Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

What is a Good Time for a Marathon

Are you wondering what is a good time for a marathon? If so, I am excited that you have made it here to rundreamachieve.com. I have run 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, I fully understand how much time it takes to run well over the 26.2 mile distance. It certainly is not an easy event. That being said, there are some specific tactics you can use in order to run well over 42.2 kilometers. One of the biggest mistakes I was making earlier in my career was my long runs. I was running long and slow every single weekend.

I was a 2:43:36 and lowered my personal best down to 2:19:35. How? I started running faster, varied pace long runs. For example, I would start doing about 40 to 50 percent of my long run at 85 percent of my maximum heart rate. Are you seeking to run a fast marathon time? If so, you have to ensure to jog on your recovery days. A major mistake runners make is they are still caught up with what pace per mile or kilometer they are running at on easy days. Remember, the benefits of you hard training is going to come from within the rest period.

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new video content every week to help athletes such as yourself get to the next level in their training and racing. The marathon takes pre-planning and proper pacing to get it right. So, my goal with this post it to share with you some tactics you can use to run much faster over the marathon distance.

What is a Good Marathon Time by Age?

Below is a list of good marathon times based on age and ability level of the runners. The marathon training plans and running courses that I teach here are based around a 16 week block of training. It takes about 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load that you are placing on the body. For example, a 3-mile tempo run early in your training is going to be tough. The reason being is that you simply have not adapted to the pace you are aiming to hold. Remember, the key to running a fast marathon time is improve your lactate tolerance.

You do this by conducting longer tempo runs. In addition, faster long runs as I mentioned above. What percentage of your weekly volume do you train at or below your goal marathon race pace? Well, if it is too low than you know you have to increase the amount of anaerobic work you are doing. Pace sustainment is the key when it comes to the marathon. So, you have to set up your training in the right way. First, focus on spending about 3 to 4 weeks running easy, aerobic base mileage. The reason being is you don't want to rush into faster training.

You have to strengthen your muscles, joints and ligaments first. I recommend doing strides during your easy days. Strides are too short to build up any significant lactic acid. So, you can do 5 to 6, 100-meter strides twice per week. Remember, these are short sprints which should not be all out. It is a gradual increase in pace until you are sprinting all out the last 10 to 20 meters of the stride.

Source: Running Level
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Do Marathoners Run Every Day?

Not always. The average marathon runner is running 3 to 4 days a week. Elite runners are running every day and sometimes twice per day, nearly every day. The highest mileage I ever did was 142 miles in a week. That being said, I ran my personal best of 2:19:35 for the marathon on 85 to 90 miles a week. So, don't get caught up with mileage. Remember, if the majority of your training is aerobic it will be very difficult to sustain marathon race pace effectively. So, you want to increase the percentage of your weekly volume training at or closer to your goal marathon race pace.

I would also recommend doing pool running if you need some time off your feet. Pool running is equal to land running and can be a very tough workout if you are doing it without a flotation device. So, get in the deep end of a swimming pool and pool run. It takes all of the stress off of your ligaments and joints.

In addition, it is great as an alternative long run or fartlek workout you may have had planned. Of course, it will be much easier if you are wearing a flotation device. If you want to do an easy, 1 to 2 hour long run in the pool then wear it. Do you want to do an interval or harder tempo-type workout? Take off the flotation device and focus on pumping your arms and focusing on your form in the pool.

What is the Average First Marathon Time?

The majority of runners usually run in the low to high 4 hour marathon for their first marathon. One major mistake I was making earlier in my career was not drinking in the race. Remember, you may be able to get away with not drinking during a 5k race but not the marathon. I recommend sitting out your water bottles every 3 miles or 5 kilometers during your long runs. Again, you want to do what the best middle to long distance runners do. Have you ever watched elite marathoners?

They grab their bottles and drink. They are not sipping in the race. The marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. So, you have to pay attention to this. It will make the difference between you running an average marathon time and a great marathon time. Again, you can't just focus on physical training and expect to run a great marathon. People that are searching for what is a good time for a marathon are seeking excellence.

How long are your tempo runs? Are they 3 to 4 miles in length? If so, they need to be more like around 7 to 14 miles in length. What is the farthest you have run in your long run? Is it 15 to 17 miles? Start thinking about extending that out to 19 to 24 miles in length. These small changes can make a massive difference in your future marathon race times.

