How to Run a 3 hour Marathon, a Just Enough Training Approach

Running a Marathon under 3 hours is a very respectable goal. As a benchmark, it indicates that as a runner you have at least a little talent and enough dedication to training and hard work to bring that talent out. There is even a blog,, which has the sole purpose of helping people break 3 hours in the marathon. It is more than a few runners that are interested in breaking the 3 hour barrier for a marathon.

Why put this treatise on how to run a marathon in under 3 hours on a forum about the Bridger Ridge Run? In my experience, if you can run a standard marathon in under 3 hours, you are capable of running the Ridge Run under 4 hours. See the post on how to estimate your Ridge Run Finish Time.  A sub 4 hour Ridge Run garners a heck of a lot of respect in the local community.

After many failed personal attempts at trying to break 3 hours in the Marathon using various training plans, I finally succeed by focusing on the bare essentials. My purpose in writing this post is to share what worked for me. Consider the plan presented here a “Just Enough Training Approach“. No more, no less than what is required to attain the goal.

When I finally broke 3 hours for a marathon, I was nearly 50 years old and injury prone. My training approach was to train just hard enough to be able to run a 3 hour marathon, but not train so hard that I got injured. A delicate razors edge balance between training and recovering to avoid injury. I stripped out all running and training that was not exactly specific to the goal of running a 3 hour marathon. In the end, I realized, I needed only three different focused workouts a week, affording lots of recovery days.

A Sub 3 Hour Marathon is a “Local Class” Time

3 hours for a marathon is certainly not a “world” class time, but it is a “local class” time and an ambitious goal. If you can run a marathon under 3 hours, your local community will consider you a darn good marathon runner – not a world beater, but worthy of respect.

Just for fun, below is a list of some handy, but nonbinding, definitions of the notion of athletic class in regards to marathon ability. Notice there is a 15 minute shift between Men’s and Women’s times for the same notion of class. There is also a 15 minute decrease in marathon time as the notion of class widens from Local to Regional to National finally to World Class. The concept of National and World Class is easy to define by well-defined spatial boundaries. Local and Regional are a bit harder to pin down as their spatial boundaries depend on notions of population groups and what geographic area you are referencing. For the United States, you could consider local as a city or town and regional as a state, a large city or large portion of a state.

Class                Time Men       Time Women

  • Local                3:00                 3:15
  • Regional          2:45                 3:00
  • National          2:30                 2:45
  • World              2:15                 2:30

Prerequisites before you Attempt this Training Plan

Obviously not just anyone can run a marathon under 3 hours no matter how hard or long they train. There is a certain amount of running talent and experience that is required. Here are the two prerequisites that must be in place before you attempt to train for a sub 3 hour marathon.

1. You must be able to run a 5K in under 19 minutes

2. You must have a base of consistent endurance training (running) of at least 3 to 4 hours a week for at least the past year.

The 5K is the measure of your speed, cardio vascular ability or engine. The training history indicates your body is adapted to the long term rigors of endurance training. If you do not have these two prerequisites in place, then work on them first before you embark on training for a sub 3 hour marathon.

The Three Essential Workouts

The training plan I am going to detail here is very simple, boring and repetitive. But if you stick to it, it works. It consists of just three different training sessions (workouts) each week carried out over 14 weeks. The 3 training sessions are the same throughout the 14 week duration of the plan. The only thing that changes week to week is the duration of the individual sessions. The training paces remain the same throughout the 14 weeks. A significant portion of the training is at goal marathon pace. If there is a magic formula to running a 3 hour marathon, it is to do a lot of running at the pace needed to run a 3 hour marathon. Specificity is the key to success.

The 3 different training sessions are spaced out throughout the week. You never do training on back to back days. The rest day(s) between sessions gives your body a chance to recover, rebuild and adapt to the training. Training breaks your body down, resting gives it the chance to recover, heal and become stronger. The ideal and most symmetrical workout schedule is training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Recovery takes place on Tuesday, Thursday and the Weekend (Saturday Sunday). Later on, I will discuss what to do and what not to do on the rest and recovery days.

Remember the Rules:

  • Only Three Days of Training per Week
  • No Back to Back Training Days
  • Other than Changes in Duration, The Workouts remain the same throughout the 14 week Plan

What are the three training sessions or essential workouts?

  • Workout 1 is a tempo run at marathon race pace, MP (Monday)
  • Workout 2 is Yasso 800s (Wednesday)
  • Workout 3 is a long easy run finishing with some marathon pace, MP, running (Friday).

Let’s define each of the three different weekly sessions or workouts in detail.

Workout 1 Tempo Run at Marathon Pace (Monday)

This is the simplest workout of the three. All you do is go out and run at your marathon pace. The only variable is how far you run. The goal of this workout is to get you very familiar, comfortable and efficient running at marathon goal pace. Marathon pace will become a like an old friend. Eventually your body will naturally gravitate to this pace even when you are tired.

Choosing Marathon Pace

In regards to Marathon Pace, a 3 hour marathon equates to a 6:52 mile pace. Obviously, to run under 3 hours you must run at an average pace faster than this. So how much faster should you choose for your training? I recommend a marathon pace for training of 6:40. Six minutes forty seconds per mile. This is equivalent to the nice round number of 9 miles per hour. A 6:40 mile pace for a marathon yields a 2:54:40 marathon; a time with a 5 minute cushion under 3 hours. Factoring in the slowdowns at aid stations, negotiating turns, traffic, clothing drops, etc. this is a reasonable cushion.

Commit it to Memory:

  • Marathon Pace for Sub 3 Hour Marathon is 6:40 per Mile, 9 Miles per Hour

How far to Run

This program consists of a 10 week build up and a 4 week taper. Week 1 you will run 3 miles at MP. During the buildup, each week add 1 mile. The length of this run peaks in Week 10 at 12 miles (1 hour 20 minutes). During the taper, each week shorten the workout by 2 miles. During Race Week (Week 14) this workout is only 4 miles.

Week   Distance          Time

  • 1          3                      20:00
  • 2          4                      26:40
  • 3          5                      33:20
  • 4          6                      40:00
  • 5          7                      46:40
  • 6          8                      53:20
  • 7          9                      1:00:00
  • 8          10                    1:06:40
  • 9          11                    1:13:20
  • 10        12                    1:20:00
  • 11        10                    1:06:40
  • 12        8                      53:20
  • 13        6                      40:00
  • 14        4                      26:40

How to Warm-Up for Marathon Pace Tempo Run

The warm-up for this workout will be the exact same warm-up as you foresee you will use on race day. The idea is to simulate race day with a minimal duration warm-up and to jump right into running at marathon race pace. The warm-up consists of strides, skips, dynamic movements and some plyometric movements. Just enough movement to loosen you up, get the blood moving, wake up the muscles. Figure about 10 to 15 minutes of movement for this warm-up. Static stretching does not warm-up the body and loosen you up and is not a part of this warm-up.

Another trick to simulate race day, is to schedule this workout to start at the same time of day as your chosen race. It conditions your body to perform under the same conditions and time of day as the race. If this is not convenient, at least do it for the last couple weeks before the race.

Think of this workout (with the warm-up) as a dress rehearsal for race day.

The idea is to find yourself at the starting line on race day, confident, relaxed and ready to perform.

Workout 2 Yasso 800s (Wednesdays)

This workout is simple 800 meter (half mile) intervals or repeats at your 5K race pace. The recovery between each is the same time as the interval. This workout builds strength and cardiovascular capacity. It consists of hard fast running and will make your marathon pace running seem easy.

Take your marathon time (in this case 3 hours) and call the hours minutes and the minutes seconds (3 hours results in 3 minutes). This formula will yield an 800 meter or half mile time that is essentially your 5K race pace. This formula works just as well for a 2:10 marathoner as a 4 hour marathoner.

For a 3 hour marathon, your 800 meter time will be 3 minutes. The recovery time between intervals will also be 3 minutes. On a 400 meter track, you will run 2 laps in 3 minutes. Then easy run 1 lap in 3 minutes for your recovery (6 minutes total). Repeat this.

Over the 14 week duration of this training program, you will start at 2 repeats and build to a max of 10 at week 9 and 10. You will then decrease the number of repeats by 2 each week until you do just 2 the last week before the race.

Week   Number of Repeats     Time

  • 1          2                                  12:00
  • 2          3                                  18:00
  • 3          4                                  24:00
  • 4          5                                  30:00
  • 5          6                                  36:00
  • 6          7                                  42:00
  • 7          8                                  48:00
  • 8          9                                  54:00
  • 9          10                                60:00
  • 10        10                                60:00
  • 11        8                                  48:00
  • 12        6                                  36:00
  • 13        4                                  24:00
  • 14        2                                  12:00

It is important to be well warmed up for this workout. Use a two mile easy run, followed by some dynamic movements like skips, plyometrics etc. Take at least 20 minutes to warm-up well. This workout is short enough that you will not need to do any fueling until after you complete it.

If you want to learn more about Yasso 800’s and hear marathon training advice from Bart Yasso himself, check out this interview. This Coach Jay Johnson interview of Bart Yasso is loaded with sage advice and training tidbits. It is pure marathon preparation gold.

Workout 3 Long Easy Run finishing with some Marathon Pace Running (Fridays)

This workout consists of a long run at a very easy pace followed by some running at marathon pace at the end of the run. The idea is to develop the ability to run at marathon pace when you are tired and have been on your feet for a long time.

The easy running portion needs to be between one and a half hours and two hours in duration. The pace is very easy. No faster than 8 minutes per mile. 9 to 12 minutes per mile is ideal. Even some fast hiking on hills at 15 minutes per mile is okay. The goal is to be on your feet moving for 1.5 to 2 hours to deplete your energy, but at an easy pace that does not beat you up. The actual distance traveled and pace is not important. The total time spent moving is important.

The marathon pace portion begins right after you finish the easy running portion. The duration begins at 1 mile the first week, increases 1 mile each week building up to 6 miles (40:00) by week 6. It then stays at 6 miles until week 13. The last week, race week, it drops it 4 miles. The length of the easy running portion decreases during the last 4 weeks of the program and is eliminated the last week of the program.

Week   Long Easy Time           MP Distance    MP Time         Total Time

  • 1          1:30:00                        1                      6:40                 1:36:40
  • 2          1:30:00                        2                      13:20               1:43:20
  • 3          1:40:00                        3                      20:00               2:00:00
  • 4          1:40:00                        4                      26:40               2:06:40
  • 5          1:50:00                        5                      33:20               2:22:20
  • 6          1:50:00                        6                      40:00               2:30:00
  • 7          2:00:00                        6                      40:00               2:40:00
  • 8          2:00:00                        6                      40:00               2:40:00
  • 9          2:00:00                        6                      40:00               2:40:00
  • 10        1:50:00                        6                      40:00               2:30:00
  • 11        1:40:00                        6                      40:00               2:20:00
  • 12        1:20:00                        6                      40:00               2:10:00
  • 13        1:00:00                        6                      40:00               1:40:00
  • 14        0                                  4                      26:40               26:40

No warm-up is needed for this workout. Consider the long easy run a long warm-up. The last week, week 14, this workout becomes identical as the tempo marathon pace workout, so practice the race day warm-up just like the session.

This workout is long enough that you will need to hydrate and fuel during the workout. I recommend that you just drink water during long easy portion. Then after a mile into the marathon pace portion, you can start taking in calories if needed to avoid bonking. Take in enough calories to avoid slowing down and not being able to maintain marathon pace. The purpose of not taking in calories during the easy portion is to condition your body to use stored fat as a fuel and spare glycogen (muscle sugar). The idea is to avoid the adrenalin response to stress associated with fast running that kicks you into using muscle sugar (glycogen) instead of fat.

Workout Recap

This program consists of 3 different workouts each week over a 14 week period. The first 10 weeks are a gradual build up. The last 4 weeks are a fairly steep taper. The total training time begins at about 2 and a half hours of training the first week, peaks at just over 5 hours at weeks 9 and 10 and tapers back to under 2 hours for week 14, the week of the race.

Other Recommendations

There are many other important topics for running a successful marathon – such as fueling, activity on recovery days, choosing a marathon, what to wear. There can be a lot of variation of personal preferences on these subjects. I’ll just give a few brief recommendations based on my preferences and experiences.


Running a marathon at your full potential requires adequate hydration and fueling. During the race, strive to take in 16 to 24 ounces of liquid each hour. Obviously, drink more on hot days, less on cold days. Your drink should also contain enough fuel so that you will get 100 to 200 calories per hour. My preference is to have my fuel in my drink as that is an easier way to get my calories than eating a gel or food.

Drinking and fueling efficiently (time wise) requires practice. Personally, I gave up trying to get enough water or sports drink from cups at aid stations. I find it nearly impossible to drink enough from a cup while running. Notice that the top runners that get special treatment at big city marathons have their own fuel and hydration bottles pre stashed at aid station. If they grab a paper cup of water, it is usually to dump it on their head to cool off. As a general population runner, you can’t expect to have your own bottles waiting for you at every aid station. So what can you do? I recommend that you carry a small 10 to 16oz water bottle the entire race and drink on the run. You will need to stop and refill it every half hour or so at aid stations. You can either carry it on a waist belt or try one of the hook shaped bottles that you tuck into your running shorts.

Hook Style Water Bottle

Hook Style Water Bottle

What to do on the Rest Days, Tuesday, Thursday and Weekend (Saturday, Sunday)

Rest days are for letting the body recover and adapt to the training. These are low stress days. This does not mean just sitting around doing nothing. The body needs to move every day. Just don’t stress the body with too much challenging activity, especially running. Moderate walking, hiking, biking, yoga, golfing, swimming, dancing even a little weight training and stretching are appropriate as long as you do not beat yourself up. The three training days a week will already beat you up enough. You don’t need any more stress. If you do run on the rest days, run very easy on trails and soft surfaces. This means avoid the track, treadmills and roads.

Update 2017: Check out this Blog’s Post on microdosing training. In addition to making a case for not overtraining, it discusses the importance of staying active on rest and recovery days.

Using this Program for Goal Times other than 3 Hours

You can adopt this program easily to other marathon goal times. All you have to do is change your marathon goal pace and your 800 meter interval times. For example, if your goal is to run a sub 4 hour marathon use 9:00 per mile. Run your 800 meter intervals in 4:00 with a 4:00 recovery. Everything else remains the same. Since you will be running slower, you will actually spend more time on your feet running during the workouts, but you will cover the same distances.

Update 2020: If you are interested in a half marathon training plan, check out this Blog’s Post on a minimalist half marathon training approach.  It is a modification of this marathon training plan and worked well for me in attaining a goal of a 1.5 hour half marathon.

What Marathon to Enter

  • Pick a well-established marathon that has the basic amenities.
  • It is essential to have an accurate certified course with all the miles marked accurately. Pace teams are a nice bonus.
  • Choose a venue that is flat and low elevation. Pick one that has a history of cool and dry weather conditions.
  • Avoid marathons with gimmicky sales pitches such as a fast downhill course, scenic, winding, undulating, part trail, etc.

Meeting these requirements usually means a fairly large city Marathon such as Chicago, Houston, Portland. Some well-known marathons such as New York and Boston have a reputation for being challenging producing slower times. They may not be the best choice for trying to hit a goal time. Do a bit of research and Internet searching for a marathon that has a reputation for fast times and reliable weather conditions.

Doing a quick search for a flat, fast, cool, sea level marathon turned up this possible candidate that I was unaware of. Newport Marathon in Oregon. I’m sure there are plenty others.

Newport Marathon, Newport Oregon

Newport Marathon, Newport Oregon




About Bridger Ridge Run

The Bridger Ridge Run blog is an information portal for all those seeking to learn more about the Bridger Ridge Run event held every second Saturday of August in Bozeman Montana. This blog contains notifications about important registration dates and deadlines, history of the event, training advice and other stories and entertaining tidbits of information about the Bridger Ridge Run.
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705 Responses to How to Run a 3 hour Marathon, a Just Enough Training Approach

  1. Marcin says:

    I am finishing the training with satisfying results. I will be making an attempt of breaking 3hr in Dublin Marathon in a few weeks.
    What strategy in your opinion – negative splits or even splits would suit better for someone who completed your workout plan?

    • Sean says:

      Hey Marcin, I ran sub 3 in Dublin a few years back. I think equal splits are the way to go here because there are some decent hills in both halves, with the last killer hill around mile 2o or so at Cloneskeagh. So you want to have some gas left for that. Once you are past that then it’s a real grind to the finish but pretty flat. But this last stretch is where the race is won or lost. Maybe try and pick it up slightly after the hill at the half way point, because there follows some flat and downhills before you get to Cloneskeagh. So ideally, you’d be a little ahead of target when you get to Cloneskeagh. I would respect that series of hills and not worry losing some time there with a view to gradually clawing that back in the last 6 or so (I think) flat miles from UCD on. Best of luck.

      • Marcin says:

        Hi Sean,
        Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
        The dreadful hill at Mile 20 in Clonskeagh that everyone is talking about…
        I’ll go with your suggestion – equal splits.
        Wish me luck!

      • Sean says:

        Good luck! I came in the top 70 there that year in my first ever marathon. Best I ever did, LOL!

    • Tim says:

      How did you get on in Dublin Marcin?

  2. Em says:

    Going to try this plan to go sub3 this year in Amsterdam. Previous PB was Dublin 2018 @ 3:15. I’ll be doing a large part of my training on a treadmill so hopefully I can still manage it. I don’t start properly until July but am planning an on-ramp to the ~5k tempo run which is the first of the plan. I’ll be doing a 1k tempo run (4:05) today, then increase that week on week until when the plan starts I’ll be on 5k. Hope it works out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, I’ve a question about the expectations as we progress through the plan. Today I had my second session of 800s (3X 800s). They went ok, all timings hit but I felt like I was near the end of my abilities….as in, if I’d had to do a fourth 800 I’m not sure I could have maintained the pace.

        Is this to be expected? Are the weekly sessions designed to help get you over the line for the next session or should I be worried that I’m feeling close to my cut-off point in the Yassos already?

    • Irish says:

      How did Amsterdam go for you? Did you get your sub 3?

      • Anonymous says:

        Failed badly. I had done half my training on a treadmill which I’d checked and double checked was calibrated properly (I used a Zwift pod to avoid trusting the treadmill speedo at all). Set it at 2% incline to over compensate for the real world running. Hit all targets for the first 7 weeks of sub-3 training, found it difficult but doable. Then moved location and so changed to outdoor running, this was my first wake up call. The location I trained was quite windy and so all my paces went out the window, I struggled to match a pace 30 seconds slower per KM than what I was achieving on the treadmill. After a few further attempts I gave in and adjusted my time to 3:10 which I thought more realistic.

        Finished out the rest of this weeks training and on the day I took a couple of risky decisions which bit me badly. First was carrying my own water and putting electrolyte tabs into it – I’d never trained with my own water (or with tabs in it) but gambled that it would be ok. I tried shoes I’d used before but never for a marathon (they ended up blistering both my feet). I wore a belt to carry water / gels which, only after taking it off did I realise was too tight and was constricting my breathing a bit. All of these changes were my own choice and my own fault – I gambled on them not affecting me and I was wrong – by 10k in I was struggling and couldn’t stomach water or gels. Struggled over the line but still managed to finish. I don’t think the failure reflects badly at all on this plan, rather it showcases how you really shouldn’t risk anything new on the day.

  3. Erwan says:

    I want to thank you for this amazing training plan! Maybe my experience can help future readers. I trained with the plan one first time last year, but I did all the tempo sessions and MP portions on the track because there are absolutely no flat areas around, turning in the same direction. I quickly began feeling pain on the outer side of my knee and IT band. I didn’t know it was coming from the repetition of always turning in the same direction so I pushed and continued and eventually got to the point where it was impossible to bend the knee. So I withdrew from Paris marathon 4 weeks before and it took me 2 months to get back to running regularly.
    But on the bright side, I used this plan again (this time switching every 3km on the track) and managed to do all the sessions. I just skipped some MP portions at the end of long runs as it was the toughest for me. I managed to run a 10k PB during the second week of taper (replacing a tempo) and going from 36 to 33:31min. I also adjusted the 800 pretty early on to do 1200m repeats (aiming for the maximum v02max boost). Today I ran in Poitiers, I was aiming for 3min50/km pace and between 2h40min and 2h50 finish. The course was extremly uphill, with front wind all the way and it was very hot, so the conditions were tough. I decided at 15km to stop focusing on the pace and run by feel instead. I finished in 2h55 mins on this difficult race where the first finished in 2h32.
    I think a flatter course would have helped but I also think that to aim for times below 2h50, more mileage is definetely needed. Thanks a lot for this easy to use and extremly enjoyable plan !!!

  4. cthorey says:

    Thanks for sharing plan – it’s awesome!
    I really enjoyed its simplicity – I followed it to the letter aiming for 2:55 in Paris marathon (FR) last Sunday and I managed to finish it in 2:54:14 – so very happy with the output !
    Thanks again !

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the training plan Bridger.
    Have followed the plan three times and went sub 3 hours for the first time at the Loch Ness marathon last weekend. I enjoyed the simplicity of the three sessions and the steady build up week on week. For this attempt I added a little mileage to the runs in the peak weeks and aimed for a marathon pace of 6.30 instead of 6.40, as I had come up a few minutes short in my previous attempts. This seemed to work for me and I managed a 2.56.12 on race day. Good route, good wind, good fueling and a great training plan, thanks again!


  6. Tom says:

    Massive thanks Bridger – the plan just took me to a sub-3 in my first marathon, in Boston (UK).

    I followed the plan pretty closely, with some modifications as the race was postponed by 5 weeks due to Covid. I added in a couple rest weeks, plus extra repeated weeks in the middle. I also threw in a 35km medium pace run towards the end as a confidence builder given it was going to be my first marathon, and did a 10k (37 mins) and half marathon (1hr 23) race during the plan which helped show me I was on track.

    The plan is tough but I also have to say I really enjoyed the intensity (especially the Yassos!) and it really does get you used to running at goal pace.

    I felt pretty comfortable in the race rolling along in a group at 4.10 min/km until about 36/37km then my pace dropped but I knew I just had to hold on for the last stretch, and luckily my legs had enough in them. Came in at 2.59.20 – so cut it nice and fine!

    I am signed up for Frankfurt in October and am thinking about following the plan again, aiming for 2.55 or 2.50.

    Thanks again!

  7. Madhu Basu says:

    Would you need any kind of strength training or dietary changes to go with this plan?

  8. Sean says:

    This is good advice. I would make one change and that’s to replace the weekly marathon pace session described here with a weekly tempo session at half marathon pace right from the beginning of the program. However, you still need plenty of miles at marathon pace. You can have these as a 4th session – ‘marathon pace time trial’ sessions, held every two weeks where you gradually build up constant time at marathon pace, starting at 6 miles, then 8, 10 12, 14, 16 miles, with the last session finishing 3 or at least two weeks out from marathon race day. You would also have some weekly marathon pace miles at the end of your weekly long run as the author suggests.

  9. NG says:

    I’m following the FIRST running plan which also has 3 quality runs a week. If I strip out the cycling, then the principles, I believe, are similar to this plan. Do you agree? I’d like to try this plan but I’m in the middle of the FIRST plan. Will follow this plan on my next marathon training cycle.

  10. Hi all,

    I’m training for a marathon in May and have just completed week 3. Everything was going okay to this point. However, I stupidly decided to do the long run the day after the 800 session (to avoid the stormy weather here in the UK) and have picked up a calf injury.

    I’m going to take a week off and see if I can shake it off.

    My question is, once recovered, should I try and jump back in at week 4 and reduce the taper at the end, or do something different?

    Had a look through the comments and couldn’t spot any info relating to this.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    p.s. Thanks for publishing this plan – I think it’s great! Just need to learn that’s it’s better for me to miss a session, rather than do a back to back!

  11. Iain Niblock says:

    Hi Ronan,

    Thanks for your comment. If I jump in at week 8 from next week I’ll have time to complete the rest of the plan. The long and interval sessions I’m confident will be ok, it’s the tempo which I’m finding tough.

    If I’m not hitting the tempo objectives I might downgrade my ambitions. I’ll let you know.

    Thanks again,


    • Peter says:

      I manage to run sub 3 marathon a couple of times in the past with more traditional plans but man this plan is brutal for sure.

      I find it interesting you have a hard time running a tempo of 7 miles in week 5 but no trouble running 1:50 slow plus 5 miles tempo at the and. For me the hardest run by far is the tempo portion at the end of long run. I did barely manage to make it first five weeks but not a chance on week 6. So I will adopt this plan a bit to include one additional run per week and shorten the tempo run at the end of all long runs to 3 miles.

      • Iain Niblock says:

        All the sessions I’m finding hard, but just manageable! I think my issue with the tempo run is more mental than physical. I’ve just never really ran tempo runs before. I trained for and ran a 10 hr Ultra last September, and been doing intervals with a local club so used to these workouts.

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Ah ha, sorry I thought you needed to take a full 3 week gap from now!
      I think there’s probably a better way, so will look again on Monday and get back to you!

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Hi Iain
      Just had another look…
      IMO, I’d continue as normal for now, then give week 10 (12T/10I/2hr+6) a miss, and then for week 11, I’d tweak week 11 to something like (9T/8I/1hr40+6).
      You should hopefully be fine and in reality you’re only missing one week of the plan and making one of the taper weeks a bit harder.
      Best of luck!

  12. Iain Niblock says:

    Hi All,

    Bad planning and the opportunity to run Seoul on the 22nd of March has meant I need to take out 3 weeks from the training schedule. Im currently on week 5.

    I appreciate I might not hit the 3 hour mark but what weeks would you remove from week 5 to week 14. I’m feeling strong on the long and interval runs. Finding the tempo the hardest.

    Thanks, Iain

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Will you be able to train at all during the 3 weeks (plan wks 6, 7, 8)?
      For me, giving up completely 3 weeks at this stage, I’d probably force myself to jump back onto the plan as per normal at week 8 (10/9/2hrs+6), then the following two weeks would be your taper. Week one of taper, I’d likely do something like 7tempo, 6 intervals, 1hr20+6, then on race week, I’d do as the plan indicates (4/2/4)…you could shave a mile of the last run maybe.

  13. johnsonstache says:

    I’m starting the program on Monday in preparation for the Sugarloaf Marathon on May 17. I’ve decided to add an extra week in, in case I end up getting sick at some point (6 month old in the house), or to be used as a rest week.

    I’m raring to go! I’ve typically been hovering around 20 – 25 miles a week with no real focus in training, but I ran a 1:27 half a the beginning of December. The last 4 weeks I’ve upped mileage to 30 – 35 miles per week and have been incorporating progressions and intervals. The last couple of weeks I’ve run specific runs from the program, including 6 Yasso repeats @ 2:55 and a 10 mile long run with 8 easy followed by 2 @ 6:35/mile. A combo of the increased mileage and the focussed runs resulted in me cutting 1:35 from my 10k time (new PR 38:16) and 55 seconds from my 5k time (new PR 18:04) this week. I’m a little concerned about endurance for the full marathon, but I finished strong in the half and had no real training program going into it.

    I have a few questions in addition to previous questions:

    – As I feel like the increased mileage has increased fitness, which I don’t want to lose, in the first few weeks, would I be okay to run a 3 – 5 miles cooldown after the MP & Yasso runs?
    – The marathon I’ve chosen is net downhill, starting flat followed by a few miles of rolling hills, a 2 mile steady climb and then the second half is all downhill. I’m used to running hills as our town is hilly, but was wondering if I should replace some of the Yasso’s with hill repeats? I’m also planning on doing the easy part of the long runs in hilly areas.
    – If I do take the extra week as a rest week, when would you recommend doing it? My inclination would be after week 9, to give a bit of rest going into the hardest week.

    • Take some time to skim and read through all the comments here. Many have asked questions similar to yours.

      If you have the luxury of time and the robustness of body to run more, by all means do it. The 3 workouts are just the minimum of what you need to do to accomplish a goal. It is not the ideal to reach your potential.

      Hills are great. The ups build fitness without beating yourself up. The downs strengthen and toughen the quads with eccentric loading.

      Stretching out the progression by adding a down week is helpful. It gives you a chance to digest and adapt to the training. Somewhere near the middle of the progression is best.

      • Anonymous says:

        Much appreciated! I’ll definitely look at adding some hills at some point. Week one down and looking forward to the tempo run tomorrow!

  14. Eoin Casey says:

    Hi. This possibly has been asked before but with the volume of comments it would take be a while to read them all.
    I plan on using this method for a sub 3:30 Marathon in Dublin,Ireland next October.
    How do I fit doing some build up races into training plan? I have a 10k race planned for the end of Week 2.I plan on doing a 10 mile race in about Week 6 and a half Marathon in Week 9. These are a series of races the Dublin Marathon team organise as a build up to the Marathon itself.Is it best to just follow the plan and use these as a Long slow run with a fast finish, or maybe run them at PMP or just to race them as hard as I can to get a good indicator of where I am? If I the above and race them hard, how do I then change the plan to take this into account.
    Any advice appreciated thanks.

    • Pierre says:

      I think you can be relaxed about the plan. If you intend to run those races hard, then have easy sessions before and wait for feeling well recovered to get back to the plan.
      You can’t stick to the plan and race, but racing will make you fit as well so you are not losing much! Just use common sense, don’t get injured (rest), plan for extra weeks so that you are not under pressure when you take easy/recovery weeks.
      I have followed this plan twice, skipped many sessions to rest/race and achieved my targets nonetheless (2:58 and 2:53). Golden rule is: don’t get injured.

      • Eoin Casey says:

        Thanks. Yeah I did actually think after I posted that the best option might be to extend training plan to fit in rest weeks of just easy running to allow me to race the 3 different races I want to do.

    • johnsonstache says:

      I’m about to start this training program and have a 10k relay race about 6 weeks into the plan. My thought would be to replace a training run from that week with the race, dropping the run that is closest in style to the race (and how you plan to race it). Or dropping the run that you feel is of least benefit to your overall program. In my case, I will be dropping the Yasso’s that week as I feel they will be closest to the 10k in terms of pace and intensity, and in general, I feel like the MP run and long run will benefit me more.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I applied this plan but adjusted to 3:20 marathon. I followed about 85% of the plan and hit my PR goal of 3:20:18! Thanks for sharing!

  16. seb says:

    I applied this plan for the first time for Berlin 2019. 3 runs per week looks great as I tend to get injured in my Achilles with other plans.
    Didn t suffer tendinitis this time, but a shin splits (which is better as I could cross trained on the elliptical bike to rest my shin).
    * My PB before that was 2:57 a year before and
    * I trained to target 2:50, and did yoga the other days
    3 runs per week is attractive but the plan is tough, there is no secret.
    * I ran 2:48 in Berlin almost 10′ better than my previous PB

    The plan works, thanks for sharing it!!

    I felt cramps in the last 2 kilometers so maybe 3 runs a week is a bit just, not enough volume, to go below 2:45 / 40…

    • dorcel says:

      Was previous PB with high mileage training? I am in the same boat as my PB is same and will try to apply this plan to go below 2:50. Just don`t have time to go with higher mileage for another year. It will be hard, especially long runs with MP finish as total mileage per week is low with this plan.

