3 Hour Marathon | Pro Tactics to Run 2:59:59

The 3 hour marathon is a highly exclusive club. I certainly commend you for seeking to run a marathon this fast. I have created resources here at RunDreamAchieve that will help speed up your chances of running 2:59:59. 

Did you know that in 2011 less than 2 percent of marathoners around the world broke the sub 3 hour marathon.

3 hour marathon

I have been fortunate and blessed to have broken the sub 3 hour marathon in 11 of the 12 marathons I have run.

My last serious attempt at the marathon distance was at the 2013 California International Marathon where I ran 2:32:57.

I feel a sense of duty and responsibility to give back to the readers of this site with what I know.

RunDreamAchieve has been around since November of 2011.

I’ve written over 1000 posts over everything from weight loss, how to run a faster 5K to how to break the 4 hour marathon here.

The majority of this site is free content.

Is 3 Hours for a Marathon Good?

Yes, a sub 3 hour marathon is an elite time, in my opinion. The runner needs to sustain 6:52 per mile or 4:16 per kilometer in order to run 2:59:59. So, you have to run a higher percentage of your weekly mileage at or below your goal race pace. Remember, the world’s top runners are running around 35 to 40% of their weekly mileage at or below their lactate threshold.

We run between 85 to 89% of our maximum heart rate at this intensity. So, of course, they make racing look easy for a reason. It isn’t just because they are Kenyan or Ethiopian I have out run world-class Kenyans and Ethiopians. Remember, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you and I.

That being said, to out run them or set a new personal best you need to train in a new way. Long slow long runs conducted every weekend will only make you a long, slow runner. You are not going after an average time. So, your strategy needs to change. I have created resources here that will help you to drop significant time off of your current personal bests.

I am currently working on an exclusive paid course for elite runners seeking to break the 3 hour marathon. Feel free to visit the about page if you want to know more about my race history

Can Everyone Run a 3 Hour Marathon?

It depends on the maturity of the athlete. You also need to have at least run around 1:22 for the half marathon in order to break this time barrier. Remember, higher mileage is not a guarantee that you will run 2:59:59. I would recommend running easy for at least 4 weeks before starting your training block.

A lot of runners try to do too much too soon. The result is they start to doubt and second guess themselves when the results don’t come quickly. So, focus first on building a strong foundation before you move into faster, anaerobic training. The best time frame to train for a sub 3 hour marathon is between 16 and preferably 20 to 24 weeks in length.

Remember, the longer your build up the less of a rush you will be in to get in superior shape. Again, the sub 3 hr marathon barrier is one many runners are seeking to achieve. No, it will not be easy. That being said, if others can do it then so can you.

Are you at 3:00:59 or 3:00:09?

if you are reading this post it already tells me you either have an interest in this time or you are close to doing it.

I go in-depth on how to break this barrier in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. In fact, I have had numerous runners follow the strategies and have dropped considerable time. You are more than welcome to visit the testimonial page to hear what folks are saying about the RunDreamAchieve philosophy.

Can I Run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon at 50?

Yes, and many have done it over 50 years of age. A sub 3 hour marathon is fast at any age. The biggest hurdle you have to get over is thinking about how far you have to go.

I get this and understand your frustration.

I was in a different time bracket but still focusing on the same thing you are.

My debut marathon was the 2002 New York City Marathon.

I was a part of an Armed Forces team that was running for lung cancer research.

We started in last place (32,189th) and were not allowed to start the race until every runner had passed the start line.

I finished in 2:43:36 and in 253rd place.

My first mile was 16 minutes flat. Let’s just say it was an interested first experience running the marathon.

My goal was always to earn an Olympic Trials marathon standard.

It took me from 2002 to 2007 to finally do that.

I finished in 4th place and top American with a time of 2:19:35 at the 2007 California International Marathon.

My goal in writing this to not impress you but to impress upon you that I am someone that has done the work.

I know your frustrations as well.

I’ve had very poor races just like anyone else.

You are more than welcome to review the about page to review my racing history.

What Will Come With The 3 Hour Marathon Course

Each module is an in-depth overview of the exact steps needed to demolish the sub-3 hour marathon.

