Sub 3 Hour Marathon | Tips to PR

August 31, 2022

Are you seeking to achieve the sub 3 hour marathon? If so, you have come to the right place. I also have another website called you may want to check out too. That being said, breaking the sub three hour marathon is a massive undertaking. My goal is to get you there in record time. No, it will not be easy. You are going to have to experience my style of training in order to run a 2:59.59. I have run 2:19:35 for the marathon distance.

So, I do understand the complexities of this event. It is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. Pace sustainment is the biggest hurdles for most runners. I created a resource called the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro running course. It has helped numerous runners now break the 3 hour marathon barrier. Athletes seeking to run a sub 3 marathon need to hold 6:52 per mile or 4:16 per kilometer. How can you clear lactic acid faster than it is building up?

Run at aggressive paces and more often. The world's top middle to long distance runners run between 35 to 40% of their weekly mileage at or below anaerobic threshold effort. We are running between 85 to 89 percent of our maximum heart rate running at this intensity. Easy running is still a very important part of running success too. Remember, there is only so many times you can stress the energy systems of the body before diminished returns occur. So, you have to allot sufficient time between hard efforts in order to adapt to the training.

Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pace

Sub three marathon pace comes out to 4:16 per kilometer for 42.2 kilometers. Are you here in the united States of America? If so, you need to sustain 6 minutes and 52 seconds per mile for 26.2 miles. Proper pacing is vital if you are going to get this right. I always tell athletes I coach and mentor to run a negative split. So, focus on running that second half faster than you run the first half. I would focus on running no faster than 1:34 through the first half and aim for a 1:25 high for the second.

Coach Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (5:19 per mile for 26.2 miles)

You will come home in a 2:59 if you do. Of course, there are many other factors you need to get right in order to run a sub 3 hour marathon time. A lot of runners are not drinking enough in the race. In addition, they are running far too aggressive and the result is they are forced to slow in the latter miles. I know because I made the mistake myself earlier in my running career. It took me from running from 1992 to 2007 to run 2:19:35 for the marathon.

Yes, I had many setbacks prior to running that time. So, I fully understand the mistakes runners make. That being said, I also know the tactics you can start following today that will help you drop substantial time off your PR. My top recommendation is spend a minimum of 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage first. You don't want to risk the likelihood of getting an injury. Make sure to ingest a Herbalife protein shake after your long runs or speed training workouts too.


Sub 3 Hour Marathon Workouts

Sub 3 hr marathon workouts need to consist of longer tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs. The long run was the main reason why I was able to drop my PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I started running faster long runs every other week. I would always alternate a harder long run followed the next weekend by an easy, relaxed long run. The most difficult sub 3 hour marathon workouts I did was the varied paced long run. Below are few examples of the long runs I was doing prior to breaking 2:20:00.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@5:55 mile pace, 6 miles easy (21 miles)
  • 2 mile jog, 10 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles @5:15 mile pace, 5 miles@6:30 mile pace (21 miles)

Again, the key focus with faster training is to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. So, the more of these we can recruit the more effective we are going to be in the race. I cover this in detail in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. Remember, always follow your faster, varied paced long run with an easy, relaxed long run the following weekend. Never run slow and easy every single weekend especially if your goal is to run a sub 3 hour marathon. My top recommendation is to focus on a longer build up. I would focus on a minimum of 16 week and preferably 20 to 24 weeks for your build up. The longer your build up, the better.

Focus on Your Speed Development

Athletes should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. We are running between 95 to 105% of max heart rate running at the vo2 max. Your vo2 max is your body's maximum oxygen uptake. It is running at speeds so intense we can only spend a few seconds to a few minutes at. I would recommend spending about 10% of your weekly training at these intensities. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past for your marathon training?

4 miles? 5? I would focus on working to get that tempo run duration extended out to around 10 (16km) to 12 miles (19.2km) in length. Of course, it will take in order to do this, Again, longer build up, better results. The main reason is you won't be rushing your fitness. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, great fitness doesn't come in days but many weeks and months. You also need to be jogging on your recovery days. I see far too many runners running too fast on easy days.

The benefits of the hard training you are doing today will be seen several weeks and months from now. That being said, you have to allot sufficient time for the body to adapt to the hard workouts you are doing. You need to stress the energy systems of the body adequately. More importantly, run slow enough on recovery days to endure you adapt to that hard, anaerobic work you are putting in.


Focus on Your Hydration

I got in-depth on this in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course. You have to pay attention to your nutrition and hydration practices. Have you ever watched world class runners in their road races when they drink? They don't just sip but drink large amounts of fluid while they are racing. One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career as a marathoner was not drinking enough in the race.

So, make sure to start dropping water bottles out every 3 miles or 5 kilometers along your long run route. Practice ingesting more fluid during your long runs. Also, make training the most difficult part of your preparation. The race itself should not be the time you are overly nervous. Take confidence in the training you have put in. Let your competition be overly nervous, tense and tight, not you. Focus on staying as relaxed as you can whether running fast or slow. Remember, less tension, better athletic performance.

Closing Thoughts

How often do you mentally rehearse getting across the finish line with 2:59.59 on the clock? Have you written this goal down on paper? I would as continually read the time off in your mind. Remember, your goal has to start in the mind before it will ever become a reality in real life. I saw myself breaking my personal goal of sub 2:22:00 many times. I am certain that mental training was one of the biggest reasons I was able to run 2:19:35.

The world's top runners combine both mental and physical training to produce world-class results. The same with you. Remember, the vast majority of runners only pay attention to physical training. So, do what the professional-level runners do and mentally rehearse. You can spend 10 minutes daily doing this. The best time is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. See yourself passing people, running strong and getting across that finish line with 2:59.59 on the clock.

Would you like to keep in touch? If so, definitely subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I make weekly training and racing videos there each week to help runners like you get to the next level. I am certain you can the sub 3 hour marathon barrier. No, it won't be easy. You are going after an elite time. That being said, it is definitely doable if you change up your training tactics. Make sure to check the resources available here at Nutrition Geeks.


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