  17. Tim says:

    I had a question though because I my typical weeks are very similar to this plan to begin with

    Typical week is the following:
    Tue – ~10 miles (start at office, 3 mi easy effort warmup running to track, 5×800 w 400 recovieries, 3 mi easy effort cooldown running back to where I started)
    Thu – 10 mile easy effort
    Sat – 14 mile (miles 10-13 at just shy MP, last mile easy)

    Could I keep doing my Tue workout until I hit more than 5 800s prescribed by the plan?
    And would it be fair to change my Thu runs to tempos (2 mi warmup, followed by the prescribed tempo miles)

    I ask because if I follow the plan to the letter, my mileage will drop considerably for the first 5 weeks.
    I modified this plan once before, added a lot more mileage because I added recovery runs and while I PR-ed I also over-trained and was a little burned out by race day

    • Tim, if you are able to handle more volume without problems, by all means keep doing your Tuesday and Thursday training the way you are use to doing. This will keep your volume from dropping way below what you can handle and are use to as you begin the build up.

      As the weeks go by during the progression, back off on the extra volume to avoid burn out. Strive to keep feeling enthusiastic and eager to do more by doing less.

  18. johnsonstache says:

    Has anyone here actually run Newport? I’m planning on either signing up to that or the Sugarloaf marathon this week? I’ve heard Newport is a nice flat course with good weather but that the camber of the street can be problematic.

  19. Marcin says:

    First, thanks a lot Bridger for this great resource. I followed the plan very closely for the sub-3 marathon and was able to maintain the paces you suggested throughout. I felt very positive about the race even though it was my first one. In the end, I came short on my NYC marathon in 3:03:55, but I feel I have learnt a lot about marathon training from you. I definitely feel that quality training is definitely more important than quantity of it.

    Perhaps, one piece of advice for any future runners is to think more about fuelling. I totally underestimated the need for energy intake, with a 4-hour pre-marathon span in NYC (sitting in sub 40 temperature does burn your energy!). I had a very light breakfast (2 bananas + a piece of bread). I thought that the gels would get me fully energized, but somehow it did not work out that way. I maintained the energy and pace (sub-3) high until mile 24 when I suddenly developed a major hunger. Funny enough, my legs were never sore (even after the race) but I simply did not have enough fuel for me to charge (I barely remember the last half-mile of the race). It took me 4 days to get rid of the strange constant hunger feeling…

    So, my advice is it is wise to do a proper calculation of what you take in and how much you burn during the whole marathon event (not just the race). Remember that some gels get you much less than what you expend in a sub-3 race. And do not skip on any fuelling (including water) even if you feel strong at the moment.

    Thanks again for everyone on the forum for all the insights. This plan works great but experience comes with practice 😉

  20. David Lonsdale says:

    I’m in week 4 of this interesting program. How to know if the workouts are too hard at this stage (i.e. I picked the wrong pace)?

    I’m a running rookie in terms of I don’t know my true potential (never ran much over 30k or followed a training program). Currently 20min 5k runner, did a solid 3 month base period of 40mpw before starting this program. I’m 45 years old. Will do a marathon in Bangkok Feb’20. I’ve targeted 3:15-3:20.

    In the tempo and MP parts of the long run, my HR data average is at the higher end of threshold with linear cardiac drift. However, so far all good and feel like I still have a something left in the tank (maybe a mile, but not much more). Perceived effort comfortably hard.

    I come from a bike racing background and know my true LT. My current data would suggest I’m running above LT. I know you mentioned not to follow HR, but some indicator of how hard each of the workouts should feel (at different stages of the program too) would be much appreciated.

    I don’t want to get to week 8 and spontaneously combust having chosen too hot a pace!

    • Joe says:

      Hello David,
      I followed this plan for the Chicago marathon in Oct. I chose a 7:40pace, 51yr old, trying to qualify for Boston. 3:20 to 3:25. It would mean a new PR by at least 7 mins. I followed the plan almost exactly, I found I was able to hit the Yasso’s 800’s faster than 3:20 consistently. But the tempo and end of long runs were a challenge, sometimes faster pace a couple times not. I probably could have pushed myself harder, and I will next marathon. I came in at a 3:21, so qualified for boston by over 3 minutes, set a PR by 10mins. It was the strangest feeling the last 15k I kept getting faster each 5k. Finished with negative splits. My other marathons I filled in rest days with weights, cycling, junk miles, and I bonked hard the first 2. This plan I felt really strong going into each run. Maybe bc of age but the resting I think was the key, along with finishing the long runs at MP. I did go a few extra weeks and long runs were a little longer but pretty much stuck to this plan. I loved it, thanked the owner and will continue to use it.

      • David Lonsdale says:

        Thanks for the reply Joe and it’s great to PR by such a big margin!

        Coming back to my comment; now with the hindsight of my first half race last Sunday, I was right about my LT zones. Didn’t go too hard for the first 5k then lifted to my target pace. Died around km18, which is about an hour. Came home 2nd 40-49 age group (shock debut!) with 1:33:56. The race was in Ayuthaya Thailand, temp was around the 80s. Now that I have some decent data to work with I can adjust pacing accordingly. I’m probably looking at a 3:15 marathon?

        There was another part to my question which I didn’t directly mention; adaptation. As a cyclist, ask me to find 10 watts and lose 3kg in a two months, no problem. But in the 5 years I’ve been running my 1, 5 & 10k times have never really changed. After week 6 of this program I’ve definitely seen some gains in running economy, but to what I will ultimately achieve I’m still unsure.

        I think this program suits people who already have marathon experience. However when I stumbled across this website I felt like this was the plan for me. I’ll post my result and feedback after my marathon if anyone is interested. Thanks.

    • Your choice of a 3:15 to 3:20 marathon is consistent with what your potential is given your 20 minute 5K time. If you are not able to complete the training sessions and progression, then adjust your paces and goal until you can complete all sessions.

      HR (heart rate) is interesting to monitor, but if you are trying to meet a particular goal, it should not be the governing factor. Given the fickleness of HR and how sensitive it is to various other factors besides level of effort; only die hard HR evangelists let HR control training and racing paces.

      HR is highly dependent upon the amount of muscle fiber recruitment. Your LT (lactate threshold) HR and max HR will be higher when running than biking.

      The activity of Nordic skiing recruits the highest amount of muscle fibers resulting in higher LT HR and max HR than even running. An activity with a small amount of muscle fiber recruitment such as bicep curls will have LT HR and max HR very low. Your biceps will get pumped out and fail from acidosis before your HR rises much above resting.

      HR training evangelists like to talk about the cardio vascular engine. This is misleading because the heart is really just the fuel pump not the engine (staying with the automobile analogy). Your muscles are the engine of propulsion. Besides supplying the muscles with fuel (oxygenated blood) and removing waste, the heart also has to pump blood to facilitate cooling in hot weather, pump blood to internal organs for digestions and the brain for mental activity. All these and many other factors compound and effect HR.

      You cannot always count on heart rate being closely coupled and reflective of level of effort.

      Without any physical activity, one’s heart rate can go way up from excitement, nervousness and fear. Think of how your heart rate races when standing at the starting line of a race or preparing to do public speaking. When camping in Glacier National Park Montana and you hear a grizzly bear rummaging around outside your tent in the middle of the night, your HR will soar to near maximum. Even with zero physical activity lying perfectly still frozen with fear. Believe me, I know.

      • David Lonsdale says:

        I only look at HR for post analysis to compare perceived effort. I would NEVER look in a race. I’ve put in some amazing efforts in bike races, but had I been watching the data at the time I wouldn’t have achieved my full potential (and lost the race).

        I mostly agree about your comments regarding max heart rates, although since giving up caffeine and going mostly plant-based my HR numbers are pretty stable… but I’m yet to come across a bear! I completely agree we shouldn’t be a slave to the numbers.

        To summarize my original question; my HR data was confirming what I was thinking, I’d picked a slightly optimistic pace even though at week six it was no problem. Now with race experience at a reasonable distance I know for sure.

        Also thank you for this training program Bridger 🙂

      • David Lonsdale says:

        Ran a 3:31 at the Bangkok marathon. The course was riddled with flyovers first half and the second half was on an elevated expressway. Pollution has been a big problem here and humidity on the day was about 80% with the temperature close to 80°F.

        Went out at 3:15hr pace not realizing I was running over threshold. This caught up with me by the second half and the damage was done.
        This is the biggest problem in hot and humid countries; the final week’s Monday and Friday MP runs the temperature had dropped by just a few degrees and humidity was down 10-20% making 3:15hr pace a breeze. Those tiny drops make a massive difference.

        Because of my lack of running experience I didn’t read the signs, and in hindsight wish I’d checked in on my heart rate.

        In regards to this program, I did enjoy it and felt confident race week, but I feel my weakness is endurance, so if I ever run a marathon again that’s something that need to be worked on. Perhaps increasing the long runs on weeks 8-10 and a better pre-base phase might work. Anyway thanks again!

  21. johnsonstache says:

    I’ve been looking at this plan for the last couple of weeks and am seriously considering it for a marathon in late Spring (either Newport or Sugarloaf). I’ve played soccer most my life (36 m) but have only bee seriously running for the last year. I completed a marathon in April, am currently at an 18:45 5k and a 1:30 half. I’m hoping to bring that down to 1:25 at a race in 6 weeks.

    The plan is attractive as I run a business and have a 4 year old and new born in the house. I currently run around ~25m a week and think anything over 40 would be difficult at this point.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Is this plan more for folks who have attempted sub 3 previously, so have a lot of experience training in the 55 – 70 range?

    2. As I will not be starting the program until Feb, what would your suggestions be to train between now and then? Keep base building with a few races thrown in, or look to extend this program?


    • Ronan Toland says:

      Sounds like a similar situation to myself pre giving this plan a go this year. 2 young kids (3 and 1) and time scarcity…I’m 41 years old.
      I was running off and on for around 10 years. My weekly mileage was around the same as yours. Your sports history/fitness should hopefully mean you could adjust to the plan. If you haven’t done speed work before, I’d ease into it, so as not to put too much stress on the body. It’s easy to step things up as you go along. That’s what I did first time around with this plan.
      Around 7 or 8 years before giving this plan a go, I did the bigger range of mileage you mention, however, didn’t get the sub 3. The volume was a bit much, and I picked
      up some injuries. This plan, with its rest days is ideal, and you get everything you need from the sessions, there’s no real need for more running.
      I’d focus on doing general band work at home, calf raises, side leg raises, etc…so you hopefully won’t succumb in that way either, building stronger glutes, etc.
      Also, increased protein intake and early nights if possible! Best get ahead of the game on sleep as for sure you will up in the middle of the night!
      I made a post on my first attempt in the comments below, and have just completed my second go-through this plan a couple of weeks ago in Amsterdam.
      Best of luck and ping through any questions you think!

      • johnsonstache says:

        Thanks so much for the feedback Ronan & congrats on getting 2 sub-3’s under your belt! I really haven’t done any organized speedwork, but will vary the pace of my runs throughout the week. Playing soccer also gives me a lot of pace variation, but I know it’s not the same as running intervals.

        I have a good 4 months or so before I begin the plan in earnest so will probably look to work in 1 interval session a week, and see if I can up the weekly mileage too, to get myself well prepared.

        I’ll even look to increase that mythical sleep too!

        I’ll look to work in at least one gym session on days off. Did you do any easy running at all on rest days?

    • Ronan Toland says:

      I didn’t do any running on my rest days… I tried to limit the amount of activity (within reason and with two young kids) on them to recover as best possible and be ready for each new session, as they get progressively harder and harder. From my experience the three sessions are enough, but if you wanted to do some recovery jogs, you could do that probably. I think during the plan, from my experience, there have been two notable shifts in fitness upwards. Maybe when you feel the first one, you could consider some of those recovery jobs if you wanted, but until then, less is more I think.

      • johnsonstache says:

        Cheers Ronan, I’ll definitely look to only run on the days indicated in the plan then. One other question – did you follow the advice of not fueling during the easy portions of the long run? I moved to the American South and thought I was sweaty before moving here! I tend to take a gel every 3-4 miles or so if I know I’m going to be running over 10 miles. The thought of not fueling on a longer run worries me a little but I don’t want to negate the effects of the plan.

    • Joe says:

      Hey follow the plan! That is all I need to say. I’m 51 just BQd in Chicago on this plan my last 12k were the fastest! I tried a bunch of mileage plans, I really think I was worn out and injured on those plans, do not do cross training do not add easy runs! I’ve tried all on that, this plan felt easier but man did I feel strong! I believe now from the rest! Speed intervals and tempo mp runs and ending long runs 6 miles at mp pace gets you ready! Trust the plan and this plan is all I’ll ever use going forward!!

      • johnsonstache says:

        Thanks Joe…Congrats on the Chicago BQ! I’m glad this is getting another thumbs up, and it seems that following the plan and getting the necessary rest is the way to go.

    • Ronan Toland says:

      I mainly didn’t fuel on the easy portions, then would take one gel for the last 6@MP.
      Some days though, I would stop at home midway into easy portion for pit-stop/water/banana…
      All said, whatever works for you….you could test drive some different approaches and see what works/doesn’t.
      It might be nice to get your body slightly adapted to using the fat for fuel and not the gels. This will help it overall become a more efficient engine! Best get this feedback during training and not in a race 🙂
      If it’s hot where you are, a more considered water intake approach might be good, such that you up your water intake the day before your long run and in the hours pre-run….
      then on the actual run, you shouldn’t need to be overly concerned too much with hydration…one less thing to worry about.

    • 1. This plan is designed for runners like you that don’t have the luxury of time to devote to a conventional marathon training plan. Or runners that don’t have a body that can handle a conventional marathon training plan without getting injured.

      2. Focus on consistency to maintain fitness and staying healthy. 3 to 4 hours a week. 3 running sessions a week.

      Your 18:30 5K shows good potential. Your 1:30 half shows you lack the endurance at speed needed for a 3 hour marathon. You 1:25 goal half if accomplished shows 3 hour marathon capability.

      Here are some ideas on what to do before committing to the plan:

      You can do the progression workouts to see how they feel. After a couple months, back off for a week or so to digest the training. When you feel antsy to get serious training again, jump back into the progression.

      Prolong the progression by repeating weeks. Just remember to keep the final build up no longer than the 14 weeks. Prolonged buildups without a break can lead to fatigue and staleness.

      Add some other types of sessions such as a weekly 10 X 100 meter sprints/strides with 100 meters of form drills or plyos in between for recovery. A 3 hour marathoner should do the 100 meter sprints nearly all out in just under 20 seconds each. With the form drills you will repeat the sprint/drill about every 2 minutes.

      Add weekly hill repeats.

      Yes, enjoy the social and competitive fun of doing some local race events. They are a great way to measure fitness and get a training boost as long as you don’t race more than a couple times a month.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr. Bridger Ridge Run,
        Thank you for sharing your training plan with so many of us. I’m pleased to report a successful 2:55:07 marathon.

  22. Goran says:

    Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for a great program! I used it to train for Bruges marathon and ended up doing 2.55.52 as a 47yr old. Very pleased with that performance.

  23. Pierre Philippon says:

    Hello everyone

    Just wanted to mention I improved my 2:58 in March in Barcelona to 2:53 in Amsterdam (1:26:16/1:26:42 splits).

    I trained at 4:05/k for 2:52 but decided to run marginally slower as I skipped all of the intervals sessions since early September as my body could simply not handle it (and other sessions as well). I also had too much work for any cross training while I did a lot of gym and yoga for my sub 3 attempt in March.

    Conclusion is: don’t get too stressed if you can’t do all session, in particular the intervals; the plans still does what it is meant to do.

    What gave me confidence I could sustain the training pace over 42k is that my Heart Rate during MP runs and MP parts of the slow long runs was exactly the same as when I trained for 3 hours attempt.
    My average Heart Rate during this 2:53 marathon was exactly the same as my hearth rate for the 2:58 marathon by the way. 167 is my marathon heart rate and that’s the best indicator for me to know if I am running too fast or too slow.

    The execution of the plan on race day was slightly more challenging than for 3 hours where I only had to follow the 3hrs pacers but it worked.

    I’ll aim at 2:50 in Boston 2020.

    Thanks again for the plan!

    PS: I am on the Strava group which is a great idea. I logged all my training there including all the miserable failed/missed sessions 🙂

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Brilliant Pierre!
      I did Amsterdam on Sunday also, 2’58. This was the second time following the plan for me also (first time 2’54).
      I overdid things from HR perspective on Sunday, so some lessons taken…
      Did you maintain ~167 the whole way?
      What is your half marathon HR? 10k HR?

      • Ronan Toland says:

        Correction, was 2’48 for me!
        Hopefully aim for 2/45 in London next year

      • Pierre Philippon says:

        Well done for 2:48! Conditions were really perfect for us to perform.
        Yes I maintained the 165-168 range from start to 40k with a final km at 170bpm.
        In Barcelona for my first sub 3 that was the same and splits were pretty even as well. In Paris for my first marathon 18months ago I went for >170 HR the first half and the wheels came off big time for the last 10k.
        I am not sure how it works for others but keeping HR around 167 during the race and trying to get there for my MP runs when I train gives me comfort that it is the right pace which I can sustain for 42k.
        I only ran a HM 18mths a go after Paris marathon and my HR was 173-178 all along; just the idea of running at that regime makes me sick 😉
        Congrats again for the great time and good luck for London next year!

    • BobbyG says:

      Great results Pierre & Ronan! I too ran the Amsterdam marathon, coming in at 3:01. Agonisingly close, but happy enough with my marathon debut. In fact, if anything, it’s given me MORE confidence that I have a sub-3 in me. Now I know what it involves, and where I could have gone better (additional carb load & 1st HM pace!).

      Did either of you guys spot a 3hr pacer? I was very much expecting to see one since it was listed on the event website, but couldn’t see one in the yellow start pen?

      • Pierre Philippon says:

        You are right! I think there was no 3hrs pacer. I saw a 3:10 flag but when trying to be at the right position in the pen for 2:54 target I had no clue where to go. Not sure what happenned.
        3:01 is a marvelous time for a first, especially as you don’t have a pacer and don’t know what is your marathon HR. Now you can adjust and enjoy a strong finish. It feels so good to overtake runners all along by maintaining a constant pace rather than be overtaken when you start too fast 😉
        FYI for carb load I target about 250cal an hour which means one 80cal gel every 5k/water station. Simple! A bit of a bulky belt for the first hour but no problem.

      • Ronan Toland says:

        So close Bobby, that’s a great debut! For sure you have a sub-3 in you.
        Funny, I was looking out for a 3 hr pacer when I was going back up at some u-turns, but didn’t see one…

    • RunnerRunner says:

      Great running Pierre – with 167 HR throughout the race can I ask what age you are as just comparing mine (I’m 44)?

      Pierre /Ronan – what were you last HM times? I’m currently 80mins but going to pull back slightly at my marathon this weekend and aim for 3:05 as a few injuries of late and want to avoid any blow up.

      Bobby G – so unlucky in the sub 3 but shows you are really going to do it in the next one with the same training. Great debut.

      • Pierre Philippon says:

        I am 40. I wouldn’t compare HR across runners. It’s a very personal thing!
        Last HM was raced 18months ago and it was 1:26:15. With 80mins you are really good for sub 3 unless you couldn’t train properly.
        If you trained for sub 3 you should trust your training and target 1:30 Half and see how you feel mid way.
        Good luck!

      • RunnerRunner says:

        Agree re HR but allows a comparision, I was thinking 165 at my HM is too high for full marathon but seems in sync with a few others and also yourself.
        The sub 3 would have been fine and 2.56ish was my planned pacing but as mentioned a few niggling injuries has curtailed things so just aiming for 1.32/1.33 HM then take it from there. I’ll let injuries heal then attack sub 3 at the next marathon I’m scheduled for.

      • Ronan Toland says:

        Sorry Pierre, just seeing your message now
        My last HM was 78mins. With an 80min HM, I think you can easy go well under 3hrs.
        How did it go for you, as you must have completed it by now?!
        I’m 41, and ran the first 10miles of Amsterdam with alert when I went above 170bpm, then after that I was around ~172-175 until mile 17, then 177-181 all the way home. I overcooked it between 13-20miles, however, I’m happy knowing what my HR level max is for the marathon, plenty of good data has been taken away.

  24. Really pleased someone pointed me in the direction of this program. I’m 12 weeks in now. I was very cautious about only running 3 days a week. Easy miles and regular running give me strength, but in recent months I’ve been struggling with achilles tendinopathy so I was open to trying something new.

    I ran Manchester Marathon earlier in the year (first marathon), I started a Bart Yasso 18 week programme but lost my way and by the end. I was still putting in the weekly mileage but slacking on my long runs, marathon pace and speed sessions (looking back I didn’t do anything above 15 miles for 8 weeks prior). That said, in the weeks from the marathon I ran a PB in the half marathon (1:27:25), in the 10K (39:20) and the 5K (18:42). So I was in pretty good shape – but not marathon shape it seems.

    I overstretched and blew up in Manchester at 19 miles and almost didn’t finish. I ran 3:39. It was a hard lesson. I figured that I needed the focus on the long runs next time!

    I’m signed up to the Cornish Marathon on November 3rd – it’s very hilly and one of the toughest courses in the country. I’ve followed the plan pretty closely (obviously not to run sub 3:00 due to the profile and lack of marathon experience). I’ve swapped some of the yasso sessions for 5K’s and hill sessions, I’ve missed a few sessions but not many. Got most of the long runs in – but I find them hard, I sweat profusely and find it hard to hydrate effectively. Not good news for a marathon.

    I’ll keep you posted on how I get on in November. One thing I will say is that VDOT estimates for marathon don’t really match up if you compute your other PB’s. I’m a pretty seasoned runner with a solid 3-4 years under my belt. But the marathon is a different beast, and imo you probably need a few to get up to your level.

  25. Jose Enrique Murcia Casas says:


    How about fitting this plan to half marathon?

    Thanks a lot and congrats for this blog !!!

  26. Joe says:

    To Bridger Ridge Run (I think this is who wrote this plan), I just wanted to say thank you! I don’t post ever, but after finding this training plan by accident, and following it to try and BQ, I am a true believer now!! I adjusted times to fit to a 3:25 BQ. It was my 4th marathon, 2 I blew up in and 1 did decent 3:32, but today in Chicago Marathon, I ran 3:21, last 10k was like the long run, kept getting faster and had a negative 2nd half split! I’m not a crazy runner, this plan fit perfect into my busy days, didn’t take away from the family! Just Wow and thank you! I felt great today!

    • Nice. Glad you met your goals and enjoyed the experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      I echo the sentiment above. Chicago was my 4th marathon: twice I was undertrained and blew up and once I did decent with 3:30. But this weekend at Chicago, I ran 3:03 with a BQ. I am very prone to injuries (IT band, runner’s knee) and I think this low volume plan might be my ticket. Thank you for publishing this plan. I fount this plan by random coincidence 🙂

  27. Dan says:

    I recently watched Eliud Kipchoghe run a marathon in under 2 hours!
    The trainers he was wearing apparently can shed time of your marathon potential, but how much time?
    I am talking about the Nike Next Percent Trainers, a step up from the Nike 4 Percent Trainers.
    So if I am a 3 hour marathon runner, if I were to have these trainers, how much time could I potentially knock off?
    Many thanks!

    • RunnerRunner says:

      LOL Dan, that is the impossible question to answer. Like the 4% and then the more recent Next % various reports can say 3-4% reduction but this is a general sweeping comment and in reality depends on the individual.

      I wouldn’t get to hung up on what exact % decrease they will make as not even Nike will make a accurate guess on that for you as they’d simply get complaints from Joe Bloggs saying that he didn’t get the 3-4% reduction – far to many variables to make such bold promises……, your training, elevation, how you were felling on day etc etc…..

      If it helps I run in the Next % and yes they feel great for me and very easy to turn over even after some lengthy miles but I wouldn’t even attempt to state what % they improve me……and that’s after 5 races in them. I would highlight that they are ONLY a race trainer and I wouldn’t use them on my training runs.

    • It depends on the person and their running mechanics. Figure you will typically improve anywhere from 0% (no effect) to 2% faster on average.

      In theory, 2% faster for a 3 hour marathon would be 3.6 minutes. or 3:36 resulting in a 2:56:24 marathon.

      A similar question regarding the Nike Vaporfly was previously addressed in a post:

  28. Tim Sierp says:

    I can hold 4:09 pace for about 5 minutes at the moment.

  29. TiminBondi says:

    Going to give this plan a try! I’ve done lots of training over the last two years but it has been triathlon focused. I completed an Ironman and multiple Olympic distance triathlons. Also did a marathon and finished in 3:50 (bonked). Typically my runs have been a bit substandard and I’ve been completing the 10km tri runs in just under 50 minutes.

    I’m doing a marathon on December 29th, 12 weeks from now. I’m looking at my running technique and starting to do some speed work. Im 48 years old. Currently I’m wondering what sort of speed gains you can get in 12 weeks? Would it be realistic to think I could go to 4:30/km or less?

  30. Anonymous says:

    I ran the Perth Marathon yesterday, having followed this schedule. I trained for a goal time of 3 hours 20 mins, I came in at 3 hours 17 mins. I found this to be an excellent schedule, challenging, but it really set me up well for the day. The long training runs with marathon pace at the end really helped, I was able to maintain my pace throughout the race – in fact I managed a negative split. So I just wanted to say a big thank you for providing this training schedule.

  31. BobbyG says:

    I’ve mentioned before that the Amsterdam marathon in a few weeks will be my first, and as such I’m debating the best way to carry gels during the run. Any tips/ideas, people? (currently thinking safety pinning them to the waistband of my shorts 🙂

  32. J says:

    Hi all. Ran my second marathon yesterday, and first training with this programme – came in at 3hrs and 30 seconds! I was a bit gutted as I crossed the line, but it was a PB by 30 mins in pretty bad/hot conditions (both of the 3hr pace runners bonked before 22 miles!) and carrying an injury (I wasn’t able to do any of the final two and a half weeks off the programme). I’m confident I’ll crack 3hrs in better conditions, and am really pleased wih the results of the training programme – will definitely use it again. Thanks so much to the author for sharing the programme, and for including so much additional info in the comments section too.
    I did most of my timed miles (intervals and MP runs) on a treadmill, which didn’t seem to hamper things too much (though I did add a few more miles onto the later MP runs, with the longest being 18 miles).
    Good luck to everyone aiming to crack 3 before the year is out!

    • BobbyG says:

      Great to hear another success story, albeit for that pesky 30 seconds! Sounds like the training plan did it’s job, and as you say, better conditions would surely have gifted a sub 3 🙂

  33. BobbyG says:

    Just a reminder there’s now a Strava group for anyone interested in sharing/encouraging/seeing how others do it!

    Want to join my Strava running club?

  34. wesdog311 says:

    Just ran my goal race and PR’d by 20 minutes following this plan. Thanks so much! If anyone is curious I topped out around 38-40 miles for a few weeks and only had to miss two or three workouts. If you trust it and stick to it you will be successful!

    • BobbyG says:

      I love hearing success stories, hoping I get to post one too 🙂

      One week left of build up, then the long awaited taper begins! I’ve only missed one session (very early on) and the plan is giving me great confidence, I guess that’s what running at MP does for you… fact I’m training at lower that MP (usually around 6:30-6:35) in the hope that the “actual” MP I attempt on race day will be a little more relaxed.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats awesome! I live in NC and its been hot as hell so it was really hard to hit the paces. My BQ time is 3:05 and I ran 3:08. I hit an absolute wall at 24 and barely limped in. Temps were 60-70 throughout the race. I think on a cooler day I would have made it under.

      • Wesley Sommer says:

        Thats awesome! Keep it up. I live in NC and its been hot as hell so the training paces were hard to hit. I’m a 3:05 BQ so I was training at 6:50-7:00. Race day was 60-70 degrees and I ran a 3:08. I think 10-20 degrees cooler and I would have easily run under 3:05.

  35. BobbyG says:

    As my marathon edges closer I’ve been thinking about diet in the run-up to the race. I’m not a heavy guy by any means, and I certainly don’t “need” to lose weight, but I’m considering cutting out stuff like bread for 2-3 weeks prior, just to drop a small amount.

    Would I be compromising any energy “reserves” by doing this?

    • RunnerMan says:

      Are you referring to white bread, wholemeal or what? I’d be surprised if you are on a lot of white bread.
      I would add though if your race is close be v.careful what you switch and swap at such late stage if you have never done so before.
      I always trial such changes early on in my plan or actually away from a race period to see how my body reacts. You don’t want to start altering things ‘as a trial’ close to race time…….. a bit like folk wanting to wear new trainers the week before a race or even worse on the race day.

      • BobbyG says:

        Fair point. I actually eat pretty “good” bread which I buy direct from the bakery, and it’s a seeded wholemeal loaf. Maybe I’ll just stick to upping the carbs a bit on the week preceding 🙂

    • RunnerMan says:

      That sounds like a better plan, I also pre-load with carbs starting 3 days before a marathon – I take it through supplements I buy in.

  36. BobbyG says:

    Hey all, I wondered if anyone had set up a Strava group for all those working through the plan? Could be a nice way to congregate and show encouragement (and see how everyone else does it). Would anyone be interested in joining if I set one up, with BR’s permission obviously 🙂

  37. BobbyG says:

    Hi all, currently on week 7 and feeling great. Loving the recent surge of fitness I’m experiencing 🙂

    I started my training a couple of weeks early in case of injury etc, and took a week off for holiday a few weeks back, but I now find myself with a “spare” week. Am I best to add an extra week to the taper, or maintain/increase the build up by an additional week?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • RunnerMan says:

      Bobby I’d use it to maintain/increase the build up as the plan has a pretty generous taper schedule 3-4 weeks out as it is, hence not wanting to add another week taper type/style.

      • BobbyG says:

        I had a sneaking suspicion this would be the advice! Thanks RunnerMan, I’ll plan to double up one of the next 3 weeks and keep the taper as is 🙂

      • RunnerMan says:

        BobbyG – exactly what I’d do. My plan is bang on currently and I’m delivering every aspect of it but even I am a tad nervous around the taper stated but certainly going to follow it………but certainly wouldn’t be adding on an ‘extra week taper’ if I had a week or two up my sleeve.
        Good luck, what marathon are you doing?

      • BobbyG says:

        Thanks again RunnerMan, I’m doing Amsterdam in October. How about you?

        It’s my 1st marathon too….I know a sub-3 is ambitious for my first attempt at the distance, but hey I’ll be giving it my best shot!

      • RunnerMan says:

        Your times Bobby certainly indicate that you are capable of the sub 3hrs, especially the sub 1:25 HM.
        I’ve done a few marathons but always been content to come in at the 3:15 mark rather than race it hard – until this year were I am keen to be around 3 hrs. Only advise I would give you is to ensure you hold back slightly 1st 10 miles and don’t get caught up in the surroundings/atmosphere as come 20-22 miles it can catch up with you if you set off too hard.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah I’m planning on finding a 3hr pacer and sticking to them like glue until the last mile 😁

      • BobbyG says:

        That was me by the way!

    • RunnerMan says:

      BobbyG – good marathon.
      Yeah a tad ambitious for your 1st one but certainly do-able if you have previous Half Marathon’s etc which indicate your on par for that type of time to finish. I’m guessing you’ve done all other distances just not full marathon?
      I’m doing Dublin at end of Oct :).

