How To Run Under The Sub 4 Marathon
How does one conquer the sub 4 marathon? The athlete needs to maintain 9:09 mer mile or 5:41 per kilometer. The key is to practice running at or below this pace and often.
In addition, it also takes a great deal of patience. The sub 4 marathon is not easily achieved. It is a highly competitive marathon time.
People may not be looking to run a marathon under 2.30. 3.00 or even 3.30.
My goal with this post is to share some tips on how to run under 4 hours for the marathon distance.
The main thing you have to keep in mind when training for a marathon is to enjoy the process the best you can.
Training isn't easy and often times it can be boring and time consuming but you still have to keep your eyes on the prize.
Orison Swett Marden, founder of Success magazine said it best
The moment you resolve to take hold of life with all your might and make the most of yourself at any cost, to sacrifice all lesser ambitions to your one great aim, to cut loose from everything that interferes with thus aim, to stand alone, firm in your purpose whatever happens, you set in motion the divine inner forces the Creator has implanted in you for your own development. Live up to resolve, work at what the Creator meant you to work for the perfecting of His plan, and you will be invisible. No power on earth can hold you back from success
You already have the capability to run a marathon under 4 hours.
It Takes Focus To Achieve A Sub 4 Marathon
The trick is staying motivated throughout the hardships that training does bring about.
Marden's quote is not only important but brings up a vital point.
A marathon in 3.59.59 is averaging 9.09 per mile pace.
So, how are we going to do that?
Do you think running 20 miles a week will help you get that time? You'll certainly gain fitness and burn calories but that is about it.
The sub 4 hour marathon demands more specific training. Your focus needs to be on running more quality miles at or below 4 hour maratho pace.
Running under 4 hours for the marathon takes consistent, well-planned training.
This is an issue for all marathoners. How do I sustain pace for the entire distance without slowing? If you spend too high of a percentage of your weekly mileage running to slow what happens?
Sustaining Pace is Critical
You get to mile 15 and can't sustain the pace.
Runners run out of fuel. What is the real reason for this? They have not trained their body to use fat as their main fuel source. The trick to running fast for the marathon is to conserved carbohydrates.
How is this done?
Well, gradually extending the length of your long run at a brisk pace is a great start. Remember, quality over quantity.
Long slow running will create long, slow runners – Sebastion Coe, former world record holder for the mile and 800m
Train At Or Below Sub 4 Marathon Pace
The problem for most marathon runners is this. They are not training long enough at or below sub 4 hour marathon pace.
What good is there in doing 15 mile runs at 11 minute per mile pace when the goal is 9:09 mile pace for 26.2 miles?
Do you build endurance and strength from a run like this? Sure, but what is the goal? Your goal is to sustain the pace for the entire distance. A 4 hour marathon is going to require some significant training on your part.
I'm certain you can do it. That being said, it is going to take a change in mindset and specific training to do it. In addition, you have to train properly.
The same goes for marathon racing regardless what your time goal is.
Focus on spreading out the length of time you are spending practicing running at 9.09 or faster per mile.
Focus On Pace
Practice it in long runs, track workouts, tempo runs. The trick is to gradually lengthen the distance spent at that pace. In addition to that, practice running at sprint speeds.
The idea is to spend some of your weekly training at 5K or 10K race pace.
What we want to do here is to make sub 4 marathon race pace to feel more manageable.
The marathon is a complex race. It is more than just putting in easy miles especially if you have a goal to run under 4 hours for the marathon.
There are no guarantees for a perfectly executed race. That being said, you can prepare in such a way as to increase your chances of success.
Runners experience setbacks all the time. The difference is how you react to them that matters. How fast do you get over disappointments? Remember, you are not going after an average time here. Few people run under 4 hour for the marathon.
I believe that this is the one characteristic you need to achieve your marathon goals.
Break Your Goals Into Segments
If you run 4.15 then keep training until you reach 4:10.
The marathon is great in that you can drop several minutes in one race.