Average Marathon Time for First Time Runners

Average marathon times for men range from around 4:30 for men and around 4:45 to 5 hours for women. Of course, there are men and women out there running much faster times than these as well. So, it does depend on the genetic make-up of the athlete. More importantly, the commitment level of the athlete. The best marathoners in the world run around 40 percent of their weekly volume at or below goal marathon race pace. Are you interested in monthly coaching? If so, definitely click on the green button below to learn more about rundreamachieve coaching.

I also have running courses available here for runners seeking to break the 2:30, 3 hour, 3:30, 4 hour and 5 hour marathon barriers. One of the wisest decisions you can make is to invest in your personal development. Hiring a performance coach can drastically speed up your progress. In addition, you will now know what types of workouts you need to be doing in order to get the best results. There are far too many runners out there just guessing at what workout they should do each day.

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How Long Do You Need to Train for a Marathon?

I recommend training anywhere from 16 to preferably 20 weeks to properly prepare for your marathon. My recommendation is to spend 4 weeks running easy mileage first. As mentioned above, you build your aerobic base and strengthen your ligaments and joints.

You should then focus on a 16-week build of marathon-specific training. I have created all of my running courses and training plans based around this mindset. Remember, your time is priceless. So, if you are going to train for a marathon you might as well do it right.

What is a Good Time for a Marathon
Finishing in 4th place, top American at the 2007 California International Marathon

The 7 key workouts and tactics we focus on here at rundreamachieve are:

  • Faster, varied pace long runs i.e. 2 mile warm-up, 4 miles@160BPM, 2 miles easy, 1 mile@30 seconds faster than goal race pace, 3 miles@165BPM, 2 mile-cooldown
  • Longer tempo runs i.e. starting off at 3 to 4 miles and extending out toward 7 to 14 miles in length
  • Longer long runs starting off at around 8 to 9 miles moving toward 18 to 24 miles in length
  • JOGGING on easy days to ensure recovery is taking place
  • 1, vo2 max workout week i.e. 12x800m, 16x400m, 6x1mile, 3x2mile etc.
  • Mental training and rehearsal
  • 10-day taper

Speed development is still very important even with the marathon distance. Yes, we may be distance runners but we should never neglect speed work. The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more efficient you are going to run in your races. Again, you want to sustain pace longer than your competition.

How Much Do Marathon Runners Train a Day?

The average marathon runner is running around 5 to 6 miles a day plus or minus a few miles or kilometers. I remind my athletes that it isn't the volume you need to focus on as much as it is the quality of the training you are doing. Yes, you could be running 100-mile weeks consistently and still never reach your marathon goal if the training is too slow. Again, the best marathoners run around 40 percent of their weekly training at or below goal marathon race pace. Are you interested in being average, good or great?

Greatness will ask far more out of you then you currently realize. It took me from running from 1992 to 2007 to run a marathon under the 2:20 marathon barrier. I held 5:19 mile and 3:18 kilometer pace for the entire distance. It didn't happen overnight. No, I didn't have a great deal of talent. The best 1600m time I ran as a high school freshman was 5:30. Several years I ran a marathon much faster than this, per mile. So, how fast you run in this event is going to come down to how badly you want success.

Success leaves clues. So, study what the marathoners do that have run much faster than you have. You need to study their habits and how they think. Lastly, duplicate what they do. How much time are you mentally rehearsing yourself each day running the way you want to run? The best middle to long distance runners know the importance of mental training. I recommend to my athletes to spend 10 to 15 minute each day seeing themselves crossing the finish line with the time they are dreaming about on the clock.

Closing Thoughts

So, what is a good time for a marathon? The sky is the limit to what you are capable of. I never placed limits on myself so I will not set any limits on you. I have touched on some key tactics you can use to drop significant time in your marathon in this post. Would you like to take this training philosophy to the next level? If so, I highly recommend checking out the running courses, training plans and monthly coaching available to you here at rundreamachieve.com

Scroll back up and subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel as well. Again, focus on what the best marathoners are doing and mimic their work habits. Are you lacking in talent? No worries. You can make up for that with your work ethic. Talent that doesn't work is going to get beat by work ethic that does. Talented athletes that don't put in the necessary work are ill-equipped. They will be beaten by athletes with enormous work ethic. I am an example of this. I look forward to working with you and helping you take your marathon racing to the elite level.

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