Are you seeking how to handle marathon 4 hour pace more efficiently? You have come to the right place. I have run 2:19:35 for the marathon and fully understand how tough it is to break a 4 hour marathon. I created a course specifically for runners such as yourself called the Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery course. My goal with the course as well this post is to help runners such as yourself to get to that 3:59:59 time. Athletes that break the sub 4 marathon are in great aerobic as well as anaerobic shape. Remember, the goal is to improve your lactate tolerance. So, you want to get sub 4 hour marathon pace to feel easier and less aggressive on you.
No, this will not be easy. Yes, it will take time but is well worth the effort. Do your best to focus on putting in quality versus quantity. It isn’t the volume you are putting in that matters as much as it is the quality of the mileage. So, you want to use leverage. Leverage simply means doing more with less. There are plenty of runners putting in higher mileage and yet never break the 4 hour marathon. You need to focus on training at, near and far below your goal marathon race pace.
How Hard is Running a 4 Hour Marathon?
It isn’t easy to sustain marathon 4 hour pace. You need to sustain 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer to run a marathon time of 3:59:59 or faster. A big mistake I am seeing with many runners is they are doing their long runs too slow. In addition, not running far enough either. That being said, with a few small changes in how you prepare for your marathons the higher your chances of success are going to become. I am a big believer in faster, varied pace long runs. Yes, easy long runs are still important. You also need to alternate running faster one weekend followed the next with a relaxed long run. So, you just don’t want to be running long, slow and easy every single weekend. It will most certainly make you an outstanding long, slow runner.
You are training to run a very fast time in breaking the 4hr marathon. I improved my marathon best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 using this strategy. I know that it works but I also know it takes time and effort to get in great shape. The long run is the hardest workout that I do preparing for marathons. So, you also need to pay attention to your pace during your easy days. Make sure you are jogging. I have trained with sub 2:10 marathoners who would run 9 to 10 minute mile pace on their easy days. Remember, these are athletes who can run well under 5 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles.
How Do I Pace Myself for a 4 Hour Marathon?
I always recommend aiming for a negative split if at all possible. Of course, you can still set a new personal best with a positive split too. I hit the first half of my 2:19:35 marathon PR in 1:07:09 and came back with a 1:12:26. Could I have run faster had I went out in 1:12 instead? It is hard to say at this point but I don’t think so. Sometimes, you just have to go for it especially if you feel great and can sustain that pace you are racing at. A positive split will mean you have some buffer time in that second half. That being said, it is wiser to go out somewhat conservative and aim to increase the pace in the second half of your race.
Again, the goal here to sustain that marathon 4 hour pace, not just for a portion of the distance. So, you want to pay attention to speed development. I have created the running courses and training plans here built around this mindset. We train the athlete to get comfortable being uncomfortable. In addition, focus on a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. A big mistake runners make is to start dropping their volume and intensity too soon. It leaves them feeling tired and lethargic rather than energized and rested. Remember, 10 days of rest leading into your major race is plenty of time to go in tapered corrected. Of course, 3-week tapes do still work for many runners. I have just set numerous personal bests from 5K to the marathon using a 10-day taper. You are welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my background.
Sub 4 Hour Marathon Training Plan
A sub 4 hour marathon training plan should be a minimum of 12 weeks and preferably 16 weeks in length. 4 months is plenty of time to train and prepare properly for a sub 4 hour marathon. It should comprise if about 40 percent of the weekly volume spent training at, near or below marathon 4 hour pace. Again, the key is to sustain race pace longer than your competition. So, we want to minimize the slow down effect caused by lactic acid build up. I recommend doing strides 2 to 3 times a week. These types of workouts are too short to build up any lactic acid. Strides are short accelerations which last about 100 meters.
You will have spent several miles at sprint speeds on top of your weekly workouts by doing these. Also, 1 vo2 max workout per week should be conducted. Your vo2 max is your maximum oxygen uptake. So, we are only able to spend a few seconds to only a few minutes max at these types of effort. The goal is to get that marathon 4 hour pace to feel more in control and less aggressive. Also, teach the body to burn fat at race pace and to conserve what you have much less of, glycogen stores. The only way to do this is to train fast. Yes, you will still burn fat running aerobically. The idea though is to burn fat as your main fuel source when running anaerobically (without oxygen).
Lastly, make sure to not neglect mental training. the subconscious mind cannot tell the different between reality and imagination. You may have a personal best of 4:30 right now but it doesn’t know the difference between a 4:30 and a 2:30 marathon. So, mentally rehearse and see yourself performing at speeds and efforts that even you may not think possible. Your subconscious mind will work in your favor. A major mistake runners make is they only focus on physical training. Mental training is equally as important. Remember, you have to see it in your mind before running under that marathon 4 hour pace becomes a reality.
Make sure you are hydrating well in training and most certainly in the race. Do not just sip but drink in your upcoming marathon. So, practice this in training first. Also, stay as relaxed as you possibly can in training as well as in the race. Do not waste any undue energy when it can be harnessed where you need it most. We can always consciously tell ourselves to stay relaxed when we are running. Yes, it is tough to do at times especially if running fast but it can be mastered. I hope this post has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help winners such as yourself take your training and racing to the next level.