      • BobbyG says:

        Yep, I’ve raced a HM and got round in sub 85, but most of my racing has been at 5/10k distances, 18:00 & 38:00 pb’s respectively. For some reason though I’ve never really fancied a marathon until this (my 40th) year when I got a strange rush of blood and decided to go for it 🙂

        The training is giving me lots of confidence though, I’m tending to run my MP miles below the 6:40 target, usually around 6:25-6:30, and the YASSOs closer to 5:30 than 6:00. Feeling great!

        What’s your past marathon track record?

    • My advice is to add some periodization by taking a down week in the middle of the 14 week build up then jump back in where you left off.

      There are other prior questions and answers similar to this. Peruse the comment chain. There is a lot of useful information buried in there.

      • BobbyG says:

        A down week sure sounds appealing! I’ll get to the end of this week and see how I feel about taking my foot off the gas next week before getting on with wk 9. Will also check more of the previous comments 😉 Thanks again

    • BobbyG says:

      That was me by the way! Also good luck with the 3hr attempt. I look forward to hearing of your success on here soon!

      • RunnerMan says:

        3hr pacer sounds good as saves you taking off to quick to early. You will see a crowd round him/her like a swarm of bees but it will slowly disperse as you hit the high miles 🙂

  38. Ng says:

    Can the three runs set out be done by RPE instead? For example for the long run start at an easy effort then end with marathon effort pace.

    This will obviously mean differences in pacing depending on the day but I’d like to try and run by feel and within my limits.

  39. Pingback: Project Sub 3 – I plod all day

  40. kawaltee says:

    Loving your program so far, and by reading the comments, it seems that it helped a lot of people!
    Is there an e-mail address where I could send you over an Excel file that you might want to share with your readers ?
    I’ve done some automation in the file. You just input a start date and a goal time for the marathon and it generates a training calendar following with custom paces for your whole program, for any time goal! I’ve also made it so you can choose between miles and kilometers for other European guys like me 🙂
    Let me know if you’re interested, I find it very useful and some of my friend are also using and loving it!

  41. Charlie says:

    Great program. I think the key is to
    train at a split 10 sec/mile faster than your goal pace. I trained at a 6:50/mile pace and raced at a 6:59/mile pace with even splits and felt strong the entire race.

    • yjc says:

      How long was the longest training run at 6:50 min/mile? This training program peaks at 12 miles at 6:40 min/mile, so I’m not sure whether it’s enough physiological and mental preparation for sustaining it for the whole 26.2.

  42. Wesley Sommer says:

    Love this program! Adapted this for a half marathon this past winter and it worked perfectly. Am now in the middle of using the full program. The 800s definitely make marathon pace feel easy. Too bad its 95 all summer here in Raleigh, NC!

  43. George says:

    Hi, I am about to commence this plan in prep for my forthcoming marathon.

    On week 6 and week 11 of the plan I’m racing in Half Marathon’s and plan to race at reasonable pace. What session should I drop out of the 3 for both of these specific weeks?

  44. BobbyG says:

    Hi all, I’m about to start training for the Amsterdam marathon (using this plan). I wondered what people thought of a race strategy whereby the first 6m are run @7m/m, followed by 14 @6:40, then 6.2 @7:00. The strategy appeals to me because I can start off “easy” rather than beating myself up about running at target pace for the first 6miles….not to mention a slightly slower finish.

    Really looking forward to getting going with the plan….just hoping I can put what’s been a less than perfect start to the year behind me (a couple of niggling injuries).

    • Anonymous says:

      I would not recommend changing pace during a marathon. If you are wurried about warming up do a warmup before your marathon. I have done the Amsterdam marathon last year, there is a place you can do a warmup at the starting line. Generally most people tend to slow down as time goes on, so don’t start under your target pace (or atleast not for 6 miles). It might sound nice, but 6:40 for 14 miles is a lot tougher than you might think.

      • Radim says:

        Actually in my modest experience it’s a great idea to vary pace during the race. I tend to start off slower than target pace for first 5-10km (depending on how well prepared I feel – the less confident the longer the first stint), then move to target pace until about 30km, and then go according to how I feel – which, if all is well, is faster than target pace. This way you finish feeling pretty good and you are passing a LOT of people in the last third of the race (which is pretty motivating).

      • BobbyG says:

        Yeah I like the idea of passing others late on, I don’t respond well when it happens to me! I’ve been putting lots of effort into racing as close to flat/neg splits this past year and have enjoyed racing much more (albeit I’m talking 5/10k distances). I actually decided to get my training underway tonight so that I have a couple of weeks “wriggle-room” should I need it. 1st session a success!

  45. Runner Runner says:

    Excellent article – do you do online coaching as I’d like to discuss plan at outset and as it progresses? Thanks

  46. Pierre says:

    Thank you for the plan. It made my year. 2:58 in Barcelona a couple of months ago and still enjoying the personal achievement.
    I did this out of 19:00 5K, 39:30 10K (a while back) 1:26 HM.
    I never managed to run the full 10x800m, I peaked at 8 reps and missed some weeks due to shin splints. When that was the case I did the equivalent in the cross trainer.
    I also could not do all the Marathon pace miles however I religiously did the long runs on water ending 10k at Marathon Pace. I think that helped massively in the last 10k of the Marathon.
    I had one week completely off due to virus and came back stronger.
    I did one or two core strength sessions a week and one yoga session a week on non running days.
    Carrying a bottle all the time did not work for me. 250cals of gels per hour (1 gel every 21mins) and water every 5k (21 mins) were perfect.
    So THANK YOU for the straightforward plan and to all runners finding some weeks too difficult, don’t worry too much about missing bits here and there, just don’t get injured!
    Good luck everyone

    • jojo2 says:

      Good to hear this, I’m currently –
      5k 19:25
      10k 39:30
      HM 1:29

      I know I wouldn’t make the sub 3 hours but from my times above about 3:05/3:10 seem about right given your experience and undertaking the plan?

      • Pierre says:

        If this is you first marathon, I would target 3:15 so that:
        – you see how your body reacts to the training mileage
        – you learn how you mange the marathon from the 35k mark
        – benefit from a 3:15 pacer (unlikely to see a 3:05/3:10 pacer).
        – you enjoy finishing strong and end up in one piece keen to do it again and break 3:00 the second time!
        I would follow the 3:15 pacing group for 35k and see if you can finish faster than the group (which will not be group anymore anyway!)
        I had your 5k & 10k times and 1:27:30 HM time when I ran my first marathon. I targeted 3:05/3:10 and learnt my lesson at 35k. I wish I had stuck to a slower 3:15 target pace for the whole marathon. I finished in 3:15 but had to climb a wall and fight for it. That was not fun.
        Good luck!

      • Jojo says:

        Thanks Pierre for your reply.
        I’ve done one marathon before, 3 months ago coming in at 3:30. I was running well and looking at around 3:10 up until mile 20, but as per your note come mile 20 I really struggled for a few reasons and certainly climbed the wall.
        1. Hadn’t done any long runs which finished with 10k MP so I feel adding this in will be a telling point for me.
        2. Was unwell the full week of the marathon and fodo/calorie intake was very minimal but decided to run it as wasn’t happy to just give up 3 x 20 mile training runs in the lead up to it.
        Suppose I’ll never know if it was a combo of both these reasons or indeed if I was well then I would have had the legs in me to finish the last 10k at reasonable rate.
        Anyway, next marathon I’m following this plan and good advice to follow the 3:15 pacer if they have one and then I can decide the last 6 miles if I have the legs/energy to kick on and finish strong.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Jojo, your times are almost identical to mine when I did my marathon last year. I finished 3:12. This might help you give you an idea 🙂

  47. Euge says:

    I was looking at modifying your plan to a 4 hr marathon…
    For the long runs, if I run slow at 10min/mile and then 6miles at MP the most I do is 18miles!!!
    Should I change length of times for the slow pace or run at a slower pace?


  48. Ronan Toland says:

    Excellent plan, thanks @BridgerRidgeRun

    Result: 2’54 (Belfast – 5/5/2019)

    Previous times (all Dublin): 3’20 (2011), 3’03 (2012), 3’17 (2017)

    The intensity/recovery aspect of this plan worked perfectly for me.
    I felt a real improvement in fitness/pace as the plan progressed, so the process was enjoyable and the positive feedback helped confidence (as much as was possible before attempting to race the distance)!

    Monday runs were slightly quicker than projected pace: ended up running miles at 6’25-6’40 min/mile pace (4-4.08 min/km).
    Wednesday runs similar: ended up (after mid way through plan) running intervals around 5’25-5’35 min/mile pace (3.22-3.27 min/km).
    Friday – Long easy section was approx 7’45 min/mile pace (4.48 min/km), followed by 6’30-6’40 min/mile (4.03-4.08 min/km).

    Plenty of foam rolling and isometric exercises when possible, and generally adding a bit of extra protein in the diet to aid recovery, I feel helped significantly.


  49. Remy says:

    Thanks for the plan! Followed it as closely as i could (missed about 8 days in total) for the Paris marathon last weekend and it worked! My fastest marathon was 3:20:03 in Rotterdam last year (after a 6:02:09 on the Great Wall of China and 3:59:52 in Myanmar). Did a 1:32:04 half marathon half a year ago and a 00:19:04 5k just before the start of this plan and figured that was close enough to qualify for this plan.I followed just this plan and nothing else. People said just 3 training days a week wouldn’t be enough, but it was. Finished in 2:58:44 and recovered super fast! The marathon was two days ago and I managed to do an easy 4.3 km recovery run already just now. Last time I couldn’t walk stairs for a week.

    So thanks! It really works.

  50. Matt Collins says:

    Thanks for this. Followed this pretty much throughout (just missed a few due to early injury and one week of illness), and achieved my first ever sub 3hr at the weekend at Brighton marathon.
    Previously had followed plans with much more mileage, and always got injured due to overdoing it. The 3 runs a week was perfect, and I’ve never been so fit (with swimming, pilates etc on the ‘off’ days). Many baulked at this and said missing the ‘recovery’ runs would damage me, but they were proved wrong.
    Thanks again

    • coxarella says:

      Great news, well done!
      I followed this last year and found it really tough, the pace and mileage was relatively easy to achieve but I found I was not recovering enough and by the end of the training I hadn’t recovered by race day and started tired. Blew up at 20 miles, only race I’ve ever walked in.

      This time around I’ve concentrated on a more traditional plan and achieves a PB of 3:04 last week.

      I’m 42 and think this plan would have worked for me a few years ago when my recovery was quicker, but for the older runner, it’s tough in my opinion.

      • Matt Collins says:

        Definitely tough, but I’m 45 and so don’t rule out the oldies being able to do it

  51. Alexander Smith says:

    Just ran a 2:55 in Paris marathon following c.85% of this plan. Took my 10k from 41 to 39; Half from 1:29 to 1:24 and full 3:15 to 2:55. This plan works. Thanks so much for this plan.

  52. Henrik says:

    Thanks for a great training plan. I’m currently in week 10 (extended it weeks, so have been using the plan for 14 weeks now) and just finished a half marathon race as a substitution for the tempo run. I managed to run the half marathon in 1:22:59 (prior PB was 1:28:40), without bonking, actually ran it progressively each 5k. I feel than ready to tackle the marathon in about 5 weeks!

  53. Jonathan says:

    Hello, I would like to thank you because I was able to run my first marathon under 3:30 today.

    I followed the exact plan, re-adapting the speed levels to my race desidered time and it worked.

    The run was a pain but my legs were there to support me.

    Thanks again for sharing this.

  54. SammyHolland says:

    I absolutely love the simplicity and intuitiveness of this training programme and would highly recommend it to anyone having a first crack at a sub 3 marathon. Having run one marathon about 12 years ago (in 3 hours 43 minutes) I first discovered this blog last year when preparing to run my second marathon in London. Under 3 hours seemed a little ambitious at that stage so I aimed for 3 hours 15 and tweaked the programme accordingly. Despite the training going well, I didn’t meet the target (running 3:24 instead) which I blamed on the record high temperatures and a slight knee issue that had troubled me for the 2 weeks before the race. Despite this, after the race I felt that the programme had worked well for me and I had enjoyed the process of running regularly so much that I immediately signed up to two additional marathons in Berlin (last September) and Manchester (last weekend).

    I used the programme again for both Berlin and Manchester, making one minor modification which may not work for everyone but I think worked well for me (stolen from the cloud259 podcast that is mentioned at the start of the article). That was to swap just one of the longest runs with a fast 10k finish, for a more difficult long run I’ve heard nicknamed “a beast” (which is 4 sets of 4 miles at marathon pace + 1 “recovery” mile at 30 seconds slower than marathon pace, so 20 miles all in). These runs were daunting but went surprisingly well and gave me a big psychological boost going into the races themselves, because I had already run 20 miles at close to the target pace. Just before my 40th birthday I attempted my first sub 3 in Berlin and it went perfectly, with me feeling strong and comfortable throughout, running a 2:57 with negative split. I repeated the programme again for Manchester but at a faster training pace, and surprised myself by running a 2:48 (1:25 out and 1:23 in). I’m 100% addicted to running now (in a reasonably harmless way!), but wanted to offer my sincere thanks to the blogger for providing such an accessible training schedule that cuts out all the noise (and off-putting over-complexity) you find in most of the training programmes out there.

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Wow, great results! What pace did you run for tempo runs and intervals? I’m currently aiming for Belfast marathon in 3 weeks, with Monday/tempo runs around 6’30 min/mile approx, and intervals around 5’30-540 min/mile. Marathon pace finishes also around 6’30 min/mile.
      The plan has worked great so far for me, a perfect mix of hard effort and recovery, and all in all, manageable thankfully.

      • SammyHolland says:

        That’s almost exactly the pace I was training for Manchester (although I think in kms, so I was doing most of my tempo runs at 4.00-4.05 per k and the end of the long runs at a similar speed). I did those two weekly runs pretty religiously, but was a bit more flexible with the Yasso 800s, swapping some of them out for quick parkruns instead.

        For Berlin and Manchester I deliberately started at a slightly slower pace than target and then tried to speed up in the second half. I also split the race into three segments in my mind (first 10 miles: take it easy and enjoy it, next 10 miles: work harder to overcome the fatigue and just try to get to 20 miles with a sniff of a chance at your target. Last 10k, give it everything you’ve got!)

        Sounds like your in great shape for Belfast. All the best of luck!

    • Ronan Toland says:

      Cheers! Good advice, will take it onboard!

  55. Bobby says:

    I can’t wait to get started with this plan in preparation for the this year’s Amsterdam Marathon. I run an 18:30 5k & a sub-85min HM so hopefully a sub-3 marathon is a realistic target.

    I’ll be changing the schedule slightly so that I run on a Wednesday, Friday & Sunday. My question is, with the race itself taking place on a Sunday, which session should I drop from the last week? YASSO or 4mile MP?

  56. Mikko says:

    Thanks for sharing your plan. Before reading your plan I had run several marathons in 3:20s and 30s. My PB was 3:14:30 from 2015. Last May I did Copenhagen marathon in 3:18 and I thought that I perhaps had few minutes I could have cut off from my time had I tried harder. After the marathon I decided that I would try to find my way to cut off the last 18min and your approach became one of the few that I used to build my weekly runs around. I must say that I did add quite a bit of warm up and easy runs in between tempo and intervals and long runs but for most part I did do the runs that you have suggested. On average I did 5 runs a week and 6 during the peak training weeks.
    When I started the plan I knew that I have little time to get use to the harder tempo workouts but that I just need to throw myself into it and see what happens in the end. That was because the Chicago marathon was waiting just 16 week away and I was still recovering from Copenhagen. I must say that I couldn’t do all the workouts recommended. I think my longest tempo was 15k and I never made it above 31k with the long runs without slowing down in the end. For that I didn’t feel quite ready when I was standing on a starting line at Chicago. I had decided to go for it anyway. The thought behind was that I know that I am in better condition than in the spring and what do I do with a 3:05 time. I might as well try the sub 3 and if I fail at least I know where I am. The marathon went really well and I could stick to the pacers up until the 35k mark. After that the meters started to appear between me and them no matter how hard I tried. At 40k mark I looked at my watch and realized that I am about 20sec behind the goal and realized that there is no way to make it under 3. I slowed even further due to small hill in the end and headwind and crosses the finish line at 3:01:07. For the first time ever I was disappointed after a marathon. 13min PB and I was disappointed, but I felt that it had been so close.
    Gutted from the experience I fly back to Europe and started looking for new opportunities. I found out that Greater Manchester marathon could be a good place to try again. I had 6 months to recover and train even harder. So Manchester became the new goal. I had realized during the marathon that my garmin is showing about 4sec/km too fast pace so I adjusted the tempo runs by 4 seconds and started running them with 4:05 pace. The training went ok, although I was a bit under the weather during some of the build up phases but at least the four hardest weeks in February March went as planned and I was able to complete about 95% of the runs as planned. Some days are not made for you so I didn’t mind the few disappointing runs. Yesterday when standing on the starting line with 20 000 other participants the weather was perfect, almost no wind and +7c. The run went really well although I cannot believe how the mental thoughness can still surprise me after 11 marathons. I had to use all my mantras of light legs and fast cadence and remind myself that the pain is temporary but the result will there forever, but they worked and I cross the finish line at 2:59:20. Just brilliant. One of the best feelings of my life. Comparable to our wedding day if not even better, don’t tell the wife, just amazing.
    So thank you one more time!

  57. Dan says:

    thank you for this inspiring write up. I am in my mid 40s, and aim to tackle a full marathon in under 3 hours. Congratulations!

  58. akbg49 says:

    Just started training for my 2nd marathon using this plan. Used it last year and it was awesome – missed my goal time by 36 seconds, but I wouldn’t have been even close without your advice. Thanks!

  59. Alexander Jensen says:

    Hi, thank you for a very motivating and fun training plan (currently in week 6). I’m aiming to give it a shot for running sub3 at Copenhagen Marathon 2019. I started the program 3 weeks early, and therefore I was considering if someone has had experiences with extending the longer runs. Would that be unnecessary or should I instead have an “easy week” instead of adding 3 more weeks of peak training?

    • Richard says:

      If you haven’t done a similar plan recently and the distances and intensities involved are more than you’re used to, stick more or less to the plan and maybe alternate one or two lower mileage weeks (20% less) to use up your extra weeks.
      Reading other people’s comments, this plan seems to work, of course it maybe too hard for some and too easy for others, experience and listening to your body is the only way to know for sure. I think it’s important to know when to change and adapt a plan if necessary.
      Hope it all goes well for you!

    • Yeah, take a break. Your body will enjoy an easy week. Training build ups longer than 14 weeks tend to lead to staleness, over training and general fatigue.

  60. Anon says:

    Many marathon runners are swearing by the Nike’s 4% Running Trainers; apparently over the Marathon Distance they help you run 4% Faster! Can anyone shed some light on this please? I am considering buying some but they cost £200!

    • BobbyG says:

      I too looked into these….bought them about a month ago, but had to send them back. It’s a shame because they are an exceptionally light shoe that I can see being excellent for marathon, and the maximal heel cushioning is such a bonus for a fast shoe. My problem was the (slim) shape of the insole, I could feel the edge under the ball of my foot, and figured that would be a disaster on a long run.

    • See:

      From personal experience, they are a fast shoe suitable for a race on a smooth flat surface (road or track). 4% faster? Not likely. Nike claims 4% more efficient. Not exactly the same. In training and racing, I would estimate I am about 1% faster compared to a similar shoe (Hoka Clifton) that does not have the carbon plate. Your experience will vary.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Could this program be followed if have less than 14-week of training before a marathon? This is because of back-to-back races and only have about 9-week in between.

    • Give yourself sufficient time after the first race to recover. Injuries can crop up when jumping back into hard training (intervals and race paces) when your body is still beat up from a hard race. After you feel recovered and anxious to get back to hard training, jump in at the point in the time frame progression that will take you to your next goal race. If it is too hard, back off in the progression to the point you can complete the training session.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Really have enjoyed reading the comments here. I am training for a marathon on April 13th, 2019. I have run three half marathons in the last six months with steady improvement, my last time being 1:34:33. I was really hoping to push for a sub 3-hour marathon. Two questions:

    1) This program appears to say week 14 of the training is the same week as the race? Is that correct? That would mean if the race is Saturday, you are running 4 miles the day before at Marathon pace? I would have thought you would be resting more during the final week? Curious to know thoughts on this.

    2) I have been training on a different program running 5 days a week and thought about switching over to this. Any thoughts on if that is good or bad? Also, do you think I am overly ambitious in my sub 3 hour goal if this is my first full marathon and my best half marathon time I clocked just last month was 1:34:33?

    Appreciative to any thoughts here. Thank you!

    • dorcel says:

      You should aim for 3:15 for first marathon and even that would be quite optimistic 🙂

    • Your question 1 has been answered before. Read through the comments.

      Use common sense. The program would typically end on a Friday and the race on Sunday. If your race is Saturday, adjust accordingly. The day before the race, rest, but avoid sitting around all day. At least do a little running to stay loose.

  63. Richard says:

    This is a great source of information, I’ve been aiming for a sub 3h marathon for a number of years and having run twice in 3h29, I’ll only have a go now if my 10k or half marathon times look like this is a realistic goal.
    Like so many runners I end up overtraining and getting injured or burnt-out with diminishing returns, I’ve just managed a two year stretch and found that periodization with several weeks of low intensity runs (60-70% max heart rate) actually improved my 5k time from 20minutes to 19m 20s. Over the last year I’ve managed a 40m 10k and 1h30 half marathon which would suggest a 3h10 marathon on a good day and good course, but due to lower back pain I’m going to take some weeks off running, then try to start again gradually later inthe spring.
    In the meantime I keep fit on the road bike, which I’ve always found helps recovery from running injuries and stops me feeling bad about not running.
    Thanks again for all the great advice here.

  64. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like an interesting training plan indeed. I’m currently averaging 35 miles/4 runs weekly since a few years and could probably do a 19 min 5K with a few weeks of speed training based on my race results from last season (22:34 6K, 1:28 half marathon, etc).

    I’m looking towards a race in late July, meaning 5 months of training possible. Should I focus on getting used to long runs for now (currently doing up to 15 mile runs Sundays) and follow this program only during the last 14 weeks. Alternatively, is there any idea in spreading out the whole 14 week training over a longer period, e.g. alternating between this for 2-3 weeks and do lower intensity for 1 week?

    Also, if I want to add a 4th run every or some weeks, cause I think I can handle the mileage, what would that be? How about a 1 h trail run?

    What about adding some strength training, like plank, squats, lunges, heel raise.. ?

    BTW, marathon PB is currently 3:28 from a few years back.

    Thanks in advance!


  65. Anonymous says:

    For the Yasso 800s how important is it to have the recovery interval the exact same time duration as the work portion? For a slower goal marathon of 4 hours where the 800s are 4 minutes and the recovery is also 4 minutes, the recovery seems excessive. I feel ready for the next 800 after a little over 2 minutes. Thanks.

    • Good question. The equal work and rest times for the 800’s make them symmetric and easy to keep track of. This allow the rest portion to be half the distance (400 meters) at half the speed. Nevertheless, it is not critical that the work and rest be exactly the same time duration. What is important is to keep moving during the rest portion. An easy trot or walk is fine. You can even shake out or jiggle your legs. The idea is to keep the blood flowing so your muscles can quickly pump the accumulated metabolic waste products out. Allowing hydrogen ions (acid) to linger in your muscles can cause damage (acid burn). It is OK to briefly feel the burn, but don’t let it last.

      It is not surprising that you feel recovered after about 2 minutes. A researcher investigated when athletes doing intervals first begin to feel recovered enough during the rest portion and ready to begin the next work portion. The average was 2 minutes with not much variation. So a good rule of thumb for intervals is that the rest/recovery portion should be at least 2 minutes. Anything much longer than 3 minutes begins to be a waste of time. A rest shorter than 2 minutes is not enough.

    • Jack says:

      Thanks for the plan. I decided my ‘lockdown challenge’ was to try and run a sub 3 hour marathon as obviously plenty of time to kill and no other sports to increase my chances of injury (I usually play football/soccer 2/3 times a week which, combined with long distance running, has lead to numerous hamstring injuries)

      My pre training PBs were 5k – 18:20, 10k – 39:30, HM – 1:28:40 (on a hilly route) so going by the prerequisites I felt sub 3:00 was ambitious but achievable.

      Enjoyed the structure of the training. I met all of the goal times until I got to week 9 where I was unable to do the fast portion of the long run. This was a surprise as I was fine during the exact same run in week 8. I decided to go back a couple of weeks of the programme to give my legs a chance to recover. This seemed to work well, although of course was a luxury of not having a set race date. I think if I come to do this for a proper race I will build an extra week or 2 into the plan to allow for this.

      The actual marathon I managed in 3:05:53 so a bit outside of goal time. Where I live is fairly hilly so the route I ran included 1,200 ft of elevation. Considering this and the fact that it was my first marathon running completely on my own I was more than happy with the time. My recovery was really quick and I was fine to go out running again 3 days later so I think I could have pushed myself more in the last few miles (and with a crowd roaring me on no doubt I would have 😆)
      Overall I’m confident that on a flat actual race I should be able to make up those 6 minutes.

      • Yes, on a flat course you should be able to break 3 hours.

        An estimate of the amount of extra time elevation gain imposes on your marathon time is to: Add one minute for every 100 feet of elevation gain. This formula works pretty well for someone running around 7 minutes pre mile pace.

        Given your route included 1200 feet of elevation gain, figure it slowed you down nearly 12 minutes.

  66. Stephen McGuinness says:

    Thank you very much for this plan. I recently completed the Malaga marathon in 2:54 using it. Finally a realistic training plan for someone who doesn’t want to run 5 days a week. Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

  67. Naser says:

    I like this plan very much, but I am used to running 5-6 times a week. The idea of running less frequently and doing more cycling or weight lifting is very appealing. I already ran a half marathon at 1.30 and 10k sub 40, should I try to go for a faster half before I start training for a 3 hour Marathon or should I just go for it and start training ?

    • Your recent 1:30 Half and 40 Minute 10K indicate current potential and a realistic goal of a 3:05 to 3:15 Marathon.

      You can begin the training plan with the 3 hour marathon goal training paces. If you start to fail at completing the training session as they progress, back off your marathon goal and associated paces until you can complete the progression.

      • Naser says:

        Thanks coach, I too think 3:05-10 is more realistic!

        I recently came down with an injury that the doctor diagnosed as an early-stage stress fracture. He did say I can continue running, however that I should decrease intensity (but not necessarily mileage), and try to run less on concrete.

        I did a few runs after that, and still had pain afterwards. Nothing major or that could stop me from training, but enough to psychologically make me terrified of developing a sever fracture that will sideline me for months.

        My question is: Is it reasonable to continue running (with no intense fast workouts)? or am I better off just completely stopping all running activities until the pain disappears completely?

        Would truly appreciate any information because this has been bugging me for weeks now. I am neither completely resting the foot, nor am I training properly. This grey zone just sucks!!

        Thank you very much

    • Avoid do any type of training that causes the pain at the injury location. Try and find an activity that keeps you in shape but does not aggravate your injury. Trying walking fast uphill on an inclined treadmill 10% to 15% grade. Biking or Swimming or Nordic Skiing.

  68. Kev says:

    This looks like a simple but very effective plan to run sub 3. Thank you for sharing it with us!
    I ran my first marathon in 3:29 with minimal training etc a few years ago but since then I have been doing Ironman events and my times have slowed to 3:50 as the marathon is always in the heat of the day after a 3.8km swim and 180km bike ride. I am keen to do a stand alone marathon to see if I can go under 3 hours. I am hoping this plan and the right nutrition etc I can
    achieve the goal. Do you think this is realistic without having done the marathon specific training as I’ve been training for 3 disciplines until now? Not sure what’s possible…?

    • Training for the 3 disciplines in the triathlon is a great way to build overall fitness and avoid over-training injuries that are common with run only training. The disadvantage is that you will not maximize your single discipline (run) potential.

      Given your past 3:30 marathon and recent triathlon marathon of 3:50, a 3 hour marathon is probably a bit ambitious to start with. Try this plan and if you are not able to complete the workouts, slow your goal down and training paces down until you can complete the training sessions and progression.

      The marathon at the end of a ironman triathlon is typically 15 to 30 minutes slower than what you can do in a straight marathon.

  69. Phil says:

    Thank you for this fantastic post and realistic plan. I just completed Lucerne marathon in 02:58:48 and could not have done it without your guidance. I scoured the internet and running magazines for a good plan that I can fit into a working week and this one truly works. I love it’s simplicity. Thank you – you have helped me achieve something I never thought possible. I have recommended this to many other runners and will continue to so! THANK YOU! Now I feel duty bound to come out to Bozeman one day and complete the Ridge Run!

  70. Two questions…and I really appreciate this training program. Just did a 3:09 with the goal of going sub 3:10 so it worked perfectly. 1 – For your sub-3 hour marathon, training at a 6:40 pace, what pace did you set out during the race? Seeing how you ran a 2:58 which is around a 6:49 did you get slower throughout the race or start at a slower pace than your training regimen?
    2 – I felt like I had juice at the end of the race but had some stomach issues. I didn’t push myself b/c I was going to meet my goal but I am looking at a race in 9 weeks. I figure I should rest/recover for at least 2 weeks but how would you jump back into your program with a 7 week window? Just start at week 7 or do a more intense ramp-up and taper? Thanks.

    • Eugene O’Neill says:

      I wasn’t sure how to pace the marathon as I had trained for 6.40 pace but I was speaking to the race pacers in Dublin who advised me to stick with the 3 hour pacer if all I wanted was sub 3 hours. I wasn’t sure if I would blow up or if I should bank some time like this program. Come race morning is stuck with the 3hour pacers and I am so glad I did, I never had to look at my watch and could switch off. I felt really comfortable and by mile 23 the group was slowing down but I felt good and pushed on and got 2.58. The pace group shelters u from any wind and allows you to switch off. Plus I think I might of blew up if I went 6.40 for the full race. My splits were really even and my last mile was as quick as my first. I hope this helps

  71. Eugene O’Neill says:

    Just broke 3hours, 2.58. Stuck very closely to the training plan, had my doubts but race was very comfortable thanks to the training. Love this plan.

  72. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for sharing the training plan and posting such an informative blog. I’m in Week 9 of the schedule. If I were to race one week sooner than originally planned, what schedule modification(s) would make the most sense? I’d be inclined to eliminate Week 13. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

    • Jonathan says:

      By the way, I reviewed the thread before posting my comment and found your suggestion (dated 3/12/18) regrading how to extend the program; however, I’m curious as to your (and/or your followers’) thoughts on abbreviating the program. Thank you.

    • Your idea of eliminating week 13 seems like a logical compromise. Let us know how it turns out. Best of success.

  73. Myshkin says:

    I really appreciate the plan here presented, it is very sounding to me. And I have learned a lot with the comments and replies, and I’m really grateful for that.

    I’m 40 years old and have started to run in January this year and have run a half-marathon in April (1h45) and a 10km in May (43m). I’m going to run a half-marathon in October (aiming 1h35). My Strava statistics amount to 3 runs and 35km per week (peak of 47km).