It consists of multiple modules with in-depth insight and coaching strategies to help you on your journey.

The course ends with a complete, 16-week training schedule that you can follow to break the barrier.

It is not a cookie-cutter course nor does it contain a generic 3 hour marathon schedule you can find online.

The course is for serious athletes who are fully committed to running 2:59:59.

The 3 hour marathon is a very fast time for 26.2 miles.

Very few runners around the world complete this distance with such a time.

There are runners within a few seconds and others several minutes away from this time barrier.

My job as your elite athlete training consultant is to get you there faster.

No matter where you are from. We all want to see how fast we can run.

I look forward to helping to demolish your current marathon best and seeing you break 3 hours.

Leave a message below if you have questions. I’d love to hear what has been your biggest issue in breaking this time barrier. 

3 Hour Marathon Pacing Strategy

I would most certainly focus on running a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your race faster than you run the first half. I highly recommend you start implementing faster, varied paced long runs into your training routine. Below is an example of the types of long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon.

Also, this strategy helped me to lower my best time from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. So, I am fully confident that it works. That being said, recovery is vital. So, you need to always alternate efforts. For example, run faster one weekend followed the next with an easy, relaxed long run.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:15 mile pace, 2 miles easy (21 miles)

Again, I would always run the following week’s long run between 8 to 9 minute mile pace. The real benefits of our hard training are going to come from within the rest period. So, it is essential to allow at least 48 hours or easy, aerobic running between harder efforts.

What is the Average Pace for a 3 Hour Marathon?

The average page needed to run 2:59:59 is at least 6:52 per mile or 4:16 per kilometer. So, proper pacing is essential in order to achieve this time. You also have to get better at hydrating in the race. Yes, you may be able to get away with not drinking in a 5k or 10k but not a marathon. One of the biggest marathon time killers is improper hydration.

A common mistake runners make is sipping in their races. So, start dropping water bottles out every 3 miles or 5 kilometers along your long run route. The best marathoners drink, they do not sip, in their races. So, study what the best runners do and duplicate their work habits. I cover these strategies in-depth in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.

How Many Miles a Week Should I Run for a 3 Hour Marathon?

I would recommend running at least 40 miles a week and preferably upwards of 60. Remember, it is not the volume but the quality of the mileage that matters most. Again, the top runners are running around 40% of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. So, to run a fast time like this you have to train well below sub 3 hour marathon pace.

The training plans and running courses available here will help speed up your learning curve. You will know what workouts need to be done and why you are doing them. How far have your tempo runs been training for your marathons in the past? 3 miles? 5 miles? I would work to extend this to around 10 to 12 miles or 16 to 19 kilometers.

The reason being is you will improve your lactate tolerance. In addition, it will help to make your goal marathon race pace to feel easier. In addition, you will slow down less than your competition. One common mistake runners make is not spending enough time training at or below their lactate threshold.

How To Run A Sub 3 Hour Marathon

Aside from the strategies mentioned above, higher focus on quality work. You could be running 100 miles a week consistently and still never break a sub 3hr marathon. Yes, you will build an enormous amount of endurance. That being said, you will not have improved upon your ability to clear lactic acid effectively.

Runners must focus on improving their speed and leg turnover even for the marathon. So, doing 1, vo2 max workout per week is vital. We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate running at this intensity.

Examples of vo2 max workouts are sprint intervals, track and road intervals, hill repetitions and fartlek running. Also, faster, varied paced long runs that have vo2 max efforts sprinkled into them. The key tactic here is to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these we can recruit the more effective and efficient we will race. Easy running is still important for recovery. That being said, it won’t help you when it comes to an all-out effort over 26.2 miles.

Running and racing are not the same.

Closing Thoughts

Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on creating new training and racing content there each week. Most importantly, to help focused and determined runners such as yourself to achieve new personal bests.

Keep me updated on your progress. I know you have a sub 3hr marathon time in you. It is just a matter now of following through on the strategies mentioned in this post. Make sure to check out the resources available to you here at RunDreamAchieve.

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