Training schedule for a sub 4 hour marathon
There are millions of runners around the world seeking a training schedule for a sub 4 hour marathon. It is therapeutic for me to write about training and helping other runners get to their fill potential.
I recently finished my second book called the Sub 4 Hour Marathon Blueprint and was fortunate to have worked along with four other of the United States’ top distance marathoners.
Ryan Bak (2.14.17 marathoner) Dan Kahn (2.19.07 marathoner), Nick Stanko (2.19.37 marathoner) and 4-time USA 50K and 100K World team member, Michael Wardian (2.17.49 marathoner) all reached out and shared their expert opinion on what it takes to run a marathon under 4 hours.
I didn’t want to create an average training schedule for a sub 4 hour marathon. I wanted something that was going to motivate runners here in the United States and across the globe who have running under 4 hours for the marathon as their goal.
The biggest hurdle most runners are facing trying to break this standard is no different than those athletes trying to break 3 hours, 5 hours or even 6 hours.
What are those two main hurdles?
Maintaining Pace and Fueling
This has been my biggest hurdle to overcome over the past 11 years of running marathons as well.
It took me from 2002 to December of 2007 to drop my marathon best from 2.43.36 to my current best of 2.19.35.
I tried to earn the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials “A” standard time of 2.19.00 in 2011 but failed.
I ran 2.26.42 to place 5th at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon and did something I’ll never do again, ran another marathon only 4 weeks later.
It was my last attempt to try to qualify as 5 December 2011 was the cut off date for all American men trying to qualify for the Jan 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials.
I flew to Sacramento to try again at the marathon I ran my 2.19.35 at. The California International Marathon. What was the result?
I finished 49th in 2.32.24 after an opening half of 1.09.34 and and still on 2.22 pace through 20 miles.
Time your efforts
The truth is, I was exhausted and should have rested after the Monumental Indianapolis Marathon but I had to try.
I didn’t want to live with regret and not knowing that I could or could not have qualified had I chose not to go. I chose to go.
Why am I telling you this?
I don’t want you to look back at your life and think to yourself ‘I didn’t do everything I could to maximize the ability I know I had’.
If you are currently a 4 hour marathoner several minutes away from breaking the 4 hour marathon barrier, don’t be intimidated by it.
You can go from a 4.30 marathoner to a 3.55 marathoner in one race.
It can be done.
A Sub 4 Hour Marathon
There are a lot of factors that go into holding a marathon under 9.09 per mile pace. You can do proper training, get plenty of rest and than get into the race
If you are now in that 4 hour marathoner mode and are thinking about becoming a sub 4 hour marathoner, I want you to write this down.
Practice running longer
I don’t want you or anyone else reading this post to continue to run high mileage that doesn’t bring you closer to breaking the 4 hour marathon.
It does you no good to do long runs branching out from 15 to 24 miles in length slow when you are trying to race 26.2 miles at 9.09 per mile pace.
You are better off doing 14 miles at 9.09 pace than to do a 24 miler at 11 minute mile pace. The former, not the latter workout will bring you closer to realizing your goal.
Foods you consume
Foods that are high in glutathione are an absolute must.
I was diagnosed with anemia in 2007.
I had no idea what was going on but I had all the motivation any athlete could possibly want but for whatever reason I was not improving.
My workouts were slowing and I was getting frustrated.
My coach at the time, Lisa Rainsberger, suggested I get a blood test. It is ironic that from 1992 to 2008 no one had ever suggested I get a blood test done to see if I was low on iron.
It turns out I was. I had a ferritin level of 20ml.kg which is very low for males. You can lose iron in sweat, foot strike hemolysis and when you go to the bathroom.
Females are more prone to anemia than men but little did I know I was. Lisa surely knew what was going on.
She is the last American female to win the Boston Marathon.
She won in 1985 with a finish time of 2.34.04 and also won the Chicago Marathon twice (1998-2.29.12, 1999-2.28.15). I credit her attention to detail in helping me back to health and when I got my iron stores back to healthy levels I started to run faster.
I set a personal best time of 1.07.06 for the half-marathon, then 3 months later I broke 2.20.00 for the marathon.
Eat plenty of foods high in iron, of course.
Foods like spinach, steak and other read meats and cereals all have high concentrations of iron.
Glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant is essential for your running success yet very few runners know anything about it.
Review our archives page and do your due diligence.
You will be ahead of your competition with that alone.
Your body doesn’t produce iron so you have to get it in the foods you eat.
You can also take iron supplementation. I take a 65mg iron tablet daily with a glass of orange juice.
Vitamin C helps iron to absorb into the body quicker so it is always best to take an iron tablet with some orange juice or with Vitamin C.
I am not a medical doctor so I would always advise speaking with your physician before taking any supplementation.
I have done this since early 2008 and can say with all certainty, it is a great way to ensure your iron stores remain at healthy levels.
Importance of long runs
Learn To Run Your Long Runs At A Heart Rate Of 160 Beats Per Minute
I have found that running at a heart rate of 160 beats per minute has produced the best tolerance to lactic acid accumulation.
160BPM is running at or around 75-85% effort and that is not easy when you are going 16-24 miles during your long runs.
The key is keeping an equal balance between hard efforts and the recovery between those hard efforts.
You can’t just keep pushing and not get a diminished return on all your hard work.
Alternate long run efforts
I recommend doing a harder long run one week, followed by a very relaxed long run the next.
You want to teach your body to burn fat more effectively and conserve carbohydrate and the only way to truly do that is by running at or below 9.09 per mile pace.
I use this exact form of training in my own marathon preparation. I will be using it again going into the 2013 Chicago Marathon as well.
I have written extensively on this subject and welcome you to visit some of the post selections listed below. I am certain if you take some of these suggestions to heart you will soon be a sub 4 hour marathon runner.