Sub 3 hour London Marathon 2014 VLM



  • PCleasby - that is an exceptional effort on the back of an almost 40min 10k and 1:26:30 half!!!

    You have given lots of us hope!!!! Can I ask how much weight you lost and what your speedy sessions were?

  • I lost about 10lbs. It took me to 158lbs.(I'm 5'9 and 41 years old) It was my 10th marathon though so I did have about 3 years of a solid training base. Speedwork was various LT workouts and VO2max boosters plus occasional park runs. I also race pretty regulalrly. 

    On the day everything just went well. Weather was bright and cool, only a slight breeze. I got of to a decent start went through half way in 1:28:30 and obviously did the second half in 1:30. I knew I was going to do it from about 23 miles. My hamstrings and calves were just starting to twinge and I was able to shorten my stride and resolved not to do anything daft. Even approaching the finish there were a couple of people who passed me, normally I'd be wanting to race but I was focused on my main goal.

    The real question is can I do it again?

  • PCleasby - you dont need to do it again. Good point you made about everything going right on the day, thats something we have not mentioned. Some things to cant control such as weather and if you are ill etc.

    you are the same age and height as me and i also intend to loose 10lb for the marathon which will take me to around 160lb (I was 220lb 3 years ago)

    what are your 10k and half times down to now?

  • PCleasby - next is sub 2.45 surely, then sub 2.30? Onwards and upwards!

  • just to add what PCleasby has said - my 10k PB is 39m (granted i have only done 2 of them) and my HM best is 1:26:09 set a few weeks back - yet yesterday at Berlin i just went for it and did another 1:26 first half and a 1:31 second half and achieved a 2:57:27 PB. It can be done without being very quick - i had a max week of 75 miles but averaged only 40 miles per week. 

    My average week would be:

    Monday - 5 miles hilly at near MP
    Tuesday - 6-8 miles steady
    Wednesday - maybe 5 miles or rest
    Thursday - 7 miles tempo
    Friday - 5 miles
    Sat or Sun - 13 - 23 miles depending on how i feel - rest other day

    This was my 12th marathon and my average time for years was 3:30's then a few years back i did an Amsterdam in 3:13 and this gave me the mental hope it could be done. I then did 3:06 last year at Berlin and i knew it was possible. So the first marathon 4 years ago was 4h00m11s and 12 marathons later i am sub 3h.

    I think as long as you can run a HM under 1:30 then as long as you can build in endurance and hold it for another HM then its possible - you do not need to be superfast. Ultimately its all in your head - can you mentaly deal with the pain of trying to hold the pace for that long - that was the big thing for me yesterday - mentally i was a lot tougher with myself than ever before.

  • I agree with everything Andy has said.

    Wenty my 5K is down to 18:19, 10K 38:37 and my half is 1:26:35.

    The best piece of advice I was given is that you have really got to believe you can do it. It's no good thinking you might and then hit a sticky patch and fade. If you've got the basic speed then the endurance should build.

    I would also advise doing up to 3 runs of 22 miles, I don't think 20 is long enough for optimal performance.

    15 West - Sub 2:45!!! I think I would need a Delorean to achieve that. Sneaky hope of nearer 2.55 sometie int he future but I think I'm a little way of sub 3 again at the moment.

  • For those that ran a sub 3 can I ask what pace you went out at - was it a sub 3 hour pace and you got slower over the 26.2 miles, or did you start out a little slower and speed up? 

    I would be really interested to know what pace you decided to start with and why you chose that pace i.e. was it based on something like the McMillan calculater, or did you decide that you wanted to try and run sub 3 and so you started at 06.50 ish pace?


