Marathon 3 Hour Pace: Break 3hrs NOW

Searching for a better way to sustain that marathon 3 hour pace? If so, you have made the right decision landing here on RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have arrived here. I have run 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, I understand how difficult it is to run under the 3 hour marathon barrier. You need to sustain 6:52 mile pace or 4:16 per kilometer for the entire race. The biggest issue for most marathoners is pace sustainment. Sure, many athletes can sustain this pace for a portion of the race. It it holding it for the entire 42.2 kilometers which matters most. My goal with this post is to share with you some tips and strategies to be thinking about leading into your next race.

Get beyond just running high mileage. There are far too many runners who do this but conduct their training too slow. In addition, they run too fast on their easy days and don’t recover. So, you have to be strategic in how you approach your future races from here on out. I am a firm believer in doing faster, varied paced long runs. Of course, it is important to still run long and easy. You still burn fat and build endurance by doing this. That being said, the goal here is to teach the body to burn fat at race pace. In addition, to conserve what we have far less of, carbohydrates. We only have about 1700 to 1800 calories of glycogen stored up at any given time.

What Percentage of Marathoners Break 3 Hours?

Running that marathon 3 hour pace for 26.2 miles is certainly not easy. There are a very small percentage of runners around the world who run this fast each year. In fact, it is right around 4 percent. You have to be very mindful of your pacing in the early stages of the race too. I highly recommend focusing on doing a negative split if you can. So, run aggressive but conservative up to that first half and start focusing on running under 6:50 mile pace for the last 13.1 miles. Of course, there will be times where you will go out faster and come back slower. I went out the first half in 1:07:09 and came back with a 1:12:26 when I ran my marathon PR of 2:19:35.

Would I have run faster had I been more conservative early on? It is tough to say at this point but I don’t think so, at least on that particular day. So, yes you can still go out aggressive but be careful. You have to be in terrific aerobic and anaerobic shape in order to do this. It is much wiser to be somewhat conservative in the early miles and really pour it on on the latter miles. I created a course called the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro for athletes seeking to run under a 3 hour marathon. The goal with that course was to get athletes to use leverage. Remember, higher mileage is not always the answer. I have known many runners who focused on high mileage who never broke 3 hours. I knew others who ran half as much and ran well under the barrier.

How Rare is a 3 Hour Marathon?

A study in 2012 by Running USA showed that out of 518,000 runners who ran marathons that year only 2 percent of them broke the 3 hour barrier. I don’t write that to discourage but to motivate you. I know you can do this. That being said, you have to start implementing some new tactics. One, start running your long runs at faster paces. I have built all of my running courses and training plans revolved around this mindset. Again, you want to train like world-class marathoners. Also, duplicate my own work habits. In fact, the workouts I discuss in our running courses and training plans are the same ones I did to break the 2:20 marathon barrier. You cannot just run long and slow every single weekend and expect to get that marathon 3 hour pace to feel easier.

You need to do a higher percentage of your weekly volume at, near and far below goal sub 3 hour marathon race pace. No, it will not be easy but it is doable. Remember, it takes about 3 to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load you place on it. So, be patient and allow time for your body to adapt to the workouts you will be undertaking. a big issue many runners run into is impatience. You have to have a belief in delayed gratification. Everyone wants quick results and when they don’t get them they start to doubt themselves. You are aiming for an elite time. So, you have to train in such a way to get elite type results. Easy weekly volume will build endurance. That being said, it will not improve lactate tolerance.

How Do You Break a Marathon in 3 Hours?

Follow a sub 3 hour marathon training plan focused on getting race pace to feel more in control. Also, practice hydrating better in training. I see far too many runners sipping and not drinking in their races. Remember, this is a marathon, not a 5K. You may be able to get away with that in the shorter races but you will pay for it in the longer ones. So, practice this so you don’t make the mistakes others are making in their races. Again, you have to pay attention to all of the variables to run an elite time like 2:59:59 or faster. In addition, start running easier on your recovery days. Runners run too slow on hard days and far too fast on their recovery days.

The best middle to long distance runners make it look easy for a reason. One, they have spent sufficient time training at far below goal marathon race pace. Two, they focus on things they can control and not on factors they cannot. Yes, you can control staying relaxed in training and in the race. You have control of not being uptight and tense the morning of the race. Let your competition do that. Again, you need to think in a new way now. The world-class runners I have trained and lived with have this trait. They get over disappointments quickly. So, don’t dwell too long over a bad workout or race. Greatness demands more than being average. It is part of the process.

Closing Thoughts

Are you ready to take your training and racing to the next level? Check out our running courses and training plans here at RunDream Achieve. Also, consider subscribing to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos and content here each week to help runners get to the next level in their training. One other thing. Make sure to start doing longer tempo runs. Yes, a 2 to 4 mile tempo run will build strength but you also need stamina to break a sub 3 hour marathon. You have to spend a longer period of time training at your anaerobic threshold. Anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in the muscles.

Also, this intensity is right around the effort you will be racing at. So, it is essential to run further than 7 miles and preferably out toward 14 to 15 miles for these workouts. Again, the aim is to get that marathon 3 hour pace to feel easier on the athlete. We also focus on doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. These workouts are extremely fast and are conducted at paces that are closer to your 5K race pace. So, all of what I have briefly discussed here is going to make 6:52 mile or 4:16 kilometer pace to feel less aggressive. The result, along with a proper 10-day taper, is you will be able to sustain race pace and set a new personal best.

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