Pace for 4 Hour Marathon | PR Faster

December 23, 2021

The pace for 4 hour marathon running comes out to 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer. One of my main objectives here as well as at rundreamachieve.com is to get athletes to the next level. A sub 4hr marathon is a highly competitive time. In addition, it is a time barrier that a very small percentage of runners achieve each year. One of the biggest mistakes I see runners making is running too many of their miles far too slow. Yes, running high mileage will build endurance. That being said, you want to sustain pace at a higher level than your competition.

So, in order to do that you need to start training with a new mindset. One, faster long runs. Yes, easy long runs on the weekends will build your endurance. What they don't do is improve your lactate tolerance. Faster, varied pace long runs helped me lower my marathon best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 in 5 years time. No, it was not fun. In fact, the hardest workout I did leading into that sub 2:20 marathon was the long run.

Average Pace Per KM

The average page you need to hold per kilometer is 5 minutes and 41 seconds per km. So, you have to train often enough at paces that far exceed this. For example, doing repeat k's on the track around 4 minutes each. Of course, we don't doing faster long runs and hard track sessions without first running easy aerobic miles first. I recommend doing about 4 weeks of relaxed running before starting one of my 16 week marathon training plans. Again, there is a method to my madness here. First, we build the foundational phase of training and then we start working on the specific training phase.

Specific training meaning we train at, near and far below goal marathon race pace. Again, the key objective is to get marathon race pace to feel more in control. So, I want you alternating one faster, long run followed the next weekend with a relaxed long run. Also, slow down on your easy days. They are called recovery days a for a reason. The problem is too many runners are still caught up with what pace per mile or per kilometer they are running on these days. Take the watch off and just focus on getting time on your feet on these days.

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What Percentage of Marathon Runners Break 4 Hours?

A recent study showed that out of 206,281 runners there were only 50,014 that broke 4 hours or around 24 percent of the total runners. So, it is a very tough and respectable time to run under the 4 hour marathon barrier. Speed development is very powerful when it comes to training for marathons. Yes, we may be long distance runners but we can always work on our speed. I recommend doing strides about twice per week during your easy runs. You can do 4-6x100m strides. Again, always keep speed development in mind and the pace for 4 hour marathon effort will no longer be as intimidating.

The training plans I created are 16 weeks in length and have 1, speed workout per week contained within them. In fact, the same workouts contained in them are the same workouts I used to run 2:19:35 for the marathon. Also, paying attention to your nutrition is vital. So, do not neglect this essential piece of the success puzzle.

Of course, the pace of the intervals are different as compared to mine. That being said, they are built to ensure the athlete gets that pace for 4 hour marathon racing to feel more in control. No, it isn't an easy process. Running fast never is. The more you train at your anaerobic threshold or slightly faster the stronger you are going to be in this event.

How Hard is it to Run a Marathon under 4 Hours?

It is not easy but certainly not impossible either. The athlete must sustain 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer for the distance. Never say never either. Can you run a half-marathon at this pace? 10 miles? 5 miles? If so, you can do it for 26.2 miles. The thing we have to overcome is our mind. Remember, the mind controls the body, not the other way around. So, focus and visualize yourself daily getting across that finish line with 3:59:59 or faster on the clock. It all starts in the mind first before it ever becomes a reality in real life.

I consistently mentally rehearsed while I was still a 2:43 marathoner breaking the 2:22:00 marathon barrier. I credit mental training in assisting me to break the 2:20:00 marathon barrier instead. Remember, I didn't have a lot of talent. I had enormous work ethic as do you. Average people are not coming to nutritiongeeks.com or rundreamachieve.com. These are winners, people seeking excellence and moving to the next level. My goal is to get you there.

How Do You Know if You Can Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon?

A good indication of knowing when you are ready to break 4 hours is when you can run a half marathon around 1 hour and 50 minutes. Also, a sub 50K or running around 8 minute mile pace is a legitimate indicator you are ready to go. Of course, these times are not the be-all end-all. So, if you have run a 1:56 half marathon or a 54 minute 10K it doesn't mean you are not going to be able to break 4 hours for the marathon. So, continue to develop your speed. Again, we have to train at paces that are much faster than goal marathon race pace.

We want to slow down less than our competition. More importantly, burn fat at race pace. A common cause of runners hitting the wall is running out of glycogen. You don't need to experience this is you train properly. Again, training at speeds closer to our 5K and 10K race pace is key. In addition, doing longer tempo runs is a tactic that the best marathoners use to get legit results. It was no uncommon for me to do tempo runs 8 miles or longer in length. Yes, a 3 to 4 mile tempo is a great workout but we are focused here on the marathon.

Closing Thoughts

The three key workouts we use is…

  1. Faster, varied pace long runs
  2. Longer tempo runs
  3. 1, vo2 mac workout per week i.e. 16x400m, 6x1mile, 3x2mile reps on the track or fartlek workouts like 45 minutes of 1min hard followed by 1 min easy etc.

Recovery is vital. So, every 4th week in my training plans is a recovery week. Volume is dropped slightly to allot sufficient time for the athlete to adapt to the workouts they are doing. Make sure you are practicing hydrating well during your long runs. A big mistake I see marathoners going for a sub 4 marathon is sipping in the race. Remember, this is a 42.19 kilometer and 26.2 mile race.

So, you have to work on hydrating better in your races. The pace for 4 hour marathon running will get easier if you train properly. Are you ready to get started with this team? If so, click on any of the green buttons below or above this post.

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