3 Runs Per Week Schedule

I will be doing my 5th FLM in 2009 but due restricted running time I am considering doing a 3 day per week schedule.

My PB is 3.31 and my target is sub 3.30. 

Can anyone give me success stories of this schedule?



  • I'm slower than you Minni, but I have roughly followed a 3 runs a week schedule twice and have gone from 4:50 to 4:28 and then to 4:14.

    My boss recently ran 3:18 on 3  to 4 runs a week with a maximum mileage of 40 miles pw. Do the main sessions (long run, tempo, speedwork) each week and give it a go.

  • I did 3:26 this year in my first marathon on 3 runs per week (plus 1 gym session and 1 yoga class). I basically did my club's Tuesday night session (hills, tempo runs, repetitions, fartlek etc), a Thursday run also with the club, but running too and from the club to make it up to around 10 miles, and then a Sunday long run, increasing 1 mile per week, and done mostly at marathon pace because that's what felt right. The one time I slipped in a Saturday run I then injured myself the next day 18 miles into a 19 miler. That knocked me out for my peak schedule period when I should have been doing a couple of 20 milers and a couple of races, and I ended up doing just a single twenty only two weeks before FLM as an all or nothing test. If I hadn't got injured and missed so much training I think I'd have been aiming at a good-for-age 3:15.
  • Astride (on the 3:15 board) did a 3:12 off the Furmann FIRST 3 x / week schedules. She's a good person to ask
  • Hi,

    I have done two marathons now. The first one using a standard training program and achieved 3:15. I did the second this year using the Furmann FIRST program and achieved 3:14.Saying this I picked up an injury half way through, so would have definately taken another 2/3 mins off that.

    The thing to remember is stick to the plan no matter how tempting it is to do a little extra and also make th most of the Xtraining days. I found a bike to be the best for these.

     Good luck 

  • I improved from 4:28 (admittedly dehydrated at FLM 2007) to 3:58 this year, by switching from Hal Higdon's 5 runs a week to the FIRST 3 runs a week programme. I know a number of other runners around my time frame that also PB'ed by quite a bit on it.
  • I am looking encouraging at he information that the Furman First schedules do work - all my wise running colleagues can't agree that a marathon can be achieved on anything less than 50 miles per week.  I am planning to start on the 12th Dec so any info would be greatfully received.

    How hard should the cross training days?

    How achieveable do others find the speed sessions? - I have been experimenting with the runs and find the 1200 - 1600 speed intervals very difficult to achieve (plus 4-6 secs too slow).  yet my tempos and long runs I complete inside the times allocated (yet I'd pitch my physiology as more aligned to 10k races).

  • I have achieved GFA Marathon times on Furman schedule.   I too struggled with the longer repeat sessions, being a few seconds over, (though this lessened as I progressed through the schedule).  The tempo runs were within the schedule, though very tough to start with.  By the end of the schedule I was doing the lR's at MP =15, (ie way too fast). 
    By the way I didn't do any cross training either, though I did do a couple of runs of 21 and 22
    Furman definitely works for me.
  • Just spotted this timely thread. Due to injury I've been looking at the Furman First schedules. I have only run 2 marathons and didn't follow a specific shcedule for either. I ended up with an overuse injury so I thought I'd stick to a schedule this time. My PB is 3.41 but I ran the last 8 miles in agony so I (perhaps naively) thought that 3.30 may be achievable.

    I don't have the book yet, but have taken a peek at the website and the RW articles. Could anyone clear up a couple of things (actually 4) for me?

    How long is the recovery in between the intervals during the speed sessions?

    The overall weekly mileage seems a little low, I note that Raymer says not to be tempted to do more, why? Risk of injury? Overdoing it?

    Also, the pace for the speed reps seems a little odd, i.e the pace for 1600m is faster than for 400m. Am I missing something or have I calculated incorrectly?

    The RW article stipulates to work out your pace from your 10k race pace, but the website stipulates 5k, is 5k the way to go?

    I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to focused training so please excuse me if I'm being a bit dumb!

  • Mozzy - Your calculations probably are wrong, and 400m reps should be faster than 1600m ones. But I also found them tricky to work out. However, I'm sure there was a link to another page with more detail about the various types of run (I think it said 8 rules of the system, or something). On it, under speedwork, it basically said that the speed sessions were good, but the main thing is to be doing some speedwork, and not let it get dry and boring. So doing different sessions that week with your club, or another speed session you fancy, is also fine, so long as you are pushing yourself in some kind of speed interval session.

    The lower mileage is because you are training more intensely in each run than in other schedules and need to have recovery time to get the benefit. I'm sure it helped me avoid overtraining injuries.

