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, Cloud259.com, 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.

Fueling

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.

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

 

 

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

  1. 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!

    Len

  2. Adam norfolk says:

    Thank you, London 2:58:34.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    Thanks
    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.

  5. 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!

        Ben

    • 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Adrian Davies says:

    Hi, a massive thank you, finished Canberra Australia marathon yesterday 2:53:54. Training plan was perfect for me.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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……

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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:
    http://amzn.to/2nmReQa

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

      https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/figuring-out-fatigue-2/

      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.

  23. 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.

  24. brian b says:

    Hello,
    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?
    Best,
    Brian

    • 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.

  25. 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!

    • 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.
      https://twitter.com/proftimnoakes

      • AlmostFit says:

        While a LCHF diet will work, the trouble comes in maintaining it for more than 3 months if you’re overweight/obese. Research shows less than 10% of people who start a LCHF will maintain it for more than 6 months. As a fellow scientist (from the same University as Prof. Noakes) and someone who has had overweight issues in the past and has tried LCHF, might I recommend following a Carb Cycle diet. A good book to read to get you started is Chris Powell’s ‘Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution’. You might know Chris Powell as the host and trainer on Extreme Weightloss, although his book doesn’t require you to go to extremes. I’ve lost 20kg (44 lbs) in 6 months and have maintained for 9 months. It’s not about how fast you lose it, it’s about a lifestyle change and keeping off the weight. I went from a 5 hour marathon debut to a 4 hour marathon in 3 months.

  26. Tyler says:

    Would a sub- 2:50 marathon be plausible if I’m running the 800s at a pace between 2:24-2:30 and running 5 mile tempo runs at around 29:00 minutes? I have a marathon coming up in April and only have about 6 weeks to train. I really decided to just do it on a whim. My training hasn’t been consistent due to the nature of my job, but if I were to follow a modified version of this training plan, could I expect the results that I’d like to see or should just aim for 3?
    Thanks!

    • You certainly have the speed and potential to run well under 3 hours. Your challenge is that you might not have trained enough to have the durability to run to your potential for 26.2 miles. You may not have enough time before April to develop it.

      Since your endurance may not be fully developed, the first half of your April race may go well, but you could fade significantly. Practice fueling as it could help stave off late race fatigue

      Consistency is importance.
      Consistency leads to competence that leads to confidence that you will compete to your potential.

      If I had your abilities, I would shoot for a 2:40 – 2:50 marathon. Do your Marathon Pace training runs at 6:00 per mile and your 800’s at 2:30 to 2:40. According to your comment, that sounds within your ability.

  27. Amy in Boise says:

    I just completed a full marathon in Arizona last week and completed the 14 week training plan. I did not however meet my goal and would like to try again in 4 more weeks. what running plan do you suggest that I use for the next 4 weeks in order to complete my goal of a 3 hour and 30 minute Marathon. I did complete the 14 week training plan with no problems but would just like to run another marathon and run a better time here in 4 more weeks. Suggestions? Advice?

    • Not sure I can make any helpful suggestions without knowing what went wrong and why you did not reach your goal time of 3:30.

      If you faded or ran out of energy towards the end of the race, then make sure you practice adequate fueling and hydrating during the MP portions of your long training runs. And do the same during the race.

      If your legs got really beat up from the race resulting in lots of muscle soreness after the race, then do some downhill running during training to toughen up your leg muscles.

      For a 3:30 marathon your MP Marathon Pace training pace should be just under 8 minutes per mile. Shoot for 7:50 per mile pace to give you a little buffer. Still do your 800s in 3:30.

      4 weeks is not a very long break between marathons. Try a 2 or 3 week build up (repeat weeks 7,8,9) and then do a 1 or 2 week taper such as week 13 or 14.

      Best of success.

  28. Hello. I am preparing for the Sevilla Marathon on Feb. 19 so I am currently in week 10 of the program. I have found that I can do the tempo runs at about 92% of my max heart rate. The 10 yassos I can do with no problem, I did a couple of them together one after another with no break between this week. My trouble is with the MP pace of the long run. If I try to do the 40 minutes at MP, after 20 minutes my heart rate goes to about 98% of my MHR so I have slow down. I can’t seem to do anything lower than 7 minutes per mile if I try to keep my heart rate below or near 90%. My best marathon time is 3:08 and my best half is 1:27. Do you think I should adjust this last two weeks to target 3:05 instead or should I keep the same target?

    Thank you for your time.

    Juan Carlos.

    • Today I adjusted my tempo run to 6:50 per mile. I started at 7 per mile and finished the second half at 6:40 per mile. At this pace I could ran it quite comfortably with my heart rate at around 170 average which is quite good for me. I think I might do the same strategy in race day.

  29. Jens W. says:

    Great training plan! Thanks a lot for this seldom “keep it simple” approach! I’ve started it 6 weeks ago preparing for my upcoming marathon in April, and in all of the sessions I’ve been feeling 100% fresh and focused so far. My pace for the tempo runs is 6:40 mins/mile. However, I’m feeling comfortable doing the Yasso 800s in 2:48 min which is a bit faster than you suggest for a just under 3 hour marathon, and I managed to keep up MP in the last miles of the long runs pretty well, too. My PBs are 5k in 17:59 mins (while training on the treadmill with 1% incline), half-marathon in 1:25h and marathon in 3:07h 2 years ago (following no specific training plan and with only 2 long runs prior to the event). So my question is: What marathon goal time do you think would be realistic for me (male, 38yrs, 74kg) to aim for? Thanks for any feedback 🙂

    • Hello. I am no expert but it seems clear to me that you can target a much lower time than 3 hours! Good for you. I would try to target 2:45 if I had those times!

      Salud!

    • Given the 17:59 5K and 2:48 800s, you certainly have the potential to go well under 3 hours. A marathon goal of 2:50 is realistic. Your 1:25 half marathon time indicates a marathon time of 3 hours. You have the speed, make sure to work on endurance and sustaining a fast pace.

      Check that your treadmill speed is accurate so that your training paces are accurate and that 17:59 5K is accurate.
      https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/how-to-calibrate-or-check-accuracy-of-a-treadmill/

      • Jens W. says:

        Thanks for your advice! That’s interesting and I guess I will consider giving it a go towards a time around 2:50 – given that my current fitness level should allow a quicker half marathon than 2 years back, and it feels there’s still plenty of time for a decent build-up. Let’s see how this works out 😉

      • JensW says:

        Just quickly wanna say thank you for this little magic training plan! Finished my marathon in 2:53 today, despite heavy winds, cold temps and rain. Plus I was able to keep a relatively consistent pace throughout the whole race for the very first time in a marathon. Love it! 🙂

    • Looks like you did very well running a 2:53. Enjoy the achievement.

  30. Hi, great post! I have 28 weeks until my marathon. I’ve been running consistently for almost a year now, but my 5k time is 25:50. Any tips on modifying this plan to get my speed up?

    • A 25 minute 5K indicates a realistic/challenging goal of a 4 hour marathon.

      Running speed is the product of your stride frequency and stride length. The only way to run faster is to increase your stride frequency and/or stride length.

      If your stride frequency is much less than 180 steps per minute work on increasing it. Using a metronome can help with that.

      To increase your stride length, increase your spring/explosive power and your hip mobility. Do plyometric workouts such as bounding and single leg hops. Increase your mobility with lunges or stretches like the couch stretch. https://www.mobilitywod.com/propreview/couch-stretch-tight-hips-dont-go-in-the-pain-cave-mobility-project-episode-2/

      Once you get faster, increase your endurance at speed by gradually increasing the time/distance spent running fast.

