Sub 3 hour London Marathon 2014 VLM

This is the first thread i have started as i need some advice.

I managed to qualify for VLM 2014 with a good for age time.

How can i run a sub 3 hour marathon? I have been running 2 years now and last year ran 03:43 and this year ran 03:13. My weekly miles for this was quite low with 3-4 runs (6, 5, 6, 16 miles) on average, with a few longer runs maybe. Now most of you will say - "you need more miles", however a higher weekly mileage does make me more prone to injury (ITB mainly). How many more miles do i need? and what 10k half times should i be looking at? (currently 39min and 1:28, but confident i can improve these).

anyone else aiming for a sub 3 for London Marathon 2014 for the first time?



  • When I did it, I went from 3:16 to 2:56 - I was running 70 miles a week, plenty of long runs up to 20 - Week looked like this

    Monday - 8 Steady (ran from work)

    Tuesday - 10 Club Run - hard

    Wednesday - Track Session - Hard

    Thursday - 10 Club Run - Hard

    Friday - 8 Miles - Steady (ran from work)

    Saturday - 3 miles vey easy

    Sunday - Long Run (up to 20 - hilly run with a faster runner - - 20s were normally done 2:10 to 2:15)

    My Half Marathon PB was 1:21 at the time

    All this done over a 16 week schedule build up.

    Speed work would be up to 6 times a mile off 4 minutes recovery, 8 times 800 off 2 minutes, or two times 5K

    To be honest looking bakc the hard club runs which were effectively tempo to race pace and faster were what did the trick

    (went through half way in 1:24 so blew up badly)

    Good luck though with comitment you can do it. (and no my sub 3 days are years ago!!)

  • I was in a similar situation to you this time last year with very similar PBs.

    For my 16 week training plan I was pretty much like this

    Mon- 6 mile recovery run

    Tues- intervals or hill reps

    Weds- Medium long run 10-13 miles

    Thurs - Rest

    Fri- tempo run 6-8 miles.

    Sat- parkrun or 5 easy (depending on how tired I felt)

    Sun- long run approx 20 miles. Sometimes incorporating a race into this every 4 weeks.

    By mid feb my 1/2 time was down to 1.24

    I spent nov and dec getting my body ready for running these sessions 6 times a week.

    I came in at 2.58 in the end.
  • Grendal - That's hardcore and not sure my body would cope with that, but very very admirable, and impressive times - especially the half.

    Millsy - cheers - still pretty harcore but thats a bit of confidence for me, that someone had similar times and got sub 3.

    Question to both, is do you think you could have achieved the same times if you dropped one of the lighter sessions? say a 5 or 6 mile run? do you think it really is important to get high weekly miles, as i dont think my body will take it.

    I might be able to get close to Millsy training as its around 50 -55 miles but no way can i get to 70 miles per week (off my previous training of 35 miles per week)




  • It's hard to say really although I did feel that 50-55 miles was about the minimum I should be doing to get Sub 3. Some people may be lucky and do it on less but I also know people are nearer 70 but not getting sub 3.

    It all depends on what works for you.

    It's well worth building up your milage very gradually over the winter so you can hit week 1 of the plan in decent shape.
  • Thanks - I think i will need 50 minimum as well and i think i should be able to up to this from 35 miles a week (intensive), without serious harm. Yes i plan to be comfortably doing 35 miles as a base before the new year (my base for the last spring marathon).

    Can i ask what 10k times you were achieving? (these are more regular locally and might give me an idea as well), as i plan to try and hit 37.5 mins 10k and 1:24 for a half, before i contemplate a sub 3hr marathon

  • The mcmillan race calculator will give you times for other distances if you put a 3hr marathon in , I think its 1:25 for a half.

  • I only did one 10k last yr and that was actually 10.2k according to the organisers. I did it in 38.30 so I'd say I would be around 37.30 for a flat 10k.

    I also found doing a parkrun every 2 or 3 weeks just to judge how I'm improving.

    I got mine down from 19.07 to 18.00 between Jan and April.
  • I have heard the park runs are good for that but the nearest one is about 18 miles away, so not really viable (hard enough to get time off with the misses as it is)

    good to hear i'm not far off the mark with my estimated 10k times adn half times.

    Did you do a 20 miles run every week for 16 weeks or build up to 20 and do 3-4 of them ? 16, 20 milers sounds alot!

  • Leslie, i have tried a few of these race calculators and it appears that in reality they appear optimistic on the marathon times. alot of people i know hitting 40 minute 10ks are only achieving 4hr marathons, so its nice to know what people are doing in reality! - most calcs put a 3hr marathon at 39 minute 10k. I have done a 39 minute 10k but a long way off a 3 hr marathon. 1:25 for a half is closer but still optimistic i feel. (i'm only 3 minutes off a comfotable 1:25 but 13 minutes off a hard 3hr marathon).

    did the calculator work for your times?

  • Ive only done my first marathon yet  in 3:27  with a 1:32 half close to that so the calculator was 10 mins optomistic for me and I had a 41 min 10k just after the marathon.

    I did want to make 3;30( having started out with 4 hours as a target 24 weeks before) though so wasnt willing to go out any harder as I knew I would lose time overall, I think the calculator  is more for those experienced at the distances which i wasnt then having only did my first.Its aslo very dependant on putting the very long runs in and running a high enough mileage to meet the target.

    3 mins on a  half is probally worth 10 at marathon distance though as you get more tired.image

    For next time as Im 1:30 half now that predicts a 3:10 which i think is just possible for me with with 9 months to go.

