What is the best way to run a sub 3 hour marathon? I often am asked this question and for good reason. A 2.59.59 marathoner is a highly coveted time that many runners want. I wish I could say that is will be an easy process to break the 3 hour marathon barrier. That being said, the good news is that it certainly can be done.
If you were trying to break the 2 hour marathon I might say good luck but its not likely you'll do it. The sub 3 hour marathon is difficult but much more achievable. We all know only one man in history has ever broken the 2 hour marathon barrier in Eluid Kipchoge.
I created the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro to help athletes like you to finally get to 2.59.59 or faster. The problem isn't an endurance issue as much as it is a stamina problem. Do you need a small amount of talent in order to break 3 hours? I believe so. A sub 3 hour marathon is a very competitive, elite time. In addition, it is not a time you are going to run without a solid plan in place.
Is A Sub 3 Hour Marathon Possible?
Of course it is. You need to sustain 6.52 per mile pace for the 26.2 mile distance. So, if you can run around 1.25 for the half marathon or a 38 minute 10K you certainly have the potential to do this.
These estimates are not set in stone. I am not saying that if you have run 1.35 for the half marathon you cannot run a 2.59 marathon. Why? Well, I was one of those athletes that didn't have 10K or half marathon personal bests that reflected I'd eventually run 2.19.35 for the marathon
There are athletes out there who have a PR of 1.30.00 for the half marathon and go out and run 2.59.59 for the marathon. Yes, they duplicate their personal best for the half marathon in one event. There may be tests of our physiological capabilities but there are none for the power of the mind.
How Many Miles Per Week Do I Need To Run?
I would recommend between 35 to 45 miles per week. Higher mileage does not always guarantee better and faster running results. Are you more of an advanced-level athlete? You may increase your mileage up toward 65 to 85 miles a week if you wish.
Remember, this is not a volume game. It is about a planning strategy that you need to put in place in order to break 3 hours. I would focus 100 percent of my attention on quality versus quantity.
My goal for writing this post is to get you thinking about leverage. Leverage simply means doing more with less. We all have been taught how to work hard. Well, there are plenty of hard working athletes who never break 3 hours. That being said, the athletes who are working smart do.
Yes, you need some talent. That being said, if you lack the talent you can make up for it with a strong plan of action in place. Remember, you may need to have to work harder as compared with the talented athlete. In addition, you are going to have to have more patience than someone who was blessed with talent.
Also, the talented marathoner may break 3 hours in a matter of months. It may take you a few years or a decade to break this time. Of course, I'm not saying you cannot break this time barrier within a year. You can. What I want to impress upon you is that what you are trying to run is an elite time. Do not expect it to be easy.
How Do I Increase My Marathon Speed To Break 3 Hours?
I am a big advocate of doing strides. These are short bursts of speed you can do a few times each week. Over time, you are running many miles at sprint speed. Can this add to your overall leg speed? Absolutely.
In addition, these short sprints are too short to build up any lactic acid. So, you can add these workouts throughout your weekly training routine. You also need to start running your long runs at faster paces. How did I go from a PR of 2.43.36 to 2.19.35 for the marathon? Well, the two above mentioned strategies are the biggest reasons why.
I was always working on my speed and stamina. Furthermore, I knew that running long, slow long runs would make me a good, long and slow marathoner. You have to start varying up the speeds of your long runs. If you miss this step you will not break 3 hours.
What good is doing a 22 miler at 8 minute mile pace when you need to race 26.2 miles at 6.52 mile pace? Of course, will a 22 miler at an easy pace build endurance? Of course. That being said, endurance and speed are not the same. You need a higher level of stamina built up and it won't happen merely by running long and slow.
What Is The Best way to Run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon with Little Talent?
Remember, it is not just the Kenyans who are running fast over the marathon distance. The Japanese record was recently run and the athlete who ran it finished with a time of 2.05.50. There are runners from all over the world who make racing 26.2 miles look easy but why?
They have spent a higher percentage of their weekly mileage at, near or far below their goal race pace. This is what you must do in order to break the 3 hour marathon barrier. 6.52 mile pace for 26.2 miles takes stamina and proper preparation. There are no short cuts.
In addition, there are only a few people who break the 3 hour marathon barrier each year. There are far more people who fail at breaking this barrier than succeed at doing so. So, you need to change up your routine and what you are doing in training to achieve this goal.
What if I Don't Have Much Talent?
If you are lacking talent then you really have to pay close attention to running quality mileage. Furthermore, do not get caught up with running high mileage for mileage sake. How many miles per week are you running below 6 minute mile pace? I didn't have much talent either. I lived like a monk in order to run as fast as I did over the marathon distance. The good news is you don't have to give up fun to break a 3 hour marathon. You will have to work smart as well as hard though if you don't have much talent.
Are you spending some time running closer to 5 to 5.30 mile pace? Why? Well, how much easier is 6.52 mile pace going to feel if you are training at 5 minute mile pace? Sure, you may not be able to do your tempo runs or repeat miles right at 5 minute mile pace. That being said, you can spend significant time over a period of weeks and months at this pace.
So, the trick is getting used to running at speeds that far exceed what you plan to race the distance in. The best way to run a sub 3 hour marathon is to train far below 6.52 mile pace and often.
What Else Is Needed To Break The 3 Hour Marathon Barrier?
- Invest in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro Course
- Be patient – your competition will be
- Get your blood tested. There are athletes who are running dangerously low on iron and glutathione and don't know it.
- Jog on your recovery days. I wrote JOG not run. Listen, that alone is clue for those with eyes to see and ears to hear…
- Hydrate well and practice drinking rather than sipping fluid in training. One of the biggest marathon performance killers is lack of taking in enough fluids and calories during the race.
- Do not lose enthusiasm in training. The best marathoners never lose the joy of the effort. They never stop trying until they get what they want.
- Have a white hot, razor sharp focus to achieve the sub 3 hour marathon
You have to have a great deal of persistence and focus to break a 3 hour marathon. Again, it is an elite time that few runners around the world achieve each year. Your mission should be varying the pace of that long run.
One of the biggest reasons I was able to lower my PR from 2.43.36 to 2.19.35 was running my long runs at faster paces. That being said, my recommendation is to alternate running fast and slow each week. One long run should be spend running at 160 beats per minute. This comes out to around 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
This will also depend on how old you are. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. It is a descent estimate to find out right around where your maximum heart rate is. Then, calculate what is 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
I do not recommend running your long runs at 160 beats per minute until you are very fit. Furthermore, you don't want to run this fast over 16 to 24 miles until you have a very strong mileage base laid first.
So, the bottom line up front as we say in the military is you need to start thinking qualify over quantity. In addition, how can I work smarter and get better results on less work? My top recommendation? Invest in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. I go much more in depth on how to achieve this goal and provide the blue print on how to do it.
What is the best way to run a sub 3 hour marathon? I hope I have answered that question in this post. If I have not, I can assure you that I will in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.