      Best of success to you.

  31. My numbers…5 K in 18:36 10K 40:03 HM in 1:29:30 and Marathon 3:09:50.

    Got 10 weeks to go to Sevilla’s Marathon (flattest in Europe). Just started today this workout which I’m going to insert inside the resto of the IronMan training. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for swimming (and one of them for biking). A larger bike ride will be done during saturday or sunday. Is this too much?! I don’t get overtrained easily and I do recover very fast. Just did 2 marathons 1 month apart (3:14:50 and 3:09:50) and a long distance triathlon 3 weeks later (1,9swim 48:00; 94K with 1200mts alt 3:15, 21,1K 1:50)

    Iron man is just next September 24th but I do have another long distance triathlon on April 19th.

    PS- it seems like a great plan to get to sub 3:00

    • Noel Early says:

      My marathon time is similar to yours, 3.09.28. Very interested to see how you get on with this. Looks for a plan that reduces my running days, this seems to be very good on paper. Keep us updated and good luck.

    • Hello. I am in a similar situation than you (3:08 is my best time for the marathon) and will also run the Sevilla Marathon in February. Where do you live? I live in Madrid so maybe we could go out for a run some time if you do as well, otherwise, see you in Sevilla!

    • For Iron man triathlon training, I am aware of athletes that have had great success by modifying this plan. They do a brick workout for workout 3 – replacing the easy run portion of workout 3 with a long bike ride. They do most of their bike and swim training on the rest days of this program.

  32. BC says:

    Thanks for this plan, interested in starting it up for an end of Feb marathon in Phoenix. I live in Bend OR so I’ll be training through the winter. Do you have an opinion on doing some of the MP and Yasso’s on the treadmill (weather dependent)? Should I up the pace/incline to better simulate outdoor effort?

  33. Mauro says:

    Hello,
    My first marathon I ran it in 4´32¨, my best time is 3´09¨, I have run 10 marathons and it has been a long time that I can not get down 3´09¨. Have to fit strategy in training. I’ve done 800meter repetitions (14 times) each in 2min 40sec, and three long workouts of 22 miles before the maraton, What about training 22 miles?

    I have to pass the finish line in 2’59!
    Thanks and very interesting your training plan

    Mauro.

  34. EB says:

    Hi,
    I just signed up for a marathon in the end of April and put your plan into my calendar. I switched days of the week for the plan to do what works best for my schedule with the longer runs (Tempo – Tuesday, Yasso – Thursday and Long Run – Sunday).
    Looking at your plan you did 4 miles @ pace on Friday – 2 days – before the race. Is that right? The taper is longer than my usual tapers but less aggressive than what i am used to. This seemed like a lot to me but wanted to check. (4MP on Monday, 2 Yasso on Wednesday and, 4MP on Friday).
    Is this right? looking forward to starting up in the middle of January after I rebuild some base post-marathon last week.
    Thanks in advance,
    EB

    • It is not clear to me if you think the tapper is too much (not enough training the week before) or the Mileage at MP the week before is too much (not enough tapper).

      Tapering is a very personal thing. Some people respond well to nearly total rest, while others get stale stiff and loose fitness rapidly. The progression presented is what worked for me: Reduction in quantity, but maintenance of quality.

      The philosophy is to keep the routine and workouts going; not making any drastic changes. Just reduce the volume allowing the body to supper compensate and recover.

      You are not going to be able to make any gains in strength or endurance in a short period of time, but you can spike up or at least maintain your cardio vascular capacity by doing quality workouts like the 800s and MP running. Cardio vascular peak degrades quickly if you do not regularly exercise it.

  35. Greg Smith says:

    Curious how you would adjust this training to running a 50K?

    • I’m not sure I am qualified to make specific adjustments to this plan for it to be successful for a 50K. I’ve done 50Ks, but they were mountain trail events and took considerably longer than a road 50K would and are totally different and require a different training approach.

      If it is a road 50K, then this plan with just a bit more volume may be all that is needed. Extend the long run and the tempo (pace run) and adjust the training paces slower to match your goal 50K race pace. Leave the 800s the same.

      In the longer 50K, fueling becomes even more important. Try and get in at least 200 calories per hour. Practice more with fueling during training.

      A 50K is only 8K (5 miles) longer than a marathon. That may not seem like much, but it is. In a marathon, the first 20 miles usually go OK and the last 6.2 miles (10K) is a struggle. Imagine having to do another 5 miles after already struggling for 6 – welcome to the world of ultra-marathons at 50K. Adequate fueling becomes essential to success.

  36. Benjamin says:

    Thank you for sharing this helpful training plan; I’d like to run a marathon and this program looks to be the most promising.

    My details:
    31 year old Male
    approximately 200lbs (pretty lean, just big-boned as my mom would say)
    recently raced 15km in 55:30 (fastest run of my life)

    I’m attracted to your program because it minimizes the wear and tear induced by my weight. I’m just wondering if you would make any suggestions for an athlete like me (i.e., youngish, reasonably fit, heavier than average).

    Thank you

    • 55 minutes for 15K is impressive. It indicates you certainly have the ability to do a 3 hour marathon.

      Yes you are bigger than the typical marathon runner. Low volume high quality training such as the plan presented here is a logical approach for larger runners. Larger runners will naturally subject their bodies (especially feet and lower legs) to higher forces risking injury. Getting strong and staying strong is important. Just because you are big does not rule out that you can be fast.

      An example is Hunter Mcintyre https://twitter.com/huntthesheriff who successfully competes in endurance events with athletes that are typically 50 to 70 pounds lighter than he is. Strength training is an important ingredient of his success.

  37. Pingback: A Man with a Plan: My training regiment for my next marathon | Ego Running

  38. Anonymous says:

    Interesting plan, thanks. I’m 52 and have a recent 1:32 HM at altitude (~ 5300ft) so approx 7 min/mile pace. Using runworks’ calculator, that equates to 6:40 pace at sea level or 1:27. So if I plan to run a 3hr marathon at sea level but train for it at ~5300ft) I should train with this plan using a MP of 7 mins/mile?

  39. hankplank says:

    Thank you so much for this training plan. I switched to it halfway through a more conventional mile orientated programme that had left me bored and constantly exhausted- basically unmotivated. I entered a hilly marathon (Bungay Black Dog in UK) in April and managed 3.00.12. My previous best had been 3.09 ten years earlier, and I as I am now 48, I thought perhaps I’d never get sub 3. However those 12 seconds were irritating little creatures and motivated me to try again on a flatter course, Abingdon, UK- and I’m pleased to say I followed your advice again, also coming into it on about week 5. I posted 2.57.03, so I was over the moon, and I really do believe I wouldn’t have managed it on a more standard programme, which don’t seem to allow for older runners and recovery time. I would also like to say I was also elastic in my Yassos- I don’t live near a track so I was running to a bend, or a tree, and I tried to do as much as possible off road which helped the knees, even if it meant my average MP was sometimes about 15 seconds slower than it should have been. Its a really great programme, and I hope more people find out about it.

