Marathon In 4 Hours
To run a marathon in 4 hours or less is a matter of absolute resolution to putting forth the effort to make it happen.
I want to run a marathon in 2.15.00.
I can talk about it from sunrise to sunset but unless I make the necessary sacrifices to see it become a reality it is mere talk.
It entails a pace per mile of 5.09. I am going to have to become real friendly with that pace to hold it for 26.2 miles and currently the best I have run per mile for a marathon is 5.19 pace.
10 seconds per mile faster must be held. The same training tips I will be sharing for you here to help you get under 9.09 per mile pace is the same I will be following leading into my fall marathon.
Runners who are running a marathon in 4 hours or less understand one thing well.
They have practiced that pace to such an extent that it becomes automatic but how often and what has been the length of the duration of their training at that goal pace?
Meeting specific times goals like a 4 hour marathon means you have to practice running even faster then the 9.09 per mile pace a 4 hour marathon demands.
Think of trying to race at 26.2 miles when the majority of your runs during your weekly training routine have been at 10.00 mile pace or slower.
A tempo run of 9.45 pace for 5 miles may build fitness but if you have sub 4 marathon pace on your brain are you doing adequate work?
Running a marathon in 4 hours, the stress someone who hasn’t hit that marathon time experiences, can be diminished by a few key changes in their training.
The most notably how they do their long runs.
I write about this in the soon-to-be-released Sub 4 Hour Marathon Blueprint, a runners potential and capability to break 4 hours can be dramatically enhanced by changing the way you view and do your long runs.
I spent five very long years from 2002 to 2007 trying to achieve my own marathon goals, which was to earn an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier.
USA Track and Field, back in 2002, had the “B” standard at 2.22.00 or better. They have lowered the “B’ standard (qualify for the Olympic Trials to compete but pay your own way) currently to 2.18.00 (5.18 pace) ad the “A” standard to 2.15.00.
My best at that time was 2.43.36.
The best I had run per mile was 6.14 pace yet I was wanting to run 26.2 miles at 5.25 per mile pace, nearly a full minute ‘per mile’ faster then I had ever run before.
The Importance Of Patience
I didn’t get it back then but I am sure had I been a little more patient and payed more attention to doing my long runs at harder paces I more then likely would have reached my personal goal much faster.
This is a great sport and there are millions of marathoners around the world who would like to see running a marathon in 4 hours or less a reality. I want to change that by getting you to take more initiative in how you view your long runs.
Doing 16-22 mile long runs at 40 seconds slower then your goal pace isn’t going to prepare you to race 26.2 miles at goal pace. Is it not a wonder why you have missed it in the past?
I know for certain you haven’t missed it on account of hard work, focus or drive. I have no doubt you have as much motivation as the oceans of the world are wide. The thing you need to adjust is your pacing.
What Do The World’s Best Marathon Runners Do?
Renato Canova, a world renowned Italian distance running coach, has his runners do their long runs at or even exceeding their goal marathon race pace.
What kind of crazy person would do their long runs at race pace?
The best runners in the world.
Now I get it, you are not trying to be a world-class athlete but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some of the tricks the best use and implement them into your own training.
There are far more runners who have the capability to run a marathon in 4 hours but they are not spending enough time at their goal pace. You can do a 4 mile run at goal marathon race pace and you will certainly get a training effect from that.
That being said, 4 miles and 26.2 miles are two different animals. The trick is extending the amount of time you spend at race pace. This won’t happen overnight but I guarantee you if you are persistent enough you will start to see results and the longer you will be able to run.
What I Did To Drop From 2.43.36 to 2.19.35
The biggest change I made was how I did my long runs. I had never run 26.2 miles faster then 6.10 pace prior to breaking 2.22.00.
How on earth could I hold 5.25 per mile pace?
I’ll tell you what I did and the steps I took to dramatically drop huge amounts of time off my marathon was the exact same step you can take.
Prior to breaking 2.20.00 for the marathon this is what my long runs looked liked
18-20 miler at 7.00 pace, 22 miles at 6.35 pace, 24 miler at 7.00 pace with last 7 at 6.00 pace
Do you see a similarity in these examples?
Me too, 5.25 pace was nowhere in the picture. I was not training to handle the paces I wanted to race at and what was the outcome? Five years of marathon attempts that were nowhere near 2.22.00 marathon finish times.
This is what my long runs looked life after I finally realized the importance of race pace training.
18 miles at 5.50 pace, 20 miles at 5.30 pace, 22 miler at 5.50 pace with last 10 at 5.18-25 pace
My times started to drop because I was spending more time at much higher anaerobic threshold.
Your lactate threshold is the point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate in higher levels in your body.
These are workouts I never envisioned doing back in 2002 when I first starting running marathons.
What is sad is I didn’t start trying these forms of training until 2007. I always thought a long run should be easy to build endurance.
Easy long runs do exactly that. You burn fat (at lower speeds) and build endurance.
What you don’t do is prepare the body to handle huge amounts of lactic acid while trying to race at maximum speeds.
The reason why marathoners who have the capability to run a marathon in 4 hours is because they have not spent enough training that specific energy system in the body.
Burn Fat At Relative Race Speeds = Huge Personal Bests
The faster you run the more carbohydrates you burn.
Now, tell me how on earth running easily for 20-24 miles in training is going to help you conserve those precious fuel stores.
If you have mot practiced in training what you want to hold during the race, you will miss the 4 hour barrier.
There are many other factors that can contribute to a marathon under the 4 hour mark but I have found that probably the single most effective way to running a marathon in 4 hours or less is practicing at or below race pace.
Pacing Below Goal Marathon Race Pace = Autopilot Running
As you build your fitness and start to implement Aerobic Capacity training you will soon find out that you can not only race at goal marathon pace, but speeds exceeding that pace will feel comfortable.
Aerobic capacity workouts are workouts which have you running at near sprint speeds.
These are paces FAR above your goal marathon race pace.
For example, 6x1mile on the track at 7.00 per repetition with shorter recovery breaks between each set.
The more you practice running at challenging speeds the more marathon pace is going to feel easy to sustain and only start to really hurt bad in the last 2 to 3 miles of your marathon.
Wouldn’t it be great not to have to experience the dreaded ‘wall’?
The hardest part of racing the marathon distance is always the latter stages of the race, most likely from miles 18 to the finish.
Your body is already running low on carbohydrates and when that happens your body relies more on fats.
The trick to all this high anaerobic training is to use fat as your primary fuel source. Carbohydrates can be better stored for when you need them most, in that last 6 miles when everyone else is having issues trying to maintain pace.
You will feel as though you are slowing but you are sustaining pace and that is the beauty of race pace training.
It is extremely taxing on the body but if you do it with equal attention on recovery you will soon see your daily pace drop and your ability to hold 9.09 per mile pace for the entire marathon distance.
Long Runs Should Be Followed By An Easier Recovery Long Run
Do not do these forms of long runs every week.
I want to stress that.
A long run of 20 miles at or near goal marathon race pace week after week is a great way to become stale, stressed out and tired.
You don’t want this and you have worked far too hard to spend your precious time second guessing your ability. Do one hard long run one week, the next relaxed and recover.
The easier long run should be just focused on getting the time in on your feet. You will be more energized and motivated for the following weeks long run.
I hope some of these ideas will help generate a renewed sense of vigor in your training.
I am certain that if you adopt some of these ideas you will not only run a marathon in 4 hours but will go much faster then you originally ever envisioned yourself running.
If you are in that 4-5 hour marathon category currently share with me by leaving a comment of how you have been doing your long runs.
I would love to hear what you have been doing and if these ideas will assist you in your future training.