Sub 4 Hour Marathon Training Plan

December 23, 2021

Are you seeking a sub 4 hour marathon training plan to finally drip below the sub 4 marathon barrier? If so, I am very happy to see you here. I fully understand how difficult the marathon is. I've run 2:19:35 for the distance and running that time didn't occur overnight. My goal is to work to ensure you get better results by using leverage. Leverage only means we work smarter. Yes, you will still need to work hard but working smart is even more essential. One of the biggest mistakes I see many runners make is not running sufficient mileage below goal marathon pace.

Yes, running consistent mileage will definitely make you strong and build endurance. That being said, easy running will not improve your lactate tolerance. Your ability to sustain race pace more effectively is the goal. I coach runners of all abilities on rundreamachieve.com. I respect the beginner equally as I do with elite runners. What I want runners to know are the types of workouts I used to break the 2:20:00 marathon barrier.

How Do I Train for a Sub 4 Marathon?

First, focus on building your mileage base. So, easy and relaxed running first and then move toward working on specific training. Specific training is working at, near and far below goal sub 4 marathon pace. Remember, you don't need to necessarily run high mileage in order to run under a 4 hour marathon. The quality of the mileage you are putting in is what is more important. What percentage of your weekly mileage in the past have you trained at sub 4 marathon pace? Has it been around 10 percent? 15 percent? My top recommendation is to start thinking about running around 40 percent of your weekly training mileage at that effort.

Again, it is important to train well below goal 4 hr marathon pace. So, you want to train in such a way to get race pace to feel more in control and less demanding on you. Of course, race pace is going to hurt even if you are in terrific anaerobic shape. That being said, it will hurt later in the race rather than early if you train properly. Hurting 10 miles into a marathon is not a good sign. You should feel that way in the last 5 kilometers of the marathon.

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Can You Train for a Marathon in 4 Months?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, 4 months is optimal timing to get ready to break the sub 4 marathon barrier. All of the training plans that I created on rundreamachieve.com are 16 weeks in length. Also, all of training I have done over my 30 year career in the sport has revolved around a 4 month build up. So, you are on the right track focusing on 16 weeks of marathon build up. One of the other ways to prepare for your marathon is to start doing faster long runs. One major mistake runners make is running their long runs far too slow. Of course, running easy is still important. You need to recover from the workouts you are doing.

That being said, to get 4 hour marathon pace to feel more in control you have to train at a higher heart rate. In addition, for a longer period of time. I am not saying you have to run hard during your long runs every single weekend. No, you need to alternate a faster, varied pace long runs followed the next week with an easy, relaxed long run. Again, it is critical that you recover from the hard, anaerobic training you are doing. Remember, the real benefits of your hard training come within the rest period, not the hard workout itself. In fact, your body is 2 to 3 times weaker immediately following a harder track or road workout.

Is Running a Sub 4 Hour Marathon Good?

Yes, a sub 4 hour marathon is a very competition marathon time. One that many people around the world respect. Again, you need to sustain 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer for the entire length of the race. So, you have to train at paces that are much faster. For example doing repeat miles on the track around 7 minutes per rep. Your ability to handle ever increasing amounts of lactic acid build up is what will help you handle race pace more effectively. We race right around or slightly above our anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to rapidly increase within our muscles.

You are running right around 85 percent of your maximum heart rate running at this effort. So, the longer you can spend training at this intensity the better. Do you want to become a sub 4 hour marathoner? If so, follow this advice and I can almost guarantee that you will do. Of course, doing a 3 to 4 mile tempo run will make you very strong. That being said, it is still too short of a workout preparing for a marathon. I would advise focusing on lengthening the workout out to around 7 to 14 miles in length. Be patient, it takes time to adapt to these types of workouts.

How to Break 4 Hour Marathon

Focus on the fundamentals I have written about here. Longer, faster long runs. In addition, longer tempo runs spent running at your anaerobic threshold as well. In addition, we do 1 vo2 max workout per week in the running courses and training plans that I created. I train the athlete to run at speeds that are closer to their 5K to 10K race pace. Again, we want to make sub 4 hour marathon race pace to feel less demanding. So, a sub 4 hour marathon training plan needs to focus on helping the athlete sustain race pace longer. Do not neglect your nutrition. Hydrate well and ingest protein to ensure your muscles are recovered.

Also, make sure you are staying as relaxed as you can in training. So, teach yourself to stay calm even while running at faster paces. You can consciously train the body to be calmer when running at faster, anaerobic efforts. Let your competition be uptight, tense and nervous. Once you notice your muscles tensing up tell yourself “relax, I am in control” or whatever you need to say to yourself to stay relaxed as possible. There is no need to waste mental or physical energy on this. Yes, it takes practice and time but you will be better for it in the long-term.

Closing Thoughts

So, if you are seeking a sub 4 hour marathon training plan I hope this post has been helpful to you. Remember, focus on training well below goal 4 hour marathon pace often. In addition, make sure you are jogging on your easy days. There are far too many runners running too fast on their easy days. The result is they have a hard time hitting the splits they are trying to maintain on their hard days. Also, pay attention to the other factors that go into running a fast marathon time. You want to stay disciplined with your sleep as well. Furthermore, hydrate well before, during and after your workouts.

Practice drinking during your long runs rather than sipping or worse, not drinking at all during these workouts. You need to get better at drinking in your marathons. I write that because I have made the mistake of not drinking enough in my marathons. The result was I became dehydrated without even knowing it. You never want to get 15 miles into a marathon with 11 miles to go and get into this state. I invite you to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel. I make new videos each week helping runners of all abilities get to the next level in their training.

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