    • Hello. Congratulations on both times! I am also 48 and my best time is 3:08:42 which I did 7 years ago so my situation is quite similar. I really want to do a sub 3 and I am preparing for the Sevilla Marathon in February 19th (I live in Madrid). I have been doing this program for a couple of weeks but I feel like I am not running enough miles. I have a very unusual heart as well, it runs very fast so my threshold is about 174 BPM and my maximum heart rate is 196.
      I wanted to ask you about those tempo runs. When you were running them, was your perceived output very high? I did for example 4.5 miles today at a pace of 6:40 per mile however, the first two miles I was going under 175 and feeling tight but Ok but after that my heart rate went above 180 so I even had to slow down a bit during the last 10 minutes of the 30 minutes I did.
      The MP at the end of the long run is also quite challenging for me, I can’t go as low as 6:30 after 20 kilometers, at a 90% effort I can go at about 6:40 to 6:50.

      Any history from a very similar case like your is highly appreciated.

      Congratulations again!

      Juan Carlos Camacho

      • hankplank says:

        Hi there. Yes, to begin with I found the tempo runs hard, and I don’t think I was achieving 6.40 at all till about week 9 of the programme. I was more like 6.45 or even 6.55, but then I was often off road on rough tracks. I only really settled into a comfortable 6.40 marathon pace at my second attempt at a marathon this year. I would say be patient and it will gradually come down. For me I think what really made the difference was the relative speed of the Yassos against the slower marathon pace. I was ending up doing them as almost sprints, which was useful, because when you get to the MP runs your mind is tricked into thinking this is slower and easier and you can do this forever. And you almost can.
        The final thing about this programme I would say is that at 9mph or 6.40 per mile you think you have a nice 5 minute cushion to get under the magic 3 hours. I wondered whether that was too much, and I should aim for 6.45, 6.48, but actually having 6.40s in the bag was very useful getting to mile 21, 22, when in my experience I started to rapidly slow down and there was nothing I could do about it. Whether having run more miles in training would have changed this I don’t know- I suspect not, because for me the best thing about this programme is the built in recovery time, which perhaps younger runners don’t need. Good luck in Seville!

      • Raj Rohilla says:

        Hi Juan,
        I’m interested in talking to you about the heart rate. I’m a 34 year old person. I started running in 2009 and till 2012 consistently improved my marathon and other times.
        Marathon: 3:38, 3:26, 3:08, 3:07
        5ks: 21, 19:37, 18:55
        10ks: 42, 40, 39:12
        However, I have unusually high heart rate. A 9 min/mile jog elevates it to around 165-170. 180 at 8 min/mile. 190 for around 7-7:15 min/mile and I max out at around 197-200.

        I took a break from running from April 2012 (after running Boston) till about 4 months back.

        I am about 40 sec/mile slower at every distance from 5k to 25k in comparison to my best times but I feel confident that I’ll get back there. My heart rate is still tracking like it used to but with slower paces of course.

        I wonder if I should consult a doctor? I otherwise am healthy and have never been on any medication.

        Have you found any resources of faster than normal heart rate?

        Raj

      • Hello Raj.

        I am much older than you but I remember being able to get my heart rate to 200 at your age. I can still get it to 194 when doing intervals. I have gone to the doctor about this and have done tests but apparently there is nothing wrong with my heart. I would suggest you do the same but I suspect your result will be similar. I have not literature or articles about this “condition” of ours but I have consulted coaches and they have told me it is more desirable to have this situation rather than having the opposite. What event are you preparing for?

        Salud!

        Juan Carlos.

  40. kevin2 says:

    Semoga tempat makan ini jadi terkenal karena masuk blog pak Budi , Aerith

  41. nic says:

    Maximising quality over quantity seems to be working for me. After managing the same times in half marathons this year as I did last year, and thereafter beginning training for a November marathon (though joining in the middle peak of the programme), the half marathon this past weekend broke through that ceiling. And feeling good.

  42. Frank may says:

    Am really delighted to have come across this training plan. Will be 56 in two days time and have always advocated Quality before Quanity in food,running or anything basically. Will have to work on getting my 5k time down before getting bogged down in the training plan but this plan really is a revelation and should keep most people interested and not bored from consecutive days of long hard minotinous runs. Variety is the spice of life will come back to let yous know how I get on good luck to everybody following this plan Frank

  43. LostKiwi says:

    Thank you very much for this workout. I plan to follow it closely, aiming for 3 hours for the Canberra Marathon (Australia) in April, which means that I will be starting my training in the first week of January 2017.

    My PB marathon is 3h15m, and that was without following an exact plan. However it was 9 years ago and I haven’t done one since. I will be 39 next year when I do my target race. I’m currently clocking around 40-50 kms a week (25 – 31 miles) and feel I have a reasonable base, however my pace may be a little off the mark, given that I can only manage around 20 mins for a 5km pace run. I hope to do some pace work before I start the plan.

    I don’t think I have the energy or schedule to be able to train 6 days a week for a marathon so this is exactly what I was hoping for. With most of the alternative training plans I just don’t think my body will manage the fatigue of training every single day – even now at 5 runs a week I get some ‘bad days’ and I just don’t think I can afford too many of them when training specifically for a marathon.

    So at the moment this is really nothing more than a quick thank you, however I will look to update my post a few weeks into the plan with my thoughts on how I will cope with it, as well as an update after the marathon.

  44. Aaron Gross says:

    I used this plan training in the Boise summer heat. In the past, I had run a 1:27 half and ran some half marathons on sand dunes with good times. I decided to use this plan for my first marathon at my own pace. I was shooting for anywhere from 3:00 hours to 3:10 to qualify for Boston. I ran a 3:03 in the Portland marathon last Sunday to finish top 100 and qualify. The training runs are all different and I didn’t get burnt out running only 3 days a week. Stoked on my run.

  45. Pramod Banstola says:

    Hi there, I found this to be the most workable training plan. Just a few queries :
    1. I am 43 yrs & started running a year back. My PB half marathon time has been 01:37hrs & I have done one full marathon in 04:03 hrs. I wish to train for a full marathon in 03:00 to 03:15. Is it possible to achieve my target?
    2. I have not been able to breach 45 mins mark for 10k distance, do you think I will be able to achieve my target time & how long do you think should I give myself to train without injuries. I am a dedicated runner & would work hard to attain the desired result.

    • 1. Is it possible to improve you marathon time from 4 hours to 3 hours? Yes, but it will take time and work. That is a huge improvement. What you have going for you is that you have only been running for 1 year. If you are smart and avoid injury and train consistently, you can expect to improve for 7 years. That is the time it takes for the body to totally adapted to a new life style and recreate yourself.

      2. You will need to improve your 10K time down to 40 minutes before you can expect to be able to run a 3 hour marathon. Give yourself at least several years of consistent training. Be patient.

      • Pramod Banstola says:

        Thank you for your precious time Sir. And yes I am ready to progress slow & steady, injury free. Will work on my 10k time first. Thanks once again for the guidance.

  46. John Smithurst says:

    Like this a lot,i had a PB time in the Marathon of 2:43 at the age of 43.I wished i had the logic of your schedule,i think i could have gone under the 2;40 i was always aiming for.

  47. Nostromos says:

    Hi there. Just did the 1:50 easy run today but left the 5 miles MP. Not enough time…… I will do the rest Tomorrow. Is that OK??. The rest of the schedule keeps going very well. I target a 3.5 hour in Athens marathon.

    • No, that defeats the purpose of the workout. The idea is to finish your long run with some MP running to duplicate the running at MP when fatigued.

