Sub 3.30 Marathon Training Plan | Tips to PB

Are you seeking a new, strategic sub 3.30 marathon training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I have focused on helping runners here since 2011 and know you can run 3:29:59. No, it won’t be a walk in the park, no easy. That being said, tweaking your past training can make the difference in sustain sub 3 30 marathon pace. A 3:29:59 marathon comes out to 8 minutes per mile or 4 minutes and 58 seconds per kilometer.

How can you get this pace to feel easier? Focus on a longer build up between 16 and preferably 20 weeks. Remember, the longer you prepare for your races the less of a rush you will be in to get in shape. It takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for you to physiologically adapt to the workouts you are doing. So, great fitness doesn’t come in a matter of days but several months.

One of the biggest mistakes I see marathoners making is rushing their fitness. I talk about this in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Blueprint course in depth. My aim with this post is to share some strategies to help you succeed over the 26.2 mile, 42.2 kilometer event.

How to Follow Your Sub 3:30 Marathon Training Plan

I focus on having my athletes do a minimum of 4 weeks of easier, base-building mileage first. The reason being is you want to ensure your tendons, ligaments and muscles are prepared to handle the training. So, you want to invest in a sub 3.30 marathon training plan that is not going to rush the process. You first have to lay the foundational mileage. I do recommend adding in strides into your training routine twice per week.

great marathon time
Coach Pennington placing 4th overall and top American at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

What I love about strides is you will, over time, have spent several miles or kilometers at sprint paces. In addition, strides are too short to build up any major lactic acid. So, they will not fatigue you. Remember, strides should only be between 50 to 100 meters in length. You want to gradually increase the intensity of the stride as you move through it. The last 20 meters of the stride should be all out.

Pace sustainment is the end of the game when it comes to running a marathon under 3 hours and 30 minutes. There are many runners around the world seeking to run a time this fast. So, you have to think outside the box in order to bring it to fruition.

Sub 3.30 Marathon Statistics

The faster you run at the shorter distances the better equipped you are going to be to break this time barrier. You need to run a 10K in or around 45 minutes. A sub 45 minute 10k is 7:15 mile pace (4:30 kilometer pace). I would also recommend working to improve your half-marathon time as well. Runners aiming to run a sub 3:30 marathon need to get close to a 1:40 half marathon.

We do have 8 to 20-week training plans, running courses and monthly coaching options here. So, there are plenty of resources available here to set you up for success. More importantly, to ensure you are conducting the proper training at the right intensities. No, it will not be easy. You are going after a very competitive marathon time.

The faster you are seeking to run the more that is going to be required out of you. No easy path. The good news is you will be following the same training strategies I followed to set some big PRs myself.

How Hard is a Sub 3 30 Marathon?

It isn’t going to be easy. That being said, others have done and so can you. It is just being patient enough to see the training through. I recommend training a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 weeks for your marathon. The main reason longer is better is you won’t be in a rush. You will provide adequate time in order for your body to adapt to the stresses you are placing on it.

Again, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any physiological stress being placed on the body. So, the benefits of the hard training you to do today will be seen several weeks and months from now. The focus here is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance.

So, you want to teach it to use fat as its main fuel source at race pace. More importantly, to conserve what it has much less of and that is glycogen (carbohydrates). Faster running does this. Easier running, which is essential too, will help you to build your endurance. Also, to burn fat at slower speeds.

Workout Types Built into the RunDreamAchieve Sub 3.30 Marathon Training Plans

  • Anaerobic Threshold Runs – tempo runs are essential for success in the marathon. You are running between 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate at these efforts. The key is to lengthen the time spent at this intensity. Tempo runs are often times spent at paces that exceed goal 3 30 marathon race pace.

Again we want to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. So, you want to slow down less than your competition. In addition, sustain pace more efficiently than those you are racing again. Remember, it is them dealing with you, not you dealing with them.

  • Hill repetition – hills will make you dangerous in the marathon. You are running at close to 100 percent of maximum effort at these types of efforts. So, you are recruiting more fast twitch muscle fibers. Hills force you to lift your knees and pump your arms as you’ll need to do at the end of a race. In addition, it will help to make sub 3-30 marathon pace to feel easier.

