Sub 3hr Marathon training

I'm hoping it might be possible for a little advise and perhaps some perspective.

I race mountain bikes at a high level, but I am considering a new challenge and thinking about a marathon.

I run 1-2 times a fortnight, only up to 40min or so, both on and off-road. I can hold low 4min km for a time and my longest ever run was an off-road 1/2 in 2hrs over 1 year ago. Normally I don't run over 8km.

Realistically how much training would I need to do in order to run a sub 3hr marathon and how long would it take me to get up to those distance?



  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I'm sub 3.10, so not quite sub 3 yet but working at it.

    Get yourself over to the Sub 3 thread as the folks they will have some good advice.

    Find sub 3 plan and see if you could manage the training / paces involved.
  • Mathew - most sub 3 hr marathon runners would have a half time of 01:20 to 01:25. They would be doing 40 to 60 miles per week and most experts would say that it takes several years to build up the endurance necessary to perform at your potential for a marathon. There is nothing in what you have written that could give anybody any idea of your potential as even the half time was offroad and you give no indication of the touighness (ascent/descent) of that particular half.

  • Thanks for the responses. Sorry I didn't give much info, I'll give some more and also search out the 3hr training forum.

    The half was the Endurance Life Gower in 2011. 21.5km with 600m climbing. It was my longest run ever and still to date. I've only ever run one 10km and that was about 2 weeks training and 42min.

    I think I'd get sub 20min currently for 5km. My splits are about 4:10-4:20min/km on a pretty hilly 4.3km that I often do.

    Is there anyone who advocates HIIT for running in a similar way to many do for cycling? Maybe 3hrs is a little too optomisitic, it seemed like a nice round figure.

  • Hi Matthew.

    Some pointers, first up you're probably being a bit too ambitious as a first goal (fewer than 2000 people in the UK ran it last year), but equally having a target in mind is a good way to keep yourself motivated.

    If you want to get started you'll need to commit to running quite a few more miles. HIIT doesn't help too much with marathon training it's about consistent weekly mileage, with a couple of harder workout days a week.

    3:30 would be a good target for your first, if you can already run around the 20min mark for a 5k you will be fine speed wise, what you need to do is work on your endurance and start getting your body conditioned.

    I'd guess if you work at it you cold have a realistic shot at sub 3:30 in the autumn, then maybe look at reducing your time next year.

  • Agree that HIIT isn't going to be the thing to get you a sub 3. It took me about 10 months to break sub 3 as a 40something no exercise for 20 years bloke. As Ross said, putting in the mileage consistently is needed, so it will require some time and dedication.

    Mileage varies from person to person. Some will need 60+ miles per week. Others may get away with 30 to 40 pw. Many put the mileage in and never make sub 3. There is an awful lot of factors from training, and on the day that can affect the outcome. I found the sub 3:15 forum very helpful (sub 3 forum has many very fast runners)
  • Thanks guys. 3:30 would be more realistic I think.

    My problem with running is that I get bored. Off-road runs I find OK up to about an hour, a little more in an event. I'd still be cycling, so working out a good training plan would be tricky.

    My endurance is fine, speed is what I am lacking although it is progressing slightly. Thats why I thought HIIT might be a good idea.

    Just need to find an event to target now!

  • I will ask the obvious question, why choose a marathon if you get bored running for over an hour? You will be needing to do quite a few runs over two hours to get the conditioning/endurance needed - I am a fairly low mileage runner and do a long run and medium long run weekly (they probably total 4 hours.), one tempo run of about an hour, and hill reps again about an hour. In addition to that I do a lot of cross training (rowing) hours. Where possible I will try to put in some recovery runs if possible. To make progress I consider this very lightweight compared to most pushing the 3hour mark.

    I also need to ask how you know your endurance is fine. Endurance from cycling, rowing, swimming etc won't translate directly to running. I would say your speed is fine based on what you said about a 5k time, and endurance will need developing.

    I'm not wanting to put you off - just to ask the questions before you dive in. Maybe look at SHADES, Hal Higdon, and Runners Word plans as a starting point

    Alternatively, What about targeting some 10k races instead.
  • Marathon simply because its a marathon. It's only the bucketlist and if it goes well, hopefully the Norseman at some point.

    Regarding endurance, I mean from a general sports background. CV and metabolic stuff.

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