      • Nostromos says:

        Greetings from Greece! Thnx for the reply!!! Well that happened once. The 2 hours and 6 miles going very good. I just get a gel 5 min before the MP. Till now my Tempo and interval workouts getting great and no injury at all. Today did my 9 x 800 intervals with 3,30 speed and 3,30 rest . Am doing the hall workout with new balance minimus zero drop shoes. With them am gonna run the marathon. Last year did 3.56 with another pair like these. On Sunday there is a 30 km race with some climb. Do you think I should avoid doing that?
        Also is it necessary to finish all the taper weeks?? If I miss 2 and doubt the last 2 of the schedule??
        Best regards
        Panos

  48. Thanks for the great training plan. I am 51 and training for this year’s NYC marathon. I just switched over to this plan at the week 14 mark. This will be my fourth marathon after starting running about 4 years ago (4:12-during an Ironman, 3:23, 3:08 (Boston), and 3:04 was the progression). I used the 55-70 plan from Peter Pfitzinger before Boston 2015 and had reasonable result even though the weather was less than ideal. I did feel a bit over-trained before Boston especially after doing a 1:26 HM but didn’t take any rest afterwards (did a 18 mile running the day after for instance). After Boston I only had 7 weeks before the second marathon (a downhill gravel course) but I clearly felt the over training effect as I died pretty bad towards the end. This will be another try at breaking three it may not happen due to NYC’s course but I will give it a go anyway. Your plan looks great fit for me as I just can’t bear the prospective of running everyday and not getting injured.

    I did modified the plan a bit as I have an international travel in the middle of the training cycle. What I did was to start with 5 yasso 800 and 5 mile tempo from week 1, and added a recovery week in the middle of the travelling week doing only 6 reps and 6 mile tempo. Hopefully this won’t screw up the training too much. So far I’ve done 1 week and half and seem to be able to hope the prescribed pace ok.

    A couple of questions:
    1. In my calculation, the starting MPW is around 30 and peak at around 45 or so. Would this mileage be too low for breaking 3 as I fear the lack of training under stress may impact the running after mile 18 or 20?
    2. Is Yasso 800, though being very popular, a little too short interval for Marathon training? I was thinking maybe 1200-2000 repeats are more appropriate.
    3. Is running only 6 miles at race pace at the end of the long run too short for this? I was thinking maybe doing 8-12 miles at MP towards the peak and shorten the “time on feet” time accordingly.

    Thanks again for the great training schedule.

    • Thanks for your comment. A three hour marathon is within your reach.

      Regarding modifying this training plan, yes, everyone is different and will respond differently to various training stimuli. If you think longer MP runs and portions on long runs (Q1,3) work better or longer intervals (Q2), I encourage you to experiment and see what works better for you. Especially if you are healthy and do not need a minimal plan to avoid injury. Let us know your results.

      This plan is simple and worked for me. It is a minimum effective dose training plan utilized to accomplish a particular goal (3 hour marathon) under particular circumstances (avoiding injury). It is not an ideal for plan for me to maximize my potential and it certainly is not ideal for all runners in general. Tweaking it to better suit your needs and match your training knowledge and experience makes sense. Best of success. You are very close

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for your reply to my questions, and thanks again for the program. I’ve completed 6 weeks of training based on this program (just finished 10×800@2:55, 10 miles@6:45, and 2 hours running + 6@6:45 last week without any injuries. I couldn’t speed up on the tempo and long runs much more than 6:45 as I was primarily running on gravel surface with heavier trail shoes). I added one more easy run during the week so my weekly mileage is roughly 50 MPW + a couple of trainer cycling sessions on ZWIFT. After this week, I will see if I can incorporate some faster tempo runs or do longer intervals but so far so good with the program.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mark, how did NYC go?

  49. Daniel says:

    Hello ,

    This program looks perfect for me, I’m a little late in training and wondering if you recommend doing 11 weeks of training but at 6 day weeks ? ( day of rest after each run ) Or just start at week 4 ? with the usual 2 day rest once a week ??

    I’m aiming for sub 3:20 last one was 3:27 a year ago.

    Thanks

    • No. Ramping up to quickly can lead to injuries. If you can handle starting with the week 4 training load, give that a try. If you have good base and the week 4 workouts are easy that may work.

      • Daniel says:

        Thanks for your reply , I did week 4 mp and long run ok . 800s were not easy but managed to finish all !! Will keep training and see how I progress. Thanks

  50. Kenneth Coakley says:

    Hi, I have started this plan for a marathon in October. Please feel free to advise me if and where I am going wrong. My 5km are 17: 50, 10km 37:30, half Mar 1hr.25. I was doing my 800 runs, 3 mins on with 1 min recovery (jogging) – doing 6 of them at 5.30 pace before I came across this plan. I ran my last marathon in January 3.07, now trying to break 3hrs. Any suggestions, what would you recommend? ?

    • Your 5K and 10K times indicate that you have the potential to easily break 3 hours. You are under performing in the Half indicating you need to put in some longer runs.

      Given your potential and speed. I recommend you set a goal for a 2:50:00 marathon. Do your Yasso 800s in 2:50 and pick a marathon training in the 6:20 to 6:30 per mile range.

  51. Mark Temple says:

    Hi., just writing to say thanks for this site. Even with a slight knee injury, i posted a 3 hr 17 time (a 8 min plus pb) at edimburgh marathon with this plan so thanks again….

    I aim to use it again in Autumn to get under 3 hr 15!

  52. rob says:

    Thank you so much. just did 2:58:37 on sunday. (5th attempt to crack 3!)
    your methods worked a treat.

  53. Gion says:

    Hi, I think that this article is extremely interesting and I will try to follow. Many thanks.

    Only a doubt. Aren´t the long easy runs to slow? I mean how is it possible to run a marathon at. 4:10 if you train your body to maintain this pace only up to 40 minutes?

    My worrying is that the easy run at around 5.00/5.30 doesn´t really train your body.

    Thanks!

    • For a 4 hour marathon goal, the MP portion at the end of the long run will be 6 miles times 9 minutes per mile or 54 minutes not 40 minutes.

      • pintu says:

        First of all Thanks a lot to post such detailed workout plan. I am targeting sub 4 hour marathon and would like to know according to this plan maximum miles on long easy runs would be 16 miles. (long easy run 2 hrs at 12 min/mile – 10 miles plus 6 miles at MP). Is it possible on race day to run for 4 hrs (26.2 miles) but actually trained only 16 miles (3hrs) ? Please provide your valuable suggestion.

  54. Jeffrey Furst says:

    I have one more question. I know you said, the plan can be adapted to other finishing times. So, I’m looking at a 4:45 finishing time. So Yasso and Tempo runs are now at a 10:52 pace. My question, just to clarify, my long runs are still the same time, but at my pace. So Week 1 of my Long Run would still be 1H:30MM timed at a slower pace (12min), but then run 1 mile at MP. And so on at the plan outlines…

    Again, thanks for your feedback…

  55. Nicolas says:

    One final question on prerequisites. Can I have 6 months of continuous running before I start this marathong training as opposed to a year if I am aiming for a slower time like 5hrs?

  56. Nicolas says:

    Two other things. Rachel posted that she repeated each week of training. Is there a risk that 28 weeks of training could lead to burn out? I’m a newbie and plan to use this plan for a slower race time.

    Also I notice there are no recovery/cut back weeks apart from tapering. Would a long training plan going only upwards risk burn out? Or could I add a cut back week every 3rd week?

    • This plan is intended for seasoned experienced runners needed to maximize their marathon potential. It is not intended for building a base or developing general running experience. Just run for a year or so.

