4 to 5 months is plenty of time to prepare property to handle 3 30 marathon pace. That being said, it takes time and patience. Again, you are going after a very competitive time. One that many runners are working hard to obtain. So, to earn it you have to think outside the box.

Remember, it is not about the volume you are putting in but the quality of the work output. You could be running 100 miles a week and still miss the barrier. The reason being is only 10 percent of your weekly marathon mileage is spent training at or below your goal pace. So, focus more toward 40 percent of your weekly training. There are resources here to help you with this.

How Hard is it to Run a 3 30 Marathon?

It certainly is not an easy task. Again, running sub 8 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles takes an extremely fit athlete. Below are a few more key workouts and strategies I want you thinking about as you prepare.

  • More mileage is not the answer. Higher quality mileage is. If you spend 90 percent of your mileage running a minute slower than you’re seeking to race at you can run 100 miles a week, week after week, and not make your objective. Remember, stamina is what matters and to male 3 hour 30 minute marathon pace feel easy you have to train much faster than that pace.
  • Do longer intervals on the roads. Examples of the types of workouts I did when training to break the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier were as follows:

3×4 miles on the road running at 165 beats per minute or 87 to 88 percent of my maximum heart rate.
 8×2 miles on road@170 beats per minute or closer to 90 percent of maximum heart rate.

 These are examples of the types of workouts that will make 3 hour 30 minute marathon pace feel extremely easy. It is very, very aggressive running and highly challenging. That being said, this is the only way to get marathon race pace to feel easy.

Athletes that miss their time goals are doing so not because they don’t have the capability. They simply have not trained at a fast enough pace as often as they needed to. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to break a sub-2:40 marathon or 4 hours. The training mindset and methodology is the same. 

3:30 Marathon Training Plan

A training plan has to focus on training at and far below 3 30 marathon pace. The athlete will have a hard time sustaining pace unless he or she is instructed to do so. the best marathoners in the world spend about 40 percent of their weekly volume at this effort. The problem I see is many runners run far too slow on hard days. In addition, run too fast on easy days. Again, the focus is on improving the body’s lactate tolerance. It takes between 3 to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress you are placing on it.

I teach this concept in the sub 3:30 marathon bootcamp course here are rundreamachieve.com. I also highly recommend subscribing to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. My focus to provide free content there to help athletes get faster and use leverage. There are far too many hard working athletes not breaking the sub 3:30 marathon barrier. So, my job is to get more athletes to work smarter and break it.

What Pace is a 3 30 Hour Marathon?

As mentioned above, it comes out to 4:58 per kilometer or 8:00 mile pace to run a 3:29:59 marathon. So, you have to also think about running longer tempo runs. Remember, you will be racing at your anaerobic threshold. Our anaerobic threshold is when lactic acid starts to build up in our muscles as we run faster. A major mistake I see a lot of runners making is their tempo runs are too short.

A 3 to 4 mile tempo run is a great workout for a 5K or 10K athlete. That being said, we are talking about the marathon here. It was not uncommon for me to do 7 to 14 mile tempo runs when I was training for my marathons. I was able to lower my personal best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 using this strategy. So, as your fitness grows focus on lengthening the duration you are spending at your tempo effort.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, be patient. It will very difficult at first doing even a 3-mile tempo. The body always adapts. Also, focus on staying as relaxed as you can while in training and during your races. The most in control and relaxed athlete usually performs the best. How much time are you spending in mental training? I ask that because far too many runners only focus on physical training.

How you have to see yourself running faster than 3 30 marathon pace in your mind first. The subconscious mind will always work in your favor. So, visualize yourself getting across that finish line with a 3:29:59 or faster on the clock. The best middle to long distance runners know how important mental preparation is. Again, we have three choices in this life and that is to be average, good or great.

Greatness takes more than just the normal level of work output. You have to focus on all the other fundamentals that you competition is more than likely not paying attention to. For example, getting enough sleep, hydrating well before, during and after your long runs and mental training. I hope this post has been helpful and am certain you will master 3 30 marathon pace.

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