  • Wenty - I didnt do 16 x 20 milers. There was 3 weeks of taper at the end, and at the beginning i think i went 14, 17, 15(when it snowed) and then 20.

    Most of the other weeks I ran somwhere between 18 -22 miles. Sometimes it was just a straight 20 at a very easy pace. When I had a race I always added on miles at the beggining and the end to make the distance up to 18 - 20. I also did a few fast finish 21 milers, where i did 18 easy and then the last 3 at Marathon Pace.
  • Very impressive times Leslie, especially for 1st marathon. I think you are closer to marathon times than most people I know. I think 1:30 half would be nearer 3:20 but please prove me wrong (i had a comfortable 1:28 half with hard 3:13 marathon time)

    However anything could be possible with 9 months to go.......

    I def agree that the calculators are for experienced runners with optimal training and mileage. - so there is hope for me yet!

  • Millsy - thats still alot of 20 milers...... about 10 or so.

    I also found that trying to run a section at the end of the long runs at MP helped a lot in my previous training..

    Did you feel you had any more to give with the 2:58 marathon or was that as much as you had?

  • I did train very hard though for the 24 weeks  before my 3 week taper the lowest was 50 miles/week adding about 10 extra each month to the weekly total so not the average plan for a first timer.image and is what I will be doing again next time .

  • Leslie,

    Impressive mileage for a first timer, but had you been running a bit before that? i e a good base to start from?

    High mileage is ok providing you dont get injured. I dont tend to get on too well with mega miles, which may be my ultimate problem in getting to sub 3 hrs!

  • Id been running about a year and a half before the marathon program started and was at the 50 mile/week mark for about 6 months before that ,so well used to the miles and found every month I could add to it as my fitness just kept improving was however very very tough and I was at about my limits ..I was very lucky injury wise with 1 minor hamstring strain which I came back from in a few days although it niggled a bit for a good few weeks.

  • Wenty, It may be alot of 20 milers but it was marathon number 5 for me and I found that the more of these I did the better my time was.

    2.58 was about as good as I could do on the day. I was at halfway in 1.28 (as planned due to the downhill section at the start) and was really hanging on in the last 3 miles.
  • I had about 6 or 7 runs over 20 miles as well peaking at a 25 miler in training as I wanted to avoid any walls on the day image

  • thanks Millsy - I will be attempting as you have done on a similar mileage and weekly runs. I have a feeling it may be slightly ambitious for me but worth a go.

    as you and Leslie have pointed out - need a good base at the start of the training.

    I suppose the marathon attempted is important as well - Is London a fast marathon? I presume if you start near the front it should be?

  • Yes, London is pretty fast. If you have a good for age place you should start pretty near the start and you know those people have actually got a good time to get there. There are also loads of very experienced runners to tag along to help pace you around.

    Regarding my plan, i was quite flexible with rest days. If I felt too tired id move my rest day to that day. Or if I didnt feel 100% i would make the session slightly easier. I only missed one session through injury / illness and I think that consistancy really helped contribute to the performance
  • Good point that regarding the people starting in GFA, will be realistic. Does London have pacers? I have never used pacers before. Are they a good idea or better to just run your own race?

    Regarding the plan, i have never really used one before, so I wll be flexible. Do you know what plan it was or where you got it, or are they all the same basically?

  • I didnt see or use the pacers although they are there somewhere. I prefer to run my own race as i know i can be quite metronomic with my pace on a good day.

    Unfortunatley I made the plan up myself based on what has worked for me in the past and what I felt I needed to improve on. It also changed slightly on a weekly basis depending on how i was feeling / performimg.

    If you are looking for a decent plan have a look at Advanced Marathoning by Pfitzinger and Douglas. Its a book that a lot of the faster guys seem to base their training on.
  • Looking at the Pfitzinger and Douglas, it appears a bit hardcore with 70+mpw!

    I will be 42 by next London marathon, and i think i prefer your plan. I have Jack Daniels book which is quite good but a bit complicated with any of its plans.

    I think i will hijack your plan as you seem to come from similar previous times and the distance is more achievable. Thanks for your advice. Are you in for london next year?

  • Im sure ive seen a 55 mpw one somwhere from them.

    Yes I should be there. Im doing the South Downs Way 50 miler the weekend before so I doubt i`ll be going for a PB in London. I`ll just enjoy the event.

    I didnt feel like I enjoyed it last yr as much as i could have I was too focussed on getting sub 3
  • yeah but you have the sub 3 in the bag now!!! 50 miler OUCH image

  • Just poping in to say hi. VLM 2014 will be first time at London.

    Currently training for a marathon on 08/12 as a prep race. Anyone else running a marathon before VLM 2014 as prep?

  • I'm doing the SDW 50 the week before, does this count?
  • Tim Bateson wrote (see)

    Currently training for a marathon on 08/12 as a prep race. Anyone else running a marathon before VLM 2014 as prep?

    Hang on... you mean there are other marathons?

  • Yes but they are not as far as the London one.
  • Wenty, the book Millsy pointed out has a plan which peaks at 55 miles per week. It is worth a read even if you don't use the plans in the book. There is plenty of explanation on appropriate sessions for the distance.

    It is a little simpler to understand than Daniels' as the whole book is marathon specific.

    Like Millsy I set my own plan. I picked up plenty of tips from P&D, Daniels and the forums. You could probably rework your approach that got the GFA place.

    My Marathon plans are in a bit of flux. I was doing Abingdon, but have changed now to Robin Hood.

    SDW 50 sounds like a nice little warm up! I will stick to my own taper for VLM image

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