  57. Dale says:

    Hello Thank you for taking the time and expressing your experience. I have been running for about 4 years now I have 4 marathons, 2 half ironman’s, 1 full ironman and a hand full of 5k-10k races. I have been chasing a dream to get to Boston sense I started running. I can run a 5k at 18:03 10km at 37:00 and a half marathon at 1:27. Everything points in the direction to running a 3hr marathon being possibly but I cant seam to break a full of 3:33…. I was directed by a running room coach that I didn’t log enough km’s ( last training session was 245km). they gave me a 19 week plan with close to 1400km… This seams nuts mon,fri,sat are steady runs tue,fri a tempo/pace and sunday a lsd then every0ther week there is a day off on one of the steady runs. I was wondering of your opnion of this…?

    • Sorry Dale, I’m not qualified to comment on another plan that I am not familiar with.

      The plan I presented in this blog post is a Minimum Effective Dose type of plan where the emphasis is on quality not quantity.

      Personally, LSD and steady runs and logging lots of miles at slow paces did not work for me. You may be different and need to spend lots of time on your feet logging miles (KMs).

      Try the minimalist plan. If it does not work, try a more traditional high mileage plan.

      You are also underperforming in the Half compared to your 10K and 5K times. This indicates you are perhaps running out of energy as the distance increases. I suggest you also work on fueling during your marathon and work on running fast in an unfueled state – a long easy run with no fuel immediately leading into a tempo or marathon pace run

  58. Zo says:

    Thanks for this!

    I’m running my first Marathon in November and really want to get close to the 3 hour mark.

    I’m only running for 3-4 months, and currently at a 21 minute 5k.

    I have 22 weeks left to the Marathon. Do you think I can start this program if I get to a 19 minute 5k in 7 weeks?

    I currently only run 2-3 times per week but I think i’m really fast for only running 4 months.

    Thanks in advance:)
    Zo

    • Yes Zo, you may possess better than average natural talent.

      The risk of trying to improve so quickly is the potential of injury.

      Remember the prerequisites are a 19 minute 5K AND at least a year of running 3 to 4 hours per week. You do not have that 2nd prerequisite either.

      Connective tissue takes the longest to adapt to training loads. Cardio Vascular responds the quickest, then muscles then connective tissue (Tendons, cartilage, ligaments). It is tendon problems (plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, Iliotibial band syndrome) that usually lead to the most injuries that sideline runners.

      You can certainly try this workout plan. It will improve your 5K time along with your marathon potential. But the intense paces may lead to injuries.

      What I recommend is that you adapt the plan to your current 5K pace 21 minutes. That is a marathon time of 3:20:00, Yasso 800s in 3:20 and marathon training pace of 7:50.

      Another possibility is to increase the length of the plan by slowing the progression. See comment below by Rachel and my comment dated May 30, 2016 12:40 PM.

  59. Jeff Furst says:

    I’m about to start training for my 2nd marathon. I’m excited to use this training plan. My question is: Is the sequence of workouts matter? I’m planning on doing Mon/Yasso, Wed/Tempo and Sat/Long Run. Does it matter?

    • Jeff,

      The order of the workouts is not critical. What is critical is to feel recovered and fresh for the next workout. This means spacing the training days out.

      Which workout beats you up the most (Yassos, Long Run, MP Tempo) will vary from person to person. Ideally, the workout that is the hardest fir you and leaves you the most fatigued is the one that should be followed by the two days recovery.

      • Jeffrey Furst says:

        Thanks for your answer. I’m excited to use this plan for my 2nd full marathon.

  60. Nicolas says:

    So does running a good 5k mean you can train for a faster marathon?

    I start marathon training in December. Would a good plan be to focus exclusively on improving my 5k performance from now till October then in November start focusing on distance and building up to week 1 of marathon training in December?

    • Work on fulfilling both of the prerequisites. Running a fast 5K and being consistent with totaling at least 3 to 4 hours every week running. And never more than two days off in a row.

  61. Kieran says:

    Thanks for writing this. A couple weeks ago I tried for a 3:05 and bonked I believe because I didn’t train with a big enough time buffer. Running fast enough for official splits of 7:04 (~6:55s) was too hard for me to maintain on last month’s course.

    I searched for a plan more focused on speed and getting comfortable at race pace, and here I am. I set a PR of 3:10 last fall and ran a 19:01 5K in late March. Close enough. I’m going for it. If I can maintain paces through this plan, I expect I’ll break 3. If I have to back off 10s/mi in my training, that will at least get my 3:05 finish needed to BQ.

    I’ll be back to post my experiences, good or bad.

    • Kieran says:

      1 week in, and this is hard. I hit my paces, but I was going all out at the end of the pace run, and I had no sense of pacing at the end of the long run. I was behind pace for the first 1/4mi after the 90 min mark then overcompensated and finished with a 6:35. I don’t feel like I can add even 1 more mile to these workouts without slowing down, but I’ll try.

      I’m hoping it felt extra difficult because I haven’t really been running the previous few weeks after my last race and this week will be better.

    • Kieran says:

      My marathon was yesterday. I came in 11 min off my goal, but despite falling well short of a BQ, I liked the program. It got me my second fastest finish without much mileage and training time. I think the program would have worked, but I couldn’t maintain my paces throughout the summer. It was a struggle to maintain my actual goal pace (with no buffer) especially at the end of the long runs. I should have changed my goal time to correspond with my actual paces, but then I’d be starting the race knowing I wouldn’t make Boston, so what’s the point? I went for the gusto and bonked.

      I think my training before starting the 14 weeks didn’t have enough tempo runs. I was trying to play catch up with speed while building mileage, and that doesn’t work for me. I’m good at building distance but struggle getting faster at any distance.

      In the race, I was on pace for 15 miles (struggling after about 12), but obviously that was too fast a pace for my training speeds, and I fell apart. I need a better speed base before starting. I’m pacing my brother for a 3:45 at NYC. If I feel good at the end, I’ll know for sure that the volume of this program is enough for me and my problem was the speed.

      I’ll do more tempo runs through the winter and maybe try this program again next spring if a 6:40 feels fairly comfortable in February. I think my winter goal will be an 18:30 5k. Then I’ll feel good about going after a sub 3-3:05 marathon in May.
      Again, thanks for writing this program.

      • If you have trouble completing the workouts, either adjust your race goal and resulting training paces or repeat training weeks and extend the progression.

        Here is a previous post on fatigue (bonking):
        https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/figuring-out-fatigue-2/

        When your fitness is a bit lacking, you have the best chance of still having a good race by super fueling. If you can stomach it, take 300 to 400 calories per hour.

      • Kieran says:

        Thanks. You already wrote that, and I took that advice in the middle of my training. I rolled back 4 weeks and picked a different race when one run was a whole 30s off pace. I picked up some time doing this but not enough. I basically started the race hoping for a miracle, since this was my only shot this season.

        I took about 250 cal/hr which is the max my stomach will allow from experience. I wish I could blame nutrition, but it’s really the simple truth that if you don’t hit your training paces in a well designed program, you’re not going to hit your desired race paces predicted by the program. Even though my plan was designed for a 3:05, the actual runs I was putting in were only preparing me for a 3:10-15. When you try to run faster than what you’re trained for, you’re going to crap out in one way or another barring a miracle. My muscles gave out (painful quads and hams, borderline cramping for miles despite being well hydrated).