Your very next race could be a 3.55.
Breaking 4 hours for the marathon is certainly a time goal that can be achieved.
You have to stay motivated and stick to your plan.
You don't have to run into the dreaded ‘wall' provided you have trained the proper way.
What Else Is Needed For A Sub 4 Marathon?
Persistence – Stick to your goal.
A sub 4 marathon entails you holding 9.09 per mile for 26.2 miles.
That being said, there are other factors that play a part in breaking the sub 4 hour marathon.
Are you getting sufficient rest?
How are your family and career responsibilities going for you?
How are your workouts going in training?
Patience– If you are in the race and you're hitting 9.30-40 per mile pace adjust your pace in the early miles.
Don't get caught up in trying to hit every mile right on 9.09 per mile.
There will be ebbs and flows throughout the race.
Some miles will be much faster, some slower.
Your goal is to ‘average' 9.09 per mile so be patient.
Stay Relaxed– Remember you can control this in your race.
You waste a lot of energy with tight muscles. A good rule of thumb is to keep your face as relaxed as possible. It is the first to tighten up. That being said, consciously remind yourself to loosen your face muscles.
The rest of your body will follow.
You can consciously tell yourself positive statements that can go a long way in getting you in a more economical, relaxed state.
‘relax' ‘I'm relaxed' ‘drop the shoulders' are a few mantras.
I have used ‘relaxed and smooth' several times on hard long runs, especially when I was really getting tired.
Do what you need to do to stay in control in the workout and in your race.
#1 Increase the length of your long run
You want to gradually lengthen your long run out as far as you can. I wouldn't advise going over 18 miles if you are running your first marathon.
Try going from 8 miles than gradually lengthening it a couple miles each week. The idea is for you to adapt to the work load. Remember, patience is key here.
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to breaking the 4 hour marathon barrier. Expect it to be challenging. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line with 3:59:59 on the clock.
#2 Gradually lengthen the last few miles of your long run at your goal race pace
I have used this tactic to get my marathon times down.
I follow the philosophy of Italian distance coach, Renato Canova, who states
The goal of training is to reduce the consumption of fuel at race pace
Burn More Fat as Fuel
You want to burn more fat and less carbohydrate at race pace.
The longer you can spend running at goal race pace the more adaptation that will occur. In addition, the less dependent your body will be on carbohydrate.
A suggestion would be to run your first 10 miles of your long run relaxed.
Focus just on time on your feet then try to run your last 4-8 miles at 9.09 per mile pace. Do not get upset if you can't hold the pace the first few tries. The key is to gradually build into running for longer period of time at that pace.
My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment-Oprah Winfrey
9.09 pace will feel much more relaxed over time if you are patient.
Do The Right Workouts
Here are a few great workouts for a sub 4 marathon
6x1mile at 7.30 per mile rep with 800m jog recovery between reps
5x2miles at 16.00 per 2-mile rep on the track with a 1 mile jog recovery between each set
2x5miles in 42.30 each with a 1 mile easy jog recovery between each set
This a great set of workouts I use in my marathon training.
Do you see the similarities between the three workouts above?
You are practicing below pace you want to hold.
Your body will adapt to the long runs and stress you are placing on it. Remember, stay persistent, patient and practice relaxing your muscles as your running.
Keep your face relaxed and your body will follow.
Lastly, gradually lengthen the distance of your long run. Then, practice lengthening the time you spend running at 9.09 per mile pace.
The more time you practice it the easier it will be for you to maintain it in the race.
You will have people to push you in the race. Make sure to check back into the RunDreamAchieve Academy. There is a new course called Sub 4 Hour Marathon Mastery that will be released soon.
It will teach runners how to run a marathon under 4 hours.
If you are serious about running a sub 4 hour marathon this course will ensure you make that goal a reality.
If you have the sub 4 hour marathon as as a goal check out the sub 4 hour marathon manifesto. I am certain you can do it.