  • I set off at 6:45 pace giving me a 7 second per mile cushion to rely on at the end of the race. The 3rd mile of the VLM is slightly down hill and I banked a 6:30 min mile here but was quick to reignit in back to 6:45 again on the flat. My averages drifted to 6:48s by the end of the race but as I said above I knew with a couple of miles to go that I felt strong enough to maintain my pace and even if I faded I was not going to fade so much that the whole of my safety margin would be used. It's a joyous feeling I can tell you. image

  • Agree - I went off as fast as i felt comfortable - basically i wanted to aim for my HM PB time of 1:26 as i knew this would give me 8 minutes in hand for the second half of the race when i would get tired. When I crossed half way i then thought to myself do your best and try an maintain this as far as possible as every second gained is two in the bank. The challenge was two fold though - holding this pace as best i could but also knowing that the 3hr pacers where behind me and i used this as a game - could i keep them away from me - every time i heard a group running up behind i looked around to see if it was them. This lasted till 5km out when i was really getting sore, but i just dug in and re-passed them and beat them. My splits where 1:26 and 1:31 which i was happy with. I do not worry about negetive splits etc why do the second fast when you can do the first faster - they all add up to 26 miles. 

  • Thanks. It's interesting that you both set off at a pace that would give you "time in the bank". That approach doesn't appear to work with everyone and some who try it can blow up spectactularly. I'm running Chester this Sunday and whilst I'm not aiming for a sub 3 I am going for about 3.10 and I'm not sure whether to go for even pacing, a fast start and slow finish or negative split. 

  • first half is all about physical speed - second half is mental strength - thats how i treat each race. Sunday in Berlin i had greater mental strength and confidence than the year before - someone who 'blows up' in many cases is just being beaten by the mental demons in their head telling them they are tired and slow down. I was hurting all over 5km out on Sunday but somehow my head and heart told me to just go for it for that last 5km no matter how bad it felt.

  • "why do the second fast when you can do the first faster - they all add up to 26 miles." 

    Because generally you'll get a better overall time if you run more evenly through the race - something less than a 2 minute positive split is probably about right.  For every story of just hanging on and not slowing too much to hit a target after a fast start, there'll be a dozen sob stories from people fading very badly when a more conservative first half would have got them there.

    That said, it's a long time since I've run to achieve a specific target, usually I'm just running to do the best I can on the day.

  • I haven't much experience but I wonder whether what suits one person may not suit another. Hence one person can try andyc209's approach and blow up really badly (much more than a 5 minute positive split in andy's case). It may even be that most people trying this approach would fare much worse and there be a substantially worse positive split. For others an even pace may be the best approach and for others a negative split approach may be better. It's a case of finding out (through experience) which pacing strategy works best for you. 

    At Chester I suspect I could run 7 min miles for quite a bit but I'm concerned that the slowdown will be greater than if I start at 7.10. I'll start at 7.10 and I'm hoping that I'm a 'negative split' person and my second half will be better than the first!

  • cheers for that andy - sounds like it should be possible then. I agree as I always try and bank a small cusion from the start, as unless you are elite you will always fade slightly and its about having a buffer zone rather than crashing and burning.

    sounds like i should have the pace but need to get the endurance up there!!!!

  • Andy's 4 min positive split is a bit too Kamikazee for me, I'm not as fast as him over the half and I would have been knackered if I'd gone out that hard. Slight cushion acceptable and worth the risk, the bigger the cushion the more risk you have of blowing up I reckon.

  • MACbMACb ✭✭✭

    I have only run 1 marathon in 3:18:19 and was hoping to do a bit quicker next year, so sub 3:15. But after briefly reading this thread I might aim for faster. My 10K pb from years ago is 39:14, but my half marathon PB is 1:26:35 (same as you PCLeasby). This is from last week. So maybe with better training and longer runs closer to the marathon i can look nearer 3h.

  • MACb - Go for it. Main dissadvantage you have is only 1 marathon under your belt - but not sure what thats worth - my times at my last marathon we similar to yours and I did 3:13, so yeah with some hard work sub 3 could be yours as well. Hell, we all might be going sub 3!