    I plan to run a marathon in 2020, adding up to 4 half-marathons before that. Do you think it is too ambitious aiming then a sub3?

    I really would like to hear from you, how to come up with a half-marathon plan using the same philosophy. A straight idea would be cutting half of every training session. How sounding is this idea? I have searched through the comments, but I did not find any similar question.

    Also, when answering a comment, you mention 7 years of improvements before reaching a peak. How far in performance do you think a runner can improve cycling into this “just enough” training plan? The easy sessions, at the beginning of the plan, are enough for the body rest, or would you add some more easy sessions before getting again into the 14 weeks plan?

    Thank you again for all your effort.

    • Richard says:

      Hi Myshkin,
      I’m not a coach or expert but from personal experience it’s easy to get burnt-out by doing back to back marathon training plans, from what I’ve read most coaches recommend a yearly break of a week or two then a slow, aerobic training period of at least two months running at 60-70% of max heart rate, maybe add some hill repeats and strides. This can seem counter-intuitive and too slow but if you want to improve long-term it seems to be the best way.
      Running 5k, 10k and half marathons should tell you how much you’ve progressed. I’ve never gone under 3 hours but I don’t think I’d even try if I couldn’t do 1h26 in a half-marathon, better to give yourself more time or go for a slower goal.
      Best wishes for your running!

    • You are not going to get anywhere near your full potential using this minimal plan. This plan is goal specific for those that already have some running experience. It is a way to peak for a specific goal race. It is not a comprehensive long term approach to athletic development.

      As far as a half marathon plan see:

  74. Lars says:

    First of all, thank you so much for putting out this plan and taking the time to sharing your insight on the forum.

    I just just completed a 2:59:20 marathon in a quite hilly marathon course in Oslo, and that was thanks to your plan and principles.

    I followed the training schedule for 80-90% of the time. I did tweak it a little bit at times but tried to stay to the concept of one speed work out, one intervall session and one long run. For example I converted a couple of the Yasso’s to 1600m.

    I also identified some «key sessions» that was not part of your plan. I am not sure whether these made any difference but I think it worked out quite well and gave me some confidence. A couple of times I skipped the marathon paced part of the long run due to tired legs/preparing for one of the «key sessions».

    The «key sessions» were:
    1)6*3km at 6:40/mile w/1km float pace
    2)32,5km at 95% of marathon pace
    3)20*1000m alternating between 6:26/7:14 mile

    I did average 3 sessions and 47,5km per week during the program. I find it fascinating and extremely motivating to experience that a sub3 marathon may be achieved without doing 80-100km week in and week out.

    Now I am ofcourse looking to better my PB and will probably be aiming for a sub 2:50 finish and maybe even sub 2:45.

    Do you think your program is suited to times as low as 2:50/2:45 or will more sessions and mileage be needed? If the latter is the case, how would you add the mileage? Do you think recovery runs in addition to your programme would be sufficient or will I have to implement a complete new approach/program?

    I am also curious about your view on the «key sessions».

    • Glad to hear of your success.

      You can adjust this program for the faster goals.

      When training for faster goals, you will benefit greatly from adding additional running mileage at easy recovery paces. Add them on the recovery days. Additional mileage will help you build durability for sustaining the faster training and racing paces.

      Your key sessions are fine and add a little variety breaking up the monotony of the very simple plan presented in this blog post.

      • Richard says:

        I’ve been training towards a new marathon pb for a couple of years now (have done 3.29 twice), I’m 49 yrs old and have run 19m45s/5k, 40m30s/10k and 1h30m half marathon this year. Now I’m taking a couple of weeks off and then onto an aerobic base plan and start a 16 week marathon plan at the end of the year. To monitor my fitness I’ll try running a flat 10km course at 4m15/km about every 3 weeks and compare heart rate readings. Any thoughts about how reliable this will be for tracking progress?
        Thanks for all the interesting experiences and comments!

  75. Tim says:

    What would the prerequisites be for an under 3.30 marathon? I recently did 5K in 21min (not on my best day so think I could do it in 20 min.) and 10k in 46min. I’ve been running for several years avg about 5-10k a week, past months more like 20k a week. I’m planning on running a marathon in December and another one in June 2019. Can I jump right in your program or should I increase mileage first? Also, how long does it generally take to go from a sub 3.30 to sub 3? Thanks a lot for your advice, your approach seems to work and the comments are helpful too.

    • Warren says:

      Right now as is you’d probably get close to 3:30 if you complete a training plan. The only problem with you jumping into this plan right now is the ramp up in miles would be a little steep and if not careful might make you more injury prone. Don’t know your age so not totally a no answer. Your 5k speed certainly looks promising but the endurance part takes time to build, as the prerequisites for this plan assume your volume is decent already. I’d say jump in, try it but listen to your body carefully.

      • Tim says:

        Thanks for the advice Warren, I thought I’d come back after finishing the marathon and I guess you were right, first half went great and was on route for sub 3.30 but lost it in the second half, partly due to the heat (Singapore), partly due to not running steady enough (went too fast around km20-22) but I think mainly due to not having build enough endurance yet. Now training for the next one in June 2019 and looking for the right program, any tips? I’m 35 btw with a good athletic potential I’d say.

      • WARREN says:

        Thanks for the response, that 2019 marathon is looking very promising if you lay down a good base and then start the plan. Everyone is different, I’m 18 months into working down to sub 3. Had 4 injuries along the way but still plugging away. Completed the 1 full year running a minimum of 5 hours a week back in June. Finally got 18:51 5k this month. Still working on distance endurance. Heat is something that significantly impacts time so don’t view each race as comparable without factoring that in. Keep up the good work!

      • WARREN says:

        Tim my email is if you want to chat.

    • A 21 Minute 5K indicates 3:30 marathon potential. So a 3:30 Marathon is a reasonable goal. Train at 8 minutes per mile for marathon pace and 800 meter intervals in 3:30 for 3:30:00 Marathon goal.

      Begin the training program 14 weeks before your goal marathon. Prior to that, run at least 3 to 4 hours a week at a mix of paces and surfaces.

      If you train consistently and avoid injury you can expect to steadily improve for 7 years then plateau at your innate potential. Form follows function. You become what you do. It takes 7 years for you to totally rebuild your body into an endurance runner.

      How low it takes to reach 3 hour ability in the marathon depends on the potential you were born with. It could take months, years or never. It is for you to discover what your ultimate potential is. You potential may be much much faster than 3 hours?

      The reality is that not everyone will be able to do a 3 hour marathon no matter how much, how smart and how long they train. Their body type and physiology is just not adaptable to running sub 7 minute miles for 26.2 miles. Nevertheless, everyone can bring out their individualized full potential and that is a victory in itself regardless of the time.

      • Tim says:

        Hi, thanks for your reply. As you can read from my comment above I ran the Singapore marathon and was on track for a 3.30 finish until halfway when I hit the wall (finished in 4.09.50). It’s probably because I stepped in your program at week 4 without enough endurance and maybe some other factors (heat, going too fast at times, not practiced enough in taking in water and food during the race) but what else can I improve for my next marathon in June? Any advice on training by heart rate? I see people running faster with a lower heart rate or does that come automatically with training? I also read (runners that yasso or interval training is not marathon specific and a waste of time because they don’t target the specific demands of the race. Their advice for training: increase aerobic threshold, utilize fat more efficiently at marathon pace, and build endurance. Why do you believe Yasso is important? Also, what should I focus on before I start the 14-week schedule and if I have 5-6 days a week to run what should I fill it up with besides the three types in your program? Finally, how do you set the right target? If I set my target too high I’ll be training in the wrong zone (anaerobic) and not improve right? Thanks a lot and Happy New Year from Phuket!

  76. Anonymous says:

    I cannot understate how awesome this site is. I have used the information posted here for 2 marathons and achieved my goals both times (first goal was 3:45, ran 3:44:49; second was 3:40, ran 3:39:28). I am a slower 44yo female (4 kids), so time is tight and I was injury prone. Started running 5 years ago and have never been able to handle high mileage. I made a few adjustments that others might find helpful. First, I did a few weeks of VERY slow running to build up a base of 30-35 mpw. Then I followed this plan, but every other week added one easy run of 4-5 miles. For someone shooting to finish in over 3:30, the extra base was needed for the last hour on my feet. Cheers and thanks.

    • Anonymous says:

      correction: I meant overstate not understate

    • Nice progression. Glad this training plan was helpful for you to obtain your goals. Wise approach to build up some mileage and durability before you embarked on this plan. You adding some easy runs for active recovery (and more time on your feet) is also a sensible modification. Best of success to you.

  77. Great post. I’ve got a ballot place in the London marathon in 2019. My half marathon pace is 1:25 dead. I’m going to try your plan in the run up to London, aiming to break 3 hours – it’s going to be tight! I’m going to blog and vlog on my training efforts etc and reference your post. Let me know if you’d rather I didn’t mention your post!

  78. Jamesbcd says:

    Using this plan for a sub 90 half in October. Hopefully does the trick!

  79. Hi I am 5 weeks into the program, enjoying the it and seeing improvements.

    I am hitting the pace run targets at 6.30 – 6.40 per mile as suggested, however I am glad to be finished and it doesn’t seem possible to sustain the pace for 26 miles. Did anyone else feel like this? Does the pace get more comfortable or should the pace for the current distance already be comfortable?

    • You’re about where I am and I know how you feel. After about 75% of the workouts I feel I’ve got another lasso or few km spare, but sometimes it’s a real struggle to complete the session. One thing to remember is you’re tired at the moment and not fully recovering from one week to the next. This is deliberate and when it comes to the race you’ll have tapered and won’t be tired.

      I’ve actually hurt a muscle in my butt and am in my second week of no running, which is a bit gutting but I do feel more rested than I have since I started the plan.

      • Thanks Clive, at week 5/6 did you feel 6.40 pace had you breathing heavy and it’s not a natural pace? I feel that way and hope it gets easier

      • I am breathing heavily, yes, and anyone that I run past will know I’m working hard but I do feel it’s sustainable. It feels like I’m on the limit of getting enough air in, which I think is how threshold pace is supposed to feel? The pace doesn’t feel entirely natural yet, and it requires some concentration to maintain.

    • Matt K says:

      I tightly followed the program, it never got easy and I was often at my limit. Each week you get fitter but, then each week the workouts are more difficult. Like you, sometimes I looked at the session and wasn’t sure I could complete it but, there is no choice because each session is a test, just run your best and see if you can make it on the day. Focus on one session at a time.

    • Running_G says:

      I know the feeling you have right now. I’m in week 7 and last weekend was the first time during the long runs that I felt I was strong and managed the 8k M pace (6’32) after 2h at 8′ pace without any problems. Before that It has been a struggle all the time. The best way to explain it is like I felt like a diesel engine. Tired -yes, but no problem continuing keeping pace. Just keep working and don’t push too hard and it’ll feel better. Alas, fatigued you will be. May the force be with you!

  80. Tim says:

    I took the concepts off this when I built my plan for Run for the Red 2018. Miserable weather (64 and 100% humidity at start) and not entirely prepared for the amount of downhill beating my legs took. I was on pace for 2:59 until the end of mile 19. I averaged 55 miles/wk.

    Modified my approach and for Chicago I’m doing the following (would love feedback):
    Mon: Track (alternate weeks doing mile repeats at 6:30 and 800s at 3:00)
    Tue: Slow recovery (about 8:45 pace)
    Wed: Progression to MP
    Thu: cross (no leg work to allow for recovery)
    Fri: Easy (HR Zone1 to Zone 2, typically around 8:20-:830 pace depending on weather)
    Sat: Long Run (720-730 pace, finish at MP)

    I didn’t do enough MP work for Run for the Red and really putting emphasis on it this time.

    • I don’t get your approach here. You’ve taken a plan that’s focused on minimum mileage and added two easy days to bump up the mileage again. What are those easy days even supposed to achieve? Why not just stick to the plan and make sure you train on plenty of downhills?

      • Tim says:

        It was my interpretation that the plan was designed for those that did not have the time for high mileage. Since I do, I was adding in additional mileage while following the designed plan almost to a “T”. The downhills mistraining (I think I just made up a word) was something I didn’t anticipate having such an impact. The extra days are meant to be active recovery days.

  81. Bart says:

    Thanks for the training plan! I’ve followed it closely for the last 14 weeks and ran 3:00:36 yesterday in my first marathon.

  82. Matt K says:

    Success!!! It’s really hot, like 40degC, where I live so couldn’t really get training proper until the season change, this was week 6 of the program. So I never felt at peak fitness but, did feel fit enough. I’m coming back from 2 years of no running due to PF, so I was keen to follow a low km concept. Thanks for promoting this training plan, I followed it and it worked.
    Race wrap – Perth marathon
    It was windy out there so it was important not to get isolated into running solo. Ran the first 21km with the 3hour pacer bus of about ten randoms. Then I noticed there as an organised group of about ten guys sitting constantly 100m ahead of us, and didn’t want them to get all the age placing, just because they were 100m ahead! So during a tail wind section, I bridged the gap across to the TRC group and settled in. Shortly after we turned into the headwind of 10km, it was pretty tough, I looked over my shoulder at the break, there was no one there, the groups had total blown apart into ones and twos! Crossing the river there was three of us left, and I could feel incipient stiffening of my legs and pretty soon the other two guys left me behind. Around 35km there were no visual targets or other runners and I lost my head. I glanced at my watch and it said 4:35pace!! This was a total kick in the arse, despite the risks of heart failure/kidney failure/leg failure/vomiting/cramping I channelled my inner shop lifter and ran like I stole from the bikies club house. I didn’t dare look at the total run duration because it would only be an excuse to give up! With 2km to go, amazingly I steamed past a runner from our previous trio, he was cooked and running around 04:45. Then round the finishing oval I couldn’t see the timing bar but, could hear the commentator saying “only a few seconds left”, the crowd screams willed me forward, I rounded the final bend the clock read 02:59:15. What a complete relief! Slowed to a walk at the finish line and gave it the two armed salute!! DONE

    • Matt K says:

      PS I’m 47 this year.

      • Well done mate. Nice one!

      • Matt K says:

        PPS For the technically minded. Starting temp around 10degC, 20-30km winds. I ate plenty of carbs on the previous two days, but only a light meal the night before. Only a milk coffee for breakfast. 7 gels total, first 10mins before the start then one every 8km. Small water drink at every station. I would have preferred a couple more caffeine gels at 35km (when my head was lost). I don’t like running with anything solid in my gut, (but I can tolerate lots of gel). Most of the problems I see here are due to lack of fuel earlier tin the run(IMHO).
        This is my 3rd marathon but, my first proper attempt at sub 3.

    • Nick macey says:

      Well Done Matt! Where in Perth did you get your PF sorted. Thanks in advance. Nick

      • Matt K says:

        Nick, nowhere could help. Spent a lot of money on cortisone and specialists. I had pretty much stopped running distance or speed. Then diagnosed my calf could be the cause (it was one one side only). So lots of roller, not much ball, a few slow jogs, and lots of sports tape. The move calf rolling the better it got.

  83. Norwegian runner says:

    Looks like a great plan. I`m aiming for sub 3, setting pace at a 2:55 finish.
    One question though. I am used to running almost every day. Average maybe 6 days a week. I need it to stay sane, and stress down. I am 38, in good shape and do 3-5 ultra marathons and other events every year. I plan to cut ultra running this summer to get my sub 3 marathon. Is it ok to run the “rest days”? Say for example 8k – 12k runs on gravel/single track roads for example. The only speedwork I do is from your plan. The rest I fill with slow “junkmiles”.

    • This plan is designed for those that can’t run high volume. Typically they are injury prone, don’t have the time or the desire to put in lots of miles. It sounds like you don’t have those problems.

      If that is the case, doing easy low stress runs on the off days should be fine. If you develop more residual fatigue than usual and can’t complete the training sessions or if you feel an injury coming on, switch to some other activity besides running (walking, biking, swimming, …) on the rest days.

      • Norwegian runner says:

        Thanks for the reply. I am a little worried that the increase in intensity of training (3 workouts each week with speed/intervalls) can be a problem for me. Usually only have 1 pr week max. I did however do nothing else than those three workouts on your plan this week, and I feel pretty good getting the days off in between. I did 5 Yasso 800 on 2:56 marathon pace. Struggled with the fifth, so I am a little bit worried about pulling off 10 in a few weeks. Next week I`m off on holiday, so I think I will do only slow runs next week. Maybe one harder long run. I jumped in on week 4, as I feel pretty fit. And it makes the program end in mid/late August that is when a marathon is held near me. It is about 500m total climbing and 15k on a fine gravel road, so not the fastest marathon. I`m also considering Reykjavik marathon on Iceland, which have about 1000 marathoners and about 150/200m climb. Anyway, great program and thanks for replying.

  84. ultraribo says:

    Thank you so much for this plan!! I just ran my marathon yesterday in 3:05. Didn’t quite achieve my targeted sub-3, but I’m a happy with both my results (got my BQ) and the level of fitness (highest in my life) that I have been able to achieve.

    This was actually just my second road marathon that I’ve run. The first was on the same course 9 years ago at age 34, and I really struggled getting just a 4:31 that day. Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of trail running and a couple ultramarathons. Before I started this plan earlier this year I was certainly in better shape (and 15 pounds lighter) than 9 years ago, probably in about 3:20 or so marathon shape. Sub-3 has been a quite aggressive goal, but I’m glad I went for it as I’ve learned so much in the process. I was able to hit all the workout times, but it was very tough.

    The weather and my inexperience both played a part in me not getting the sub-3. Conditions on race day were a few degrees warmer than ideal and it was sunny instead of overcast. I ran the first half in 1:28 and slowly faded in pace running 1:37 for the 2nd half. It was a long fight to not lose more time! I got in enough calories but I don’t think I drank enough. Good to learn these lessons.

    Thanks again for the plan and for all the comments that have provided so much help!

  85. Pingback: Kế hoạch luyện tập Full Marathon đạt thành tích Sub3 – HỌC VIỆN KỸ THUẬT QUÂN SỰ

  86. Would it do any harm if I started this plan one week early and took a week off around the halfway point to rest? Maybe just some easy runs that week?

  87. Pingback: Chạy marathon trong 3h - Một giáo án tập luyện "vừa đủ"

  88. James says:

    Hi, going to give this program a try for Chicago. This will be my fourth marathon after 12 week program for NY in 2016 (3.07), 26 week program for Gold Coast 2017 (3.02 it was warm 15-24 degrees) and 26 week program for Boston 2018 (3.09 was happy to still be alive). All the programs I’ve done previously have been HR based and 5 days a week running. I have a 17.51 for 5km last year so meet the criteria. Have had some issues in all three races with hamstring cramps. Starting with the left and eventually both usually in last 6km. Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

    • Strong tasting substances can help alleviate cramps. Sour, salty, spicy, bitter etc. People have had success with a sip of pickle juice or vinegar. Mustard, pepper and other strong tastes seem to help. It seems the strong taste triggers a neurological response that helps deviate the contraction signals from the cramping area to the mouth and the cramp relaxes.

      My personal favorite is fresh ginger root. I’ll bring a small hunk of fresh ginger with me. When I feel my muscles getting a bit tweaky (right before cramping) I’ll bite off a small chunk and chew it up. It works for me.

  89. coxarella says:

    Firstly thanks for this plan, I’ve really enjoyed the logical structure of it and general increase in pace I now have.

    Thought Id share my recent marathon attempt. I used this plan to the letter only failing on one training session and completed all the intervals comfortably so went into Newport marathon on Sunday reasonably confident I could run a 3:00 marathon, the weather was cool, the course was flat and very little wind. My previous best time was 3:12, just 6 months ago after following a regular high mileage 5 runs a week marathon plan.

    The day went like this…Stuck with the 3 hour pace maker until about 16 miles and felt quite good and slowly but surely the pace maker started moving away. By 18 miles he was out of sight I was re-calculating my pace for a sub 3:05. By the time I hit 20 miles my legs had completely gone and really struggled the last 6 miles (survival shuffle ;-). With just a mile until the finish line the 3:15 pace maker overtook me so I managed to summon a bit more pace to finish just in front of him posting a time of 3:14.

    This was my 6th marathon and the second best time I’ve run by just 2 minutes. All the other plans I’ve followed have been 5 days a week training, so the fact I got within 2 minutes of my PB on a 3 session a week plan makes me believe this plan does work, just maybe not for me – this time.

    Mid way through the plan I always felt fatigued and the days rest in between never seemed long enough for me to recover so by the end I think I had built up a lot of fatigue debt – perhaps overtraining.

    I have to so I’m confused what to do next as I really want to run under 3:05 to get a good for age place at London (I’m 40).

    Anyone else have a similar experience or advice?
    Perhaps its a 3:05 is too much of a stretch for me?

    Thanks for any advice,

    • hrpomrx says:

      Adam – did your weight increase? I used to run 6 days a week and my racing weight from this was 142-144lbs without dieting or anything – just natural fat burn. I started this 3 day plan after a few months off and some base building but can’t seem to shift any weight (currently 153ish) just running 3 days. I guess I’ll have to watch what I eat a bit more.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know that you mentioned earlier during your training that you had some upper leg pain (potentially high hamstring tendinopathy). Could this have played any role in not meeting the target?

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s possible the hamstring hampered me put I didn’t feel any issues during the race. Having gone over the race I now think it may have been a fuelling error. I waited an hour before starting taking on carbs in the form of shot bloks. I think I should have eaten some as soon as I set off and then earlier than an hour in. I used gels before which worked for me so probably should have kept with them.

  90. Anonymous says:

    Success! Followed the program and came in at 2:58 – absolutely delighted. Thanks for the program. Can it be adapted to a) 50m ultra run and b) half marathon distances?

  91. Greg Dixon says:

    Hi, This program looks like it could suit me. Quick question … when doing the long runs can I split run into 2 sessions? I do shift work and find it very hard to get the time in one go.
    Thanks in advance

    • No, that defeats the purpose of the long run. Certainly you can set aside a contiguous 2 to 3 hours once a week?

      • Greg Dixon says:

        Yes I can run 3 out of 4 of my long runs in one go but there is one week a month that I’m not able and I thought if I could split it in to a run in the am and one in the pm it would do. I’d still be running on tired legs so to speak.

  92. Matt K says:

    Hi…I just wanted to say a big thank you for providing this training plan. I struggle with tight muscles and I’ve always hit fatigue with previous plans that run 5/6 times a week. This one I found much more manageable and up until 9 weeks I was hitting every target time comfortably. I then got a thigh tear which meant i missed 2-3 weeks but managed to recover and finish the program in time for London last weekend. Unfortunately the weather conditions got the better of me so I didn’t make the magic 2hr X mark this time. I managed to keep pace until 30k but then my legs started to shut down and I finished in 3hr 15. I struggled with stitch and breathing throughout (things I hadn’t had a problem with during training) which may have been due to the conditions or perhaps a sign I’m lacking a little on core strength? I’m confident the training has given me the basis to go under 3hrs and I’m looking at having another attempt in the next month or so to see if I can get lucky with the weather and hit my mark. Thanks again and I look forward to reading more tips and advice.

    • Anxiety, excitement, nervousness during a race can cause one to hold more tension in their gut, diaphragm and chest. Practice easing into the race trying to keep relaxed; breathing slow and deep. Smile.

      There is lots of advice on how to deal with stiches from jabbing your fingers into the stich, lying down slightly inverted, … – do an Internet search.

  93. coxarella says:

    My Newport marathon is this Sunday, the course is flat and the weather looks cool and dry so no excuses. I ran a 3:12 marathon in Amsterdam last year using a basic Asics 3:30:00 plan with no speed work and I’m hoping to run under 3:05 using this plan to get a good for age qualification spot for London 2019. I’ve completed all the training runs but have to admit I’ve never found the marathon pace easy, especially after the slow long run. I’ve completed all MP training without busting a gut but definitely wouldn’t say it has become my go to pace. I’ve put this down to general fatigue from the training and hoping after the taper I should be a lot fresher come race day. Has anyone else successfully run a sub 3:00:00 using this plan while still finding the marathon pace training a effort?

    I should add that I found the intervals easier than the tempo work, perhaps I’m more suited to shorter, quicker events?

    • Coates83 says:

      Not sure what category you are in but the London Marathon have changed the Good for Age requirements. The old 3:05 qualification standard has shifted to 3:00 and has limited entries and so likely you need to run sub 3:00 by 2 or 3 minutes will be my guess. I know as I just found out after running 3:02 on a shortened version of this plan (which worked amazingly as I only took my Marathon at 5 weeks notice) at Manchester a couple of weeks ago – told everyone I qualified for London next year and then a few days ago they totally changed the entry criteria 😦 A 3:05 will still give you a Boston Qualifier though 🙂

      • coxarella says:

        Thanks for reply, my story is similar to yours. I’m 40 so the ‘old’ good for age was 3:15 which I achieved last October, like you I told everyone I have qualified only to have the wind taken out of my sails when they changed the 40+ time to 3:05. At least I have an opportunity to try for the new time this Sunday – tough ask though. Given the 6000 limit on good for age runners London now have in place, split evenly across men and woman and then evenly across the age categories; I’m now thinking the only good for age runners getting a place will be extremely quick. Especially in the 18-40 category. Its a real shame, I put so much work into getting a good for age time last year and was so chuffed when I got it.

  94. Mike says:

    This looks fantastic. I am going to follow this for the Chester Marathon in October. I have a few questions I was hoping you could answer:
    1. What surface should you run the Yasso on? Grass/track to reduce impact or road to replicate the race surface?
    2. What strength exercises do you recommend and should these be done on rest days?
    3. Should I plan ahead for sickness / injury (e.g. give myself 2 buffer weeks)?
    4. I have 23 weeks before the race. What do you recommend I do for for the 9 weeks before starting your plan?

    • 1. If you are prone to injury you can do the 800s on grass. Otherwise, just do what surface is convenient.

      2. Trap bar dead lifts. Single leg half squats. Side planks with leg lifts. Brid Dogs. Single leg Toe touches.

      3,4. If you have more than 14 weeks, you can use the extra time to periodize the program. Ramp up for a couple months till it gets hard, then back way off for a couple weeks, then start the plan repeating the last few weeks of the ramp up you completed. (There are similar questions in this comment stream – browse through it)

  95. Anonymous says:

    I used your plan to prepare my first marathon in Reston, Virginia. The elevation gain for this one is about 1,400ft, so it is not a flat course. It took me 3 hours and 13 minutes to complete my first marathon. I just started to run 5 months ago, so the 3 times per week plan may fit me better if I already ran a year with lots of base miles. I think to prepare my second marathon I will change the plan a little bit. I will change the weekly 800 meter run to hill repeats and add the other 5 weeks to just run easily to accumulate more base/easy intensity training.
    Thank you for the plan. It helps me a lot. -Eddie

    • Remember, every 100 feet of elevation gain adds about 1 minute to your time. So 1400 feet of elevation gain adds approximately 14 minutes. Factor this in when setting your goals and expected finish time.

      Unfortunately, the speed gains from running down hill are much less so you can’t expect to get back what you lost even on a course that has a net gain of zero where the ups get canceled out by the downs.

      • Russ77 says:

        The race I am planning to use the plan for is quite hilly with 1125 feet of climbs but a net loss of nearly 1000 feet overall. Do you think this will significantly affect my chance of getting 3 hours if the training all goes completely to plan?

  96. Radders says:

    Ok so I’ve done all my training and stuck to the plan with a few minor injuries along the way which has meant me missing a few sessions – BUT the London marathon is this weekend and sods law the UK will actually be sat in the middle of a heatwave on race day with it looking like being between 18-23 degrees – Obviously the weather here has been cold right up to this week so this will be a big shock – Does this mean any chance of me sticking to my MP is out the window and I just need to deal with it? Or can I manage it in this heat!

    • Stick to your plan. Wear thin light colored (white) running gear and generously douse your head with cold water at all the aid stations and take any chance you get to keep cool like running in the shade.

      Yes, core body temperature rising is a major limiting factor on performance. As your temp gets above 102F (39C) your body’s self-preservation mechanisms of fatigue kick in slowing you way down to prevent you from getting even hotter.

      Heat adaptation from living and training in high temperatures increase your tolerance to heat by: increasing blood volume, lowering your basal temperature to give you a greater reserve, and gets you use to the feeling of being hot blunting the sense of fatigue as you heat up. Too late to heat adapt, so you are just going to have to deal with the conditions the best you can.

      Interested to hear how things turn out!

      • hank says:

        I too ran the London Marathon this weekend, which you probably know was the hottest on record, 24C, and felt hotter in some places. Like everyone else training for it using this program in the UK, virtually all the training was done over a very long and cold winter, so I was completely unprepared for the heat. This is the 4th time I’ve used this program in the last two years, and I thought I’d like to share some of my experiences with others who maybe interested. I’m now almost 50, and before I began using this my best time for a marathon was 3.09, 14 years ago.

        Of the 4 times I’ve used this, my best is 2.57, my worst is 3.03, and in London this year I just squeaked in at 2.59.50. So yes, this program really does work, even for older runners like me, though there are some things I’ve learnt along the way. The key thing is the 6.40 mile pace. If you really get used to running those 6.40 miles with ease, then you know you have a generous cushion to fall back on when you hit 18 miles at around 2 hours. In my experience, this is both a good and bad thing. The remaining 8.2 miles in under an hour sounds easy, you don’t panic when you start to slow down because you’ve got a nice big margin to get under 3 hours. The bad thing is you’ve used so much energy to get to that place, you’re much more at the mercy of the weather conditions. The weather has had a massive impact on the marathon times I’ve run using this program. My PB was on a windy, hilly course, but it was only 6 C. Dragging yourself along in the heat is no fun, and as Paula Radcliffe says, in elite running the race only begins at 20 miles. In a way, I think that is what this program is also about, getting you to the right place with 6 miles to go, and then its over to you.

        For my previous marathons using this program, I pretty much did as suggested, ran the first couple of miles at about 6.52, then a good 18 at 6.40, then held on as long as possible, and even though slowing massively towards the end, that worked. At London this year I tried something different. Because of the heat I decided from the start to run just 6.50s and not speed up or change pace at all. Even though I’d toiled hard to get down to the magic 6.40 average pace in training, (which I’ve always found unintentionally gets faster and faster during the taper), and I was quite ready to run it like that, I decided I wouldn’t. My half split was around 1.29.30, far slower than I’d normally run. Having virtually no margin for error was alarming, and obviously is traditionally not the right thing to do, (see the VLM results splits for around the 3 hour mark). But for me, having followed this program fairly accurately, what felt slow meant that I had a strong sense of running within myself, which carried on until at least 20 miles, and once there it gave me huge confidence that it was easily possible to carry on in the heat, and perhaps even speed up over the last 6 miles. Of course in reality I did neither, but I didn’t slow down at all, as I normally do.
        This new experience of running for 3hrs at almost constant pace showed me that you can use this program to do that. It may go against all the hard won battles of training to get down to 6.40 pace, but the sense of going slowly, and the confidence that brings, particularly in hot weather when there is every reason to slow down, worked for me. Maybe it will work for someone else too.

        Thanks again for all this invaluable advice on this thread.

  97. Pablo Young says:

    Just sharing my experience and asking for some advice!