    I never really knew how long the recoveries should be. I reckoned either 2 or 3 mins, but obviously less if the rep was shorter (i.e. I wouldn't rest for 3 mins on a 400m rep taking less than 1:45). There may be a proper answer somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

    As to the 5K or 10K race pace, I suppose for most of us, there won't be a dramatic difference and it just gives you a guide based on a race pace where you are going for it hard, rather than holding back over a longer distance. Again, it will be a guide and the biggest benefit is from doing the three types of run over increasing intensity over the course of the training schedule.

    And, as always, there is no such thing as a dumb question when we're trying to find out stuff to help with our running. It's just information someone else discovered first.

    Happy training. I can thoroughly recommend the FIRST 3 day a week schedule.

  • Ah brilliant! Thanks SCM! That clears up all my queries. I'll re-calculate the reps without the accompanying bottle of Hobgoblin!

    And thanks for the comment re my 'dumb' questions. I'll use that myself next time someone asks me one!

    It's great to hear such positive comments re the 3 day schedule too, it gives the injury prone amongst us hope!


  • I'm running the FLM as my first marathon, and I'm definitely interested in using the FIRST programme, mainly becuase it seems possible given the average London schedule and work hours! 

    There more info on the FIRST website:


    it might be of use. 

     happy running!

  • I see I was mentioned on here so felt obliged to post. I did as EPS said did my first marathon in 3:12 this year off the Furman First To Finish schedule. It really suited the way I run, the niggles I have to deal with and the time I have to devote to running. I managed to do 40 miles one week but usually averaged 35. I didn't really do much cross training, the odd swim, the odd cycle, but nothing structured.

    I was playing with trying to up the mileage for my 2009 effort and was going to try a Pfitzinger and Douglas schedule but now think I'm going back to Furman again. The main problem with Furman is that every session is hard and you don't really get to just go out and enjoy running but for me the end result was the important thing. I also struggled to hit the shorter interval times but managed the threshold runs and LSR paces comfortably. It worked for me anyway.

    Good luck.

  • Found this thread really interesting....Having completed 2 marathons previously (neither in my view sucessfully) I am considering trying this FIRST program for 1st timers. Followed RW training plans both times and both times picked up injurries leading up to marathon which makes me think I m not "robust" enough to do the training milage so maybe a programme with less milage may be better for me. I do regular half marathons in 1.30 but never beat 4.30 for marathon???

    However, I dont fully understand my key run 1 workout pace....I do a 10k in 40mins. What should my 1 and 3minute fast pace be etc and also my pace for 400m, 800, and 1600m reps.

    sorry if I appear dft but want to be sure I am not cheating my training....would appreciate any thoughts on the programme

  • Hurds, I too had trouble calculating my training paces. Follow this link and all the information you need should be there:


    You can convert km's to miles by using the RW pace converter:


    Hope that helps.


  • Hurds, sorry, I don't think you can find tall the information you want on the above links.

    I have the book now (but not studied it properly yet), but with a 5K race time of 20 minutes (the tables are all based on your 5k pace so I've just halved your 10k pace) you should be doing:

    1.27 400m pace, 2.12 600m pace, 2.57 800m pace, 3.43 1000m pace , 4.32 1200m pace, 6.10 1600m pace, 7.48 2000m pace, short tempo 6.43, mid tempo 6.58, long tempo 7.13, easy 8.18, mp 7.24

    Let me know if your 5k pace is significantly less than 20 mins and I'll take a peek at the tables again for you.

  • I wouldn't worry about the times too much, run them comfortably hard so as you can complete the session. I have a 19:12 5k time and I struggled to meet the interval times, I was spot on for short tempo and I went faster for the LSR's. I did my LSR's at 7:45 to 8mm pace. I only hit those interval times when at my fittest. As you're only running three times a week you can affford to go pretty hard.
  • I did Berlin in 3:10 on an average of 3 runs and about 25 miles a week. It wasn't how I'd planned to do it but it worked.

    It was my 5th marathon in about 2.5 years though so I'd probably carried some fitness over. I'd stress that most of my runs were quality runs.....speedwork on Tuesday, 6-9 miles on Thursday and a long run on Sunday. Probably had a few gym sessions in there too.


  • I've done a lot of reading about this schedule here, on RW.com, and on Amazon.com (the US reviews for the Furman book). I'm planning to start the Furman schedule in 2 weeks, so can't speak from personal experience but can say that around 90-95% of all commentators who've done it are positive about it, many of them reporting major improvements in times, as well as reductions in injuries.

