I won't lie to you and to tell you that a 239 marathon is going to be an easy process because it isn't.
This is a strong marathon time and only strong-willed runners can put up a time like this.
The facts are there are many individuals who can run this type of time, but many times the struggle and the pressure we put on ourselves to run fast is our biggest enemy.
If your like the naysayers who are more caught up in downplaying runners who are striving for a 239 marathon then appreciating the work it takes to run a time like that, maybe this article isn't for you.
I'm for the runner striving to make it, not for those dreamers who sit back and make fun of athletes fighting to get to the 239 marathon level.
There is a big difference between talking for humor sake about other runners and actually putting in the work.
Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better – Juha Vaatainen
I always sought out a strong coaches and mentors to get me to the level I currently am at so appreciate athletes (regardless of ability level) who are out there giving it a shot. You are way ahead of the power curve by that alone.
A 239 marathon takes a 6.04 per mile pace. I would never turn away an athlete wanting to compete at this level regardless where they are.
If you are in this sport, you have already proven to me that you have a high level of motivation but there is a huge difference between wanting and doing.
If you are at 3.00 for the marathon distance, it simply means you have to take short term goals, break them down into pace goals and be patient enough to work toward those goals one at a time.
If your goal is to run under 2.40 and run a 239 marathon, you are going to have to be extremely patient and put in the work.
Don't look at the guys or gals running a 239 marathon time and based on your current PR think it is out of reach.
It isn't worth self-sabotaging yourself into believing that lie. You can make the jump, just be prepared to know it will take an enormous amount of work.
You can't look at the event (the 2.39 time) and forget the fundamental of process. People always see the great times other runners are putting up but we forget the enormous process of work it took to get there, only the event is in the spotlight.
I would have never broken 2.20 while I was still a 2.43 marathoner had I thought like that, so I highly encourage you to keep fighting for the time.
A 239 marathon time is certainly doable, but it goes back to fundamentals that I have discussed in past posts.
A 239 Marathon Demands Sustainment Of A Certain Pace
The pace is 6.04 per mile. This is for a time of 2.39.00 while breaking the 2.40.00 marathon time and running a 2.39.55 means you must maintain a 6.06 per mile pace. This is quality running.
Let's say you are currently a 2.45 marathoner who is able to hold a 6.17 per mile pace. What must be done to run 11 seconds per mile faster for 26 consecutive miles?
You are going to have to improve your lactate clearance ability and the only way to do this is running longer at lactate threshold effort.
When I was a 2.43 marathoner I was not breaking through on time because I did a few things that cost me improvement.
A Few Errors To Avoid To Run A 239 Marathon
1) Long runs were long and slow. Running slow has its benefits and will increase endurance, but to run fast for 26.2 miles (and 6.06 per mile is certainly not slow) you have to extend the amount of time you are running and increase the pace you are running at.
You can't sit around thinking running at 6.06 per mile pace is doable unless you have tested yourself running at long period of time at or near that pace.
You can use this calculator to give you an idea of how you should construct your training if you are wanting to run a 239 marathon time.
Change Your Long Run Mindset
I changed my long run mindset from one of leisure to one of aggression. My coach of three years, Lisa Larsen Rainsberger (last american female to win the Boston Marathon), would have me do some of my long runs extremely hard.
I didn't get the importance of gradually increasing the pace of your long run until I was coached by Lisa.
My idea was running for 20-24 miles in training would provide the strength to run a great marathon time.
It will get you fit, it won't provide the stimulus like a long run at a specific pace will.
I would run at a heart rate of 160 beats per minute, which when fit would yield a time of around 5.25-30 per mile pace, and every 4 miles I was to run a sub 4.50 mile.
This is extremely tough training and I certainly would not advocate doing this unless you have already layed a very strong mileage foundation and are prepared to do this type of workout.
I was trying to break the 2008 US Olympic Trials “B” standard time of 2.22.00 (5.25 per mile pace) so you can see the reasoning. I knew to run a 2.22.00 marathon time I had to be able to ‘train in such a way as to win the prize' as the Scripture tells us.
The same holds true for someone aiming for a 239 marathon time. If your current best time for the marathon distance yields 6.17 per mile to drop 11 seconds per mile means you will have to first, be patient, and second train at pace just above 6.06 per mile pace for your long runs.
This will do a few things that easier running will not.
- increase your aerobic capacity
- improve your body's ability to clear lactic acid father then it is building up (the secret to sustained, fast running)
- harden your mind to handle the discomfort of running at more challenging paces
Take Your Easy Days As Seriously As Your Hard Days
2) Not enough emphasis on SLOW running on recovery days. If you are not taking your easy days as seriously as your hard days your digging yourself into a hole you may not be able to get out of. There is only so much hard running you can do and to run well you have to back off.
Let the group take off if they want to on your easy day. Don't follow.
The hardest thing for highly motivated runners is to back off when they should, swallow their pride and let the training work for them instead of against their efforts.
Adjust Your Training To Specific, Focused Preparation
In closing, a 239 marathon takes specific training at specific paces. You have to train at paces equal to or faster then 6.06 per mile pace.
Get yourself into the realm of thought that you first, are capable of the time because this really is the quickest route to earning the time. You have to believe your capable of doing it.
You can't spend your time self-sabotaging your ability.
They said the 4-minute mile was impossible until someone did it and then it became commonplace. It was as big of a physiological barrier as it was a physical barrier.
Regardless, where you are currently at, decide today to start working on preparing yourself to train at higher levels.
Am I saying a 5-hour marathoner can run a 239 marathon? I wouldn't even rule that out.
It really boils down to how motivated someone is willing to be.
There is a time for easy running, but backing off when your buddies want to take off takes patience.
Train smarter and your bound to get far better results. Running easy is great for fitness, but runners seeking a 239 marathon time will have to focus more on specific paces at or far below 239 marathon race pace to earn the time.