    I Followed the plan to the letter, aiming for a 3:15 marathon. I found the training tough but manageable. The hardest session for me was the marathon pace finish long run, but I completed everything ok. I know my fitness has improved as I’ve improved my 5K, 10K & HalfM times dramatically.

    I attempted Brighton marathon on Sunday but had to drop out at mile 19. I was hitting my target pace of 7:26min/mile easily for 18 miles but faded in the last mile. I felt aerobically I could have continued comfortably but my feet were in agony and my legs were getting more and more wooden until I had to stop.

    I’ve got 2 marathons under my belt, albeit at a much slower pace, so I know I can go the distance. The extended time at a fast pace really seemed to kill my legs – any advice on what I should do counter this? Should I up my weekly mileage to improve my endurance? Get more cushioned shoes?


    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Pablo, sorry it didn’t work out for you. What were your previous Marathon times?

      • Pablo Young says:

        I did a mountain marathon last year with 4800ft elevation in 5:17 and Brighton Marathon in 3:47 way back in 2013. Recently I’ve managed 19:47 5K, 41:30 10K, 1:36 HM.

    • Everyone feels dead legs toward the end of long hard runs. It is from tissue damage and breakdown. Some people are more prone to it than others.

      Staying well fueled and hydrated helps prevent damage as glycogen depleted muscles are more prone to damage. Taking some essential amino acids also helps prevent muscle catabolism.

      Strengthen your legs with weight training (trap bar dead lift), downhill running and hill repeats. Stronger legs are less prone to damage.

      You could experiment with more cushioned shoes. Find some that work for you. Also try increasing your stride frequency if it is much below 180 steps per minute. In theory, for the same pace, more steps and shorter strides equates to less force per foot strike. See if it helps.

      Best of Success.

      • Radim says:

        Speaking of this, is there any benefit from taking bcaa or glutamine during a race?

      • In race events or training sessions longer than 2 hours, there is benefit from taking essential amino acids. Take 5 grams (aprox 1+ teaspoon) every hour starting 1 hour before the start. Avoid glutamine pre or during. Glutamine is ok post. Supplements of the full 9 essential aminos are better than just BCAAs. Essential aminos are available from the Now and Solagar brands. There are some other sport tailored mixes of essential aminos that supposedly absorb better, but can be quite pricey.

      • Pablo Young says:

        Thanks for the advice – very interesting re. amino acids; I’ll look into that. I was pretty well fueled and hydrated but maybe I need to up the gel frequency in a race.

        I will work on strengthening my legs. I did several gym sessions and incorporated deadlifts but I know I didn’t do enough. Will try and find a gym with a traplift. All my training was on flat roads/running track, so will aim to get more hills in.

        Re shoes – am thinking of trying Hoka One One – they look pretty cushioned.

        I’ve got another marathon booked in October. I’ll report back then!!

  98. D01 says:

    I ran yesterday and felt I should share my experience, I’ve used plan to train for 3.05 for my first marathon and followed it to the letter, hitting the required timings for the run etc.
    Final week of taper went like this….

    Tempo run: felt easy, strong relaxed, low heart rate throughout, feeling confident about run.
    Yassos: All good
    Thursday: Feeling nervous had a massage, helped to relax, I’ve seen a physio two other times in training and it hasn’t affected me negatively, feeling good.
    Friday: Meant to run 4 miles at MP, ended up running 3 miles at MP , it was horrible, had elevated heart rate, no spring in the legs, so cut it short.
    Saturday: Easy Run, a few surges to quicker than marathon pace and felt good, heart rate maybe on high side.
    Sunday: Race day, very nervous, nothing in the legs, raised heart rate and abandoned goal pace within first 3 miles, ended up toughing out a 3.23 marathon. I was dead psychologically from the start.

    This is obviously disappointing but I ultimately think the psychology got to me in the end but thought I would share this so others don’t underestimate the importance of being relaxed etc. To put it into perspective, my usual threshold heart rate for an hour is 173, I averaged 172 for the entire marathon, this just seems crazy to me.

    On the plus side, the endurance element was there throughout and I didn’t slow down into oblivion and ran a +4 positive split overall, it would be interesting to know if anyone has had similar experience of things like this.

    • Chill out. It is just a foot race. The consequences of not doing well are not life threatening. Sounds like you mentally and emotionally defeated yourself. Remember you can do this, you have done this. Smile and enjoy the experience.

      Amazing how Heart Rate is affected by our mental and emotional state and can be a poor indicator of level of effort and performance under differing circumstances.

      For most people, a massage so close to your race is usually not a wise maneuver. If not acclimated to it, massage causes muscle micro trauma that can take weeks to recover from fully.

      • D01 says:

        Completely agree on both accounts, hindsight is a wonderful thing, going to do another way smaller event soon, take it all less seriously and see how I get on, I might even enjoy it!

  99. coxarella says:

    I manage to get to week 11 and completed all the runs and was averaging 15 seconds quicker on the 800m Yasso’s (2:45). Then starting week 12 I started getting a weakness that creeps on the top/back of my right leg. In week 12 I managed the tempo run but skipped the intervals as a precaution and did the long run with the ache there but not preventing me from completing the long run and fast finish. This week (week 13) the ache is still there and doesn’t appear to be improving, but doesn’t appear to be getting worse. Given I’ve completed the toughest weeks and are now tapering, I’m thinking about sacrificing my intervals in the interest of not aggravating an injury at the cost of probably losing some speed at the marathon.

    I guess I have two questions really, if I skip any runs during the tapering to prevent further injury, should intervals be the ones to miss and given its only 3 weeks until the race, do you think missing intervals will have a big impact on final race outcome?

    Thanks for any insight.

    • Sounds like high hamstring tendinopathy, perhaps?

      Avoid activities that aggravate it. The fast intervals probably being the worst offenders. So cut them out and focus on the marathon pace if it does not bother your leg.
      Sitting for long periods of time can also bother it and slows healing as it impedes circulation. So keep moving. If you have to sit, sit on a heating pad.

  100. Ian says:

    You absolute beauty!! Followed your plan to the letter aiming for a 3:11. Finished Manchester marathon in 3:06:57!!! Ecstatic to say the least!! Boston Marathon here I come!!

    I had doubts that I had never run a long run at Marathon pace but on the day was very solid until mile 22. Slowed slightly but was never in doubt.

    Thank you so much you are a legend!!

  101. Radim says:

    I am on the plan, adjusted for a 3:30 target marathon (last year I did 3:47). On Saturday I did a 1:38 half-marathon so am very happy. The marathon is in four weeks. Can I postpone starting the taper till 3, or even 2, weeks before the marathon? What’s the downside? I feel like I am getting a huge benefit from recent workouts!

  102. Running G says:

    Hi Bridger Ridge Run! Thanks for this training program. It looks like it’ll fit me perfectly. I’m going to give it a shot. I have a question regarding adding a half marathon race in wk 10 of the program. Do you think this is okay? let’s say I skip the long run wk 10, do the half and then skip wk 11 tempo run in order to get back to the plan for the yasso’s in wk 11. Is this feasible or do you think it is a bad idea?

    • Sounds like a reasonable strategy.

      My caution is: after racing the half really hard, make sure to take at least a few days really easy to give your body a chance heal up and repair any muscle and connective damage incurred from the race. It is probably better to prioritize the marathon pace training sessions before the 800s. Jumping back into hard fast training too soon after a hard race when your body is still vulnerable is when injuries can crop up. Best of success.

      • Running G says:

        Gottcha. Do the tempo instead of the 800s. Sounds like a plan. I reasoned that that far into the program a half would be a good tune up race for the coming marathon and break the routine a bit. I’m not too worried. I have a lot of experience with long marathon paced runs from before. Getting older I find that resting more gives better pay-off, so this program is perfect for me. Hyped to try it! Let’s see if it takes me down to 2.55 again. Thanks for taking time to answer, appreciate it!

  103. Anonymous says:


    Starting to panic slightly as only 2 weeks to marathon now!! I am trying to get a 3:12 finish time which is 7:19 per mile. I had been running my MP runs at 7:03 which were fine however the end of the long runs I was struggling to hold pace at times throughout the training. The Yasso sessions were fine also its just mile 18 to the end I worry about!!

    Do you think I should start the marathon with aim of 7:03 per mile or go a bit slower say 7:10 – 7:15?? I just don’t want to blow it!!


    • Dan says:

      I followed this program exactly and I was aiming for 3:14; I ended up with 3:25, which still is reasonable! I would suggest following this program and adding 5 minutes to whatever time you have in mind. So if you train for 3:15, following this program you would get 3:20 in my opinion. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Thanks again 🙂

      • Eliot Bank says:

        Of course, it’s individual. The plan may not work for everyone. I do think people need to be realistic with their goals. The plan is not going to take off 20 minutes if you are an experienced runner.


        Sent from my mobile


      • D01 says:

        Hi Dan,

        I am running on Sunday and have trained for 7:00/mile exactly, but am going to run the first half more like 7:05-7:10 as trying to be conservative in my expectations, then push on if I’m feeling good. Was your marathon flat? Was your pacing even? Did you fuel appropriately? I’m just tying to make sure I don’t expect too much and blow up near the end.

        Thanks in advance!

  104. coxarella says:

    Update on this weeks long run after last weeks energy crisis. This time I fuelled properly before and during the run and kept to the slower pace prescribed (I have a tendency to go a bit to fast in the slow section, around 5 min/km) in the plan and it went well. The final mile of the 6 miles at race pace was tough but doable. Today I’ll be doing the 11 mile tempo run and the legs are still feeling a bit tired, but I guess as this is the toughest 2 weeks of the plan before it gets easier I should expect to be carrying some fatigue from one run to the next. Thought I should post to encourage anyone else who has a bad session, don’t panic and go again next time!

  105. Danny says:

    Hopefully someone can help me put my mind at ease pre-taper (or give me a reality check!).
    I am targeting a 7 min/mile marathon pace and to date the Yassos have been fine, done on a treadmill.

    My previous weeks runs I have hit the following times.weeks:

    Week 7: 6.59 avg 9 x MP (avg HR 167), 7.03 MP section of long run

    Week 8: 7.02 avg 10 x MP (avg HR 171) , 1.45 half marathon on treadmill due to snow, all sub threshold heart rate, felt good.

    Week 9: 7.01 avg 11 x MP (avg HR 164), 7.01 MP section of long run

    My week 9 tempo run felt the best and I was starting to feel like the marathon was doable at that pace.

    Then I did my Week 10: 12 x MP yesterday and found it very hard, I couldn’t handle the pace and ended up with 7.07 avg pace with an elevated heart rate to get an average over the run of 172. My threshold pace for an hour is around that number, it was very very hard going. I think I fuelled appropriately but I took 4 days off as was very busy the 4 days before this, but I assumed this would make me feel refreshed, not worse!

    Before the run yesterday, based on my times, I was going to target a 7.05 marathon pace and see how it felt, hoping it was conservative and would avoid a miserable last 6 miles (it’s my first marathon). Any advice will be hugely appreciated! Does this sort of thing sound common? Is it a blip to be ignored or should I take it seriously? I’m a 30 year old male, at 84kg and 186cm.

    • Enzo says:

      Hey Danny, It’s totally normal, or OK to feel that way. I’m tapering this week and next. My last 9 miler was at 6:43, the week before I tried running 6 miles at 6:50 and was having the hardest time. Same as you, HR was elevated, i didn’t feel good, breathing heavy etc etc. Some days you have it some days you don’t. Before a tempo run like this, i try to really stay calm and focus on my breathing (I have asthma). If I don’t do that from the start, I know a half mile in whether the run will be a good one or not.
      I’m 183cm and went from 80kg to 70kg in 9 months. That made a world of a difference for me. I also know that sleep and nutrition quality play a major role in my running. I have a 6 months old and travel overseas a lot for work. Heavy meals and little sleep can just ruin my simplest of runs…
      It is possible you just had one of those days, which is OK to have. I’d be an Olympian if I only had good days, we would all be! Given it is your first marathon, not knowing you, your fitness, what your long runs have been like etc… A 7:07 or even 7:10 for the first couple of miles wouldn’t be a bad idea. Once you settle into a good grove, drop it to 7:05 until mile 10. Mile 10 to 20 drop it to 7:00. The last 10k, just pedal to the metal. There are many ways to strategize how to run a marathon but after doing much research, going for a negative split is the best way to go (based on actual data). This 10/10/10 strategy has worked for me last month and am applying it again in 2 weeks in my first real attempt at breaking 3 hours.
      Not sure that I addressed your concerns (which are 100% normal as you approach taper), but I hope you’ll find a bit of light in my experience! Best of luck, man!

      • Danny says:

        Thank you for your guidance, just completed the Yassos and they went well so hoping this was just a blip, I think your 7.10 start for a couple of mile is a sensible idea and see how I feel!

  106. Jonathan says:

    Can you give me some advice please coach? 6 weeks to run until Marathon time and having ankle problems. Pain in the inside of the ankle after being on the feet for quite a while, after resting and ice it is alright after a day or so but returns when in training mode again on the longer runs. Any advice?

    • Sounds like you have irritated the tendons in your ankle. Another less likely possibility is a stress fracture.

      Connective tissue (fascia, tendons, ligaments, cartilage) takes much longer to build strength and durability than muscle tissue. It is connective tissue injuries that are usually the source of sidelining repetitive stress injury in runners.

      Ice alone may temporarily help things feel better, but does nothing to expedite healing and adaption to stress. A better approach is cycling cold and heat therapy to increase circulation in the injury site. Cold pushes blood out of the tissue, heat brings blood in. Another treatment is very slow loaded movements that also help bring blood supply to connective tissue. Flossing (squeezing and releasing) the ankle can also help pump blood in and out of the injury site.

      While you heal, avoid long duration training as it tends to cause connective tissue breakdown. If you can handle it, continue the Marathon Pace training in prep for your Marathon. A short cut to build the durability and toughness that is usually obtained from the long runs is to instead do some shorter sessions of up tempo downhill running. It eccentrically loads the legs building toughness and helping to stave off the damage and stiffness that causes slowing down in the later stages of the Marathon.

      The following podcast details some useful exercise advice (slow loaded movements) and nutrition advice (Vitamin C and Collagen/Gelatin Protein) for treating connective tissues:

      • Jonathan says:

        Thank you very much for your advice, I appreciate it. I will try the things mentioned in your post and let you know how I get on in next month!

  107. coxarella says:

    Really enjoying the plan so far, currently @ week 8, training for the Newport Marathon in April. Managed a 3:12 last year in Amsterdam so hoping this plan will give me the edge to dip under 3:00. Yesterday I had a bit of a confidence knock though, so far I’ve managed to run all the sessions at the required pace but 1 mile into yesterdays long run final fast element I completely ran out of energy and had to jog the remaining 5 miles home. Due to circumstances I didn’t have any breakfast and forgot to take any water, I didn’t feel hungry or dehydrated at the 2 hour mark, but do you think this failure was due to lack of water and fuelling?

    • Alex says:

      Coxarella, I’d say lack of fuel would be a big reason you ran out of gas after a couple hours. I would also say that when I did this plan, there were a few of the long runs where I just couldn’t quite make the last 6 fast miles every week. I’d nail it some weeks, and then other weeks have some issues. Going easier during the slow part helped – as did practicing race-day nutrition. So don’t feel defeated if you fall short one or two workouts – it still worked for me (2:58).

      • Radders says:

        Funnily enough this happen to me at the weekend at exactly the same stage of the plan (week 8 long run). I did manage to regain my pace after the first mile but one thing that is bugging me is I’m managing to run at my desired MP for the distance required but its a real battle and I don’t have much left at the end of each run – is this ok? Or am I suppose to feel like I can sustain this pace.

      • coxarella says:

        I’m also almost completely spent after the sessions. More so the tempo run. I’m working under the assumption I won’t feel the benefit of the plan until I start to taper. Until then I guess the body is always carrying fatigue to some level into the next run.

      • Enzo says:

        I felt like that the first time i did the plan… it was mostly because I was missing my fitness base and increased my volume by too much too quickly.
        I still ran a PR from 3:24 to 3:07 last month. I’m giving it another shot in 2 weeks and hoping to get closer to 2:59:xx. I’ve traded my long runs for trail runs of the equivalent time on the legs. The surface was easier for my joints, the hills were good for the muscles and kept me from going too fast. I’d then switch shoes and do my faster miles on the road. Those were BRUTAL. Switching gear from doing 10 min/mile to 6:40 was very very hard. This is the part of the training I struggled the most with. I did cut the faster miles down on some sessions just because I knew I didn’t have it in me those days… I stayed on top of the 800’s (although I changed them to 1 mile repeats at 8×800), and stayed pretty on point if not faster on the tempo runs. In between I would not do much or just some aqua jogging. The key in my case was to really build up my fitness, volume, and make sure to keep it very very easy on the long runs even when my coworkers older than me by 15 years were joking about how slow I’d do my long runs… But I’ve been injury free and headed the right direction as far as PR and timing goes! that’s my 2 cent. good luck!

      • coxarella says:

        Thanks Alex, this weekend Ill prepare properly and hopefully report back a better result.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats exactly what happened me on week 6. I forgot my gels and had no breakfast. Done the 1:50 slow then after 1 mile fast i bunked, had to jog home. The 2 weeks since have been great, flying pace and lots of power in my legs. I have adapted this plan for a 3:10 marathon. Really starting to see the progress now at week 8!

    • Hard to say. The Body is complex and can go through cycles. You never feel exactly the same day to day. Fatigue could be from poor sleep, an elevated core body temperature, or dehydration/glycogen depletion like you say. Remember to practice fueling during the MP portion at the end of the long runs.

      To bounce back from fatigue, eat, drink and sleep as much as you want. Relax and go for a peaceful walk. Smile, cultivate confidence in your abilities, avoid beating yourself just because one training session does not go to plan. Be grateful for the sessions that go well. Best of success.

  108. Aaron says:

    Hey coach, based on the 14 week plan, I will be finished with my last long run of week 14 8 or 9 days before my Marathon. What should I do during the week before the marathon? Thanks, Aaron in Boise

    • To stretch out the program, stick in a couple weeks of the middle to 2/3s into the 14 week progression where you back off, recover and digest the training. Then start back in. Another option is to go back and repeat the last two week of the progression wherever you are in the progression.

      Try and keep the last week or two before your Marathon consistent with the taper lined out in the program.

  109. Hey, that is a nice tip on how to train just enough for a sub 3 hours.

  110. Anonymous says:

    Hey Coach – Quick question, can this program be adapted to half marathon training as well? Thanks

    • This plan would be good prep for a half marathon as is, or you can modify it for half marathon specific.

      Adjust the race pace training sessions to half marathon pace which is 15 to 20 seconds faster per mile than marathon pace. Instead of 6:40 per mile marathon pace use 6:20 per mile half marathon pace. This yields a half marathon goal time of 1:23:00 Also cut the duration of the race pace portions in half.

  111. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this plan! One correction: Week 12 on Long Run, the total time should be 2 hours and not 2:10.

  112. My Avg Cadence during interval, tempo or Long slow runs vary between 174 to 178. If I am conscious, I can increase my cadence upto 182. My Stride length varies between 1.35 to 1.48meters. My best FM pace is around 3h 16mins.
    Unbelievable that Bekele could increase his cadence from 190 to 216.
    Any tips on how to increase the Cadence? Thanks in advance.

    • Your cadence of 174 to 182 is in the range of the average natural running frequency of 180 steps per minute (3 Hertz). If your end goal is to run faster, just practice running faster. Since your cadence is already OK, over focusing on cadence may not be the best use of your energies.

      If your goal is just to increase cadence for whatever reason there are a couple things you can do:

      First, you can use an audible metronome cue set to sound at the desired cadence. Many sports watches have this feature. There are also smart phone apps that do this. Practice matching your foot strikes to that beat. Find some music that has a beat that corresponds to your goal faster cadence or a harmonic of it.

      Second, let your arm swing drive your cadence. If you swing your arms faster, your feet will follow. It is easier to swing your arms faster if you hold them closer to your chest. Bend your elbows more. Your hands should trace the front edge of your rib cage as they swing from your above your hip to your breast bone (hands move hips to between nips). When your hands reach too far out in front of you, cadence slows, your upper body tends to lean back for balance and stride length has to increase to keep you moving forward.

      An advantage of a higher cadence is a shorter stride length for a given speed. This translates into less force per foot strike and lower injury risk.

      It is fun and illustrative to look at great runners like Bekele. Just don’t beat yourself up comparing yourself to them. For an example of efficient quick arm swing close to the chest (and resulting cadence), take a look at Kipchoge in the Nike Sub 2 Project:

    • JBK says:

      How tall are you? I am 5’7″ for example and my stride length at MP (3:18 marathon) is 1.15m for a cadence of 188. If you aren’t that tall, you can try shortening your stride. Or use a spin bike on easy days at a low setting and train with a high rpm (over 100) to helpincrease leg turnover speed.

  113. Jon says:

    Good evening

    Loving the program so far, week 4 done. I’m a little confused as to the event up ahead of me which is a full marathon at marathon pace, but in the training the longest tempo MP is 12 miles, and the longest run is 2hrs + 6 miles, which is a good bit less than the full 26.2mi at marathon pace. Can you put my mind at ease please?

    Many thanks for all your input in this program.

    • Eliot Bank says:

      Not to speak for the coach, I know plan will ever have you run 26.2 at marathon pace before you actually run your marathon. Most times don’t even have your running 26.2 at all and any peas before raining outside. The pros run usually Max 15 to 19 mile and marathon pace in a pre-marathon run. I assume you are not a pro and I’m not doing the mileage if they are doing this plan works out perfectly.


      Sent from my mobile


  114. Ian says:


    I worry that by doing the long runs very slowly it is going to be very difficult to suddenly run 26miles at Marathon pace.

    I find it ok to run 12 miles at Marathon pace but really worry further than this.

    Any Advice? Should I try a couple of longer runs at MP??


  115. Nick D says:


    A great training plan. I am convinced that many don’t make sub 3 hours because of injury. This plan seems to reduce the risk.

    You said that you put your fuel in your bottle. Can I ask what you use? I’m experimenting with various gels and isotonic drinks to find the best option.


  116. Daniel says:

    Finishing week 5 of the plan this week and really finding it impressive, I’m working on 7 minute/mile marathon pace and 4min/km pace Yassos. I am relatively new to running (1st marathon) and while I have trained for other events (half marathon, Etape du Tour) it hasn’t been as disciplined as this plan. I’ve hit every required pace/time so far (according to my GPS).

    The discipline is both a blessing and a curse, the blessing is that you cant cheat yourself, the curse is that I am very tired for the tempo runs. I had always factored in a week off next week to go skiing for a week (which is never a rest from previous experience ). Doing the plan over 15 weeks has psychologically helped me massively. The long runs are hard but bearable, the yassos have been getting easier each week (I don’t even go above threshold heart rate anymore) but the tempo runs are hard work physically and I would say even harder psychologically. Looking at my heart rate averages for the 1/2nd miles of the tempo runs shows it rising week by week and makes me scared for running the same pace come marathon day!

    The psychological element is something I hadn’t factored in and I am so happy I have the week off running next week (I will take my trainers but unlikely to use them), the effect it has on my performance is still unknown but I thought it might be worth sharing my experience for others.

  117. Eyal says:

    Very interesting thanks!
    How do you recommend to improve speed?
    Tested today and i’m 19:20 on 5K.
    I tried to search last comments but didn’t find / didn’t have time to scroll down till 2015 🙂

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  119. Charles says:

    A very interesting training plan – thank you. I wanted to ask your advice. I’m a 33 year old male planning on running the London marathon on 22 April 2018 (in almost exactly 3 months time). I have never run a full marathon before but back in 2014 I got quite fit (for me) and ran some PBs being 17:17 (5k), 36:00 (10k) and 1.19:32 (Half). I have continued to run since then but much less frequently. My level of fitness right now is nowhere near where it was back then. However, I have been re-building my base and frequency since September last year.

    I am aiming to run London in sub-3. I don’t have any recent official race times as just haven’t raced recently but I would estimate that I could run an 18:30 5k, or 38:30 10k. I recently tested my fitness by running 9 miles at projected MP (6.45 min miles) which I managed, but it was hard! Last weekend I also ran an 18 miler (at 7:17 min miles) which felt good and I chatted to a friend throughout – this pace continued would result in a 3 hours 10 minute marathon.

    My gut feeling is that I may be being too ambitious to run sub-3 at the London marathon in 3 months’ time. Should I just go for 3:05 or 3:10 (or slower?) instead and enjoy the race (and hopefully avoid bonking)? Or should I follow your training schedule and then go for sub-3 (and risk bonking hard!). I suppose I ask as, as stated, this will be my first marathon, so I am stepping into the unknown…

    Any input much appreciated. Thank you very much.

    • Based on your performances from 2014, with proper preparation, a three hour marathon is a reasonable goal. Try the plan for a 3 hour goal. 12 weeks may not be enough time to prep, but give it a go. If you can’t sustain the paces and complete the workouts, adjust the goal and training paces slower till you can. Decide soon whether or not you just want to enjoy the race experience or if you want to go for an ambitious goal.

      Don’t worry about bonking hard. The last miles of a marathon hurt, even if you are just running for fun. There is a certain amount of satisfaction (pleasure?) in knowing you gave it your all even if it is painful. Practice fueling to stave off energy depletion late in the race. Best of success.

      • Charles says:

        As people have mentioned above, by incredibly bad luck, the London marathon 2018 was the hottest on record at 24 degrees celsius. Everything in training had been pointing to me being in 2.55ish shape and in good running conditions I would have been confident of going sub-3 (Yassos were around the 2.45 mark and a couple of long runs finished with 10 miles at 6.30 pace). However, on the day, after going through half way in 1.30 exactly, the heat became too much and I slowed considerably, finishing in 3.10. A shame but will be back for another effort soon.
        Thank you for the training tips. As mentioned, I’m pretty sure they got me into the shape I needed to be in!

  120. Chris says:

    Thank you for this program. I modified the paces to target 3:10 and ran a 3:09:41 at the Houston Marathon to qualify for Boston. Here are three other observations that may be relevant to other runners:

    1. Before starting the program, I was lacking the first prerequisite (5k time was 23:15). I had spent the prior two years training 6-15 hours per week for mountain ultras, culminating with a finish at UTMB in September 2017. My endurance was great, but I was slow. After recovering from UTMB and before starting this plan, I spent three weeks running short tempo runs. Once I started the plan, I remained a few seconds slow for the first five weeks of the program, but slowly closed the gap. By the time I got into the peak weeks, I was hitting or exceeding target times for the workouts. Bottom line, the first prerequisite may not be strictly applicable to runners with a long history of endurance training volume.

    2. In week eight I ran a half-marathon to qualify for the A Corral of the Houston Marathon. Because it was a race effort, the half-marathon replaced both a long run and a tempo run. I don’t think it adversely affected my training.

    3. Right after the last peak week I got sick and missed three workouts. I also missed one of the taper workouts due to illness. The advice in the comments below to focus on recovery rather than conditioning when sick is correct. Provided you have followed the program consistently, there is some room to miss a few workouts due to illness.

    • Thanks for your observations. Glad you were able to successfully tweak the training to suit your needs and accomplish your goal. Others will like hearing that your speed improved as you progressed through the training cycle.

  121. Pearse Barrett says:

    Excellent Read ! Just the kinda plan and info I was looking for ! I have one question …? You have omitted hill training totally ! Would have thought this would be a huge asset to increase core strength and stamina ! Should I include hills in my long run on Fridays prior to running MP for the latter miles on the flat Or is that too demanding for this type of program ? I’m a 52 yr old male striving to run the 3 hour dream in Berlin in September! I believe I have what it takes But need that structured plan and support to achieve this challenge which is why your program attracts me and excites me ! Thank you for any response to this mail !

    • Sure hill training is great, but this is a minimal plan with a very narrow focus of running a road marathon at a particular goal. Hills are not mandatory, but they sure can help build muscle strength and boost aerobic capacity.

      If you have the time and your body can handle it, you could add one day a week of running hill repeats. Do it on the off days instead of blending it with the existing training session days. Short sprints of up to 30 seconds in duration build power and strength. Longer climbs up to three minutes build aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Build up to where you are doing 15 to 30 minutes of the work portion (not counting time walking back down the hill). That would be 10 x 3 minutes max. Make sure you feel energized after hills repeats, not exhausted.

  122. Pingback: From Quantity to Quality – TBC


    Wow so informative. Am looking forward to breaking 3 hrs in am marathon. My latest PB is 3hrs 20 minutes. I love the program, can you please sent it to me in kilometers.

  124. Daniel says:

    I am just starting this plan using a 7 minute mile pace and also in the last week discovered Stravistix ( has anyone used this plugin while using this training method, it would be interesting to see what your chart looked like, I’m particularly interested in the later stages going from maximum load weeks to the taper and marathon day.

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  126. Hi,
    I would like to thank you for putting together this training program. It’s a great program, well-balanced, focused on the essentials, compatible with a normal workload, and not too boring to sustain commitment and effort for the whole cycle.
    I had tried for sub 3h previously and got killed (3:09). The experience had been awful, so it took me 5 years to aim for the magic barrier again.
    Even with your training plan I wasn’t sure I could make it. i wasn’t sure if my body is capable of this. Now this year I had built a strong endurance basis from trail and mountain runs. Coming out of the summer me and a friend decided to give your program a try. For me the long runs plus marathon pace felt the easiest. Probably thanks to the endurance build in spring and summer. The intervals were tough, but bearable and became more and more routine. I struggled most with the simple tempo runs. Here I had problems avoiding to start to fast thus hitting the wall later. We only had 12 weeks for the program so we shortened the build-up phase by 2 weeks. During the final tapering I still felt very tired, but apparently it was spot on to be fit and regenerated for race day.
    We had chosen Växjö Marathon, a pancake flat course, 8 laps of 5.2km in central Sweden. Only little wind and 8-12C at the end of October. There is 2 aid stations on each lap, I met my support crew regularly, and because of people being lapped one is never alone. It is a perfect setup for a marathon PB.
    I felt comfortable running at 4:08min/km pace until 25-30k. Then I felt some signs of cramping. Luckily I had already accumulated a good buffer of 3:30min, so I decided to slow down to 4:30min/km to avoid cramps and still make it. For the whole 42km my legs felt strong, there wasn’t a single moment were I felt I couldn’t hold the pace. So I clocked 2:58:26 arriving with the biggest smile on my face.
    Over the months after I gained and incredible amount of energy and motivation because I made this goal. Still there is so many moments when I can’t get that stupid grin out of my face because I think back and get caught in a flood of endorphins.
    I cannot recommend this training program more highly! Before, I would have thought sub 3h was impossible for me. Now, I’m incredibly thankful that your training program showed me the way to make it possible!

  127. Pingback: 2017 Jacksonville Marathon – Attempting to Break Three Hours [Race Report] – Alex Fuller

  128. Matt says:

    I’m loving the plan so far (week 3)!! How about a race plan? Do you recommend shooting for dead-even splits based on that 6:40 pace, or some variation of a cut-down?

    • Even splits or pace is probably best, with the caveat to start very relaxed and calm. Gently ease into race pace. By avoiding the adrenalin rush of the race start, you may end up a little slower than goal race pace the first mile or two.

      The intention of starting slow is to avoid excitement and effort that can trigger you to start burning your glycogen prematurely. You want to start the race in relaxed fat burning mode and stay there as long as possible.