        I think the only solution is actually run the training runs at the necessary paces. Now I just have to figure out how to do that next year whether it’s a faster base from the off season, better management of sleep and nutrition, or cutting out distractions from the plan like trail races.

  62. Rachel says:

    This program is amazing. I started following it a few weeks after running 3:17 at a marathon in mid February. I knew I wasn’t technically quite ready, since my 5k was only 19:56, and my 10k was stuck around 40:20-40:40, so I made a few tweaks.

    1) I repeated each week twice to allow my body to adapt more slowly to the new intensity.

    2) I started the long run easy base at 2:00, and added only 5min easy and 1mi at MP every other week because I also run ultras so already have a big low-end aerobic base.

    I actually only got to week 5 of the program before my latest marathon because of tapering for and resting after a 50-mile race in April. However, I’ve so far set PRs in 5k (during a 1/2 marathon!), 10k and half-marathon.

    The culmination though, was yesterday, May 29th, a 3:03:25 marathon! Almost 15 minutes faster after only getting through half of the program so far!!

    I think this is a wonderful program for those of us who want to run sub-3 but are injury-prone, and/or simply not used to running fast. The other thing I did was to add a day or two of very easy runs on the second week I would repeat the program. So I’d do the prescribed week with 3 runs, then repeat it with the added 1-2 easy runs before mo I got onto the next prescribed week. Since my goal is to run sub-3 this year, there is no rush, and going more slowly works really well while allowing me to stick with the workouts and stay more healthy than I have in the past trying to follow more conventional 5-6 runs/week programs.

    Thank you so much for helping us sub-3 marathon wannabes!

    • Thanks for the kind comments. Congratulations on your success. Glad to see you personally adapt the training by slowing the progression to suite your needs. Your wise creative approach and consistency of effort demonstrates life skills that will serve you well in all your endeavors. Bravo.

    • Nicolas says:

      So does that mean you followed a 28 week marathon training programme? I didn’t know you could spend that amount of time training for a marathon. Does it make it easier having a slower progression? Or is it more tiring because you’re training for longer?

  63. Nicolas says:

    Can this work for a 5 hour marathon? It means more time on feet. Can I check the longest workouts aren’t overdoing it?

    I calculated the times for the longest of each workout below

    Run times

    Tempo max just over 2hrs

    Yasso Max 1hr 40 min

    Long run max – 3hrs 8mins

    • Yes, training for a 5 hour marathon, you will logically spend significantly more time on your feet – your projected workout times look OK.

      Yes, the 10 Yasso 800s during weeks 9 and 10 will be (10 X (5:00 + 5:00)) = 1:40:00 plus the warmup time.

      If you want to cut some corners and shorten the workouts you can shorten the 5 minute recovery time between the work portions of the intervals. If you are fully recovered after 4 minutes, might as well start the next Yasso 800. The only other place you could cut some time out is to skip a bit of the easy portion of the long run.

      Here are some suggested paces for various goal marathon times.

      For a 5:00:00 Marathon: Yasso 800s in 5:00. Marathon Training Pace is 11:00 per mile.

      For a 4:30:00 Marathon: Yasso 800s in 4:30. Marathon Training Pace is 10:00 per mile.

      For a 4:00:00 Marathon: Yasso 800s in 4:00. Marathon Training Pace is 9:00 per mile.

      For a 3:30:00 Marathon: Yasoo 800s in 3:30. Marathon Training Pace is 8:00 per mile.

      • Nicolas says:

        Thank you. That’s really helpful. I was more worried about the long run to be honest. My first time at marathon training I followed a plan that had me running 20 miles as my long run (as most plans do). But because I’m relatively new to running and slower that meant a 4 hour long run. I’ve read that you should not run longer than 3 hours. That 20 miler took its toll on me.

  64. Anonymous says:

    I hope to run a 3 hour marathon. I have run 3;11. Is it possible to get to 3 hours even if I can’t break 20 minutes for a 5K and meet this plans 19 minute 5K prerequisite?

    • Hope maybe a nice attitude, but it is not a strategy or implementable plan required to accomplish a specific goal.

      Is it possible to run a 3 hour marathon when you only have 20 minute 5K speed? Yes it is possible, but not very likely as you will be bending the rules of physiology.

      If you embark on this training plan either of two things will happen:

      1. You will have a hard time finishing the progression of workouts for a 3 hour marathon and fail.

      2. Or if you do finish the progression, you will not only be able to run a 3 hour marathon, but will also easily break 20 minutes for the 5K.

      There are performance formulas and tables that equate 5K performance to potential marathon performance. Depending which formula or table you use, you will find that a 20 minute 5K projects a time pretty close to your marathon time of 3:11.

      A general rule of thumb is that your pace slows down from 12 to 20 seconds per mile each time you double the race distance. 5K to marathon approximately doubles distance 3 times: 5K to 10K to Half to Marathon. So your marathon pace will be typically 36 to 60 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace.

      Someone who is better at speed and short distances or undertrained for long distance will slow down more than the a person who is endurance oriented and highly trained for long distance. Faster elite runners slow down less then recreational runners as race distance increases.

      For a runner with a 3 hour marathon potential, the slowdown is typically in the middle or about 50 seconds per mile. Adding 50 seconds per mile to the mile pace (6:25) of a 20 minute 5K yields a 7:15 mile marathon pace and a Marathon time of 3:10.

      Or you can predict your marathon potential from your Yasso 800s. For this training plan, you do the 800s at close to your 5K pace. 20 minute 5K pace is 3:12 per 800. This yields a marathon time of 3:12, 7:20 mile pace.

  65. Tanner Bryan says:

    This training plan looks ideal for my upcoming marathon in October. I finished a 5k in 18:22 and my last 10K was 41:12. So I feel confident in the pace that are laid. The 800s will be the most challenging but with the buildup seems doable.

    My question- What do you suggest for off days? Would you include any weight training to build muscle? The only thing that makes me leary is only 3 days a week of training. Previously I’ve done 5 days a week; but haven’t broke 3:15 yet. So I am open for any suggestions/tips!

    Thank you!

    • See the above section titled:
      What to do on the Rest Days, Tuesday, Thursday and Weekend (Saturday, Sunday)

      There are a few caveats to keep in mind:

      Remember, this is a minimal training plan. Consider it a minimum effective dose of training to get the desired results. Analogous to medicine, where the minimum effective dose of a given treatment helps, but too much can sometimes have negative effects.

      Runners seem to have this fear of not doing enough. Consistency is important. Yet you do not want to overdo it. From both a health and a performance perspective, it is better to be slightly undertrained than over trained.

      In regards to weight training your goal should be strength not bulk (hypertrophy). 5 Sets of 5 Reps at 50% to 80% of your max weight seems to work well for strength. More volume (both sets and reps) will yield gains in size – undesirable for a runner. Weight training once or twice a week at the most is OK. Try to avoid getting sore muscles. DOMS – Delayed onset muscle soreness may peak a day or two after a hard workout. This indicates that you have damaged your muscles – typically micro tearing from eccentric loading (contracting while lengthening) that can take a week or so to completely heal. Focus on strengthening the lower legs, gluteus and core using simple exercises like squats and planks.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I reached a point in the progression where I fail at completing the workouts. What should I do?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cut back, take a rest, aim for a more realistic time, use your loaf….

    • Going to failure in workouts is best to be avoided. In weight training, it is common to push till failure (the point where you can’t do any more reps). In endurance training, training to failure is not such a good idea as it can lead to poor form, injuries, exhaustion and over training. It is better to finish a workout feeling you could do a little bit more.