    I also raised my eyebrows at the times of the 1600m sessions for the experienced marathoners' plan. Thought it was odd to start off with what seems like the toughest session, instead of building up to it. I'm probably going to aim to do a hybrid, of the beginners and advanced, with the tempo and long runs of the advanced plan, but a more measured approach to the intervals.

  • RC - For the advanced one I think they assume that you are pretty fit already and able to cope with that. I did the advanced one last year for my first marathon but I had been racing half marathons a few months before. I think you're wise to listen to your body though. I've stayed away from interval training for the last six months and just starting to mentally prepare myself to give it a go again. Of course there's nothing wrong with doing the intervals but doing them at an easier pace to break yourself in gently.
  • This is a great thread and I am quite intrigued to give it a go for my upcoming spring marathon in April.  I'm a relative novice when it comes to racing - I did 2 halfs & 2 full mara's this year and have never ever raced before in my life.  My mara times were 4:07 and 3:54 respectively, so I'm quite slow.  I'd love to break the 3:45 meaning I'd achieve a GFA (yep, I'm old).

    I'm just ever so slightly confused - all those run of the mill training plans put huge emphasis on SLOW runs and sticking with a low-ish heart rate in order to optimise your fat metabolism, etc.  When I look at the FIRST times I know already that my heart rate will be anything but ...    So, how does it all come together?  I do like the fact of doing lots of runs at target MP, though as I found that your average training plan doesn't cater enough and come race day your body's in for a bit of a surprise.

    Anyway, enough ramblings.  Any insight is greatly appreciated.

  • schmidtinator you say 4:07 and 3:54 for a marathon are "slow".................give us a break!

  • 3:54 is hardly slow....

    The plan takes a different approach. The long runs are mainly 30-60 seconds slower than race pace so you do get some leeway. Best to take a look at the website (google Furman FIRST) and loads of threads here and elsewhere. I just bought the book and will read it this weekend.

    It puts emphasis on quality rather than quality. You still exercise 5 or 6 times a week but only 3 of those sessions are running, and there's no aimless recovery runs to rack up meaningless miles. Instead you improve aerobic fitness by cross-training on non-weight-bearing activities.

    All I know is that a lot of people are reporting good results.

  • It worked for me.

    I got less niggles than previous marathons.

  • I've just bought the book and was interested to read re cross training that when cycling most runners tend to push the big gears, but that cycling is probably more beneficial when runners pedal more quickly, they recommend 80 - 100 rpm. I'd previously read that cycling transfers well to running, but not the other way round, so, due to injury,  I've been cycling and doing spinning classes at he gym. I noticed that I had no trouble at all 'going up the hill', but had great difficulty sprinting.

     Just thought I'd pass this little of nougat of info on!

  • I meant nuggat. I think.
  • Thanks again, everyone.  I've just ordered the book on Amazon & will deffo give it a go.  I'm a sucker for racking up pointless miles just so my training log adds up to some insane numbers.  I know it's stupid but I do get some strange sense of satisfaction when I see that I've managed yet another week of 60+ miles.  It's all quantity and more or less zero quality on a lot of those runs. 

    The FIRST schedule would still enable me to do my spinning classes which I LOVE but usually have to put on hold during marathon training because it's just run, run and then run some more.

    Roll on, January!!

  • The FIRST schedule could be right up your street if you like spinning, as they cite cycling and swimming as the preferred cross-training options. I understand where you're coming from re the high mileage. We've been reading for years that marathon training is all about racking up the miles and 'time on feet' that it's hard to shake off that mindset. If you read what other people say about this plan, a number of people report significant marathon PBs while running no more than 25-30 miles a week max.

  • Mozzy it's "nugget" and the bike advice is appreciated.  Though, I am planning to predominantly use elliptical trainers - they are the most closely related x-training activity to running but without the impact.  I have read that all x-training should be equivalent to an interval or tempo so no easy sessions.

    I have been practicing the sessions over the last month and once you get past the psychological barrier of how hard and fast they are - you actually gain confidence in yourself and the possibilities of the schedule.  This is from somebody who has trained hard this year and run many a quality interval so don't go into the First Furman schedule lightly (Furman First might be better if you haven't prepared to this point).

    Has anybody else noticed that the starting week is the Christmas week? a true test of mental will.....

  • Quickstepper, you're absolutely right. I've always been shit at spelling and can only remember how to spell anything if I make up a ryhme as a prompt. It's the same when I have an interview, I memorise my preparation notes using the same method and thus bore the pants of the interview panel because I don't stop waffling until I've completed an entire verse image. But that's the sart of a whole new thread....

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