Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

How To Run A Marathon Under 4 Hours

There are millions of men and women around the world asking this question, how to run a marathon under 4 hours? Are you one of them?

How To Run A Marathon Under 4 Hours

I have a friend of mine, Fred LaChuga, who has done a great job of showing himself what determination and focus can do.

He has dropped over 150 pounds and lowered his marathon best to 4.11.

I can think of a lot of elite performances and athletes. What is your road block in breaking the 4 hour marathon?

The common questions I get from runners wanting to know how to run a marathon under 4 hours is how do I maintain pace?

Pace and fueling are the two most important aspects of training for a sub 4 hour marathon. I cover this in the Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery course. So, if you are seeking to break the 4 hour marathon this is a course you definitely want to invest in.

I have talked to numerous runners over the past 21 years and I continue to tell them, it doesn't matter if you are on record pace for 20 miles.

It is a 26.2 mile race and you have to train in such a way that you maintain and not slow so you can get to the finish line on the same pace.

I wish it were a 20 mile race but unfortunately Phillipides had a longer route to take.

I was still on 5.11 per mile pace (1.44.05) at the 20-mile mark of my current best marathon time of 2.19.35.

Learn More About The Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery Course

Break The 4 Hour Barrier

1. Narrow your focus to practicing 9.09 per mile or faster

You have experienced the pain and sacrifice in training.

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Remember, training for a sub 4 hour marathon should be more difficult than the race itself.

Why stress the day of the race if you have done everything in training?

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The race should always be the reward. In addition, the day you should be most relaxed and confident.

No worry, no concern, total relaxation. Let the others around you waste their mental and physical energy.

You have done your homework.So, let go of the worry. If you have done the work there is no reason to be tense.

Remember, you have done the necessary work to sustain 9.09 per mile average pace.

The more you practice running at or below that pace the better equipped you will be.

Goal Race Pace

2. Long duration repetitions at 10-20 seconds below goal marathon race pace

I continually use this tactic when preparing for longer distance races.

So, if you want to know the quickest way on how to run a marathon under 4 hours, it is this.

I talk a lot about the importance of long runs at or near goal marathon race pace.

What also has to be done is running hard anaerobic workouts at pace below goal marathon race pace.

We both know doing long runs at or close to goal marathon race pace will get results. That being said, training at paces that exceed race pace is even better. Remember, they are what makes 9.09 pace feel ridiculously easy and why is this important?

Running at paces exceeding race pace is more toward your aerobic capacity.

These are running at speeds closer to 95-110% of your maximal effort. Also, speeds that are far faster than you intend on racing in the marathon.

What is 9.09 pace going to feel like if you have become acquainted to running at 7.00 pace?

Workouts like these do damage if you have done your homework.

You will react in the race. In addition, feel totally in control because you have trained so much harder than goal pace.

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Working Examples

A few examples of workouts like this are:

  • 3×4 miles at 8.45 per mile pace with a 1 mile ‘jog' recovery between each
  • 8x2miles on the road at 8.00 mile pace with 5 minutes recovery
  • 6x1mile on the road or track at 7.00 per mile with 400m jog recovery

So, the long run itself is not the holy grail of how to break the 4 hour marathon. In addition, the other anaerobic work you are doing that exceeds the 9.09 per mile pace.

3. Teach yourself by running fast to burn fat and conserve carbohydrate

This is where understanding fuel usage is vital.

We all know that running easy burns fat. Remember, we have a vast storage of fat stores within the body/ That being said, limited amounts of glycogen (muscle sugar) stored up.

So, the faster we run the more sugar is used. What you don't want is to hit the wall.

It is painful and will challenge every mental and physical capability you have just to jog. The best way to combat that is running at paces that exceed your usual easy trot down the street.

The best runners in the world make it look easy for a reason.

They have trained ridiculously hard. I have trained with some of the top runners in the world.

Train Hard but Also Recover

They have practiced running at such high-end speeds. So, they are using fat more relative to their race speeds as their primary fuel source. In addition, they conserve sugars and rarely slow down in races. Of course, it does still happen but at a slower rate.

I remember watching James Kwambai of Kenya place second the 2009 Fortis Rotterdam Marathon in 2.04.27. 

In 2010, Kwamabi went back to Rotterdam to try to break the sizzling 2.04.27 he ran the year prior.

He was on world record pace, sub 2.04.00 pace through 35K. That being said, fell apart and came in with a very respectable time of 2.24.07.

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So, the best have off days too. Of course, an off day of 2:24:07 is still not bad. 

Be Persistent

There is no single way to get under 4 hours for the marathon distance then this.

Have you been told you aren't talented enough, too slow or just not quite good enough? 

Stay focused.

Please know I have been there and understand how you are feeling. Your breakthrough is only a matter of time. Remember, your willingness to change is the mark of a champion. Champions make adjustments and keep moving forward.

There is an 81 year old Canadian man by the name of Ed Witlock, who just recently ran a 3.30 marathon. Who told you that your time is past?

I can assure you Ed Witlock has had to run with 100% focus and an eye on pacing to run that fast at his age. He is a testament to all of us just how powerful drive and belief is.

Train faster, burn fat as your primary race fuel (at race pace) and persist.

Want to know how to run a marathon under 4 hours? Remind yourself of those key facts and you will be well under way to performing above your standards, surprising your friend and family and racing your best.

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. There are also running courses and monthly, online coaching available here at rundreamachieve. You can view these options by looking at the navigation menu at the top of this website. I hope this post on how to run a marathon under 4 hours has been helpful to you.

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