      Save maximum efforts pushing to failure for Races.

      Train to Gain, Race to Failure.

      If you can’t complete a workout, it is too hard for you. It is either too long or too fast of pace.

      If the workouts are too hard you can either:

      Adjust your goal time slower and your training paces slower till you can complete the workouts.
      Or
      You can go back 3 weeks in the progression; restarting the buildup from there.

      The second option will lengthen the training plan. It adds a bit of periodization to the progression giving your body more time to adapt to the harder work outs.

  67. pspsharj says:

    I really like the look of this training plan. One question – where I live is pretty hilly. When doing the MP runs would you recommend running a constant 6:40 pace up and down, or slow down on the uphill and pick it up on the down for an average 6:40 pace overall?

    • Probably best to shoot for consistent effort which means slower on the uphill and faster on the downhill.

      Undulating courses will be slower than flat courses. It seems unfair, but the reality is that runners slow down more and loose more time on the uphill then they can speed up and gain back on the downhill.

      When you pick a goal marathon to register for, try to train on similar terrain as the race course or on the actual race course itself if possible.

  68. Jason says:

    I have a marathon in September and have always done my ‘long run’ Sunday morning (as per the day of the marathon).. to slightly tweak the program, would I be better doing work out 1 or 3 on this day? Then obviously moving the other works out accordingly?

    • Anonymous says:

      Moving around the workouts to meet your schedule is OK as long as you do not do back to back work outs

  69. Anonymous says:

    Hello, have found this thread and am going to use it to prepare for Amsterdam in October! Am always injury prone so the idea of doing enough but not too much is very appealing!

  70. Anonymous says:

    Hello!

    I have to say a huge thank you to you for this training plan.
    I followed this in preparation for the London Marathon which I completed on Sunday in 2:57:45!
    Absolutely delighted with my time and I hold your plan responsible…

    Cheers
    Scott

  71. Nicolas Garcia says:

    Do you need to have a lot of miles in your legs to work on just 3 runs a week or can a relatively new runner run just 3 runs a week and make good progress with marathon times?

    • See the Prerequisites section above.

      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 think you can make good progress as a relatively new runner.

      • Nicolas Garcia says:

        Hi. I was not clear in my recent question. I understand I need to meet the prerequisites to train using the paces in this plan. What I meant by my question is can a new runner train to finish a marathon on just 3 runs a week? And can they continue to improve on each marathon by just running 3 runs a week?

      • Further thoughts given your recent clarifications:

        This training plan is a “minimum effective dose” type of approach meant to prep specifically for a goal marathon. It would become redundant and boring when employed year round or long term and may lose its effectiveness.

        You could employ it on a periodic basis perhaps two or three cycles per year. The body responds to novelty and newness in training. Doing the same thing over long periods of time leads to staleness and injury.

        As regards to 3 times a week being enough to maintain or gain fitness during non-targeted training cycles? Yes, in my opinion that is enough. Provided they are hard workouts. But hard workouts need to be spaced out by at least a day to allow the body to recover. Yet, anything over three days rest between hard workouts and the body will lose fitness. Consistency is important to build fitness over time. 3 hard training runs of varying types (intervals, tempo, long) is enough to improve running ability.

        You should do some movement every day even if it is just a leisurely walk, bike ride or very easy run. It is being sedentary that causes the body to loose or not gain fitness.

  72. Bert says:

    Just curious to why a 4 week taper? Seems long – enough time to lose conditioning. Also, is it correct that the final 4-mile MP run should be done the day before the race? While the 4-week taper looks to be really easy & recovery focused, this last run the day before the race seems too much.

    • Bert, You may be right that a 4 week taper is too much.

      The idea is to get to race day fully recovered, rested and hungry to run fast and long. It takes weeks for muscles to heal and repair from the rigors of marathon training. It is also a personal thing. Some people do better with short tapers, some with long.

      Depending upon the day of the race (Saturday or Sunday) the timing of the last MP run of 4 miles does not fall on the day before the race. If it does, it may be too much. But it is important to do some movement the day before the race. In my experience, sitting around resting all day the day before the race is counter productive and leaves one feeling stiff heavy and lethargic. Not the way you want to feel going into a race. You want to feel light, springy, energetic – ready to race.

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  75. Double A says:

    Hi I also did the Brighton marathon (UK) yesterday, am going back next year and this might just be the programme I’ve been looking for. Nice amount of volume and not too complicated. Would like to go under 3:30 managed 4:39:03 this year.

  76. King Diggens says:

    just run my first marathon (brighton uk) and just want to say thank you! after 5 weeks of my own plan i found yours and did it for the last 9 weeks, finished the run yesterday with a time of 2.58.59
    thanks again
    king

  77. willie brazil says:

    Question about the long easy run,
    Week 12 calls for 1 hour 20 mins long easy time plus 40 mins @ MP which is 2 hours total but on the plan the total time is 2 hours 10 mins, should the long easy time be 1 hour 30 mins?
    Also, week 13 calls for 1 hour long easy time plus 40 mins @ MP but the total time is only 40 mins, presumably this should be 1 hour 40 mins?
    I’m up to week 11 and enjoying it but I have to say I’m struggling with the MP miles at the end of the long easy runs, I’m nailing the yassos but they’re taking a lot out of me and I’m still not recovered in time for the long run 2 days later.

    • If the workouts are too much of a struggle, you may have to set your marathon time goal a bit slower and adjust the training paces accordingly. The workouts should get very tough and you will welcome the taper and rest days. Remember to practice refueling for the MP portion of the long runs. Taking in some calories should give you a boost.

      Yes you caught a typo regarding week 13. Thanks.

  78. Paul says:

    Hi my friend and I are following your schedule for a sub 4. It’s great but we are wondering whether a slow 15 and a quick 6, (we did 21 today), will equate to a sub 4 hour on race day because we’ve never run faster than 10 mins per mile for the first 15. Should we try a run with faster first 15? Just wondered what you thought?

    • Completing the 12 Mile Marathon Pace Run (Week 10) and feeling like you can easily keep going is a reliable indicator that your goal is realistic. Or being able to hit all 10 Yasso 800’s (Week 10) at MP expressed in minutes.

      Not sure what pace you ran the 6 at or how fatigued you were after the 15 to say yeah or nay.

      • Paul Holland says:

        Hi we did the 6 miles in an average of 0830 mins

      • Paul Holland says:

        Hi we did the 6 miles in an average of 0830 mins and week 10 all ten Yassos done in average of 0720. 12 mile run seemed slightly harder but did that in 0900s

  79. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    You mention choosing a marathon with amenities. I’ve chosen one, but it doesn’t have GELs, just electrolytes. Do you suggest carrying GUs or would that slow you down too much? Should I choose another marathon?

    • Odd that a marathon does not have some form of calories at aid stations. If the Electrolytes you mention are actually a sport drink (calorie dense), that may be enough. Remember 100 to 200 calories per hour. If you do not think you can get that from what is available at aid stations, then you will have to carry something. Gels or Blocks. 400 to 600 Calories total.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this. I am a 48 YO man running my first marathon in late May. I have been on a six day a week plan and finding it too much, so I’ve had to cut it back to four days – I might go to three after this. Did a 1:25min HM recently – first time I had run that distance – not sure I am quite there in terms of hitting sub 3hr but will try anyway.

  81. david says:

    hi, do you think it’s wise to switch the yasso runs every once in a while with short hill training?

