5 HR Marathon Pace | The Path to 4:59

December 26, 2021

Are you seeking how to hold 5 hr marathon pace for the entire race? If so, welcome to nutritiongeeks.com. I am excited you have made it here. I have been running for about 30 years and have run 2:19:35 for the marathon. Of course, my goal is not to impress you but to impress upon you what you are capable of. How often in the past have you practiced running at 11:26 mile or 7:06 kilometer pace? I am sure you certainly have trained at these types of paces in the past. The better question is what percentage of your weekly mileage have you spent below sub 5 hr marathon pace?

A big mistake runners make is running far too many miles or kilometers too slow. In addition, running too much volume run too fast on easy days. Remember, the benefits of your hard training is going to take place when you are resting. So, you have to have equal discipline to slow down on your recovery days as you have for harder training. How often are you mentally training? Do you spend time each day mentally rehearsing yourself performing at high levels? Do you see yourself regularly running under 5 hours for the marathon? I asl these questions because most athletes focus only on physical training.

What Pace Per Mile Do I Need to Run?

As mentioned above, running under 5 hours for the marathon means you need to run 11:26 per mile. Are you not in the united States of America? You will need to sustain 7:06 per kilometer to run a marathon in 4:59:59 or faster. I made a 21-minute drop in my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 using one specific method, faster long runs. Of course, I was doing speed workouts far below 5 minute mile pace as well. It takes a massive change in training to go from running a marathon from 6:14 to 5:19 mile pace. The biggest change I made was stopped running every single weekend long and slow.

The methods I teach in the Sub 5 Hour Marathon Bootcamp course cover how to use leverage in this event. I created the course because I wanted more athletes to reach their goals of a sub 5 hour marathon. Remember, hard working athletes don't always yield racing results. What happens if 95 percent of your weekly mileage is spent at 2 minutes slower than goal sub 5 hr marathon pace? The result if you do is you will be an outstanding long, slow distance runner. You are going after a legitimate and competitive time in aiming to break the 5 hour marathon barrier. So, you have to train in a new way now in order to get better future results.


Is 5 Hours Good for a Marathon?

Yes, I think anyone who can start and finish a marathon has accomplished something. Of course, anyone can run slow for a number of miles or kilometers. That being said, it is an art form to race a marathon fast which a sub 5 hour marathon is. Again, you need to sustain 11:26 per mile or 7:06 per kilometer for the marathon. So, I believe in running faster, varied pace long runs. I used this tactic to lower my marathon PB from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. What does a varied pace, faster long run look like? Below are a few examples of the types of faster long runs I would do if I were seeking to sustain 5 hr marathon pace for a marathon…

  • 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles@11:40 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 9:35, 2 miles easy, 4 miles@11:30 mile pace, 1 mile cool-down
  • 1 mile warm-up, 15 miles@160BPM (or around 85% of maximum heart rate), 2 miles easy, 2 miles@sub 5 hr marathon pace

Remember, always alternate your harder long run followed the next weekend with an easy, relaxed long run. Again, you want to make sure you are getting the highest return on your investment. So, you need to use leverage. Leverage means you are working smarter and not harder. There are many runners who get caught up with how much mileage they are running. High mileage is not the answer. What happens if these athletes are running 5 to 10 percent of their weekly volume at their goal pace? The result is they are spending more time running easy rather than moderate or very hard.

What's the Average Time for a Marathon?

The average time run for the marathon is around 4 hours and 20 minutes. That being said, it can also vary as well. It just depends. A runner has to be in fantastic aerobic as well as anaerobic shape in order to run a marathon under 5 hours. The percentages significantly decrease the faster runners are seeking to run. For example, only about 2 to 4 percent of people who run marathons world-wide run under 3 hours for the marathon. A sub 3 hour marathon demands the athlete sustain 6:52 per mile or 4:16 per kilometer.

