4h 30min marathon plan

Hi everyone!

I recently completed the Milton Keynes marathon in 4h 42min. My average pace was 10.8min/mile. I want to do again the 26,2, most probably the Barcelona Marató, in 2013, but I'd like to do so with a bit more of a racing mentality. At the MK 2012 my only thought was to survive and have fun, running at a pace similar to that of my long run sessions, but in retrospective I can see how cautious I'd been, and how that approach affected my chip time the way it did. I'm sure I can do it even better, and maybe achieve a PR of 4h 30min or less. In Cool Running I saw a beginners program that encourages to run the whole distance in training, something that only makes sense to me, but I'd like to know if any of you have done that before and how it has affected the quality of your training, your recovery period and eventually your chip time in the actual race. Many thanks amigos and keep it up! image


  • I've never run the distance (opinion seems to be split on this issue) but I've run the time, ie. a lesser distance slower than MP. I reckon a training run of close on 5 hours would knock you about a fair bit,

  • Thanks GazOC!

  • I like to run the full distance in training 3 weeks out, a practise recommended by Charlie Spedding.

    It doesnt do any harm.

  • Charlie Spedding is a world away from normal runners.

    It's sounds ridiculous to make a 4.30 runner do the full distance in training. That's going to wipe out the next two weeks of training - maybe more.
  • Sorry cougie, by wiping out you mean that I'd become so knackered that I'd be unable to train, is that what you say?

  • You wouldn't want to run it at 4h30 pace if that's your goal race pace. So realistically you're looking at a training run of 5hrs plus which seems a bit excessive and is likely to scupper your next week's training.
  • I get it now, thanks!

  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    I have read about running the full distance and more in training. There was an article about it RWUSA.

    There is also some research that shows that the majority of runners who 'hit the wall' do so within 2 miles of their longest run.
    I have never run the full distance in training but I ran 24 + miles the week before my first marathon which I completed in sub 4 hrs - just a second or 2 under 9m/m pace which was my target pace. Having said that I had done several runs at 18 miles + beforehand.

    I don't know how avarage I am when it comes to running but I'd quite happily be out for 5 hrs. Would you think twice about going for a 5 hr walk or hike? I would think that a fairly easy walk. Therefore what is wrong with going for a 5 hr walk / jog. If you are happy to be out then where's the problem? It has never impacted on my weeks training.

    If I'm looking to run a hilly 15 miles I know it's going to take me 3 hrs plus, on top of that I'd have to cycle commute so 5 hrs out is nothing really. No one thinks anything of a 5 hr cycle ride.

    I'm not advising for or against but if I ever run another marathon I am certainly going to run over distance in training at least once. I would imagine that I'd need to be running in excess of 75 miles a week.

  • Hi camillia sinensis assamica mouse. Phew! couldn't you make your username a tad shorter?image I see you've got a point there when you say that you've run several 18 miles runs in preparation for your marathons. Maybe that's the key to acquire enough stamina and strength, so that the first 20 miles of the marathon won't feel that hard. I'm proud that at least I did a negative split in my first marathon, running the last two miles faster than the average pace for the whole course, but if I were better prepared, physically and mentally, I could speed up long before that, maybe even from mile 20 onwards. Thanks everybody for your insights, and to you Andy D for helping me to understand what cougie meant. I can see why it's a controversial issue image

  • I followed a plan for my first marathon which included full-distance long runs (in fact it was 27 mi iirc). So I have done it. Didn't think it did me any good, just made me a bit tired and jaded come race day.

    I haven't done that since. What I have been doing which I have found very helpful for marathons specifically, however, is:

    • doing some (not all) long runs with the last 1/4 to 1/2 of the run at planned marathon pace 
    • doing marathon pace runs of up to 10 miles (in fact strictly speaking I start out at MP +10-15 sec and finish at MP-10to15 sec)
    • midweek sortalong runs of up to 10 miles


  • Thanks for your tips Fido2Dogs. It's still a long way before I'll train again for the Barcelona marathon, but I needed to clear that first. Realistically, I don't see myself running for hours on end during training image

  • Hi all - for what its worth, I've just completed the Paris marathon, which was my first, in 3hr 57 by following the programme in the book 'The non-runer's marathon trainer' by Whitsett, Dolgener and Kole.

    It was a 16 week four runs a week programme, starting with distances as short as 3 miles and peaking at 18 miles a couple of weeks before the big day.  I was a relative novice when it came to running and almost 15st at the start!  I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

  • @&lt;a href="http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/localiser/member.asp?MemNo=649245"><span style="color: #0066cc;">El Wendigo</a> I'm not an expert, but we have fairly similar times, goals, races.

    I ran Barcelona Marató on 25 March 12 in 4h 49mins the temperature was about 18 degrees celsius, 5 weeks later............................................I also ran MK 2012 in 4h 32 mins, 3 hundreth of a second slower than my previous Pb at the time set in VLM 2010.

    2 weeks after MK 2012 I ran Prague 2012 (13th May) and set new Pb of 4h 27mins temperature was 13 degrees celsius.

    You can run the full distance in training and you can use marathon races as training for the race you think your more likely to achieve your sub 4h 30 goal.

    If you run better in warmer temperatures that's great for Barcelona , otherwise incorporate running in heat into your training schedule.

