Sub 4 Marathon Training Plan | 2:19 Marathoner Tips

Are you seeking a new sub 4 marathon training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am excited you have made it here. In addition, that you are aiming for a time this competitive. There are runners around the world who are working to run 3:59:59. How you prepare will determine how successful your build up is going to be. I hope that some of the tips you will learn in this post will be of assistance to you.

I used these tactics to lower my marathon personal best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. So, I do know that they work. A common mistake many marathoners make is running too many miles too slow. Higher mileage is not a guarantee that you will run 3:59:59. Remember, it is the quality of your mileage that counts most. You cannot run long, slow and easy every single weekend for your long runs.

Faster, varied paced long runs will make you dangerous. In addition, you will be able to sustain goal marathon race pace longer. The world’s top distance runners run around 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. We run between 85 to 89% of our maximum heart rate running at this intensity. So, a major step to getting under 4 hours for the marathon is improving your body’s lactate tolerance.

How Long Does it Take to Train for a Sub 4 Hour Marathon?

A sub 4 marathon training plan needs to be at least 12 weeks in length. In fact, I would recommend that 16 to preferably 24 weeks is best. The main reason for this is that you won’t be rushing your fitness. Remember, you are going after a very competitive time here. So, it is best not to be in a rush. Also, that you get that sub 4 hour marathon pace to feel easier. The only way to do this is higher emphasis on faster training.

Yes, easy running is still vital for success. The benefits of the hard training that you are doing today will be seen several weeks from now. Also, the benefits from the faster, anaerobic training you are doing come from within the rest cycle. For example, while you are sleeping and the hours following a hard workout. So, you have to focus on your nutrition and taking care of yourself after your workouts as well.

I would also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I regularly use the Garmin 245. It helps me to to stay in the correct heart rate zones. In addition, ensures that I am not running too aggressively on easy days. Also, not too slow on tempo runs or during my faster, varied placed long runs.

How Many Miles a Week Should I Run for a Sub 4 Hour Marathon?

I think this will depend entirely on the experience of the athlete. Again, higher mileage is not a guarantee you will break 4 hours. I have known athletes who have run 50 miles a week who broke the barrier. In addition, have known others who were running 90 to 100 who did not. So, it depends on what percentage of your weekly mileage are you training at or below 9:09 per mile pace?

I have tried to create running training plans as well as running courses to speed up your learning curve. In fact, I created a course specifically for runners seeking to break the 4 hour marathon barrier. It is called the Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery Course. I go in-depth on every detail regarding marathoning success in that course. So, you may want to check that out. I have also created training plans here that range from 8 to 24 weeks in length.

I recommend a longer marathon build up rather than a shorter one. The main reason for this is to minimize the athlete rushing his or her fitness. Remember, a legitimate sub 4 marathon plan should focus on a long-term approach. So, minimum training time should be around 16 weeks. I would say that the optimal time frame is between 20 to 24 weeks. Yes, it does take time but it is well worth it when you cross the finish line in a new personal best.

How Do You Pace Yourself for a Sub 4 Hour Marathon?

Remember, the faster you train below sub 4 hour marathon pace the easier it is going to feel. So, doing 1, vo2 max workout per week is vital for success. We run between 95 to 100 percent of our maximum heart rate running at vo2 max effort. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. So, it is running at speeds that are so fast you can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

Of course, we can only run a few seconds to a few minutes at this intensity. That being said, due to the intensity it helps to make sub 4 marathon pace to feel that much easier. Also, the faster, more explosive activities we participate in the more fast twitch muscle fibers we can recruit. Easy running does not produce this physiological effect.

I always tell my athletes to focus on a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your marathon faster than you run the first half. For example, go out the first half in 2:04 and come back with a 1:55 and you have your 3:59 marathon. You also need to ensure that you are drinking enough in the race as well. Remember, this is a 42.2 kilometers or 26.2 miles, not a 5K. I recommend dropping water bottles out every 3 miles or 5 kilometers during your long run route.

Is Running a Marathon in under 4 Hours Hard?

Of course. It will be a challenge. You are not going after an average time here. That being said, if you focus on the fundamentals I teach, I know you will succeed. How have you been conducting your long runs in the past? Are you running easy and slow every single weekend? If so, this could be one of the reasons you are not holding goal pace for the entire race.

I recommend to start doing faster, varied paced long runs every other weekend. Yes, you still need to run easy but only every other weekend. Below is an example of a varied paced long run I did prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier. Of course, you will need to adjust your paces. That being said, this is just to give you an idea…

  • 2 mile warm-up, 6 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@5:55 mile pace, 3 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 1 mile jog cool-down (22 miles)

I would always run the following weeks long run slow at around 9 minute mile pace. Again, the real benefits of your hard training come from within the rest. So, ensure you are jogging on those easy days. I dropped 21 minutes off of my marathon best using this tactic. You can start implementing this strategy now.

Should I Run More than 20 Miles when Training for a Marathon?

I don’t think you really are going to get additional benefits running much further than 20 miles or 32 kilometers. I ran as far as 30 miles in training for my marathons and it didn’t work. In fact, I ran my personal best of 2:19:35 on 20 to 22 mile long runs. So, 16 to 20 miles is usually sufficient for your long runs. How far have you run for your tempo runs? Has it been around 4 miles? 5? If so, you are still running too short.

Remember, we need to extend the amount of time we spend at our lactate threshold. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our max heart rate at this intensity. So, the longer you can extend the duration of runs like these the better equipped you are going to be to break 4 hours. The sub 4 marathon training plan options available here have this style of training built in.

I would recommend working your way toward around 10 to 12 miles or 16 to 19 kilometers in length. Of course, you need to first adapt to 3 to 4 milers first. Again, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, be patient and don’t try to rush your fitness. Remember, a longer build up is better. 16 weeks minimum and 20 to 24 weeks is optimal in going after a sub 4 hour marathon.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that these tips have been helpful to you. A sub 4 marathon training plan also needs to encompass mental training into it. The vast majority of runners only focus on physical training and bypass mental rehearsal. Remember, you need to train the mind just as you do the body. Real results come from combing both of these essential parts of training.

So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes daily visualizing yourself getting across the finish line with 3:59:59 on the clock. Also, see yourself running relaxed and passing people. You will be training the subconscious mind to bring to you the result you are aiming for. Of course, you cannot just do mental training and expect a marathon time this fast. So, you have to combine both mental as well as physical training to succeed.

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. My aim is to create new training and racing video content there each week. My aim is to share with you tips and tactics that your competition may not be paying attention to. Also, to share with you what some of the world’s top coaches and runners taught to me.

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