Sub 3 HR Marathon Tips to Get to 2:59

Are you seeking how to run a sub 3 hr marathon? If so, I am happy you have made it here to RunDreamAchieve, the home of running tips. I have run 2 hours 19 minutes and 35 seconds for the marathon distance. So, I fully understand how difficult breaking the 3 hour marathon barrier is. I even created a course called the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course to help athletes such as yourself achieve this task. Remember, it isn’t about the volume you are doing as much as it is the quality of the work you are putting in. My goal is to help runners to use leverage. Leverage simply means doing more with less.

We all have been taught how to work hard but the hardest working athletes don’t always get the results. So, you need to start thinking strategically to get better results as a marathoner. One of the best ways is to take out the guesswork and invest in yourself. We have training plans, running courses and consultation services as well here. It is not easy to get beyond running high mileage as we all want to work hard. The problem is too many miles or kilometers run too slow will make you an outstanding long, slow runner. Our goal is to get you to hold that 6:52 mile pace effectively. It is one thing to hold that pace for 15 miles. It is another to hold is all the way to the finish line.

Is Running a Sub 3 Hour marathon Good?

Yes, a sub 3 hr marathon is a very tough time. In addition, a time that very few runners around the world achieve each year. You need to sustain 4:16 per kilometer or 6:52 per mile in order to run 2:59:59 for the marathon. So, you are going to have to be in superior aerobic and anaerobic shape in order to achieve this goal. Proper pacing is absolutely essential if you want to run 2:59:59 or faster over the 26.2 mile or 42.2 kilometers. One of the big mistakes I see runners making is also not drinking enough fluid in the race. We see runners sipping and not hydrating properly. Remember, this is a marathon and not a 5K or 10K.

So, you have to start practicing ingesting more fluid and ingesting some calories in training. You want to make sure you have tested how much your stomach can take in training first. You do not want to get to the race and make the mistake of neglecting this critical step. Also, start running your long runs at a faster pace. Yes, you still need to do easier, long runs as well. That being said, I would recommend alternating a faster long run followed the next week by an easier long run.

How Many Miles a Week Should I Run for a Sub 3 Hour Marathon?

I would recommend focusing on or around 70 miles per week to break the sub 3 hr marathon barrier. Remember, it isn’t so much about the volume as it is the quality of the mileage you are putting in. The key also is to improve your lactate tolerance. The only way to do this is to train at, near and far below your goal sub 3 hour marathon pace. The running courses that I teach here as well as our training plans focus on a 16-week training plan. 4 months is plenty of time to train properly for a sub 3 hour marathon. I advocate for doing 1, Vo2 max workout per week. In addition, longer tempo runs starting around 3 to 4 miles lengthening out toward 10 to 14 miles later.

So, if you have done short tempo runs in the past consider longer ones now. Again, training longer at your anaerobic threshold will build that stamina and strength you need in the marathon. Speed training is essential as well. Remember, the ability to pick up pace when your competition is slowing is key. It takes time, focus and patience in order to do this. it takes the body about 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, the benefits from the workouts you do today will be seen many weeks from now. The process cannot be rushed. You are going after an extremely aggressive and competitive marathon time. Professionals do things differently then amateurs.

What Percentage of Marathoners Break 3 Hours?

A very small percentage right around 4 percent of marathoners each year break the sub 3 hr marathon barrier. Again, you need to sustain a minimum of 6 minutes and 52 seconds per mile for the entire distance. How often are you mentally training to do this? I ask that because most runners only focus on the physical training aspect of training. You need to see yourself on a routine basis racing at the level you are aiming for. A big reason I improved from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 was mental rehearsal. My goal was to break 2 hours and 22 minutes for the marathon. It was a USA Track and Field Olympic Trials “B” standard time back in 2007.

I was able to achieve the “A” standard instead and broke 2:20:00. So, I credit a combination of both mental as well as physical preparation for achieving that 2:19:35 I ran. I want you to start taking this area of your preparation seriously starting today. So, take 10 to 15 minutes each day with no devices nearby and visualize yourself crossing the finish line with 2:59:59 or faster on the clock. The best marathoners know how important this is.

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

My training plans are 16 weeks in length. Of course, there are no guarantee in running. Sometimes you can do everything perfect and still miss your time goal. That being said, I am confident that following a legitimate training plan to get you to work smarter is key. There are far too many runners out there who are working hard and still miss their goals. That being said, others running far less mileage and are nailing their goals. So, I want this for you. Again, it isn’t about how many miles per week you are running. Remember, if they are run too slow you are not going to break 3 hours.

You need to do around 40 percent of your weekly volume at, near or far below your goal sub 3 hour marathon pace. Runners breaking 3 hours make it look easy for a reason. They have spent sufficient time training at paces that are much faster than 3 hour marathon pace. Again, you want to make sure you train in such a way to make this pace feel less aggressive. In addition, to feel more in control. Also, make sure to stay as relaxed as you can while running in training and when you race. Muscle tension wastes energy. Energy that you need to call upon when you are racing. Lastly, stay relaxed prior to the start of the race. Let your competitors be uptight and nervous. Make training the most difficult part of your preparation.

Closing Thoughts

I have not even scratched the surface on breaking the sub 3 hr marathon barrier in this post. That being said, I hope the few strategies that I have touched on can help assist you. Check out our running courses and training plans located here on to help take your training and racing to the next level. I am certain you will be able to attain the sub 3 hour marathon barrier if you focus hard enough on it. No, it will not be simple but certainly doable if you change up your routine.

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