3 Hour Marathon Pace: PR With These Tips

Are you seeking how to maintain sub 3 hour marathon pace longer? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have made it here. I am also certain that the resources available here will help set you up for success. Pace sustainment is one. of the biggest challenges that we as runners face.

3 hour marathon pace

Sub 3 hour marathon pace comes out to 6:52 mile pace or 4:16 per kilometer.

I have continually preached this at RunDreamAchieve. You absolutely must get used to running at or below your goal race pace in training. You will drop significant time off your current personal bests if you do.

Proper pacing is also vital in order to run 2:59:59. I see far too many runners going out too fast. The result is they go into oxygen debt and are forced to slow down.

So, my best recommendation is to focus on a negative split. I would aim to run the second half of your marathon faster than the first half.

How Much Training Do You Need for a 3 Hour Marathon?

Running a sub 3 hour marathon requires a very strong mileage build up. I would focus first on running easy and relaxed mileage for at least a month. Also, consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to ensure that I am running at the proper paces on easy and hard days.

An additional tip to help you run under 3 hours is to start increasing the pace of your long runs. No, you should not run every single weekend’s long runs fast. That being said, the paces should be varied. Below is an example of a faster, varied paced long run I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon.

  • 1 mile jog, 10 miles@5:35 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@5:45, 1 mile jog, 1 mile in 5:05, 1 mile cool-down (23 miles)

If anything helped me drop from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 for the marathon it was this key tactic.

Get away from thinking long slow long runs will help you break the 3 hour marathon.

A sub 3 hour marathon training plan absolutely must encompass this.

Below are 3 Key workouts I suggest you try implementing.

Workout #1

As stated above – gradually extend the amount of time you are spending at or below 6:52 per mile.

The trick is getting your 3 hour marathon goal pace to feel more in control and easy.

For example, if you gradually extend 4-9 miles of a 20 miler running at 6:05-15 mile pace you are going to succeed.

I want to stress one key point regarding this though.

Do not run all your long runs at a faster pace.

This is a great way to burn out and get stale.

Remember, quality over quantity.

I cannot stress this enough.

I would advise running one long run harder one weekend followed by a weekend long run at a very easy pace.

This ensures you have a good balance between hard vs easy training.

Why Is This Important?

The long run will soon become the hardest workout you do if you implement this trick in your training.

The reason I dropped 21 minutes off an already respectable time (2:43:36) was this.

I increased the speed at which I was conducting my long run.

This is what helped me get under the 2:20 marathon barrier.

Workout #2

Repeat miles at 5K race pace.

Why is this important?

First, you are running at speeds around 90% of your max heart rate.

Maintaining a sub 3 marathon will involve being able to maintain several miles well under 6:50 mile pace.

Remember, there are ups and downs to the marathon distance.

If you run a few of your miles in your marathon too fast this will provide some buffer if you slow down.

The way to ensure you are ready for this is some hard mile repeats.

Here are a few of the workouts I did in preparing to break the sub 3 hour marathon.

Early in Season

4x1mile at 5:15-20 per rep w/full recovery

6x1mile at 5:10 per rep w/4 minute recovery

Late Season

6x1mile at 4:46 with 2-3 minute rest recovery

10×1 mile at 4:55 pace with 2-3 mine rest recovery

Early on I would advise on giving yourself full recovery and gradually lowering your rest as you get fitter.

I would advise on a 12 to 16 week marathon training schedule in prepping for your next “thon”.

Be patient and give yourself time for your body to adapt. Scott Overall gave some great pointers on the 3 hr marathon you may want to check out as well.

You already know a sub 3 hour marathon is no joke and it is very fast marathon time.

Plan accordingly.

The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course has now launched. I highly recommend clicking on the button below and consider reviewing what it has to offer you. I have also created 1 mile to 50k ultramarathon training plans as well. So, there are resources here that will help speed up your learning curve.

Workout #3

My second hardest workout I did in breaking the sub 3 hour marathon barrier was very strategic tempo runs. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past preparing for your marathons? 3 miles? 4 miles? If so, you are not running far enough at your anaerobic threshold. We run between 85 to 89% of our max heart rate at this effort.

The fact that you are aiming for a sub 3 hour marathon tells me you are an advanced athlete. So, in order to achieve this focus on getting that tempo run out to around 10 to 12 miles in length. Remember, the faster we run the more fast twitch muscle fibers we will recruit. The result is we will run more efficient.

Train faster than you want to race at.

Always be harder on yourself in training than you ever will be in the race.

If you push yourself and balance between the hard vs the easy you will be dangerous come race day.

No runner will be able to surge on your and pull a way.

Tempo Run Examples

Key tempo run examples that helped me break the 2:20 marathon barrier (remember that is still a sub 3 hour marathon).

11 miler – first 2 miles easy, 4 miles@5:20 pace, 1 mile easy, 2 miles@4:55 pace, 2 mile cool-down

14 miles – 2 mile warm up, 10 miles@5:25-35 mile pace, 2 mile cool-down

10 miler – 1 mile warm up, 2miles@5:35, 2miles@5:25, 2miles@5:15, 1 mile jog, 1 mile@4:45, 1 mile jog

15 miler @ 5:25-45 pace

Be creative but also be wise in your training.

These sub 3 hour marathon workouts are highly taxing which means equal focus on recovery.

Easy jogging 2 days after these workouts are mandatory.

3 hour marathon pace is challenging but these strategies will take the fear out of aiming to do it.

Remember, quality over quantity.

Focus on Your Speed Development

The marathon is a highly aerobic event. That being said, you still need to work on your speed work. The best runners in the world run between 35 to 40% of their weekly mileage at or below their lactate threshold. Remember, our main goal here is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. The only way to do this is to train at significantly faster than 3 hour marathon pace.

So, do at least one vo2 max workout per week. We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate at this effort. It is running so fast we cannot clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. The key benefit is that it will get your goal marathon race pace to feel easier. In addition, you will slow down less than your competition.

What Percentage of Marathon Runners Break 3 Hours?

The percentage is very low ranging from 2 to 4 percent world-wide. That being said, if other runners have done it then so can you. It is simply changing up your tactics and following the fundamentals the top runners use. I have shared some of these in this post. I go much more in-depth in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.

How much time are you devoting to mental training? The vast majority of runners only focus their attention on physical training. So, you need to combine both of these to achieve your 2:59:59 goal time. The good news is that it does not take more than 10 minutes a day to do this. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line with your goal time on the clock. Also, passing people and running strong.

Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making new videos there weekly to help determined athletes like you get to the next level. Remember, 3 hour marathon pace can be mastered but you need patience. Keep me updated on your progress. I know you will do it.

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