  • Thanks for your views SkiSpeedQueen. How do you manage to run marathon after marathon with just 1 month and/or two weeks in between them, when I'd need to train for at least the 16 weeks that most programs recommend? I'm just new to run marathons and I can't visualize how someone can have such an amazing capacity of recovery like yours. I'm slowly coming back to the normal volume of training, and believe me, it's not easy, being 44 I doubt I will ever attain your level of performance. For the moment I'll be happy running for the sake of it, doing a marathon a year, which is something I can cope with image

  • Recovery regime - Epsom salt bath, cold bath for the legs, massage, the firmest foam roller. I always try and go to the gym the next day after a marathon or long run (Not to run lol) punch class, 15 min ab class, body balance, yoga or just simply asking staff to help me stretch properly.  Nutritionists would also argue high protein recovery meal aids muscle repair.

    I'm not sure our age difference is statistically significant....probably would have to compare our metabolic ages image lol.

    If it's 1 week between marathons I don't do any running in between and focus on cross training and recovery.  If it's 2 or 4 weeks I try and follow the last 2 or 4 weeks of a training schedule (tapering) as close as possible.

    Do you think, you will run the full distance in training for your next marathon race?




  • Have to say I was more reserved for my first Marathon I did maybe 25 miles per week in the run up with a long run of around 18 three weeks before, mind you I haven't done that since and I'm on for my 9th Marathon and also include a couple of Ultras, I've also done them a week apart and as SSQueen says nothing in between other than stretching and walking.

  • SkiSpeedQueen wrote (see)

    "Do you think, you will run the full distance in training for your next marathon race?"


    I have to confess that among my emotions during the final stages of the marathon I felt fear. I knew I could do the distance but all the same it still was intimidating, and it was thanks to the support of the spectators and the nice party atmosphere what saw me entering the MK Dons Stadium. Being alone is a different issue. I've done 20 miles as my longest long run, only once, but would I go through all the pain I felt during the marathon on my own? I doubt it, but I don't rule it out. Maybe I'd like to stick for the time being to the magic of making that particular effort while surrounded by thousand other runners. Surely if I keep on training and doing races my PB's will improve over time. Thanks a lot for the insights in your recovery SkiSpeedQueen, as I completely neglected mine. After the marathon I didn't even stretch, although I had a very hot bath! And for the next week I avoided completely any exercise. Just walking was a painful thing to do image

  • Your Pb will definately improve overtime, if you keep up the training. 

    I also don't judge my running fitness levels solely on time but also take into account weather conditions, elevation gain, how I felt while running. 

    FYI - Elevation Gain as recorded on my garmin forerunner for MK 209m compared with Barcelona Marató 349m.


    "Elevation Gain as recorded on my garmin forerunner for MK 209m compared with Barcelona Marató 349m."

    Never heard before about Elevation Gain, SkiSpeedQueen, but the Wikipedia entry says that is a sum of every gain in elevation throughout an entire trip. According to this the MK marathon must have been less of an effort to you compared to Barcelona's. Your times for both events could also reflect that difference of terrain. Still, Barcelona Marató must have been a really hot one. Did you train for that particular race with several shirts on?

  • El Wendigo wrote (see)

    Your times for both events could also reflect that difference of terrain. Still, Barcelona Marató must have been a really hot one. Did you train for that particular race with several shirts on?

    Didn't train for the heat, knew I would be slower, just told myself I would be happy with a time under 5hrs.  Barcelona was good training to run in the summer here, as I really struggle with the heat.....what a summer we are having lol!.

    2 months on....

    How is the 4h 30min training plan going El Wendigo? Have you booked any marathons?


    "How is the 4h 30min training plan going El Wendigo?"

    In a nutshell, I stopped worrying about times. As I said, will run the Barcelona Marató in March 2013, and if I´ve to be honest don´t care much about the finish time. Why? Maybe it´s because I´ve cooled down after the excitement of running my first marathon, but also because I´ve kept doing lots of trail running here in Wales and I´ve come to love more and more running for the sake of it, and being part of this beautiful landscape.

    To run a marathon under 4.30h...maybe it´s something achievable, but it would imply covering the 26.2 miles at a faster pace that, for the moment, doesn´t come naturally for me. Certainly I feel strong and able to tackle that distance with an even better, more confident attitude than I did the first time and maybe I could even shave some minutes or a full half an hour over the 4.44h I did in Milton Keynes, as I´ve learnt from the mistakes of those 16 week training plan. My only plan so far is to run one marathon a year, but I´m also looking for the chance to do a long trail run of 25-30 miles or even longer, and staying overnight. It needs careful preparation though image

  • Trail marathons are much more scenic wish you all the best, I've done a few this year.  I'm aiming to complete 14 marathons this year and perhaps for 1 of them I might be able to run around 4h15mins.  I managed my first sub 4h 30mins earlier this year by running with a pacer in Prague marathon. 

  • I ran 3.54 in Edinburgh in 2011. I was strict with my program never running for longer then 3 hrs when training and trying to run 3 to 4 runs a week. I ran events and built up slowly from 10K to half marathons and ran a 20 mile race around 2 months before the marathon then trained consistantly up to around 18 miles before tapering for the last 3 weeks.

  • That sounds a sensible way to train, Wexter. I wished I had used that progressive approach in my training, but I'm afraid the excitement of running my first ever marathon was a bit too much. From a gentle, weekly schedule I went straight into a hardcore routine of hills, intervals and tempo sessions that soon left me exhausted and triggered an Achilles tendon injury. I recovered in time for the event, but I paid the price of being rather undertrained also. Just lessons image

    SkiSpeedQueen: 14 marathons a year makes me think that a 16 weeks training program maybe necessary for begginer marathoners, like me, who need a long time of recovery after the event, but that more experienced runners make do with much less preparation. I'm curious to know how both the recovery period and the length of the training program shortens in relation to a better capacity of endurance.

    I'll be posting about the changes that my own physical development undergo in future events.
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