      • Steve says:

        A couple of follow up questions on goal pace and fat burning, the answers to which may help other readers as well as myself:
        1.starting ‘a little slower than goal pace’ – would you recommend 6.50, or slower? I guess experience is key. In my last marathon I tried starting slightly slower with a 6.53 first mile but then became over anxious to adjust back to goal pace and did the second in 6.23, so the plan to delay glycogen burning mode may have backfired and I struggled to remain constant at goal pace.
        2.More broadly on the topic of fat burning – there is a lot of advice to run the majority, even 90%, of training miles at an aerobic easy pace to train the body to burn fat instead of glycogen. Some of this advice is also focused on heart rate training to condition the body to a progressively faster pace at the same aerobic threshold heart rate (e.g.180bpm-age), while remaining in fat burning mode. I can see the logic to this and from my limited experience inability to burn fat as fuel is likely the main reason I hit the wall around 21 miles. I have never paid much attention to heart rate and don’t have a heart rate monitor. How important do you consider these methods to promote fat burning while following the training program – heart rate, aerobic easy pace running, diet changes to reduce carbs and increase fats, eating nothing before the long run etc.?
        From your recommended plan, it would seem that easy paced running outside the 3 essential sessions is not necessary, and may actually constitute junk miles that hinder recovery.
        Many thanks

      • Getting your body to be efficient at utilizing fat as a fuel is more of a lifestyle choice than a training approach. Long duration low intensity training sessions won’t necessarily teach your body to utilize fat efficiently and spare glycogen – especially if you are fueling with carbohydrates before, after and during the training session. The best way to get good at utilizing fat as a fuel is to force your body to adapt to utilizing fat as a fuel. This requires strategically limiting carbohydrates in your diet and access to carbohydrates. Continuously snacking on carbohydrates or sipping sports drinks throughout the day is not going to give your body a chance to practice using fat because there is always a ready available source of carbohydrates.

        Some techniques that give your body a chance to practice and adopt to use fat as a fuel is to do your training in the morning before you have breakfast and not fuel during the training. Other life style choices are to avoid snacking throughout the day and to space your evening meal and morning meal out by at least 14 hours overnight.

        In this program, the long easy run finishing up with some marathon pace running is designed to teach your body to use fat as a fuel, as the long easy portion is done without taking in fuel. Then you can practice fueling during the marathon pace portion.

        Doing 90% of your training at an easy pace will only result in you getting good at running at an easy pace. Not the best goal or outcome for someone trying to run a 3 hour marathon. Let your time spent not training (not running) be devoted to developing metabolic fat burning by limiting access to carbohydrates and maintaining a low level of activity throughout the day. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Get up and walk around and stand instead of sit. Better to replace all the easy pace miles with just an active off the couch healthy life style.

        Monitoring your heart rate during training is interesting and depending what your goals are, sometimes useful. But ultimately running performance is measured in time and distance – not heart rate. There are no prizes for who holds their heart rate at some prescribed level. Heart rate is also a fickle parameter and not always a good indicator of your level of effort or whether you are burning fat or sugar. Heart rate is affected by so many different things that some coaches consider it useless as a training tool. The one size fits all formulas of max heart rate being 220 minus your age or your heart rate at your aerobic threshold being 180 minus your age are general compromises at best. To really get a handle on your personal max heart rate, aerobic threshold, anaerobic threshold, metabolic crossover point requires extensive laboratory testing and even these heart rates will vary significantly from day to day and throughout a training cycle.

        This winter, I will write up a blog post about practical heart rate training and its limitations. Look for it.

  129. Alex says:

    I love the training plan. I’ve followed it to the perfectly the first 10 weeks – and then I added in one more hard workout where I did a 13.1 mile run and clocked 1:26, which gave me a lot of hope for the full 26 in 4 weeks.

    However – then I got sick. I’ve missed week 11, and it still might be a week or two before I’m fully recovered. My question is for me specifically, but then generally how to handle sickness in training.

    For me, should I still try for the sub 3 as planned, but I just tapered a bit quicker than ideal? Should I modify the recovery/taper? Should I try to find a race a month or two later – and what would training look like from there?

    In general for everyone else, how do you recommend handling sickness in training? Obviously rest and recovery is king, but where do you jump back in? At what point is your chances pretty much blown and you should restart? If you need to restart, where in the above schedule would you restart?

    Thank you so much again – really like this training plan, especially since I’ve been able to keep up light cross-training during my triathlon off-season.


    • Thanks for your comment and questions. There is a generalized response in this post:

      Best of success to you.

      • Alex Fuller says:

        Success! Jacksonville marathon today and ran a 2:58:02. Your plan was awesome. I did take a week off just after my longest run from being sick, which seems like it didn’t hurt me too much. I was in the 6:35 range until mile 20, then I slowed a bit on a few of my splits. In training, the last 6 miles on a couple of my longer runs were hard to hit (I missed them a couple times), so that is probably related to my fade toward the end. Also, I had trained the whole program just off of GPS, which was generous to me a couple times on pace. Next time, I plan to find a marked route for distance for the tempo and long runs, and do the Yassos on a track. Again, thank you so much. I’ll be sending friends to this program for sure.

  130. Argus says:

    There is a lot of hype about people running faster marathons in the Nike Vapor Fly. Can a shoe help you run faster? Is it worth giving them a try to obtain a goal? Any recommendations regarding training for a sub 3 marathon using them.

  131. Enzo says:

    Not quite sub 3 but I PR’d by 13 minutes from 3:24 to 3:11! Welcoming a baby right when I was peaking made it tough to train but I’m very excited about the improvement, and I can’t wait to be able to train more consistently and take another shot at it in a few months. Thanks so much!!!

  132. paul says:

    I followed this program for my third marathon attempt. I had run 3’02 and 3’04 on my first two attempts. Two weeks ago in Dublin I ran 2’58. The three sessions are tough as hell, especially picking up to race pace at the end of long run. This mimics how you feel after passing mile 20 perfectly. It familiarises you with the pain. I ran less but my sessions were focused and better quality. I was not carrying fatigue into my next training session. This plan will give you the edge you need. Dont be fooled. Its a tough plan to follow.

    • Glad for your success. Yes you are right, the workouts are tough with lots of dress rehearsals and simulation of race effort. This may be a minimal training plan, but you still have to put in the requisite work. No one else can do the training and suffering for you.

  133. Radders says:

    Hi Bridger Ridge Run,

    I’ve been lucky enough to gain entry via a charity for next years London Marathon. It’s a new challenge for me as 10k is the farthest I’ve run competitively but I’ve always been fairly fit due to having a sporting career – which I’m now retired from.

    I’ve always been competitve with myself and like to set myself goals to challenge myself and a 3 hour marathon is certainly that!

    I’ve been training now for 4/5 weeks using this program, which is ideal for me due to ‘old’ sporting injuries reminding me they are still there and the recovery time is key and much need to manage these without being a problem – with daily yoga stretching helping to keep me loose.

    So a couple of things I would like to ask are:

    1. Because I’ve started so early – 28 weeks before the event (start being early Oct) Do I just multiple each stage by 2? Seems an obvious question but wanted to check if there was anything else I should be doing.

    2. Yasso 800: I do this part of the training on a treadmill and I seem to be able to run these intervals quicker than my 5k pace. Is it worth me running these intervals quicker than 3 minutes (currently 2.40’s) or should I stick to the 3 mins on 3 off equation?

    Loving this programme – I look forward to your response.

    Many thanks

  134. Alvin Carrasca says:

    Thank you for this article.
    I’ve been running marathon since 2014 but not a fast runner. I would like to run a sub-4 or better, however I noticed that every time I increase my speed, my heart beat rate also increase. I’m worried that I might suddenly collapse if I push myself to hard. Any recommendation how to work on my cardio? Thanks.

    • It is normal for your heart rate to increase as you run faster and work harder. You have to stress your system for it to adapt and improve. If you are concerned that you have some form of heart disease, schedule a stress ECG or EKG with a cardiologist and get checked out.

      The 800 meter repeats are one of the best ways to increase your aerobic capacity.

  135. Sean says:

    Followed the plan, more or less, and got close but no cigar at St. George marathon Utah (very fast downhill course): 3:00:23. If I would have known I was that close, I could have maybe dug down and gotten the extra 23 seconds. Anyway, I can vouch for this training plan, and only wished I had done one or two more long runs, maybe that would have made the difference. Also, I had to juggle things a few times because I got busy at work, maybe that cost me. Anyway, thanks for putting together this plan and maintaining this comment section, which I found helpful.

  136. jeremy says:

    If I had 28 weeks to prepare would it be better to double each week for a more gradual build up or to go through the routine twice (once at 3 hour 20 minute pace and then again right after at a 3 hour pace)?

    • Two cycles of building up and tapering down (repeat) are probably better than one prolonged buildup and taper. The body needs a good break and a chance to rest and digest the training after 14 weeks. 28 weeks is to long of training cycle without a significant break(s).

    • Vinay says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      I would be interested in knowing what approach you took last year and your thoughts on how it worked out, etc. Hope you were able to hit your 3:20 and 3:00 goals.


  137. Steve Sharp says:

    I have a question about sleep during training. Elsewhere on this site, Mike Wolfe states in an interview about the BRR:
    “Get lots of sleep. Many elite trail runners get 12 hours of sleep a night. 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night is the minimum. This is extremely important. I try to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night and also take a nap. I can’t stress this enough. Sleep is so important to recover from training and to stay healthy.”

    I have read a lot about the importance of sleep during marathon training and this is a major limiting factor on my recovery and preparation. Even aiming to get 8+ hours sleep I am very rarely able to sleep more than 6 hours a night, even when I need a lot more. For my last marathon I was averaging around 4-5 hours per night in the final week and barely slept the night before the race. I don’t want to take sedative drugs, but I’d be grateful for advice about whether the benefits of this might outweigh the harms in the peak training weeks and in the final week, to ensure adequate recovery and performance. Or would it compromise performance? This is not the place to go into the science of sleep, but I have tried all the sleep hygiene advice out there plus natural remedies, none of which seem to work.
    Advice appreciated before I embark on the programme again.

    • Yes, sleep is important as that is when your body recovers, rebuilds and heals from the damage you inflict upon it during training. It is important for proper adaptation to training. Everyone is different in regards to how much sleep you need. It is not totally clear if you have trouble sleeping or are too busy to get in enough sleep. It is also not clear if you are experiencing performance limiting health problems from your perceived lack of sleep. Poor sleep the night before an event or race is very common. It usually has little effect on your performance in the event. If you are having anxiety in the days before races, entering more races (short ones) helps you get use to the routine of prepping and racing and anxiety will dissipate. Think of them as dress rehearsals.

      My recommendation is to relax about how much sleep you are getting or not getting. Although, for most people, that 4 to 5 hours you mention is not enough. You may be an outlier and your more typical 6 hours could be adequate. Try spreading your sleep out throughout the day by taking a nap(s) to get in more.

      In regards to Mike Wolfe’s recommendation of 12 hours of sleep, it refers to elite world class athletes that are training an order of magnitude (10 times) more (30 to 40 hours per week) than the training plan presented here (3 to 5 hours per week). Realize that even with that caution and awareness of need for recovery sleep, Mike overdid his training. See:
      The often quoted quip that “there is no such thing as overtraining, just under recovery” is an idiotic notion. You can overdo it and no amount of sleep or rest will compensate for chronic repeated overtraining.

      I do not recommend sedative drugs. They can lead to dependence and in the long run make things worse. They also interfere with your body’s recovery and adaptation process. Whether taking them during the week before an event or during peak training will help or hinder your performance? – I don’t know. And it is probably different for different people. You could experiment and see how you respond. I caution making a habit of it.

      You said you have tried all the recommended sleep hygiene advice so the following is redundant, but I will put the typical recommendations here for others that may be interested. (More ideas easily available by doing a search.)

      Some sleep tips: Avoid artificial light (screens, florescent lights, led lights) in the evening before bed. Try sleep promoting nutrition in the evening: Magnesium, Tryptophan, L-Theanine, GABA, Melatonin. Avoid stimulants, coffee, tea, soda, caffeine, chocolate. Sleep in a dark, cool, quiet place that is free from man-made EMF (WiFi Signals, Cell Signals, Mobile Phones, Smart Meters, etc.) and free of strong geo-pathic signals (get a dowser to check out your home). Try a grounding pad or sheets for your bed. Nap.

      • Steve Sharp says:

        Thanks for the detailed advice – really helpful and hope it also aids other readers.
        To clarify, I have insomnia – often allow an 8 hour window for sleep from 10pm-6am but invariably awake after just 6 hours. This is manageable with a late afternoon nap, but during the peak weeks of training I was feeling increasingly drained throughout the day. I don’t think it affected the quality of my training – I kind of enjoyed those 5am long runs in the Summer! – but recovery was hampered. Sleep deprivation may even have suppressed my immune system leading to the virus in the week of the marathon that sabotaged my sub-3 attempt.
        I don’t think artificial sedation is the answer, but I will take on board your advice on sleep promoting nutrition, some of which I am not familiar with.
        I’ll start the programme again on New Year’s day 2018 which falls exactly 14 weeks before marathon day on 8th April. In the meantime, I’ll try some shorter events to get more experience of race day.
        Thanks again Bridger Ridge Runner – the training plan and all the advice deserves an award!

  138. Steve says:

    Followed the plan to the letter and ran my first ever marathon this past Sunday. Achieved 2:56:30 in the Dublin marathon. Highly recommend the plan.

  139. Justin says:

    Another success story! Thanks to this plan, I ran a sub-3 marathon yesterday at my second attempt (first attempt: 3 hours 8 minutes). Finished with just 6 seconds to spare! Cannot recommend this training programme more highly!

  140. Madison says:

    I am finding this training plan difficult. It is becoming not fun and I’m losing motivation. Any suggestions on how to rekindle the joy for training?

    • mattanfang says:

      I used the plan as a guideline and trained for 6 months so I did each week twice before progressing. I guess it depends on what part of it is “not fun” for you and I would just adjust as needed. This is a great guideline by running quality over quantity miles to improve your speed in order for you to get a PR. It can be used by anyone with adjustments as needed.

    • This is a focused goal oriented training plan with little variation and can get monotonous. You must bring your fun to the plan. Novelty, change, and newness add excitement and interest. At its core, this plan lacks that. It is designed as a minimalist approach to accomplish a particular running time goal.

      For some, the process of working towards and getting close to a goal is enough to keep the motivation fires burning. The Joy comes in working towards and then crossing the finish line having reached your goal. Others, perhaps yourself, need to mix things up a bit to keep interest peaked.

      Here are a few suggestions:
      On the rest days, do a very easy fun run in a beautiful place with no structure or regards to time or pace or effort. Get back in touch with the simple joys of running and moving out side. Bring a friend.
      Add a little variation and challenge to the marathon pace tempo training session or the long run. Do the marathon pace running without a watch. See how close you are to running at the right pace by feel alone. Schedule a half marathon race for one of your longer marathon pace sessions and run the half marathon at your goal marathon pace. Schedule a 10K or similar race for one of your long run training sessions. Before the race starts, do a 2 hour very easy run for a warm up, then run the 10K race at your marathon goal pace. Nothing like an event or race to add a little fun and motivation.
      The 800 sessions are structured and can’t be changed much without losing the integrity of the plan. What you can do is change what you do during the recovery portion of the interval. Play, skip, dance, side shuffle or run backwards during the recovery. Bring music to your session.

      Being motivated, joyous, happy is a conscious choice. External influences can make that choice easier or harder to carry out. It varies from person to person how much external influences affect our internal mental and emotional states. Some people remain joyful and motivated no matter how tough and miserable the circumstances are. Some people remain dour and unmotivated even when everything is going perfect.

      Character and grit is when you focus on the greater goal and master how you react to the day to day influences. Ultimately, motivation must come from within. In addition to pursuing what motivates you, bring your motivation with you on your pursuit of your goals.

  141. MartinH says:

    Thanks for this. Followed the plan, with a few minor tweaks (pimarily to include an R&R week every 4 weeks and to change Yassos to an 800m intervals session with a bit less rest between intervals) and just this weekend ran 2:58:04 at Abingdon, UK. Really happy!

  142. Jezza says:

    Hi Bridger Ridge Runner,

    I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the great training program and the wealth of useful information contained in all your posts. The knowledge you have shared was invaluable to me and was a big help in achieving my sub-3 this past Sunday with a 2:59:29 at nearly 47 years old!

    It took 2 full training cycles to get things dialed in (1st attempt was 3:06 in June), but by the end of the 2nd training cycle I was super comfortable at 6:40 pace and the fast finish long runs became much more manageable. Training at a pace that allows for a 5 minute cushion is brilliant and was absolutely necessary when nature called during my race and I had to hit the porta-potty for a couple minutes! But I still had time to reach the goal. I plan on using the training plan again and aiming for a slightly faster time.

    Thanks for taking the time to have such a big positive impact on so many runners! You rock!

  143. Hoppo says:

    I very much appreciate this training plan. It really helped me improve my marathon speed without devoting my whole life to training. I trained for 3:15 (which I felt was a little optimistic), and in the end managed 3:21 in an unexpectedly hot marathon (Amsterdam). It was a PB by 9 minutes which I’m very happy with. I plan on focusing a bit on improving my speed and will hopefully start this training plan with a 3:10 goal for a spring marathon. Who knows.. maybe next Autumn I may take on the 3:00 challenge!
    Thanks for taking the time to post this plan.

    ps. I also ran in vibram five fingers which I know people have previously asked about. I personally find them great, but I did build up slowly.

  144. Jamie says:


    Great read, very clear. Thank you. A question though. You mention:

    2. You must have a base of consistent endurance training (running) of at least 3 to 4 hours a week for at least the past year.

    I do not have this. But DO have a base of:
    1) 2 hours running a week
    2) 4 hours cycling a week

    These totals increase in the summer / for races upto about 8/10 hours depending on what’s going on. But still, always bike heavy for practical commuting reasons. Lastly, I’ve been doing this 6 hours ish training a week for around 8 years.

    Do you think my history of cardio, and my quantity of cycling make up got my shortage of base running to any degree?

    • Your biking will certainly help with your cardio vascular and general fitness. But biking does not build the durability in the connective tissue in your feet and legs to the extent that running does.

      The risk of doing this program without the prerequisite time on the feet running is the chance of sustaining an injury during this plans build up. If your young and tough, this may not be a problem. Everyone is different. There is no way to predict or guaranty you will be fine or not.

      Older runners with less elasticity are prone to connective tissues injuries as the volume and running ramp up during a plan like this. Especially if it is beyond a level that one is not use to. Plantar Fascittis, Achilles Tendinitis, High Hamstring Tendinitis, Iliotibial Band Pain,… can then side line your training and take months to recover from.

      Cardio fitness takes the least amount of time to train – weeks to see gains. Muscle strength takes longer – months. But connective tissue can take years to toughen and adapt to rigors of running a marathon. Likewise, connective tissue takes a long time to repair and heal if you go over the edge and acquire an injury.

      Take your chances. Life is not without risk.

  145. lou says:

    I love this approach. I’m 45 and used a hybrid program for the last marathon cycle, incorporating your long run/fast finish and marathon pace runs (I don’t live near a track, so only did a few yasso’s). My issue was my job demands and I couldn’t train with the same frequency as my running group (only 3-4 runs/week on average for me). To my surprise, I BQ’d at 3:19:45 in Chicago, despite the hot conditions, and I basically beat everybody in my running group, despite their much higher mileage plans! I’m totally sold and am in the process of trying to convince the only non-boston qualifier in our group to change to this plan. We are both in our 40’s and busy professionals, this works wonderfully in that scenario…

  146. Gale says:

    Yes! I was looking for just such a marathon plan, after having come up with a three day a week plan, in prep for a 5k a few years ago. I am a cyclist (sub hour/nationally competitive) who decided to run a marathon (sub 3 for something to shoot for) before I turn 40 and get too old. My Grandpa was a known runner, but I never pursued that but always admired the sport. When I was about 30, I did a 5k and podiumed with thrice weekly training, so your plan makes complete sense after 10 minutes of plyos and maybe 3-1 minute leg turnover runs got me around 17 minutes in a few weeks of “training,” so I am hoping I can get a reasonably similar result. I’ll be attempting to make up for not having much running base, and then going from there. 6 months out. We’ll see. Thank you very much!

  147. Steve Sharp says:

    I posted a few weeks ago about tight hamstrings going into the taper period week 11. In the end that was the least of my worries. The hamstrings were ok and I continued the programme to week 14 but after the 4m tempo run on the Monday I went down with a virus last Tuesday. I wasn’t able to run until the marathon yesterday, and with hindsight I perhaps should have pulled out as I was nowhere near 100%. However, I ran a 3:01:52 and I have to be thankful to have even finished the race -core body temp too high. I was on track for 3 hours until mile 22 when I crashed and, despite refuelling as much as possible, I was dead on my feet. I think the programme had prepared me but it was just terrible timing to be ill in the final week. That’s two 3:01 times in the last 6 months and I take great encouragement from this site to continue pursuing a sub-3. I turned 45 this year but there seem to many who have achieved it in late 40s. Really appreciate the advice on here and I’ll come back stronger next time.

    • Steve says:

      In this Christmas season of giving, I’d like to express my appreciation of this blog and the invaluable advice it has provided to me this year. To give something back, I’d like to share a poem I wrote about my sub-3 hour attempt at Manchester in April this year, partly to let out frustration but also to fund raise for a good cause. However, I’ll await your permission before posting it.
      Best regards

      • Sure, go ahead post it. Interested in seeing what you wrote. Post as a comment, perhaps we will later move it to an actual post.

      • Steve says:

        I began running in 2012 to improve my fitness and combat a vascular condition, Raynaud’s syndrome. After my first 10k the same year and overcoming knee issues for the next 2 years, I became fascinated by the marathon, this epic test of body, soul and spirit. In my first attempt in 2016 I was delighted to finish with a 3:11 at Edinburgh. Just completing the 26.2 miles had seemed for so long like climbing a Mount Improbable, but the next challenge of breaking 3 hours would be like scaling the North face of the Eiger; fraught with potential hazards, demanding draining and meticulous preparation, and needing near perfect conditions on the day. In 2017, the year I turned 45, I have attempted this madness, firstly in April at the Manchester Marathon with an exasperating 3:01:19. I was then persuaded to have another crack at what I now call my ‘impossible dream’, and I went again at Chester in October. A nasty virus in the week of the race, combined with an equally nasty hill in mile 25, put paid to my sub-3 attempt. I staggered over the line and you guessed it…another 3:01! However, the dream lives on and spurred on by the success of other 40-somethings, and the fantastic training advice from this blog, I will be battling with the clock again in 2018.
        Below is the poem I wrote after the Manchester experience, and I’ll be back there again in April.


        Steve Sharp

        An impossible dream

        The small hours crawl by
        And jog into a big morning.
        Awake early, from an impossible dream,
        To join that elusive sub-3 hour team.
        The day of the race
        Is gathering pace.
        But is it a race?
        A race against who, a race against what?
        A race against all my ego’s got?
        It’s not a race but a challenge no less,
        A challenge to combat middle age regress.

        Suddenly the start line beckoning
        Throws a chilly morning into the reckoning.
        Trying to warm up in 8000 strong hordes,
        Feeling alone and chilled to the bone.
        Somehow it all seems a little forlorn
        On this no ordinary April morn.
        26.2 looming into view,
        Then the gun and we’re off;
        So relieved to be started
        With tension abating
        After four months of waiting.
        A gazelle scampering on urban plains
        A wild horse galloping free of the reins
        Of those dark Winter days spent struggling to train;
        Free, floating, gliding, soaring.

        10k then halfway and feeling ok.
        Mile after mile of pounding feet
        Such joyous support on every street.
        But perversity rains down on this sunny day;
        Passing daffodils amidst the street lined crowd
        Yet feeling as lonely as a Wordsworth cloud.

        Mile 16 and what is this a pain in the thigh?
        Stay focussed don’t stumble
        Don’t panic don’t crumble.
        20 miles and passing
        Flixton to Urmston and 5 miles to go
        Cramp setting in that inevitable foe
        The 3 hour pacer pulling away
        That target time further astray
        Got to keep going to meet that goal
        The ticking clock the destroyer of soul.

        Not now pain please I can’t cope with this
        But something is driving me and I know what it is;
        With legs so heavy and starting to tire
        My eternal refuge can somehow inspire.

        The finish line on horizon glimmering
        With heart rate simmering
        Come soon, come quick but legs not responding.
        Mind wrestling body
        Desire flogging fatigue
        And gasping for breath to that line
        And now the voices chime
        “Should be happy to finish no matter the time”.

        A physical wreck, with a reality check.
        Time to hobble home
        To rest
        To sleep
        And to dream, once again…
        That impossible dream.

        Steve Sharp 2017
        Poem in support of

  148. Matt Anfang says:

    Bridger Ridge Runner,
    I have used your program in an attempt to Boston Qualify for my age (sub 3:05) however unfortunately my first marathon I ran with a person who typically easily gets a sub-3 and I stayed with him until 3/4 of the way through the race and he slowed down. I was not able to make up the time splits at that point. I had a plan B though and ran another marathon in 2 weeks. This time it was an oddly HOT for September race in the 80°F and the heat bonked me out. I tried attempt number 3 last weekend (Milwaukee Lakefront marathon) and I got a new PR of 3:05:30 but that is obviously still short by thirty seconds. Having only one week of recovery time and it was starting to get too warm and windy at the end killed it for me. I might go for one more shot at this for the season (attempt number 4) which is a mostly downhill race in Northern Wisconsin. It is a 5-hour drive from my house so I will not sign up until a few days before to ensure that the weather will be in my favor. What are your thoughts about recovery times?

    Thanks again for your plan! I am a strong believer in quality over quantity runs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just realize if your goal is BQ the qualification time for 2018 was 3:23 faster than actual age group times. It may end up being less for 2019 which is what you are going for at this point but keep it in mind as you make your attempt. It would be a shame for you to keep throwing in the marathons every couple of weeks, get injured and still be short because of the entry times.
      In my opinion you may be better off recovering fully, building again and running a spring marathon. Just my $.02.
      Either way, good luck! Let us know.

    • Enzo says:

      Hey Matt, congrats on the 3:05:30 !
      I’m in the same boat as you and trying to run under 3:05 to BQ. However, even running a 3:05 doesn’t guarantee you a spot in Boston. This year, you had to run 3min23sec faster than qualifying time to get in. 5,000 people who had “qualified” by running under the qualifying time did not make the cut. This is due to the limited amount of spots they allow. Quick example: They only have 100 spots available for the under 3:05 runners. Say 1,000 of them qualify. Boston will give slots to the fastest 100 of the 1000. This year, the times were so good you had to qualify with a marathon time under 3:02:37 to be guaranteed a slot… This time varies from year to year depending on the applicants and their qualifying times….
      By no mean am I trying to discourage you but my new strategy is to now run under 3hrs or don’t even bother running under 3:10. Why put all of this effort into something, run a 3:04:49 and not have the guarantee to get a spot in the race? That’s just my thoughts and point of view. Go all in!
      That doesn’t answer your original question, obviously… but given the above, I’d rest a couple more weeks (or a month) and find another race to give myself more all the chances I can get!
      Best of luck to ya!

    • As I told someone else,
      6 months is the ideal amount of time between races to fully recover and then do a complete build up for the next one.

      Some people (youth) recover quicker after a race then others. In my experience, active recovery of walking and easy running works better than sitting around. I personally need at least a month or two recovery from a hard marathon effort, or my legs will feel heavy and dead when I do the next one. Sitting in a car for 5 hours before or after a marathon is also to be avoided.

      Heat is a major contributor to fatigue and slowing down. Once your core body temp gets above 102 degrees, your system begins to shut down. It is an involuntary self-preservation mechanism in an effort to prevent you from working hard enough to raise your core temp up to dangerous life threatening levels.

      • Matt Anfang says:

        Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it!

      • mattanfang says:

        If it wasn’t for your training plan, there is no way that I would have been able to have a solid enough base in order to run 4 marathons in 5 weeks. I totally credit your plan and am incredibly thankful! I was not 100% healed for marathons 2, 3, and 4 however I learned enough to modify a few things and get that Boston Time of 3:03! Thanks again!!!

    • Matt Anfang says:

      I ran my 4th marathon in 5 weeks and finally was able to get a sub 3:05. I got a 3:03 which still may get me into Boston technically however I’m happy just being able to say that I finally got it after 11 years of working towards this goal. I honestly believe that this training plan was what did it for me! Thanks a ton

  149. Siamak says:

    Just feel obligated to thank you so much for this fantastic sub 3 hour program. I am 49 and have been running for many years with a few marathons in my bag. Last time was a few years ago in 3:12. I really wanted to join the sub 3 club and after finding this programe I just followed the programe (no passes missed). Felt perfect on race day and did it in 2:58!!! Just learned so much on the way and can hardly believe I did it. It really is a true minimal approach for running faster and longer.
    Thanks again for posting such great information to your fellow runners.

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  151. Royce says:

    Hi – thanks for the great program. With the last week of your training (14th week) that would stop the Friday before a Sunday marathon? Just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a rest week in between or anything- and that if Friday was the last workout then the two days before the marathon is what you planned for. Thanks!

  152. Chris Monk says:

    Just wanted to say thank you! I wanted to run Sydney Marathon in sub 3 and followed this plan to the letter to try tht. Last year overuse injuries were a problem, not a niggle this time around and I’m now sitting at home with a beer after running in a 2:57:14.

    Thank you!

  153. Richard says:

    Thanks for the plan, I’ve done a couple of marathons (both 3h29) and hope to do a 3h15 , I like the 3 runs a week approach and I do one or two easy bike rides as I’m 48 and tend to get injured running too much. There’s alot of good advice here, but how about the taper length 4,3 or 2 two weeks any thoughts or is it more of a personal thing?

  154. Steve says:

    Thanks so much for putting this brilliant plan out there. I’m now in week 11 starting the taper before my 3rd marathon in Chester, UK. In my first two marathons (3:11 and 3:01:19) I did no interval training at all and virtually all my running was at goal pace. I have found the Yasso 800s an interesting challenge, having not done anything like this before. My problem is that after the 10X800s in week 10, both my hamstrings felt very tight. I have since done the week 10 long run and week 11 tempo run and 8X800s, with the hamstrings feeling tight towards the end of each. I’m wondering how to approach the taper now and whether this needs to be adjusted to avoid injury – should I reduce the 800s more steeply to 4 next week, as it seems to be the speed work that is triggering the issue? Or perhaps replace the 800s with 2 mile repeats at a slightly slower pace, maybe 6.15 per mile?
    Thanks again for all the advice on here.
    Steve S

    • If the training is causing you injuries, you need to back off and change things. One’s propensity to injuries and how well one tolerates heavy training loads is a major limiting factor in maximizing one’s ability and performance. You have to find a personalized way to train and maximize your potential and reach your goals without getting injured.

      Substituting longer slower intervals instead of the 800s may be a wise choice for you. Instead of 3 minute 800s do 6:20 mile repeats or 2 mile repeats in 13:00.

