Sub 3 Hour Marathon Training | 2:19 Marathoner Tips

Sub 3 hour marathon training takes an enormous dedication to the sport. Welcome to I am glad you have arrived here.

3 hour marathon training

I hope that is post will be of assistance to you. The first thing I would do is run for at least 4 weeks easy and relaxed. Remember, we first have to strengthen the tendons, joints, ligaments and muscles of the body.

The sub 3 hour marathon requires the athlete to hold 6.52 per mile for 26.2 consecutive miles or 4:16 per kilometer for 42.2 kilometers. The only way to achieve this is to teach the body to clear lactic acid more efficiently.

Also, there are other factors that are critical to you getting under the 3 hour marathon barrier. Hydration is about as important as the training itself.

A common mistake many runners make is sipping in the race. Remember, the world’s top runner drink, they do not sip, in their races.

How Long Does it Take to Train for a Sub 3 Hour Marathon?

I always tell runners to train for a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 to 24 weeks to get this event right. Again, you do not want to rush your fitness. Remember, it takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, it will take time for your body to adapt to running under 3 hour marathon pace.

The athlete must be able to run more economically the faster he or she wishes to run. So, the tactic you have to use is to conserve carbohydrates and use fat more efficiently. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your marathons? 4 miles? 5 miles? I would suggest that you work to extend that to around 9 to 12 miles in length.

Remember, the faster we run the more efficient we will be at clearing lactic acid. Of course, easy running is still vital for running success. That being said, it is fast, anaerobic training that will provide this physiological adaptation.

The biggest mistake I kept making in the marathon was sipping and not drinking in the race. Remember, this is not the 5K or 10K. The marathon requires the athlete to really pay attention to hydration and caloric intake.

Sub 3 hour marathon training is demanding and it does take a level of talent in order to achieve a time of 2:59:59.

How fast you achieve the time will be dependent upon how you train. In addition to that, your level of enthusiasm will have to be high. The 3 hour marathon will require a lot of training far below 3 hour marathon pace.

Can Anyone Train to Run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon?

There are many runners who are capable of this time barrier. That being said, you will need to run close to or near the below listed times.

  • 1:25 (half marathon)
  • 38:00 (10 kilometers)

Of course, this is just an estimate. No, running under 3 hours for the marathon will not be easy. Remember, you are aiming to run what I consider an elite time. Average runners are not seeking to break the 3 hour marathon barrier.

So, if you are seeking to sustain sub 3 hour marathon training pace you will have to learn to burn fat more efficiently at that pace.

What Percentage of Runners Run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon?

Marastats did a recent study that states that only about 4 percent of runners break the sub 3 hour marathon barrier each year. So, it is a highly competitive and difficult time to achieve. I created the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course to help speed up the learning curve for runners like you. You may want to also check out our testimonial to read what other happy runners are saying about it.

3:59:59 to 3:00:00 marathoners need to make a few minor changes in their training. One, spend more time at or below sub 3 hour marathon pace. Two, focus on overall speed and the recruitment of more fast twitch muscle fibers. This physiological adaptation only occurs by way of faster running.

Be patient. Running a marathon under 3 hours is not common. There are only a few runners that achieve this time each year around the world. In addition to that, there are even more seeking to break the sub 3 hour marathon.

One of the best things you can do is what I have discussed with runners seeking to break the sub 2 hour half marathon and the sub 4 hour marathon.

Increase the paces at which you do your long runs.

This is an endurance sport.

Short distance workouts are great for building your Aerobic Capacity  In addition, shorter and much faster workouts help make 3 hour marathon pace more manageable.

For example, 6 x 1 mile in 5:45 each will do wonders. One, you are running over a minute per mile faster than goal marathon pace. Two, you’re teaching the body to use fat as its main fuel source at faster speeds. Third, you are conserving carbohydrates.

Common Workouts I Would Suggest For Runners Seeking A Sub 3 Hour Marathon

Varying Your Long Run Pace

The biggest reason I was able to lower my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 was for this reason. What most runners do wrong is they run too long at too slow of paces.

What good is a 22 miler run at 8 minute mile pace if you want to run a sub 3 hour marathon? Furthermore, what will a 20 miler at 7:30 mile pace do? Your goal is to sustain 6:52 mile or 4:16 kilometer pace for a long period of time.

In addition, that is just the average per mile or kilometer pace you’ll need to hold. What this means is many of your miles or kilometers will be run at faster paces. So, the tactic you need to use is doing workouts at and far below sub 3 hour marathon pace.

The goal is to make 3 hour marathon pace feel easier and more in control. The good news is this can be done. The bad news is it is difficult, takes time and a great deal of patience to achieve.

These could be workouts such as 10x1000m at 5.00 mile pace with shorter recovery floats such as 300-400m

How Hard is a Sub 3Hour Marathon?

It is a very difficult time barrier to break. As mentioned above, only about 3 to 4% of runners achieve this time each year around the world. I would highly recommend to start using a heart rate monitor for your training. I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to stay at the proper heart rate zones during my long runs.

In addition, ensures that I am running at proper speeds during my tempo runs. Also, that I am running easy enough during my recovery runs. Again, great results only come by being patient and not over training. It is much more fun to focus on heart rate than to be overly concerned about splits. Remember, the fitter you get the faster your splits will be.

Long hill repetitions consisting of all-out sprints

These could range in distance from 200m-1000m in length. 3 hour marathon training is highly demanding. Make sure you have a good, strong base of easy mileage put in prior to starting you build up.

A great workout I do while preparing for my marathons is

4X5 miles at 10 seconds per mile faster than goal marathon pace. I’m not a fan of this workout but it gets the job done. I’ll do this in the middle of a 20 miler.

For example, if you were seeking to run 2:59:59 this is what it would look like

5 miles easy, 5 miles@6:50 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 5 miles@6:50 mile pace, 3 mile jog cool-down.

The key is varying your paces. That being said, what I don’t want you doing is running hard every weekend. The idea is to recover. You’ll have to make some serious changes to become a sub 3 hour marathoner.

The first being not spending every weekend running long and slow

Sub 3 hour marathon training takes a great deal of attention to detail.

Runners at this level clearly now know that easy running will not do the job.

Is a Sub 3 Hour Marathon Elite?

Elite is defined differently based on whom you ask. Of course, most consider an elite marathon time under 2:10 for men and under 2:22 for women. I consider a sub 3 hour marathon as an elite time. The reason for this is that so few runners achieve this time. So, the sub 3 marathon barrier is the first step in moving toward elite status.

Running easy certain has its place. You have to allow time for your body to recovery from the hard sessions you are doing. In addition, you’ll have to be patient. What you are trying to do is certainly not the norm.

The athlete has to pay more attention to developing the anaerobic system to function as sufficiently as possible.

Furthermore, this goes for all ability levels as well. The athlete has to place higher emphasis on carbohydrate conservation and use of fat at race speeds.

Closing Thoughts

Runners competing at sub 3 hours for the marathon distance are using a greater percentage of their fat stores as their primary race fuel. This is why the Kenyans make it look so easy. They spend a large percentage of their weekly mileage at paces that are much faster than their goal marathon race pace.

This has to be the goal of runners of all ability levels, whether a 6 hour marathoner, 3 hour half-marathoner or a total novice.

The greater importance placed on clearing lactic acid faster than it builds up when we race, the better results are going to come from the training we do.

I hope this post on sub 3 hour marathon training has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.

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