  • PCleasby - i admit it is Kamikazee but now i mentally know its possible i just know i need to build up my endurance more and hopefully i can carry the same speed into the second half. More 20+ mile training runs for me image

  • I went from 3:20 down to 3:15 then to 3:08 before finaly going sub 3 so I think I benefitted from a few years of accumulated mileage. If you don't try you will never know, if you fall short but improve you still feel great and it's always a nice goal to have.


  • Wenty - I ran my first marathon this year in April, I ran a 2.53.33, off an average of 25-30 mpw. Actually 22 if you include a 3 week holiday to Australia mid training.. Where I ran 15 miles total those 3 weeks haha! So yeah it's possible off very little but this is very much an exception, and now I'm running up to 40-50 I have got a bit quicker I think. (Read:hope) I'm doing Chester this weekend and hoping for a PB, despite not really tapering, FYI my other PBs are 17.25 - 5k, 36.15 - 10k, and 1.23 for a hilly Half.

    Tim B - I've got the Flyknit Lunar 1 and they are great lightweight trainers but I've only run about 110 miles in them and they are starting to show a bit of wear on the sole already! More wear in fact than my Adidas Boost which I've run 273 miles in!

  • Splits for that marathon were 1.26 (6 minutes quicker than my HM pb at the time!) and 1.27.33, and should perhaps also include I also did an average of 45 MINUTES of steady cycling per week.

  • Oliver that is quite impressive for a first marathon, but your PBs would suggest that you should really be doing at least sub 3's

    But how the hell you get those times on such limited training is amazing!

    You are obviously very talented and with some substatial training could be heading for some very impressive times!

    I dont think i can compare your situation with mine image

  • Wendy - I think in general more miles obviously helps in training for a marathon but it is still possible on less! image

    My inexperience showed yesterday and lack of salts caused debilitating cramps, and my estimated 2.52 at the 20 mile point ended up being a 2.58 by the end! A relative disaster but still a respectable time!

  • whos Wendy?? image

    Still a cracking time, and yes as you say some good results can be achieved off low miles - I presume you dont do recovery runs or easy days? you cant afford them,

  • sorry Wenty I think I was a victim of autocorrect there haha! And I didn't tend to no, I do run more miles now and I'm in much better shape than when I ran 2.53, it just goes to show all the preparation in the world can be ruined by poor execution on raceday!

  • MACbMACb ✭✭✭

    Wow, those are great times Oliver. I am also a failry low mileage runners, but I was hoping to up my mileage to get improved results next April. I have just run my half marathon PB or 1:26:34 on about 2 runs a week (one hard 10K and one 1h15mins-1h-45mins medium paced and hilly). I also try and do a spin class and body pump in the gym. But due to time constraints and having a toddler I find it hard to run more often that I currently am. So I will up my mileage as I get closer, but it is good to see that high mileage isn't necessary - I guess quality mileage is though.

  • MACb thats pretty impressive as well!!! - I need to up my times on my 3-4 runs a week!!! I do think some of the easy runs can be dropped personally.

  • MACbMACb ✭✭✭

    Yes, I agree Wenty, I am not a fan of easy runs, I find them a little pointless. But I guess different routines work for different people. I have always been a low mileage runner, I put it down to my age! But it means you have to do quality runs when you do train, so i guess my effort is a little higher for me weekly runs. If I had time i'd do more slower miles just to enjoy being outside. I am a pretty one paced runner too, even when i try to go slower I find I am close to me quicker times at all the check points, I find it physically hard to slow down! I should run with a slower runner to help pace me!  

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Oliver - none meant but research tends to show that cramping is more due to lack of specific training at race intensity or over keen pacing rather than salt loss.although some loading up on salts with nuun etc can help. I think your comment about not really tapering will point to some potential leg residual leg fatigue too. I've done a few low mileage sub3's and they hurt, they are much easier with a bit more run frequency (which leads to a few more miles).

  • TR - thanks mate none taken at all, I readily admit my lack of experience and genuinely appreciate advice. I am going to up my mileage for London and do some proper marathon sessions with some race pace work, something I did very very little of this time. Thanks again.

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