What Does It Takes To Break 3 Hours?
A sub 3 hour marathon plan should focus on getting the athlete to handle sub 3 marathon pace more efficiently.
A sub 3 marathon time can be achieved but not without hard work and commitment. It is not a time that will be achieve via interest. There are a lot of marathoners who desire to run a marathon in 2:59:59 or faster.
There is a reason few actually do. Well, it is difficult for one. Two, you have to sustain 6:52 mile pace for 26.2 miles or 4:15 per kilometer for 42.18 kilometers. No breaks. I cover this in detail in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course where I cover down on the exact workouts and plan to dominate the barrier.
Can a 3 hr marathon be run by anyone? No, not that I am aware of. It does take some physiological talent to do this but you cannot rely on talent alone. There has to be a large amount of commitment and follow through to make a sub 3 hour marathon a reality.
What Strategies Should A Sub 3 Hour Marathon Plan Cover
A focus on training at or below race pace. It also takes a combination of a few other key components of your training. You have to ensure race pace feels manageable. In addition, you want to be able to react to pace surges in the race.
Keep in mind, it is an “average” of 6:52 per mile or 4:16 per kilometer which means you will be running at paces faster than this during the race. You have to focus on a sub 3 hour marathon plan that will help you sustain that pace for the entire distance.
What is the best way to handle the pace changes? Training at paces that exceed your sub 3 marathon race pace. The biggest reason I was able to drop my marathon time from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 was due to this training strategy. This is not an easy task.
So, if you are used to doing your long run at long, slower paces it's time for a change.
As I discuss in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro, your long run should be the hardest workout you do.
Why Does Long Run Pace Matter In Breaking The Sub 3 Marathon?
The main reason this long run strategy is critical is adapting to ever increasing amounts of lactic acid. You do get benefits from running for long periods of time. The body burns fat and you do build endurance.
The sub 3 marathon demands stamina and the sustainment of that 3 hour marathon pace is critical for your success. Have you ever ran a race where you said,
I was on sub 3 marathon pace for 19 miles but….
The bottom line is it doesn't matter how many miles you were on pace. Did you do it for 26.2 miles? Were you able to do it for 42.1 kilometers? If the answer is no, then we have to make some adjustments in how you are conducting that long run.
Examples Of How Sub 3 Marathon Long Runs SHOULD look like
Below are a few examples of what many marathoners long runs look like (including mine prior to 2007). In addition, I'll share a few examples of what a long run should look like for someone seeking a sub 3 marathon time.
What not to do…
18 miler – 10-11 minute mile pace
22 miler – 9:45-10:30 mile pace with last mile in 9:30
Sub 3 marathon long run examples
16 miler – first 4 miles at 145 BPM or easy pace, 4 miles@goal race pace, 4 miles@9:20 mile pace, 2 miles JOG, 2 miles@8:30 mile pace
20 miler – 2 miles easy, 12 miles@9:05 mile pace/4:12 kilometer pace, 2 miles@9:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 7:45 mile pace, 1 mile cool-down
Do you see the differences? The top two workouts are generally easy and relaxed long runs. These should be used during recovery weeks. What I am not saying to do is run hard and long every week. The sub 3 hour marathon plan at the conclusion of the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro gives the athlete the step by step blueprint to follow.
That is a great way to burn out, fatigue and second guess your capability in breaking the sub 3 marathon barrier. What you need to do is have one long run conducted at a much harder effort followed by a relaxed, easier long run to recover.
So, do not rule out the first two and most certainly do not continue to do the first two each and every week.
Can A 4 Hour Marathoner Become A Sub 3 Marathon Specialist?
That is exactly why I created the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. The goal is to help 4 hour marathoners get to 2:59:59 or faster for the distance. It is possible but a lot of changes will need to be made to make it a reality.
The reason I was not improving in the marathon from 2002 to 2007 was that I was not placing enough emphasis on the long run. Did I have to do other workouts to break the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier? Yes. It wasn't just a change in the long run that contributed to breaking both the 2:22:00 and 2:20:00 barrier.
That being said, I'd say the biggest reason I did it was due to changing up how I conducted my long run. The majority of marathoners in the 4:00-4:59 marathon time range are not dropping an all out mile in the middle of their long run.
This is a very unnatural and different way of looking at the long run. The key is training the body to handle the pace changes in training. The reason for this is to ensure you can do it in the race itself.
As I state further in the below, there are other aspects of a sub 3 marathon you have to also focus on. One of these is your mindset, you have to see it in the mind before it ever becomes a reality in real life. The below video covers some of this.
What Else Is Needed To Break The Sub 3 Marathon?
I wanted to ensure athletes seeking to become sub 3 hour marathoners had the tools to make it a reality. It takes a great deal of stress off of any athlete when he or she knows what to do each day and knows why they are doing it.
Again, the key is training at or below goal sub 3 marathon race pace. You have to get race pace to feel comfortably hard. I was able to hold 5:19 per mile pace or 3:18 per kilometer pace for 26 miles or 42.1 kilometers for one key reason. A large portion of my weekly training was spent or below my goal marathon race pace. This is why I created the sub 3 hour marathon plan in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.
It takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out what is the exact steps and process I need to follow to break the 3 hour marathon barrier.
Our paces may vary but the workouts have to be similar in your sub 3 marathon strategy. Speed workouts, hill repetitions, tempo runs and your recovery runs all matter. In addition, it is also essential that you back off and allow your body to recover so that a sub 3 hour marathon can become a reality.
Common Mistakes Runners Make In Trying To Break The Sub 3 Marathon Barrier
- Weekly long runs are too slow and often times not far enough
If you want to get comfortable with running 26.2 miles you want to extend your long run to at least 22 miles in length. A 14 miler is not going to create the overall strength you need to handle racing 26.2 miles or 42.1 kilometers.
It is essential that you teach yourself to get out to at least 22 miles and even further. The longest long run I ever did preparing for a marathon was 30 miles. I also once did a 27 miler. I did both of these long runs prior to running 2:26:42 at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon where I took 5th place.
My longest long run prior to running my 2:19:35 personal best at the 2007 California International Marathon was 24 miles. You want the long run to be somewhat similar in distance to the marathon itself but you also want to vary your pace. It should not be a long, slow long run every weekend.
Pace Sustainment: The Golden Rule Of The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Plan
2. They run out of gas with too many miles left in the race
It is most certainly not for a lack of trying or desire to break the sub 3 marathon that causes this. All that is needed is a change in training strategy. A new approach to preparing to become a 2:59:59 or faster marathoner.
The biggest culprit is the hydrogen ion in lactic acid that causes us to slow down. How can 4 hour marathoners get to 2:59:59? Train at faster speeds for longer periods of time. The good news is this tactic works and is used by sub 3 hour marathoners around the world. These athletes are following the golden rule of any strong sub 3 hour marathon plan. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The bad news? It is painful and it takes time and enormous amounts of effort to achieve. You really have to have a great deal of patience. Sub 3 marathon fitness doesn't come overnight and it takes the body time to adapt to training like this.
The great news is there is a solution to this. The Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. Do you want to know the exact methods and strategies I used to go from a 2:43:36 marathoner to a 2:19:35 marathon specialist?
If you are serious about becoming a sub 3 marathoner I highly recommend you get started today.