    • David says:

      I can’t speak for the author, but I would say no. I use short hill repeats after the tempo or long run for strength building, but they supplement rather than replace a workout.

  82. Chien Wijaya says:

    it’s not easy but i will try your program, my fastest marathon is 4:07. Very slow than other, thanks for your post to keep my motivation

  83. david says:

    thanks a lot for your program, I’m loving the straight forward approach, it looks simple and efficient, I’ve adapted it and on week 2. i do have two concerns:
    1. the program never goes past 20km at MP, that’s a big leap of self faith to make on race day
    2. how hard should the training feel to me? should i be done on every workout or have more in me – i’m on week 2 and some of the training feels hard – not sure if i’m falling behind or that’s exactly the purpose.

    and again – thanks!

    • Yes, during the race you will cover over twice the distance at race pace compared to what you did in training. It is common for runners to enter a half marathon a month or so before a goal marathon race and run the half marathon at marathon race pace. It is a check of fitness and a tune up. The idea is to train enough to get fit and fast, but not over train. Avoiding injury and burnout is more important than not training enough. Better to be a bit undertrained than over trained.

      Yes, the workouts should feel hard. Especially the 800 meter intervals and the marathon pace running. In the later weeks as you taper and cut back, they should start feeling easy. You should feel like you are not doing enough.

      If the workouts are too hard and you can not complete them. They your goal pace is to fast. You need to adjust to a slower goal. Remember the prerequisites for a 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.

      • david says:

        hey, thanks for the answer!
        so far i’m completing the workouts fine so I’ll keep it up and see how it goes.
        I’ve just registered for a half a month before the marathon.

        i will definitely post here after the marathon – if i hit the 2:59 i’m buying you a beer!

  84. ShiraDest says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I am working on my first marathon, the Marathon Vert, 23 October, trying to work up slowly after pulling my tendon last year doing Yoga, and with an ACL (the opposite leg) torn in 1993; so at 46 yr old, I am taking it slowly. But I figure that a 5hour marathon should be doable in 9months, from a regular walker start, no? I actually began running last year, but re-started nearly from 0 this November after a 9 week illness.
    ShiraDest

  85. Scott says:

    I finished my 1st marathon (Paris 2014) in 3:01:07 and was left feeling that I over-trained, I had nothing left in my legs to make up that pesky 1minute 7seconds. I’m really excited about this plan and the prospect of breaking that 3 hour threshold in this years London race but will struggle to fit the long run in on a Friday. Would shifting this to a Saturday ( whilst maintaining your “no back to back running) be ok?

    • David says:

      My preferred days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I think it helps to have the 2 day recovery period after the long run.

  86. Mark says:

    Hi, I am using this blog for my training for a sub 3:15 marathon. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this blog. I started at Week 3 because I thought that matched pretty well what I could do at the time.

    I hope to come back and say I reached my target in May, but thanks in the meantime…..

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  88. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a great plan that will still leave me plenty of time to continue with the cross-training which I love, whilst I prepare for my first marathon. Having taken 20 minutes off my half marathon time in the last year (now 1:31) with no specific running training, I am hoping that this plan will enable further speed improvements and endurance capability to go sub 3 hours on my first marathon. A somewhat crazy target, yes, but one I’m going to push towards.

  89. Mike Thelen says:

    I ran Chicago in 2011 in 3:08 and hope to get under 3:05 at Bayshore in May. My question. Is the last week of the training for the week of the marathon or should the training wrap up a full week before the marathon?

    Thanks for training program. I am excited to use it!

  90. Peter Ryan says:

    I have to just say first of all this plan is brilliant if your on a tight schedule, last year we had our first baby and even though it was a wonderful experience time is not on your side for running. 2014 I ran a marathon after training very hard for (probably over trained) doing 50, 60, 70 miles weekly this plan goes no where near that mileage but is far more effective. My speed work was done on grass to save my legs. I never felt tired all in all i ran a 3:05 marathon taking 20 minutes off my previous best i will be using this plan from now thank you very much.

  91. Ashley says:

    Would it be ok to move the Friday run to Saturday?

  92. willie brazil says:

    In workout 3 of week 10 it states the long/easy time should be 2:00 and MP time should be 0:40 but the total time is only 2:30 so could you clear this up please?

  93. willie brazil says:

    Thanks a lot for this plan, going to have a crack at it in the run up to the London marathon which will be my 4th marathon, at the moment I’m working on getting my 5k time under 19 mins.
    My PB is 3:14 and the ultimate goal is to go sub 3 hour but if I can get a PB having completed this program I’ll be very happy.
    I’m in my 40’s now and high mileage and consecutive days running really doesn’t suit me so this program looks right up my street. 🙂

  94. Eric says:

    Thank you for writing this out. I was about to start training for my third marathon and I’m now 47. My first one two years ago was 3:13 and last spring in Boston was 3:08. I worked hard to shave off 5 minutes and the thought of training 6 days a week even harder to try to break 3 was daunting, but this plan seems much more manageable for my legs and I’m looking forward to it! Thanks!

  95. Isidoros says:

    Hello all, I combined the above proposed training program with 2 days of cross-training, setting a time goal of 3:15:00 for my next marathon.

    I ran the Athens Authentic Marathon 10 days before, breaking my personal best and finishing in 3:19:23 after all. It is a very difficult course, so I am overall satisfied with my performance and time.

    I recommend this program, with its main strength being that you get used to running distances with Marathon race pace.

    Thank you for this very useful post.

    • Thank you for your kind comments.

      Glad to see someone adopting this plan to target other times besides 3 hours. Athens Marathon, Beautiful, 3:19 – way to go.

      Best of success with attaining your goals in life!

  96. brij says:

    just started running after 20 years. great tips

  97. Rab says:

    According to me it sounds good – I like it I am 40 yers And I need time to res it gives it to me. What is more funny I can run fast what I like very much . And The biggest pros Plan is simple you do not have to have a special log and think what I should do today.-Thank you _ I am going to use it for halmarathon

  98. Anonymous says:

    Good tips. Thanks

  99. Anonymous says:

    Excellent training plan! I plan to work on my aerobic base for 4-6 months followed by your 3 hour marathon training plan. Hopefully that will prepare me to run a marathon in under 3 hours. Thanks!

  100. Keith Benoit says:

    I don’t see any comments. Maybe there are other people like me who have been using this plan and neglected (until now) to say thanks to you for putting it together.

    It’s a good training plan, especially for older runners who want to stay fast as long as possible. Six training days a week is, sad to say, counterproductive for most older runners. We need more time to heal. This plan concentrates on the core runs, the ones that will make the difference, dispensing with those workouts that delay healing, prolong fatigue, and make injury more likely.

    I’m targeting an October 2015 race, and will keep you posted. Sub3 might not be in the cards, but being in the neighborhood would still be an achievement.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Keith. The goal of this post was present a minimal training plan and give others alternative approaches to preparation for a marathon. I’m glad some may find it helpful.

      Best of success with your adventures and goals in running and life…

      • Theo Bahannack says:

        Really interesting read. Thank you. Aiming for a sub 3hour marathon this October and I can def incorporate many elements of this info into that…especially when training for the 3 days. Thank you again!

      • Kstone says:

        Just completed full Ironman two weeks ago and have 8 weeks til marathon – best marathon has been 3;18, shooting for sub-3 ; any thoughts on where to begin other than right in the middle of the program?

        Thanks for any input.

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