4 Hour Marathon Pace | Pro Tips to PR Faster

How does anyone hold 9:09 per mile or 4 hour marathon pace for 26.2 miles? This is what many 5 hour marathon runners ask as do many beginners. If you are planning on running your first marathon in 2023 how to sustain pace is the key.

4 hour marathon pace

There are numerous ways to train but the fundamentals bring the results. Everyone is different and has specific goals in mind. Perhaps, for you, it is to hold 4 hour marathon pace for 26.2 miles or 42.18 kilometers.

The pace comes out to 5:41 per kilometer if you are from Canada, Mexico Europe or other parts of the world. The best marathoners in the world make it look easy for a reason. It is not because they have some special gift. They train at paces that are far below goal 4 hour marathon race pace.

This is why you see runners crossing the finish line with a time of 3:59:59 or faster on the clock. My job here at rundreamachieve is to mentor, coach and guide runners seeking to break the 4 hour marathon. I am currently working on the Sub 4 Hour Marathon Pro. A course devoted to helping marathoners around the world break the 4 hour barrier.

Why RunDreamAchieve?

I know what it takes to get to the next level in the marathon. My personal best is 2:19:35 and have dealt with failures and trials just like any other athlete.

That being said, there is a massive difference between interest versus commitment. Will it take commitment to break the 4 hour marathon barrier? Absolutely. You cannot be merely interested and expect to hold 4 hour marathon pace for the entire distance.

It takes massive action and focus to run under 4 hours for the marathon. The amount of effort is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t take any more effort to break 4 hours as it does to break the 2:20 marathon. That may sound incorrect but as times drop it doesn’t mean the work output needed to produce is any less.

The paces are only different. 9:09 per mile versus 5:20 per mile. My goal is to help you sustain that 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer for the entire distance.

How To Run A Marathon Under 4 Hours?

The philosophy I continue to teach here at rundreamachieve is this.

Increase the pace of your long run. The long run should be the hardest workout you do. It is the direct reason I was able to drop my half marathon time from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06 and marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

I never used to run my long runs much faster than 6:45 to 7:00 mile pace. It wasn’t until I started being coached by a Boston Marathon champion did I start dropping massive amounts of time.

The sub 4 hour marathon can only be achieved if you train at paces that exceed 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer. You have to get it to a point where race pace feel easy. I wrote about this in how to run a 9 minute mile marathon.

The 4 hour marathon pace will be even more difficult to sustain if you don’t practice and often. It doesn’t mean 95 percent of your weekly mileage has to be fast but your miles should be high quality. It is not about the amount of miles you put in as much as it is what you are putting into those miles.

Do I Have To Run High Mileage To Break 4 Hours?

No. High mileage seems to be what we all focus on early on. I ran my best marathon on 85 to 95 miles per week. I got up to as high as 142 miles a week and it didn’t help any more.

It took mentors and athletes that were better than me to see this. We all want to experiment sometimes but it takes listening and being coachable to start seeing results. There are a lot of things you have to do right to hold 4 hour marathon pace for 26.2 miles or 42.18 kilometers.

Are you practicing your drinking habits during your long run? There are far too many runners who second guess themselves. They are not drinking enough during the marathon or taking in enough calories. This is one of the biggest problems I had from 2002 to 2006. I simply wasn’t taking in enough fluid during my races.

I started practicing drinking rather than just sipping during my long runs. My routine was to sit out water bottles every 3 miles during my long run and practice drinking. The time to get it wrong is in the training, not the race. Make your mistakes in the training.

It is the training that should be the hardest part. The race should never be as hard as the training. If you plan your taper correctly, implement some changes in your training routine and listen to good advice you’ll break 4 hours.

What Does The Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery Cover?

Below are some topics covered in the newly launched Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery course.

  1. The workouts you should and should do.
  2. The exact strategies I used and implemented to break the 2:20 marathon barrier
  3. Mindset and visualization techniques
  4. Common mistakes marathoners make when trying to break 4 hours
  5. Ways to sustain pace and never experience a so-called “wall”
  6. How to use lactic acid in your favor
  7. How to overcome fatigue and doubt
  8. and much, much more.

The course will also conclude with a 16 week marathon training plan. It will provide the athlete with exact day-to-day workout plan needed to break the 4 hour marathon. The best marathoners are always looking for new ways to run faster.

They may cross-train or training on curved treadmills. These types of treadmills do not run on electricity. It is the athlete that moves the belt which means you burn more calories and have to put in more work.

The Sub 4 Hour Marathon Pro is going to be an exclusive training course that will help you demolish the the 4 hour marathon barrier. Sub 4 hour marathon pace will be the topic of choice. We’ll be focusing on ensuring this pace feel more like a controlled effort.

This isn’t going to be easy but if you are committed, coachable and willing to invest in yourself a sub 4 hour marathon is nearly guaranteed. Make sure to fill out the information below to get on our newsletter.

How Hard is it to Run a 4 Hour Marathon?

It is not an easy task. That being said, other runners have achieved this time barrier and so can you. The top recommendation I can make is to be strategic in your preparation. I would first focus on spending at least 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage. The main reason for this is to strengthen your ligaments, muscles and tendons.

Also, to ensure that you don’t get injured. I would also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 to help ensure that I not over training. Of course, you don’t need to wear a heart rate monitor every day. That being said, they are great to wear during tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs. A lot of runners run too slow, too often. The result is they have difficult maintaining sub 4 hour marathon pace.

So, start mixing up the paces of your long runs. Also, always alternate efforts. So, run faster one weekend followed the next with an easy, relaxed effort. Below is an example of the type of long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon. It helped me to go from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

  • 2 mile jog, 6 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@6:05 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:10, 2 mile jog (22 miles)

Slow Down on Easy Days

Remember, to master sub 4 hour marathon pace you have to adapt to the harder workouts that you are doing. I would always follow long runs like the ones you see above with long runs at or around 8 to 9 minute mile pace. I would recommend giving yourself at least 2 to 3 days of easy jog recovery workouts between hard efforts.

It takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, a longer build up is far better than then a shorter build up. I would recommend a minimum of 16 and preferably between 20 to 24 weeks to prepare properly. The reason being is you will provide sufficient time for your body to adapt to the harder, anaerobic training you are doing.

So, make sure you are jogging on your easy days. I wouldn’t even wear a watch on these days or be too concerned about your pace. The days to focus on pace are during track or road intervals, fartlek efforts, tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs.

Visualize Success

One of the most commonly overlooked tactics for running success is mental training. How often do you pay attention to it? Be honest. The reality is most runners only focus on physical preparation. Remember, we have to train the mind like we train the body. What do the world’s best runners do? They combine both mental as well as physical training together.

So, start spending at least 10 minutes daily rehearsing and seeing yourself crossing the finish line with 3:59:59 on the clock. Also, running relaxed, confident and passing people. The best times to do this is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night.

Longer Tempo Runs

Remember, our main aim here is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. So, we want to spend a longer period of time running at our lactate threshold. We run between 85 to 89% of our max heart rate running at this pace. One, it will help you to maintain sub 4 hour marathon pace longer. In addition, it will help you to slow down less. Also, it will help to make 4 hour marathon pace to feel less demanding.

What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past? 4 miles? 5 miles? I would work to extend that out to around 10 to 12 miles or 16 to 19 kilometers in length. Of course, you need to first adapt to a 3 to 4-mile tempo effort before moving further. So, be patient with yourself. Remember, the body always adapts if given sufficient time to do so.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I make sure to create at least 2 new training or racing videos there each week to help runners. More importantly, to provide strategies and tips to help you set a new personal best.

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