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  156. Daniel says:

    Hi there,

    I love the concept behind this plan but have some questions…

    I have entered the Brighton, UK marathon next April and am training currently for it and have a couple of questions. I am planning on using this plan to run the marathon and see my stretch goal as sub-3 hours and my actual goal of beating my Dad (3.13).

    This is my first marathon but I used to do lots of cross country as a teen (now 29) and half-arsed a half-marathon a few years ago at 1.34 with very bad pacing (eg. did 1st 3 miles in sub-20 minute).

    I am not a coach potato and am a keen cyclist, riding 22km round trip commute to work and the odd 100miler plus circuit training and other things eg. climbing/yoga etc. My lungs are in good shape but my legs are not there for running yet, I have been running home from work periodically too.

    I am slowly getting back into running and did my first ParkRun last week in 21 minutes, I know from previous experience that I have some way to improve this time and see the 19mins benchmark you have set as achievable. I plan to do your plan for sub-3 hours and if my body cant handle it adjust.

    Your plan for me will start in earnest at Christmas but what do you suggest as a good way of preparing? Once at the 5km 19 mins mark (I’ve started doing Yasso’s to increase my speed). I was thinking of doing the first couple of weeks of your plan to prepare my body for it, do you have any other advice? I’m currently doing about 2 hours of running a week which is below what you recommend.

    In addition, I would like to still commute as I’ve been doing it for years and doesn’t seem to make my legs feel that heavy when running, if I take it easy is it sensible? I live in London so traffic/lights. is the rate limiting step for speed, I might hold back on the cycling in the really heavy weeks. I also know I will be doing a week skiing in Feb with zero running, how should I adjust for this?

    Lastly (sorry for the long post!) do you suggest even pacing or negative splits for the race day?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    • This fall (before you begin the program in earnest at the end of the year), focus on fulfilling the prerequisites. Strive for running at least 3 days a week and 3 to 4 hours a week. Do an occasional ParkRun or 5K race just to have fun, socialize and build your enthusiasm for running and racing. Develop a network of training and racing friends. You could begin this program now doing the weekly build up until it gets difficult, then back off for a few weeks to recover and then continue the build up.

      Biking is fine and will preserve your aerobic fitness, but as you have discovered, you actually need to run to toughen and train the legs.

      Regarding pacing on race day – strive for even pacing. During the training, you should have developed a great familiarity and comfortability running at race goal pace. Even when fatigued, your pace should gravitate towards race pace out of habit. Remember, it helps to start the race very relaxed and a little slower than race pace for the first mile or so. The goal is to avoid stress and excitement at the beginning as it triggers glycogen burning instead of fat burning and will deplete your glycogen stores prematurely. Slowly build up to race pace by the 2nd or 3rd miles.

  157. J.W. says:

    I love this article and the forum. Thanks so much for the insight.

    I just ran a downhill marathon and was on pace at mile 14 to be sub 3. Unfortunately, shortly after that, I think my IT band flared up and made it to mile 22 before I threw in the towel. Training up to the marathon was ok. I really struggled with the race pace work. The 800’s were a breeze. The long distance work was challenging but was able to do these mostly.

    So a couple questions:

    If my it band issue is minor, how long should I wait to start training again and should I start at week 8 or so of the program? Wait about 8 weeks before I race again?

    Any thoughts on what to do to mend the it band? I’m thinking of strengthening it via pistol squats and maybe some trap bar dl. More aggressive with massage and stretching too.

    On the training program, is it odd that I struggled with the race pace work but the yasso’s were so easy? Honestly, I think I would not have finished the marathon under 3.

    • IT Band Problems – Bummer. Extended long downhill running (your downhill marathon) tends to trigger that or even long downhill hiking. The prescription for prevention or treatment of ITBS is a complex and debated subject. Lots of opinions and advice out there – do an internet search.

      In my experience, what has worked for me is strengthening the outside (medial) side of my legs by doing side planks and side leg lifts. Do them weighted or loaded with an elastic band. Only do the pistol squats or dead lifts if they seem to help and not aggravate your ITBS.

      Increasing the mobility (range of motion) of the quads and hips is also important. Sit cross legged (lotus posture if possible). Sit on the heels and bend backwards to stretch the quads and hip flexors. Do lunges (couch stretch) – there is a lot of stretch advice search youtube. Foam rolling the quads, hamstrings and glutes helps. Be careful (or avoid) foam rolling the outside of the leg, that can irritate the IT band. Avoid any activity (running, hiking, biking, stretching, weights) that aggravates the IT band until you can do it totally pain free.

      8 weeks would probably be the minimum between quality race efforts. 6 months (24 weeks) would be the ideal maximum to totally recover and complete a new full build up. It is a personal thing as there is a lot of variation of how quickly people recovery and bounce back. If all you have is 8 weeks, then try starting with week 7 of the build up. Or you could start at week 6 and shorten the taper portion of the plan. See:


      Best of success.

  158. Robert says:

    just curious- do you have a favourite sports drink you use during marathons? I use a mixture of real food and gels on my long runs, but I’d love to adapt to getting my calories primarily from drinks. Many thanks!


  159. Mel Dwayne says:

    I Cant find my last post, but I forgot to mention I ran a 2:00.16 HM 2 weeks ago. So I’m thinking 4hr marathon or less would be doable. Thoughts?

    • Your recent Half Marathon time of 2:00 indicates a Marathon potential of 4:30. So 4:00 is a bit ambitious. You could begin this plan with 4 hours as the goal (Marathon training pace 9 minutes per mile and 800 meter reps in 4 minutes) and see how it goes.

      If the training sessions are too difficult, you could then back off on the training paces and goal marathon time. Back off until you can complete all the training sessions. The training sessions should be challenging, but doable.

  160. Mel Dwayne says:

    Hello, I am preparing to run my second ever marathon. I ran my first one on July 23rd (SF Marathon) in a time of 4:52 minutes, my next marathon is scheduled December 3rd 2017 (CIM in Sacramento) which I hear is all downhill and a lot easier then the SF one. My goal is to run a 4hr marathon or less. I used the Hanson’s beginner course to train for my first marathon but for this next 1 I want to try yours. I still have a solid base where I’ve ran from 30-40 miles a week. I was a division 1 collegiate track and field runner 14 years ago so I know about pushing myself to my limits and I really feel I can run 4hrs or less. What would you suggest? Thanks in advance

  161. Nickolas Paech says:

    This looks perfect for me, thanks for putting it up. I’m 17, male, 5’11, 70kg. I was wondering if and when you can include full body strength and resistance workouts (I do track and field as well believe it or not). I have accomplished both of the rewuirements comfortably and have half marathon experience, however this wilp be my first marathon. My marathon is 15weeks away and I’m also aiming to lose a few kilos in this time. I have dropped from 73kg in the last 2 months and wondered if I would still recover okay from this plan since l’m consuming less than I’m burning. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  162. Rux says:

    Hi, thanks for article. What would your view be of following the training plan solely on a treadmill?

    • There are some advantages and disadvantages, to doing all your training on a treadmill.

      The main advantage is that a treadmill is a controlled environment forcing you to hold the prescribed paces.

      The main disadvantage is that running on a treadmill is not exactly the same as real running. There is no wind resistance making it easier at a given pace. It also requires less work (push off) by the posterior chain (glutes) compared to real running. Treadmill running tends to eccentrically load the anterior chain (quads) more than real running. To mitigate these differences, set the treadmill incline to 1% uphill grade when doing your workouts.

      Also, make sure the treadmill speed and distance readings are accurate:

      If you have access to one, the True Form treadmill approximates real running better than a motorized one:

  163. Jeff Pole says:

    Great article – I really like the sound of this programme!

    I’m wondering how much could you reduce the training programme by if starting from a base of running ~70 miles per week and having just raced a 45 mile ultra? Naturally pace would be the weak point. What would you advise?

    • I’m not sure what you are asking. Reduce what training program? The one presented here or the one you are currently doing?

      If you can run 70 miles a week without problems, you do not really need this program. Although, you may enjoy it as defined as it would be something new and novel to you.

      This program is designed for people that can’t run 70 miles a week because their body just can’t handle it, or other constraints of time limitation or lack of desire to run so much.

      • Jeff Pole says:

        Sorry for the confusion. I’m asking how to convert from my training programme suited to an ultramarathon, to the training programme you prescribe here for running a marathon in under 3 hours. The high weekly mileage I’m building up to is run at a slow pace (~10 mins/mile), so I doubt that I could suddenly run a marathon in under 3 hours without amending my training programme. To that end, I was thinking about following your programme but skipping ahead so it doesn’t take me the full 14 weeks. I’m grateful for your thoughts.

  164. anonymous says:

    Great program! I am 44 and was worried about getting back up to a longer distance without injury. I utilized this program over 3.5 months to prep for the Bangtail Divide trail run and had great results. Appreciate you sharing this — I will continue to use it. Key components — speed work made me much faster overall as I had a better sense and confidence of running at speed. 3 days a week fit really well into my overall schedule without feeling guilty about not training more — and it prevented injury! thanks again!

  165. Lauren Irwin says:

    I love the philosophy behind the plan (as a runner who has had many an injury over the years!) thanks for sharing. Could I use the plan for a trail marathon at the end of October? I’ve done several road marathons before and shorter trail races but never a trail marathon. The route is forest / grass with about 200m ascent. Do you have any suggestions about adapting the training for a trail marathon; would you recommend doing all the long runs on trail routes or also some on road? What about the 800s and MP runs? I’m not sure how to estimate the finishing time I would need for the trail but I do a road marathon in 3’10.
    Many thanks!

    • Running on trails will be obviously slower than on the roads – how much depending upon how rugged the trail is. Your description of forest and grass does not sound that rugged. But if there are lots of twists and turns, exposed roots, etc. then you have to slow down more. You have no way of knowing without actually experiencing the conditions. You could look at past results to get an idea of how much slower this particular trail marathon is compared to a typical road marathon. Ask the race organizers or former participants on what to expect regarding comparison to a road marathon.

      Figuring out the slowdown caused by elevation gain is easier. Add 1 minute to your time for every 100 feet of ascent. 200 meters is 656 feet. So that will add 6.5 minutes to your time.

      If possible, go and train on the course. Specificity is important. If you cannot train on the actual course, try and duplicate the conditions as best as you can for the marathon pace training days. Continue to do the 800s on a track, treadmill or flat road. For steeper trail races, you could substitute doing hill repeats for the 800s. Run uphill for 3 minutes at near full effort, trot back down easy in 3 minutes and repeat. Since your trail marathon only gains 200 meters (that seems fairly flat) you are probably better served doing the 800s on flat terrain.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for your input and advice. Unfortunately I can’t train on the actual course as it is in the UK and I’m in Italy but I will try and replicate as best I can here! I saw that the average for women is 4hrs30. Nice idea for the hill repeats, will try those for future marathons with more ascent!

  166. Lars Christian says:

    Thank you for a very interesting and motivating blog. I see this plan as a realistic opportunity for me to combine my race ambitions with a buzy family life. I am 41 yrs and have only been running actively for about 2-3 years. My half marathon PB is about 1:35:00 at this point, but as I progress I am working towards 1:30:00 this autumn. I typically do my 800s at 3:00-3:10 and my 5K at about 20:00 at this point, but I definitly still lack the endurance to finish strong on a full marathon. The target is Berlin Marathon 2018 which leaves me with about 15 months to prepare. I am motivated to do a committed effort. Where do you think that I should set the ambitions?

    • You have only been running for a few years so are fairly new to the activity. If you take a long term consistent and healthy approach to your training, you can expect to improve for 7 years before your performances start to first plateau then decline as you age.

      Your current 20 minute 5K indicates a 3:15 marathon potential so that makes a realistic goal time for your 2018 marathon.

      Before you begin this plan in the prep for your marathon, work on building up your durability and endurance. Be very consistent in your training. Also pay attention to strength, mobility and flexibility by adopting some plyometric drills into your training, important as you get older.

  167. MvB says:

    Thanks for the plan! In the beginning of the year we decided to test 14w program to prepare for a half marathon, while the goal is to run sub3 on the full in October. On the half marathon it worked really well! We train in Singapore (high humidity and high temperature), and the HM race was in 12degree (celcius) weather -> 1h21m.
    Although we like the program, we do wonder if we are not too low on mileage to get to the full distance. Any recommendations on how to increase the mileage on top of this program? (eg, extra long run session? or add easy run before/after the yassos? )

    • This plan is a minimalist (low mileage) approach to obtain a particular time goal. It is not a way to bring out your full potential. It is presented for those that are injury prone and not durable enough to sustain high mileage training. Obviously you will perform better if you do higher mileage, provided you can avoid injury and stay healthy.

      You can add mileage anyway that makes sense and brings you closer to your goals. Your ideas of adding a long run day a week and a sandwiching the 800s session between a longer warm up and cool down to get in more mileage is a logical approach to banking more miles.

      • MvB says:

        Thanks for the reply! Will let you know our results in October 🙂

      • MvB says:

        I ended up adding around 15-20km per week (slow runs) by either adding a slow run after the yasso’s or fitting in an extra 10km slow run during the week. I ran the whole plan with a 3h goal – and last week I ran the Melbourne marathon in 2h49m21s! Extremely happy with the result 🙂
        I guess the main advantage for me during the race was the temperature/humidity – while I train in Singapore, the race was in perfect conditions (10 degree celcius, low humidity).
        Because of this big difference in conditions I wasn’t sure how to pace myself and ended up with quite a big positive split (1h21m and 1h28m) – had to slow down at around 30km mark with side stitches.
        Knowing what the temp/humidity impact is, and knowing that i have to work on my core strength/diaphragm I will use this program again to get below 2h45m!
        Thanks for the great plan, and for the continuous replies and comments!

  168. MatMcc says:

    Wow, I have been looking around for a plan to follow. I like this. I also like the Hansons, but yours seemingly fits. I love the “stay active on rest days” piece. I have run one marathon. LA in 3:59(ha!) but have a brother that is a BQ who I would like to be able to train with. Next LA is in March, 2018. Don’t think BQ is in the cards but I think I can go 3:30-35. I am trying to go a little faster with 5k and am probably around 20:30-21 for that (will run one in a few weeks to see.) Is 3:30 outrageous?

    • 21 Minute 5K ability translates to a 3:30 Marathon potential when you develop and train your endurance. So 3:30 is a realistic goal.

      Do this plan with a 8:00 per mile for your Marathon Pace training and 3:30 for your 800s. Before you begin this plan, work on your endurance and durability by building up to 3 – 4 hours of running per week.

  169. Mike says:

    Hi Bridger Ridge Run,

    Thank you for posting this and I must admit I’m intrigued to give it a go.

    I’ve run 7 marathons with my fastest being 3.03 but I always find that I’m on pace for 20 miles then I metaphorically die for the last 6. So the long run plan detailed above seems ideal to try and comabt this.

    Usually I train by doing 3-4 workouts a week following the a short, medium, long philiosphy, i.e. intervals or hill sprints, half marathon, then a long run (up to 22 miles) at goal marathon pace.

    I’m slightly concerned that the plan doesn’t seem to do more than 12 miles at marathon pace and how this will translate to the full marathon distance at race pace.

    My 5km time is 17.31 and i consistently log 3-5 hours a week of running. So basically do you think this will work for me and are my concerns about not running a fast 20/22 miler ill conceived?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Your concern regarding this plan’s longest run at marathon pace peaking at only 12 miles is a common one expressed here. You may be right, it may not be enough for you. I can’t answer for you. Take into account, that same week (week 10) you are running a total of 18 miles at marathon pace (albeit not all on the same day) and 5 miles at 5K race pace. That is a lot of quality work. What may not be enough for you may be too much for someone else and destroy them.

      Your 17:31 5K indicates that you certainly have the talent to run sub 3 hours. The question is how to best bring out that talent? Your endurance appears weak compared to your speed. So focusing on improving endurance may indeed help you.

      In the answer to a previous question:
      there is a list of six factors that cause fatigue and slowdown in the later stages of the marathon or as you say metaphorically die for the last 6.

      Here is some guidance on how manage it:

      For you, I would start with getting good at fueling at least 200 calories per hour for the entire marathon. Depending upon your metabolic efficiency at marathon pace (how much fat versus glycogen you burn) you may need much more or less exogenous fueling. Accurately determining this requires testing in a sports lab.

      Not sure how serious you are about all this and how important going sub 3 is to you, but you should be able to accomplish it once you dial in what you need. The plan presented here is not intended to bring out someone’s full potential. It is intended to prepare one to accomplish a particular goal with the minimum amount of training. It may work for you or it may leave your endurance still underprepared.

      • Mike says:

        Hi Bridger Ridge Run,

        Thank you for your quick and in depth reply. Having hit every other running target i’ve set myself the sub 3 marathon is at the top of my to do list, so any advice given is greatly appreciated!

        From what you have said, it clearly seems that I’m not taking on enough calories during the race as I only ever seem to be able to manage 1 sports gel during the whole event (mainly due to either 1) the fear of GI distress or 2) feeling too sick to stomach it). So for the next trainig cycle I think its finally time to learn from my recurring mistake and practise eating more during my longer runs and put that into practice for the race.

        My training so far has got me pretty close to the 3h mark but each time it has been about training harder so I’m definitely prepared to swap that for training smarter.

        I’ve finally got into the London Marathon after years of trying but I think that I’m going to try this plan for a marathon in between now and then and see if it works for me. If it does, then great and if it doesn’t then I can adapt for London.

        Thank you again for your advice and hopefully I’ll soon be telling you that I’ve done a sub 3.

      • Warren says:

        I’m also very interested in this response because I have only been able to manage taking on 90 calories per hour, and specific fuels to try would be greatly appreciated.

      • Regarding fueling during a Marathon.

        Marathon fueling has been thoroughly researched by the sports scientists. At this point, the evidence points to a blend of simple sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose) and a pinch of salt in a drink being the best absorbed and tolerated fuel. With practice, 200 to 300 calories per hour via drinks is tolerated by most runners.

        Recent marathon efforts (Nike sub 2) utilized a drink with added sodium alginate that allows runners to ingest even more calories without experiencing stomach distress.

        The intensity of a 3 hour marathon pretty much rules gels and solid food out as a fueling strategy; unless you are blessed with an “iron” stomach.

        Be cognizant that most commercial sugars from US sources are derived from GMO corn or sugar beets that are highly contaminated with the herbicide Glyphosate. Even at minuet levels, Glyphosate is a very potent stomach irritant. Be informed of the origin of your sugars to avoid problems.

  170. Lindsey says:

    I am really interested in trying this training plan. I am a 37 yo female with a 20:20 5k and a 1:31 half. I have been unable to run a marathon faster than 3:25 (although the latest 3:25 was at this year’s hot Boston). Given that information, what do you think a reasonable goal would be? Is 3:15 too ambitious? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    • Your 20:20 5K indicates a Marathon Potential of 3:18. Your 1:31 Half indicates a Marathon potential of 3:11. So a goal of 3:15 is in alignment with what is possible for you.\

      Try this training plan with a Marathon Training Pace of 7:20 per mile and 3:15 for your 800s. If these paces make finishing some of the training sessions too hard, then slow them down a bit until you are able to complete all the sessions.

      Remember, the fatigue that forces slowdown in the latter stages of the Marathon is due to several factors: Fuel (glycogen) depletion, Buildup of metabolic waste products in muscles, Overheating, Muscle damage, Nero transmitter depletion, Dehydration (decrease of blood volume). So to prevent slowdown, learn to manage and prevent these causes of fatigue.

  171. E says:

    I ran a 3:04 at my last marathon with a lot of volume but very little specific speed training. Most of my daily running and speed work was with my MS and HS cross country athletes with additional long runs on weekends. I’d like to incorporate the spirit of your plan into my training but still need to be able to run with my athletes this fall. What modifications would you recommend for someone who has obligations to run more than 3 days a week?

    • It is OK to run more than 3 days a week, provided the extra days are very easy and contribute not compromise the recovery from the focused training days.

      Given your 3:04, just adding some Marathon Pace training tempo runs will probably push you under 3 hours.

      The challenge of balancing your training with your coaching duties and running with your team requires some creativity. Enroll your team into your goal. Have them do the weekly 800s with you as part of their training. Same thing with the Marathon Pace run. It may be selfish and not produce the best results for your team so be careful trying to double duty your teams training sessions as what you want to do.

  172. Nicolas says:

    Hi again. I was wondering. Can this be tailored so that I can run by effort rather than set paces? So the yassos: hard; Tempo; comfortably moderate; Longrun, the first 90 minutes easy then up the effort.

    • This is a pace based plan to obtain a specific goal. Race performance is measured in time and distance – not effort, not heart rate. If you want to obtain a specific goal you must run your focused training sessions at specific paces.

      You can do whatever you want and tailor your training anyway you want. It all depends what you are trying to accomplish. General fitness training is much different than a particular time goal for a race distance.

  173. Mark says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent blog, I just ran 2.54!

  174. Enzo says:

    I think the Q&A is as helpful as the article itself! Great piece and many great stories, comments, questions from the community. Thanks for that.
    I ran my first marathon in March and trained with a less is more approach, which lead me to finish 19min (i was aiming for 3:40 and ran 3:21 – EVERYTHING that day was perfect), and more importantly: not get injured throughout the training months and the race.

    With having a blast running my first marathon and seeing how well it all went, I have the ballsy goal of taking on the 3hr challenge in November (6 months from now). I have chosen the course (Harrisburg, PA – flat course and BQ).

    Getting to my question now: I have no flat area around me. Zero, nada. It’s all hill hill hill. I have a track available 2 miles from my work place so i’m good for the Yasso’s. I know running hills helped me tremendously during my training. However, I know I can’t run 6:40’s on a very hilly course… Any advice on this? Try to hang on to a strong pace going up and a slightly faster pace than MP on the flat parts to make up for it? (I fear this will be burn me out quickly) Or would the effort of keeping a strong pace up hill be enough to compensate? I know the legs and body need to get use to turning over at the MP pace that’s what really concerns me.. Thanks in advance!

  175. Tom F says:

    Thanks for the advice, quick question regarding training for a race further out than 14 weeks:

    I plan to run my marathon in November but would like to start training next week for it. Should I keep my week 10 times for the three workouts until the race is 4 weeks out and then taper out? Or how would you go about it? Thanks!


    • Good question. The risk of extending the peak of this workout plan is getting stale and over trained. Progression requires novelty and change. I do not recommend trying to extend your peak by repeating week 10. Better to back off after week 10 to the training session of a few weeks earlier and repeat the progression from there. Take a step back recover and then continue on.

      Or you could make sure your prerequisites are in place before you begin this plan.

  176. Nicolas says:

    I’m definitely going to follo your plan. But I’m curious about the concept that less is more. And I’m curious as to how far you can push that.

    Can I have your opinion on this training plan?

    It’s based on just 2 runs a week. The notes say 2 to 5 runs but I’ve liaised with the author who claims the objective is to run twice hard with plenty of rest.

    I’d really be interested in your views. Is this suitable for anyone? I have no plans to follow this. But I’m interested to find out if you think it could work.


    • The plan you refer to is similar to the one in this post, but with much more variation in the week to week workouts. It may appeal to those that need to mix things up to keep things interesting.

  177. Warren says:

    I’ve looked over everything and the only thing that I don’t see is a cool-down for the 800’s or for the MP runs, I normally do a mile cool-down after speed work. Could you comment on that?

    • A cool down after a training session is like a gentle self-massage. It is not critical, but it helps flush blood and metabolic waste products out of the muscles encouraging the recovery process. It makes sense and can be as low key as walking for 5 to 10 minutes after the training session. Or it can be as sophisticated as using an EMS device like a Compex in Recovery mode. Do what you are familiar with and works for you.

      • WARREN says:

        I modified the plan to challenge myself and drop my time, now a week and a half out from running to plan in a full, assuming weather cooperates. I crunched the numbers on all my runs so far.
        0:07:19 Average Pace for all Tempo runs(Goal was 7:15)
        0:07:17 Average Pace for last half of Tempo miles from each run
        0:07:15 Average Pace Tempo Miles Excluding a day above 73 Degrees(couldn’t handle the pace at that temp)
        0:07:20 Average Pace for 3 longest Tempo runs

        6:11 avg pace for all Yasso’s
        3:05 avg time across all Yasso’s
        Yasso’s have been fine the whole time.

        7:17 avg pace for Long Run MP miles.

        I’ve been struggling with the temp pace run speeds here towards the end(maintaining the pace takes forced effort vs feeling natural), did fine in the beginning and middle of the plan. My question is this, given the numbers above do you think 3:11 full is attainable or am I just not ready? Is it normal to struggle more here at the end?
        Thanks in advance!

    • Addressing you 11-21-2017 comment:

      Seems like you are training right at the edge of your ability and may be getting a bit worn out towards the end of the progression. Backing off and then building back up could give yourself a chance to digest the training and come back stronger and faster.

      Since you don’t have enough time for that before this next race, back off a little on your goal race pace to where it is not such an effort and struggle. Try 7:20 – 7:30? Start the race at that more comfortable pace. If you happen to feel good half way though and are having a great day, crank down your pace. You may surprise yourself, you may not. Performances rarely rise to the level of our hopes, but usually come in at the level of our training.

      Your training indicates that 3:11 is certainly possible, but you know it don’t come easy.

      • Warren says:

        Ran 3:36 this weekend, 68° at race start 98% humidity, finishing temp 74°, backed off to 7:25 pace but could only sustain it through 13, and ran strong through 18 7:36. Very encouraged by the outcome, yeas I know it was too fast, but I knew conditions wouldn’t allow for even the relaxed goal pace and so it was entertaining to see how far I could go. Didn’t bonk but ran/walked the last 5 to make sure I’d finish. Taking 12 days off then gonna easy run 15 days, then pickup the final 8 weeks of the plan and give it another go in March.

  178. Again To Carthage says:

    In the ’80s I ran 70-80 miles/week in college cross-country and track, with PRs of 16:00 5K and 32:40 10K. Then I took off about 25 years, while remaining active and running now and again. At 50, I now have the time to train while the kids are in school, so I would like to gear up for a marathon in the next 12-18 months (I always like to get a very solid LSD base). My only recent race was a 19:00 5K a couple of years ago, with no real training.

    My question is what sort of goal should I set? I’m pretty sure I could break 3 if I obtain a solid base and then follow your plan, but I’m wondering if I should be more ambitious? 2:50? 2:40? 2:37:18?


    • Start with the plan exactly outlined here for a 3 hour marathon. A 3 hour marathon at age 50 is a lofty goal and accomplishment. Go for it. You certainly have the potential.

      If you find the training sessions for a 3 hour marathon are way too easy, then modify the training paces for a faster goal say around 2:45. Use 6:15 per mile Marathon Goal Pace.

      • Again to Carthage says:

        Thanks for your reply. I’ll use your 3 hour plan and see how it goes.

  179. Nicolas says:

    One last question (sorry for doing this piecec meal). This approach looks like the FIRST method (3 hard runs a week). Some say even though you run less, the injury risk is high because they’re all hard workouts.

    What is you view on that argument?

    • Yes, you are right. This is a quality not quantity approach to training. All the training is hard and focused on a particular goal. There are no junk miles, although there is much opportunity for recovery and easy activity which is encouraged.

      If you can’t do the progression without getting injured, you need to try something else. Either back off on your goal pace and training paces or pursue a low intensity approach. Build your health and durability before you tackle a specific goal and a plan tailored to accomplish that goal.

      Remember, you are not going to get fast or good at running at race pace if you never do it. Race performance usually falls to the level of our training.

      • Nicolas says:

        Thanks for clarifying that. So in theory can I follow this approach but use effort instead of set paces? My goal is to finish a marathon strong and injury free – a goal I have failed to achieve twice so far.


  180. Nicolas says:

    Do you run like this routinely when you are not training for races? Just 3 times a week?

    • I’m not training for anything in particular at the moment, so I am not personally following any particular plan. If I was to train for a goal marathon time, this is the plan I have used to success and would use again.

      I rarely train hard on back to back days. I try and run at least twice a week – preferably three times. At the moment, my training is focused on health, preserving strength and fitness. A great low impact training session I try and do at least once a week is hiking at a good pace on steep mountainous terrain.

  181. Nicolas says:

    I keep getting injured. I’m not a fast runner. Is this approach good to reduce injury risks? Looks like there’s lots of recovery time.

    • Yes, this training plan is a minimal approach with the intention of avoiding injury. It is designed to obtain a goal, not necessarily bring out your full potential.

      Injury is a major limiting factor in reaching our goals and fulfilling our potential. Some people are very durable and can train hard for a long time bringing out their full ability. Others, may have a lot of ability and potential, but never can maximize it because they are fragile and always get injured thus limiting how much they can train.

      Depending on what body material is getting injured (bone, muscle or connective tissue) there are things you can do to manage your fragility.

      For example, runners are most often limited by connective tissue injuries (IT Band Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Runners Knee, …). Connective tissue heals slowly, so the wise thing is to avoid injuring it in the first place. This means not overdoing it, but keeping the connective tissue supple by working on mobility and avoiding long periods of inactivity (sitting around).

      Make sure you are eating well and getting good nutrition. For bone health, the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,K) are important. For muscles – essential amino acids. For connective tissue – collagen building amino acids such as glycine, proline.

  182. Radim says:

    I really appreciate how your plan combines scientific foundation with simplicity, and am inspired to try it for my goal of sub-3hr marathon next year. I just ran the prague marathon in 3:45, down from 3:57 last year. Both slow, i know. 🙂 My peak training mileage was 40miles/wk and been training for 4+ months, so i fulfill your second condition (done enough running), but not the first condition (fast 5k). Do you have any suggestions how to get my 5k time down over the summer in a similarly smart fashion? I have never tried running a 5k race, but imagine that i wouldn’t do much better than 21 mins at best (4:15 mins/kilometer).

    Btw I want to experiment with going ketogenic during training / for the next marathon in order to get away from relying on that limited supply of glycogen. 🙂 Ever tried?

    • I would not worry too much about pursuing ketosis as way to enhance endurance. Ketosis is a great way to treat cancer, diabetes or brain disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, but only improves performance for really long slow efforts (ultra-distance). Follow the fueling strategy described in the last paragraph of workout 3 in this plan; that should put you on the path to improving your metabolic efficiency (fat burning).

      The 800 meter intervals described in this training plan are a great way to improve your 5K ability. For a 21 minute 5K you would do the 800s in 3:20 followed by 3:20 rest. If you can complete 8 intervals at this pace, you should be able to do a 5K at the same pace yielding a 5K finish time between 20 and 21 minutes.

      Also see this comment and response for tips to increase speed:

  183. Dsen says:

    I started this program without any real running in the past few months, but I’ve had a couple sub-18 min 5k’s in the past couple of years. Ran my first marathon today in 3:17, should have had a stronger starting base but extremely happy with it. Thanks a lot!

  184. Lewis says:

    I used this plan and set a 17 minute PR. I didn’t quite break 3 hours (3:04:50), but I’m way closer than I have ever been before and I know I can run faster. Thanks for the guide.

    • Big improvement – impressive.