Speed Development

  • Track/Road intervals – Intervals are spent at your vo2 max much like hill sprints are. Your Vo2max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. So, you are running between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate during these workouts. Examples of the types of workouts we focus on with speed work are as follows.

-1 mile warm-up, 8x800m@3:22-3:30 with 2-3 minutes rest (rest based on level of fitness), 1 mile cool-down

-2 mile warm-up, 6×1 mile@6:35-6:45 with 60 seconds to 4 minutes rest (rest based on fitness), 1 mile cool-down

-1 mile warm-up, 16x400m@1:39-1:43 with 60sec to 2 minutes rest b/t reps (rest based on fitness), 1 mile cool-down

Long Runs

  • Easy long Runs – easier, aerobic long runs focused on helping the athlete build endurance and gain confidence. These long runs should not be that difficult and spent at a regular, relaxed effort. Heart rate should be between 130-150 beats per minute or slightly lower depending on the fitness of the athlete

Faster, Varied-Paced Long Runs – these types of long runs most marathoners are not doing. Remember, this sub 3.30 marathon training plan is going to force you out of your comfort zone. Do you want to be average or great? My guess is great. Greatness requires far more out of us than we usually expect. Below are some examples of varied paced long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon.

-2 mile jog warm-up, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 3 miles@5:35 mile pace, 1 mile jog cool-down (21 miles)

-1 mile jog warm-up, 15 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 4:55, 2 mile cool-down (21 miles)

– 2 mile jog warm-up, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 6 miles@6:30 mile pace (22 miles)

Sub 3.30 Marathon Training Plan Weekly Schedule

Athletes need to also focus on recovery. So, one day off per week is within each of the training plans I have. Of course, some athletes may need an additional day off based on how they are feeling. I am fine with athletes doing this. That being said, special attention has to be placed on those harder workouts. Again, you are not going to be handed a 3:29.59 marathon.

Athletes seeking a time this fast are going to have to go above and beyond to get it. Remember, it isn’t the volume as much as the quality of the work you are doing that counts most. I also would recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it. Heart rate monitor training will ensure you are not running anaerobically on aerobic days. In addition, not running too slow during your tempo runs as well.

I love heart rate training because you focus on heart rate rather than splits. The splits will come as you get in better shape. Again, don’t be in a rush. The RunDreamAchieve sub 3.30 marathon training plan is challenging but will help you get to that 3:29.59.

Taper Phase

I am a big believer in conducting a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. The reason being is you don’t drop your volume and intensity too far out from your main event. The goal here is to lead into your goal marathon in top form. In addition, to not feel tired and lethargic going into your race.

So, we continue to remind the legs of what we are training them to do only a few days out from the main marathon. The last workout we do leading into the marathon is a 3 mile run at sub 3 30 marathon pace. The last 3 days going into the main event are either off or relaxed jogging.

Are you ready to take your training and racing to the next level? Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new video content there each week. My aim is to always help athletes regardless what level you are currently at. The sport gave a lot to me and I aim to give back as well. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about me.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this post has been helpful on your journey to 3:29.59. Again, this is just an an overview of some of the things you really need to be thinking about to succeed. Make sure you are focusing on mental training as well. So, spent 10 to 15 minutes daily visualizing yourself getting across the finish line with that 3:29.59 time on the clock.

Pay attention to your muscular tension as you are running too. Practice relaxation. Remember, the best middle to long distance runners always look relaxed. The less tension and stress the better you are going to run. Lastly, practice you hydration during those long runs. Sit water bottles out every 3 miles and practice drinking. You do not want to sip in the marathon. You need to be drinking so that you don’t become dehydrated. Remember, watch your pacing in the early stages of this race too.

Do not go out the first half marathon in 1:30 if your goal is to break 3:30. Be smart about your pacing and focus on a negative split. Google the word “supercompensation”. I can bet your competition doesn’t know anything about this. Thank me later. Keep me posted on your progress. I am looking forward to hearing about your new personal best.

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