The athlete seeking to run a sub 5 hour marathoner has to work just as hard as the sub 5 marathoner. Yes, the paces are different but you are either trained or you are untrained. There are no short cuts in this sport. So, we all have a choice to either be average, good or great. If you are working 100 percent and have do whatever it takes mindset, you will eventually break 5 hours. Are you capable of breaking 4 hours? Time will tell. My advice to check out our 5 hour marathon bootcamp course at rundreamachieve.com. Do you want an ongoing coach? Work with me. You can sign up for online monthly coaching and cancel at anytime. Click on any of the green buttons you see here on this post to learn more.

How to Run a Sub 5 Hour Marathon

Pace properly early on in the race is my first recommendation. Also, focus on using the 16-week marathon training plan that I have built for runners seeking to break 5 hours. You can also check out the other resources that are available at rundreamachieve.com that will help set you up for success. I recommend focusing on doing a negative split in your marathon. For example, hit the first half in 2:31 and run the second half in 2:27 and finish with a time of 4 hours and 58 minutes. Of course, you can still go out faster and come back slower as long as you get a sub five hour marathon time in the process. Focus on ingesting protein especially after your hard training sessions. Recovery is vital in order for you to adapt to the hard training that you are doing. So, you have to focus on all the fundamentals in order to run under 5 hours for the marathon

I hit the first half in 1:07:09 when I ran my PR of 2:19:35 and came back the second half in 1:12:26. So, a positive split can still work too. That being said, you have to be very ready and confident if you are going to race like this. The marathons I went out too fast in I paid for dearly in my finish times. So, always focus on negative splits in your marathons. Your chances of breaking the 5 hour marathon barrier will skyrocket. Yes, you do need to train far below goal 5 hr marathon pace. We do 1, vo2max workout per week with my training plans. In addition, alternating fast and slow long runs to ensure recovery is taking place. Also, long tempo runs.

How Do I Train for a Sub 5 Hour Marathon?

I would spend a minimum of 4 weeks running easy, aerobic running first. Also, you can do strides 2 to 3 times per week as well. The strides are 4 to 6, 100m short sprints. What I like about them and why they work is they force you to work on form and acceleration. Yes, you may be a marathoner but you can always work on your speed. Again, you want to make sure you train in such a way as to get that sub 5 hr marathon pace. Also, you want to improve your lactate tolerance. Faster running will teach you to do this, easy running will not. The reason being is easy running is spent at paces that are too slow to build any significant lactic acid.

Yes, many runners can run long and slow at easy, aerobic pace. It is an art form to run fast and to do so you need to train often at or far below 5 hour marathon pace. What percentage of your weekly mileage in the past do you think you have spent at these efforts? If it is too low then that is more than likely why you have not broken the 5 hour marathon barrier. My goal is to get you there faster now by working smarter. I always teach my athletes to jog on recovery days. There is no shame in jogging. I write that because your hard days are going to test you to the limits. The workouts we do are not easy but the recovery days are. So, we work smart to get a higher return on your time investment.

Closing Thoughts

I also highly recommend subscribing RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help beginner to elite level athletes get to the next level in their training and racing. As mentioned above, longer tempos are another tactic I used to break the 2:20:00 marathon barrier and run 2:19:35. Of course, you are definitely still going to get a nice physiological boost doing a 3 to 4 mile tempo run. That being said, to break 5 hours you need to spend more time training at your anaerobic threshold. The reason being is you are going to be racing at or slightly above this effort.

You are running around 88 to 92 percent of your maximum heart rate when running at your anaerobic threshold. Again, the goal is pace sustainment and to slow down less than your competition. You also need to focus on drinking rather than sipping in your marathon. So, practice hydrating better during your long runs. I recommend sitting your water bottles out every 3 miles or 5K during your long runs. You can drink on the way out and the way back. More importantly, you will learn how much your stomach can handle when running. You want to make training the most difficult part of the success process. The race itself is the celebration of your hard training. It is not a day to be tense, nervous and uptight. Let your competition worry about doing that. Stay in control, calm and confident and you will break the 5 hour marathon.


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