How To Run A Marathon In 3 Hours

How to run a marathon in 3 hours comes down to tenacity. How badly do you want to do it because it is not easy. A sub 3 hour marathon requires hard work and determination.

how to run a marathon in 3 hours

There is a reason why so few marathoners run a sub 3 marathon each year. This is an elite time and requires commitment, not interest. What does it take to break the barrier? You need to sustain 6:52 mile pace for 26.2 miles or 5:41 per kilometer for 42.2 kilometers with no breaks.

What is the secret?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable – Nate Pennington, 2:19 marathoner

The quickest way to earning a 2:59:59 marathon time is training at or below goal marathon race pace.

There is no easy way to this time. If you increase the percentage of your weekly mileage run faster than 3 hour marathon pace you will do it.

Why Do So Few Break The Barrier

It is difficult. You already knew that. That being said, far more could do it if they only change up the way they train.

It also requires far more patience than most runners have. I believe far too many runners are giving up too soon on trying to run under 3 hours.

Furthermore, what may take a talented runner a few months to do may take you several tries.

I’m proof that runners without much talent can run fast times. This is why I created the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. This course covers everything I have been taught and how I lowered my PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

Additionally, it will help you bypass the mistakes so many other runners make. How to run a marathon in 3 hours takes consistent training. Also, it means changing up the way you have trained in the past.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result – Albert Einstein

A 2011 study showed that less than 2 percent of marathoners around the world finished the distance in under 3 hours.

This is an elite time and will require specific training in order to make a reality. Are you currently a 3:59 marathoner? Is your personal best a 3:05? The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course was built for both levels.

What is great about the marathon is you can take over an hour off your personal best. Obviously, this is not easy but proves a great deal of time can be hacked off. I coached a man who had a personal best of 4:40 and ended up improving to 3:36.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Training For A Sub 3 Hour Marathon

The two biggest mistakes marathoners make when trying to run fast times are hydration and long runs.

Far too many marathoners are running too many miles at too slow of a pace to break 3 hours.

You will not prepare well to run under 3 hours for the marathon by doing long runs at 7:45 mile pace. In addition to that, you would be better off doing an 8 miler at 6:30 mile pace than a 20 miler at 7:45 mile pace.

The key to sustaining 3 hour marathon pace for 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers faster long runs at varied paces.

A common example of the types of long runs I would do working to break the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier was:

22 miler – first 5 miles@6:05 mile pace, 1 mile in 4:50, 5 miles@5:45 pace, 5 miles@6:00 mile pace, 1 mile in 4:50, 5 miles@5:30 pace

An example of the types of long runs I was doing prior to breaking the sub-2:20:00 marathon barrie was:

22 miler at 6:30-45 mile pace

Do you see the difference between the two? The key is being able to run for long periods of time at a higher heart rate.

Now, I am not saying run fast, long runs every weekends. Recovery is where the benefits of training come. I would suggest focusing on running a long, hard fast run followed by a relaxed, easy long run the following week.

Moderation is key.

Quality vs Quantity

Do not get caught up in the running high mileage mindset.

Will higher mileage guarantee you a sub 3 hour marathon performance?


Would you rather run 75 miles a week and break 3 or run 120 miles a week and run 3:40?

It is not about the mileage but what you are putting into the mileage you are putting in that counts.

I, too, was caught up in thinking higher mileage would help me improve from 2:43:36 and get me under 2:22:00. A goal I had back in 2008.

My mileage went as high as 142 miles a week. The result? I was tired, irritable and fatigued. I ran 2:19:35 breaking the sub-2:20:00 marathon barrier running 85 to 90 miles a week.

Higher mileage is not the answer. Remember, you need to get comfortable with running sub 6:52 mile pace for 26.2 miles.

Focus more of your attention on quality miles rather than the volume of your weekly mileage. Too many miles run at too slow of a pace is not the answer. What you are trying to do in breaking a 3 hour marathon will require thinking outside of the box.

This time barrier is broken by only a few marathoners each year. We want to ensure you bypass the mistakes of the masses and follow a legitimate plan to get you there.

Learn More About The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro Course


A huge mistake marathoners make when trying to break the 3 hour marathon barrier is not drinking enough fluid in the race.

In addition to that, runners are not consuming sufficient calories in the race either. The body desperately needs the proper amount of fluids and calories during the race. The problem is far too many runners are not taking in enough.

I am poof of this and neglected this critical step in my own marathon training my first few years as a marathoner.

The biggest reason I was able to improve from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 was changing up my hydration practices.

I was sipping in the race and later paid for it. It took being coached by a Boston Marathon champion to figure out what was going wrong.

Furthermore, I am only covering two of the many specific areas runners need to pay close attention to in this post. There are other areas of training that runners must focus on in order to break the 3 hour marathon.

The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course concludes with a 16-week, 3 hour marathon plan to help you get under the barrier in 4 months time.

The best way to get comfortable with taking in more fluid in the race is practicing often in training.

Remember, training should be the hardest part of your preparation, not the race.

Training is where you want to make your mistakes and learn from them.

How I Ran 2:19:35 For The Marathon

I went from drinking the equivalent of about 5 dixie cups of fluid in the race to a 16 to 24 ounces of fluid. I practiced taking in far more fluid that I was used to.

It is not comfortable but the more you get accustomed to drinking sufficiently the faster you will break the 3 hour marathon.

Obviously, you and I have to put in the hard work to run under 3 hours. That being said, if you neglect hydration all of your hard work will go down the drain.

The biggest reasons I was able to improve from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 was improvements in my hydration practices and the long run.

The long run should be the hardest workout that you do. Runners running long slow miles will become great long, slow runners.

A sub 3 hour marathon will ask quite a bit from you. The key is changing up your tactics and strategies. The best marathoners make it look easy.

I was still on 5:11 mile pace through the 20-mile mark when I ran 2:19:35.

Proper Training

We hit the 20 mile mark in 1:44:05. It felt like any other long run I had done in the past while training at high altitude in Colorado Springs. Below is a picture of that race. Prior to finishing 4th, top American and breaking sub-2:20 I was a 2:40:02 marathoner.

run under 3 hours for the marathon
Nate Pennington running with the lead pack of the 2007 California International Marathon

The key tactic in breaking the 3 hour marathon is persistence. You have to be fanatical about it. Get immersed in what you need to do.

So, how to run a marathon in 3 hours is going to come down to you working your plan and planning your work.

I created the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course to help runners gain leverage over their fitness and racing. It is much easier to break 3 hours if you follow the exact steps needed to sustain 3 hour marathon pace for the entire distance.

Lastly, it is about working smarter rather than harder. You don’t need to be running 110 miles a week to make a sub 3 hour marathon a reality.

Leverage simply means doing more with less.

If you are seeking the answer of how to run a marathon in 3 hours click the link below to invest in yourself today.

Learn More About The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro Course

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