      • John Smithurst says:

        Hi Coach, I started running aged 40 I was lucky to start this great sport in the eighties when there was a marathon boom in the UK.I completed 10 marathons all under 3 hours,my best time 2.44 aged 44.After that I drop my distance and have run a half marathon best time 1.14,10 mile best time 54,10K best time 34.40.Aged 55 I became the British Masters 5K road champion with a time of 17.28. I will be eighty ln November and would love to put in a good half marathon by then.I run 20 to 25 miles a week these days,my times for the 5K which is the distance I race most has dropped dramatically this year after I had 3 months of no race,last year I ran a 25.30 5k and can only runa 28 now. I’m very interested in your 3 hour Marathon training schedule,have you any advice on how I could adapt it for me to run a sub 2 houur half marathon or do you think that will not be possible.

        My best regards John

  185. Leonard Ellis says:

    I’m going to try this for Chicago 2017. Aiming to BQ with a 3:25. ran 3:27 in philly last year, 1:34 best 1/2 marathon, dont really run enough 5k’s to know. how would you adjust this for a 3:20 or 3:25 goal? thanks!


  186. Adam norfolk says:

    Thank you, London 2:58:34.

  187. King says:

    2nd marathon today, first London! 2nd time I’ve used this plan and my 2nd sub 3 (-: thank you! This plan really does the job, thank you for putting it together 2.58.18 a 41 second PB on last time!

  188. Ciaran Stone says:

    Excellent training plan, I’ve altered it to a 3hr 30min plan as I train for the New York marathon next November. I then hope to train towards a 3 hour marathon in mid/late 2018.

    I was wondering if you would have advice upon daily nutrition? What foods to eat on a daily basis and what to avoid? I know the obvious rules; stay away from sugar and processed foods etc etc but find it very hard to get a detailed nutritional plan for marathon runner.

    Ciaran (29, Ireland)

    • Those are ambitious plans of a 3:30 in 2017 New York and then a 3:00 a year later. Enjoy the adventure of New York.

      There is much advice floating around on what to eat and what not to eat. It can get confusing. I’ll just give some simple advice with the intention of not adding to the confusion. There are probably better sources and books on a detailed daily nutrition plan for marathon prep than this comment stream – so keep searching.

      You are on the right track avoiding processed packaged food. It is my impression that being in Ireland is probably easier to get good quality food not too far removed from the farm than it is in the US. Finding food in the US that is not contaminated with health challenging argi-chemicals like glyphosate has gotten much harder the last couple decades.

      Eat as much whole real foods as you want. If you are healthy, the wisdom of the body utilizes what it needs and discards the rest. Marathon training can put a lot of stress on the body, tax its energy reserves and its ability to rebuild. Make sure you are giving it the building blocks it needs. Don’t skimp on the quantity of quality foods, but do avoid the junk.
      If you are eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, whole fat dairy and good quality meat (even organ meat) then you should be getting the nutrients you need (fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, carbs).

      Minerals – Training and sweating can increase your mineral intake needs. It is the first supplement that you should take if you choose to take supplements. If you experience signs of mineral depletion such as little muscle twitches, light headedness, lack of motivation and energy – then try taking a multi mineral supplement (Source Naturals Life Minerals). Also use a good quality salt to season your food such as Grey Celtic sea salt or Himalayan Pink salt that has more minerals than just the sodium in refined white salt. Magnesium is an important mineral that is hard to get enough of in the modern diet.

      Vitamins – If you don’t get much sun exposure. Consider taking Vitamin D. Getting a blood test can check your Vitamin D levels. It is a smart thing to do to see if you need to supplement Vitamin D. If you are a vegan, then certain B vitamins like B12 and Methyl-Folate can be low and may need supplementation. Again a blood test can verify this. Organ meat is the best Vitamin rich food. Desiccated Liver in powder form is a convenient way to supplement a broad spectrum of easy to assimilate vitamins and minerals.

      Fats – If you are eating meat and eggs from grass fed animals and also cold water fish, then you should be getting enough Omega 3 essential fatty acids. If you aren’t, than you could benefit from a good quality fish or krill oil supplement.

      Protein – If hard training always leads to sore muscles, then you could benefit from an Amino Acid supplement like essential amino acids, or branch chain amino acids to help with tissue repair.

      Enjoy the adventure of improving health and training your body for optimal performance. You are in charge, no one else can train for you. You are going to have to earn your Marathon goals.

      • stoneciaran says:

        Thank you so much for the great advice. Very simple, straightforward and helpful.

        I begin my 16 week training plan very soon and am really looking forward to it.

        In relation to the long easy runs, have you come across any runners who had alternatives to a really slow run for the 1.5+ hours? I know you mentioned hiking which I plan on doing but was also trying to think of other alternatives to keep up the motivation.

        Thank you

    • Eoin says:

      Did you ever get that sub 3 Ciaran? (Also from Ireland)

  189. Ben Burfoot says:

    Thanks so much for the training plan.
    I am running London at weekend and have been following your plan intending to shoot for 3hrs.
    I have done a quite a lot of marathons and ultras over last 3 yrs culminating in 105 mile lakeland 100, last year. I have been following your plan, but mainly doing 5k parkruns at 19min pace instead of yasso sessions (which i only did a few of)

    I also ran a hilly offroad triple marathon (3 in 3 days) three weeks ago. I took 10 days off and then tried to reintroduce some of the tapered sessions. My legs were not in good shape however as i really pushed the triple (finishing 7th overall). I have taken a week off now ahead of marathon to try to ensure my legs are fully recovered.

    I ran an 38.44 10k in Feb, a 3hr 10 marathon 1 year ago and have an 18’36 parkrun (5k).

    I have lost 7lbs (down to 154) since last year and in theory should be in good shape for 3hrs. My concern though is that i found the training really hard and tended to never quite be able to sustain 6’40”s (tending to average 6’45 to 6’50). I know that more yassos would have made a difference but i could never seem to fit them in.
    I am now wondering whether to abandon my ambitions to get a sub 3hr and just try for a PB of better than 3.10.
    If i go out on 6.40’s I fear i might crash in second half.
    Do you think i would be able to do it, based on my other times and experience of your training plan?

    • Not sure you will get this before your Marathon. Short answer is I don’t know if you can go sub three.

      If I was in your shoes, this is what I would do:
      First couple miles I would force myself to start slowly at around 7:30 to 8:00 minutes per mile and not hit 6:40 pace till mile three when I am warmed up. This avoids the initial adrenalin jolt of the race start and postpones burning glycogen till later as it gets you into fat utilization from the start – postponing fatigue.

      After you run a few 6:40 miles you will have an idea how easy or hard it is to hold that pace and if shooting for 3 hours is realistic. Adjust your pace accordingly. Force yourself to consume at least 100 calories every half hour starting a half hour in. Given your ultra-distance experience, you should be accustom to this.

      Go for it. If you do find yourself crashing in the second half, down about 400 calories and get back after it. If you don’t make it, well it is only a foot race. Try again another time.

      Best of success.

      • Ben Burfoot says:

        Hi and thanks so much for the advice!
        I have literally just got back from London, so didn’t see it unfortunately. In retrospect, your advice was spot on!
        I ran 6’44 pace for the fast half and then it starting dropping. Not too much at first, but as the miles went on the pace dropped and dropped. I did stop a couple of times to get food down and got moving again. In the end I got 3.08.
        I only took two gels and a packet of running sweets totalling about 300cals in the whole event.
        Had I followed your suggested strategy, I think I might have got 3.03 to 3.05 but don’t think I’m ready for 3 yet.
        The good news is that I ran a PB and qualified for London next year. More yasso, more nutritional thought and a better strategy next time!

        Many thanks for your website and help!


    • Glad you got a PB at London and will get a chance to do it again. Each time we learn something. The essence of life is growth.

  190. Rus says:

    I am planning to use this plan to reach my goal of a 3:30 marathon. If I run the slow runs at a 10:00 minute mile, and marathon pace at 8:00, the longest run that I will be completing is an 18 miler which is on weeks 7-9. Am I interpreting this correctly? My previous marathon plan required a 20 miler so I wanted to confirm, thanks!

  191. Jake Gaul says:

    Coach, I have read a lot of running articles and coaching philosophies over the years, . Your approach (and customized answers with super clear writing) definitely comes across the best and most logical. You know your stuff. Help me out. I am 42 dad/husband with 4 kids. I have been an on and off distance runner for 20 years. I have run 3 marathons (most recent was 3:13 Boston in 2013), half marathon in 2015 at 1:24 and 5k in 2015 at 17:35 – on fairly modest training. I am committed to breaking 3 before I get too old/injured. I trained hard for my last attempt in 2013, but don’t think I trained ‘smart’. Too much hard running, not enough rest, felt tired/wasted early on in the race. I think my speed is ok, so I have been working on my endurance – trying to train my aerobic energy system ( I think) by doing a lot of 9 min pace runs. Is your plan the right approach for me, or should I emphasize more slower pace/long distance? Also, I wonder if I need to be lighter. I am 5’11’ about 168, normal build – not muscular, not skinny. Would this goal be easier at 160 (i really like IPAs)? Many thanks –‘Boston Snake’

    • Jake, you have the talent and background to run sub 3. I can’t answer whether this plan is the one that will work for you, only you can by giving it a try. It sounds like you could benefit from a consistent and “smart” approach as you say.

      Regarding weight; you don’t need to worry about weight being 168 at 5’11”. Sure being lighter makes running easier – less material to propel and drag along for 26 miles. But if you are eating real food (minimally processed not too far removed from it being alive) and staying active, your body will seek out its natural healthy state and weight. Only limit the amount of junk food you eat. Eat as much real food as you like. When you are healthy, your body has an internal wisdom when dealing with real food (non-processed/packaged) having no problem assimilating and utilizing only what it needs. Form follows function, your body will adapt to what you do with it.

      Doing consistent long runs at 9 minutes per mile will certainly build your durability and aerobic endurance and make you good at running 9 minutes per mile, but it will not prepare you specifically for the goal of sub 3. It may be a good building phase before you begin the 14 week plan presented here. Once you have a base of durability, there is no need to emphasize more slower pace/long distance during this plan.

      Yes, balancing training with life’s responsibilities (work/family) can be a challenge. Training and running can be a selfish endeavor. This plan only has 3 hard training sessions per week minimally impacting your other life’s commitments. Consider enrolling your wife and kids to crew for you on the long run day or joining in on the track 800 sessions. If they are supportive and on-board with you training to run a 3 hour marathon, there is a better chance of you accomplishing the goal. On the non-training days, stay active. Play outside with your kids. Have fun. Go hiking or biking on the weekend with your wife. Try stand up paddle boarding. Get the family involved. Go to your kid’s soccer games (or whatever they do) and walk or trot around the field or court while they play. Have playful wrestling matches with the wife and kids. Avoid erasing your training sessions by long periods of sitting around watching movies or playing video games with the family.

  192. Jeff Liinner says:

    I plan on using this plan starting in July for an Oct marathon. I do meet both prerequisites already. Do you have any other suggestions prior to beginning this plan? From here until I start it is still a few months. I also feel that Week 1-3 will be relatively lower mileage than I am used too; but I do believe it will be a good change of pace and allow me to build up for the longer speed work.

    • You are thinking along the right lines with this plan’s first few weeks being easier than what you are currently doing. Think of it as periodization. The body needs a good long break after a few months of hard training. It is the notion of periodization. The body and mind tend to get worn out or burnt with continues hard training week after week, month after month. You need a break every few months. The body also needs a change – novelty to inspire new adaption to new stimulus.

      From now until July, continue as you have been training. The goal being to build a good base and durability with long runs at easy to moderate pace with some marathon pace running. Then begin this plan. It is a new start, easy at first giving you a break and then building up to a peak and tapering to recover and feel fresh. Best of success.

  193. Anonymous says:

    Hi, thank you very much for this guide. I have just completed the Brighton Marathon in 3 hours 56 with little training (normally around 10-15 miles per week) and without a training plan, just running at the pace i felt like going at. My 5k best time is 19.30 and my half marathon time is 1 hour 40 minutes. I intend on using this plan for the next marathon i train for, what do you think is a realistic time to aim at. (Male, 18 years old)

    • Your 5K time is relatively stronger than your half and full marathon times – indicating that you have good speed, but lack endurance and ability to hold a good pace for a long effort. Given your age (18), speed is naturally easier for you to achieve than endurance. Long term running endurance takes years of experience to build and maximize.
      Shoot for a 3:20 to 3:30 marathon. You did hold a 3:20 marathon pace for your 1:40 half marathon.

      Do your 800’s in 3:20 and your marathon pace runs at 7:40 per mile.

      If you are unable to complete the training sessions at this pace, then back off to a 3:30 or 3:40 marathon goal and slow your training paces down to a pace that you can complete the marathon pace training sessions. Given your 5K time, 800’s in 3:20 will probably seem easy to you.

      Any marathon time around 3:30 would be a great achievement and a huge improvement over your 3:56.

      You have lots of potential and time ahead of you to get faster. If you stay healthy and train with wisdom, one day you should be able to get under 3 hours.

  194. Deerfoot78 says:

    Hi! I almost completed my marathon preparation, with race day coming up in about 2 weeks. My training times are as follows: 12 x Yasso 800s in 2:45-2:48, 20 x Tempo Runs in 4:00 min/km. However, I wasn’t able to keep a consistant pace during the fast parts of my 11 long runs I did so far. These were mostly around 4:05 min/km. This leads to my questions: Do you think this is an indicator for my overall marathon pace? Should I try to run the marathon in 4:00 min/km or rather settle for 4:05 min/km in order not to risk breaking 3 hrs after all? Looking forward to your expertise 😉

    • Yes – Probably. 4:05 per K is plenty fast to run sub three. If that 4:05 pace feels much easier and natural than 4:00 per K then let your body do want it wants. Your 800’s in 2:45-2:48 and your 4 to 4:05 marathon pace runs indicate that sub 3 should happen provided you ward off late race fatigue by staying fueled and cool.

  195. Adrian Davies says:

    Hi, a massive thank you, finished Canberra Australia marathon yesterday 2:53:54. Training plan was perfect for me.

  196. Michel says:

    Hi. Thanks for this “just enough approach” training plan. I’m a triathlete (ironman distance) who wants to break the 3 hour mark. After 2 missed opportunities (3:01 and 3:03 although at a very warm temperature both times) I almost stopped running for the last 3 months (2 slow and short runs in 3 months in fact). But, I trained on the indoor bike trainer for 100-150km per week so I was still active (thanks Zwift!). So your program gave me hope again (I have a busy life) and I will run the Ottawa marathon in about 9 weeks. (I started at the 5th week) with no problem. I will keep you inform of my result (may 28th). FYI my best 5k is 17:26, best half 1:24:34.

    Just a question. If I can do the 10 yasso reps (3:45) with not so much problem, should I do more reps or do it faster, or stick with the plan to not overtrain or risk tomget injured?

    Thanks again!

    • If your Marathon goal is to just dip under 3 hours, then 800’s in 2:45 is plenty fast. No need to go faster and risk tweaking or pulling a muscle or connective tissue. Quantity 10 is also ample. Based upon your history, 3 hours should be obtainable. Work on sustaining race pace when you are fatigued.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi. Just a follow-up as promised. This past weekend I ran the Ottawa Marathon in 3:00:24. So I missed my goal by not so much. After 3 months without almost any running at all, I did the last 8 weeks of your program. So it’s clear that I was not fully prepare. But, I’m now a believer that this program is perfect, for me anyway. Next time (maybe later this year) I will start the program earlier and do the full 14 weeks and I will target sub 2h56 for the training paces. I really like your program because, even though the training are hard, I’m always fresh and away from the injuries resulting from the high volume programs. So even though I failed, I’m motivated and I now I’am convinced for the first time that I have the potentiel to succeed eventualy if I’m willing to respect the program. Thank you for sharing your experience and your knowledge.

  197. Branislav says:

    Hello, I have been following your training program since January and yesterday I ran marathon in Bratislava (Slovakia) 3hr 3min (75,2`F).
    I like it very much, it has helped me to run 12 min. faster comparing to my previous marathon in September 2016. I have slightly adapted it (pace) to my current shape, but I can definitely confirm it works. Thank you very much!

  198. Mark Temple says:

    I have just used this plan again and knocked another 6 minutes off my pb – 3 hr 11 mins at Manchester Marathon. I absolutely love it! It is manageable and fast last 6 every week meant I was reeling them in from 20 miles. Thanks for putting it together – I will definitely use it again for the next one…..

    Only adjustment I made was not to do the 4 mile mp in the last week just before the marathon. Instead I did a 1 mile jog the day before. I’m sure everyone is different though….
    Thanks again……

  199. Adam says:

    Thank you very much for the plan, I love the simplicity and I hope it will be good for me as a 40+ beginner. I learned from my own experience what you also stated in one of the comments – that the cardiovasculary system is the easiest to train, muscles follow but what many underestimate are the ligaments, bones and other stuff that also need to adjust to the training load.

    I started seriously running just about 1 year ago and I want to use your plan for 3:30 but my question is – don’t you think this microdosing approach is still too tough for a beginner? Are in your opinion the 2 prerequisites neccessary for under 3 hour time or even to start the plan for slower times?

    • Your concerns are warranted as this plan has 3 hard training sessions every week and ramps up very quickly. That is why there is a perquisite of at least of year of training 3 or more hours a week.

      This is not a plan with beginners in mind.

      This plan is for experienced runners wanting to peak and obtain a goal that may have eluded them when using more traditional training approaches. It is focused solely on preparing for a marathon goal. It is not a program appropriate for building a base of endurance or durability.

      If your marathon goal is 3:30, you should be able to currently run a 5K in around 22 minutes. Marathon training pace is 8 minutes per mile or slightly faster and do the 800s in 3:30.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks a lot for your advice, that is exactly where I am, 5K at 22 and I am planning to do 800s in 3:30. The goals that I have set for myself before I even try at my first marathon (hopefully as a side effect of this plan) are 5K under 21:30, 10K under 45 (now 48) and HM under 1h:40 (now 1h:50 but a trail HM with some hills, sand etc.) I do not even want to start if I will not feel confident that I am capable of doing full marathon under 3:30.My problem so far was that I was trying to do my training based on HR but it does not seem to work for me. I am planning to extend your plan to the 28weeks by extending the distances slowly (I will be adding km instead of miles).

  200. Aaron says:

    This is a great plan and somega great advice. I am coming of the back of a 3.07.. very warm conditions on the day slowed me down at the end.. I held 3.02 pace for the majority. I want to crack 3 and have signed up to race in 9 weeks.. what are your suggestions to adopt the above plan.. I have 4 cycles of 13 week training plans under my belt in the past 18 months? Thanks in advance

    • If you have 9 weeks, try starting at week 4 of the plan. Alternately you could start at week 3 and shorten the taper from 3 to 2 weeks.

      Warm conditions can have a significant impact on performance. As the core body temperature climbs, our body’s internal protection mechanism kicks in slowing us down in an attempt to prevent us heating up to dangerous levels. Think of it as thermally induced fatigue or bonk. Training in warm conditions and becoming heat adapted will result in better performances in warm conditions.

  201. Biffo says:

    I have been trying to crack sub 3hr for about 4 years and the best I’ve managed is 3,03. I tried this program last year for the Vienna marathon but I ran out of steam around 16 miles. Vienna is a tough course and I also sprained my ankle a month before the marathon – so I feel these factors had more to do with my result.

    I decided to give this program another shot for the upcoming Rotterdam marathon on April 9th. Although this time I have added an extra day of slow miles each week to address the lack of stamina I felt during Vienna. So whatever distance the tempo run is, I run the same distance the following day at a slow 9;30-10;00 min/mile.

    My best times during this program have been 5k 20:01 – 10k 39:43 – HM 1;30.54. I have found the Yassos fairly comfortable and have been managing 2:50 on most laps. My race predictor on my watch predicts a 3;07 finish time, although I have to disagree with it. Taking into account Rotterdam is a fast course and (touch wood) I have been injury free so far.

    What’s your thoughts on my finish time based on my stats?

    • How long ago was your 3:03PR? So close. It seems you could just will it – a mental thing. But alas, our performances rarely rise to the level of our hopes, but usually fall to the level of our training.

      Your 39:43 10K is your strongest recent performance and indicates a marathon potential of around 3:05. Your recent 5K and Half times indicate a marathon potential much slower.

      The 800s being easy at 2:50 indicates you have the speed to go faster and need to work on endurance at a fast pace. If you can do 10 800s in 2:50 each you should be able to do a 5K much faster than 20 minutes. 800 in 2:50 is about a 5:40 per mile pace. That should be your 5K pace yielding a 5K time of under 18:00. 10 800s in 2:50 indicates a marathon potential of 2:50; that is if you have built up your endurance – and that is a big if!

      • Biffo says:

        First of all, many thanks for replying. My 3:03 was back in 2013. I have ran quite a few marathons since then, although at a manageable pace. It’s only in the last year that I have decided to again push for the allusive sub 3hr. My HM time in Vienna last April was 01:30:54 and like I said, it’s a tough course and it was quite windy at times. Notably with some head winds. My overall training was hugely affected by the ankle sprain as well.

        Personally I feel a 2:50 is beyond my limits at the moment. I’m sure I can run an 18min 5k, but I wouldn’t be able to sustain that pace for too long. Working on my endurance at a fast pace is certainly correct. On the long run days it’s a real struggle to maintain the 6:40MP at the end. After a few miles my pace slows to around 6:45 – 6:55, which still gives my a fighting chance.

        So my thinking is that if I can get some credit in during the first 10k – HM, then hopefully hover around the 6:50-6:55 pace for the remainder of the marathon, then perhaps the big “IF” will pay off?

  202. Dan says:

    Thanks so much for this plan. I am just over half way through and have seen significant improvements in my performance. Last weekend I was tempted into the NYC half marathon where I ran 1.27.54. This was 45 seconds better than my previous best (recorded in Dec 2016) and came off the back of a full week of training. I also ran 5 miles to the start line. In addition, my legs had recovered well within a few days and I was back to full training. I met my wife at the finish line who’s immediate reaction was “that plan is great for you!”. Just wanted to share. I have real belief that sub 3 is possible. Thanks again!

  203. Joe says:

    love the simplicity of the schedule! Got a few questions
    Is week 14 race week? If it works better as Tu,Thur, Sat for me…how can I rearrange race week so I don’t do the 4 mile MP run the day before the race?

    I have been on and off for 4 years, but consistent for about 1 year. I ran a 3:21:22 marathon march 2017 and a 1:30:23 half marathon in January 2017…is this too much of a stretch for me? In reality I am aiming for boston (3:05 time)

    • Yes, your goal race occurs at the end of week 14.

      Ideally, you would take the day off before the race just doing some easy strides, staying loose. Keep your circulation flowing with easy movement, but not enough to get fatigued. Avoid stiffness and staleness that comes with just sitting around for long periods of time.

      During the taper weeks, it would be fine to shift your workout schedule around to accommodate the particulars of your target race day. If needed, you can even move the shorter workouts during the taper onto back to back days to meet your schedule.

      Your January Half in 1:30 indicates a Marathon potential of 3:10. 3:05 may be a bit ambitious. Boston is a difficult course. A strategy would be to train for 3:10 and begin the race at 3:10 pace. At 20 miles into the race if you feel fresh, hammer the last 10K.

  204. quindaropress says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. It will be a while before I get there, but I will get there. The last competitive race I ran in Montana was the 1985 Cooke City Highway thing, but after a brief 31-year layoff I’m out running again … and loving it.

    What’s dawning on me, after several months of training and self-educating, is that once I achieve a certain level of fitness — and sub-19-minute 5K is certainly an achievable benchmark — then lots of race distances are possible, so long as I do the proper training plan for that distance. A 6:40 mile for 26.2 miles?? Why not …

    For people who are looking for a book-length embodiment of your plan, with charts and tables and training plans, RUN LESS RUN FASTER from the Furman Institute for Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) is my go-to guide:

  205. JustEnoughApproachFTW says:

    Just achieved my goal of a sub 3 using this schedule: 2:58:11 in a (flat) Dutch marathon in windy conditions. Thank you very much. I like the simplicity of your approach a lot.

    — Some specifics for those who are interested —
    I must say that in the early weeks I added quite a few relatively easy, but not super easy runs, which led to not always being able to keep the marathon pace for 10k on the Friday training. (I did improve my half marathon PR in those weeks to 1:21.)

    I got some achilles heel issues two months ago and decided to drop the running training frequency and stick more closely to the schedule. This worked. I did throw in slightly more cross training (cycling, elliptical, weight / core training). I also spent 10 days cycling in the mountains on Gran Canaria 5 weeks out (and being ill for a couple of days) with no serious running.

    The last 4 weeks I executed the schedule exactly – and stopped drinking alcohol (the rest of my diet still needs some work 🙂 ). Only halfway into the taper did the MP start to feel easy enough, which gave me a significant confidence boost. And I am happy that it worked out today.

  206. Ken K. says:

    Thank you for taking the time to put together this plan and share it with us – it is much appreciated. I recently ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon in 3:04:30, which was nice, however not quite the sub-3 hoped for – ran the first 15 or 16 miles on pace at 6:40, but then my legs became fatigued and heavy and I had to slow. In training for the race, I followed this program for the full 14 weeks, hitting all of the tempos and Yasso 800s on pace as prescribed, but found that I was only able to hold 6:40 for the entire duration of the MP miles at the end of the long runs maybe every other week. I’m looking to run another marathon in 10 weeks (May 21) as another attempt to break 3 hours – it seems that I need to focus on hitting those MP miles on the long runs to build late-race endurance; do you have any other suggestions about how to avoid fading in the later miles of the race?

    Thank you (again)!

    • Late race fatigue can be from various causes: energy depletion, muscle damage, dehydration, core body temperature rising, neurotransmitter depletion, acid levels building in muscles.

      Make sure you are fueling and hydrating enough during the race or your long runs. Do some downhill running to toughen your legs and make them less prone to muscle damage. Keep from getting overheated by wearing appropriate gear and strategically dosing yourself with water to stay cool. Try experimenting with loading nutrients such as Choline to keep neurotransmitter levels from dropping. Increase your fitness so that race pace does not lead to build up of metabolic waste products (acid) in your muscles.

  207. Zachary Hamilton says:

    Thank you so much for the workout! It has utilised every single day of my training while still being minimalist and not taking up too much time per week. I just finished week 10, training for the Rotterdam marathon on April 9. I adjusted the plan to shoot for 3:10 (7:05/mile).

    I have a couple questions about the plan. It seems the taper is a bit excessive – couldn’t the buildup last another week? I would think starting the taper after week 11 would still provide plenty of solid recovery time. In your experience, would that be more prone to injury/overtraining?

    Also, I have noticed my Yasso 800s getting progressively easier. This week I did 11 (rather than the prescribed 10), and more than anything felt warmed up to go on a longer run! I have a background in high school cross country but have only run 2 marathons, so I find the shorter distance a lot easier in comparison with the MP and long runs. What would be the best mechanism for getting more out of the 800s? Faster pace relative to marathon goal, or perhaps a shorter “slow run” interval? Or should I just let that day be less challenging so my body has more strength for the other two workouts? I’m committed to keeping the same strategy for the last four weeks of the program, but I am considering doing another race in July and will absolutely be using this plan again; it is fantastic.

    • If the workouts are getting too easy, then you may be able to speed up your goal race time and paces.

      Tapering and peaking for race day is a very individual thing. This program employs maintenance of intensity while decreasing volume that research has shown works for most people. Experience will help you to tailor what works best for you. The goal of the taper is to maintain and peak your fitness while giving your body a chance to heal up, repair and wash away any deep fatigue. The taper should leave you feeling energized, light, springy and eager for action.

      Some people react negative to tapering by feeling stale, crampy and having weird pains crop up. This may be due to the body’s healing process or from lack of activity.

      Remember, movement is medicine. A taper is not sitting around. You have to avoid long periods sitting and doing nothing. Keep your circulation lightly stimulated at all times, don’t give your blood a chance to stagnate and pool from long periods of inactivity. Some people tend to lose fitness rapidly and may need to taper less then someone who requires more rest to heal and adapt to training. Experience will tell you what works for you. Experiment.

      • Zachary Hamilton says:

        Thanks so much. Indeed, I am physically unable to do any more/harder workouts for the long run or the MP – it is specifically the Yassos that my body seems particularly geared toward.

  208. brian b says:

    I’m in day four (week 2) of the program and just finished the 4 mile pace run. I noticed that my heart rate for the first mile and half was around 130 then gradually got up to 180. Finished at an average heart rate of 165. I’ve done pace miles before and averaged 150-55 (over 5-9 miles), albeit a bit slower (7:15 pace), and feel any number of factors could have caused the spike (sleep, rest, weather, or increase in pace).
    My question is, should I be paying attention to heart rate at all with this program? I’m new to distance running (was a sprinter) and meet all the prerequisites. My running over the last year has been mostly longer easy aerobic runs (heart rate 130-35) with a tempo/yasso (heart rate 155-65) each week.
    Everything I’ve read and studied over the last year says you can’t run a marathon in an anaerobic state without bonking. A heart rate of 165, even 155 is anaerobic for me (I’m 45yrs old). And the pace run I just completed wasn’t that tough, but I couldn’t imagine maintaining that for 26+ miles at this heart rate.
    Please let me know your thoughts. I’m training for the Ventura, CA marathon in end of May and while a sub 3-hour time probably isn’t realistic for me, I think a 3:30 is… that’s my goal.
    Also, if 3:30 is my goal, is it ok to train at the sub 3-hour mark as long as my body is able and I’m meeting the times?

    • This program is a pace based program; not heart rate. Heart rate is useful if your goals are to train or develop particular energy systems. I would not worry about heart rate other than it is interesting to see how it varies with your perceived effort. As you get in better shape, it should drop for a given pace. It is also a good tool for making sure you are not getting over trained.

      If your goal is 3:30, you should train at the paces associated for that goal (800s 3:30 MP 8:00). The reason is specificity. You need to get skilled and efficient running at race pace. Race pace must become familiar to you.

      If you can easily run the workouts faster, perhaps you need to adjust your goal race time down to 3:20 or 3:15.

  209. Ajay says:

    I ran a 10 km race in 68 minutes last month ( Jan 2017)after practicing / preparing for one month. I was and am obese. My obesity is due to unhealthy living and not genetic. I have determined to participate in a full marathon in November 2017 as my daughter is challenging me for the same. I am 39 years old (male)and was good in sports during college days and then started my unhealthy life. What is the time should I target to complete in full marathon in November 2017? I am pretty confident that I will reach by normal weight by means of disciplined diet and exercise.

    • Jake says:

      Ajay- good on you for starting…I’m no expert, but I would just try to finish your November marathon…use that time as a baseline for training moving forward. But if you are a time goal person, shoot for sub 5:00. Good luck!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Jake- I was able to complete by first full mararthon in 5:00:59. Thanks for suggesting somewhat attainable goal. I would have been happy if I had done under 5.00 as it is a cut-off for few other races here.

        Dear Lauren Irwin, thanks a ton for this blog and your professional advises. I mostly try to read all the mails / comments in this blog. Some or the other way, they were all helpful and useful. What time should I target for my future marathons ? Any tips for improvement.

    • Yes, 5 hours seems reasonable given your 10K time.

      If you are obese, your greatest improvements will come with getting your weight down to a healthy level. Become a fat burning machine by adopting a low carbohydrate high fat diet. Eat fat to loose fat. Do some research on LCHF eating. Start with Dr Tim Noakes the author of Lore of Running, Real Meal Revolution.