Sub 3 ... women -v men

I have been told that to achieve a sub 3 for a women you need to aim for a 2.45 schedule.... any expert views if it really makes a difference to a schedule if you are female. Also good to hear from any women who have acheived or aiming for sub 3..




  • Who told you that ? Makes no sense to me.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Every run / session would be run too fast for your ability.
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    From what I've heard, women can do less training than a man of a similar ability on account of being tougher when put to the marathon test.

  • If the schedule is labelled as a 2:45 schedule because of the paces it tells you to run at then it's a silly idea. If it's labelled that way because the person who wrote it thinks it's the amount of training needed for a 2:45, then maybe - just substitute your own paces. Personally I'm suspicious of any plan named after an aspirational time goal and train based on my current level and the amount of easy and quality running I think I can realistically sustain. If sub 3 hours is a realistic target and you put enough work in it doesn't really matter what the plan is called.

  • It's possible that what was being said was whats the male equivalent time of a female running a 3 hour marathon. 2:45 is one of the suggested figures.

    There's a very good (and long running) thread on sub-3 hour marathoning

  • Thanks for the responses, a few runners have mentioned to me in conversation it was more difficult for a women to reach a sub 3 compared to a man, and that I would need to follow a  2.45 to achieve a sub 3. 

    Others have mentioned to me the big  difference betwen  good for age qualifying  for London Marathon as a reasonand I read a few views on line saying percentage of women reaching sub 3 compared to men was very low, so I was interested in the “science”  behind the difference men v women running.

    The links were really good, thank you FerrousFerret for taking the time to post them

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Sharona excuse me for stalking you but I was keen to see where you were coming from.  I see from other posts that you are getting faster as you get older.  I am 44 and ran 3:15 this year (my fastest marathon) and feel confident I can run 3:10 but not sure I'll get any faster than that.     I agree with you that there's a lot more men in their 40s and 50s achieving sub 3  and I often wonder why that is too. Maybe lots of women just throw the towel in too quickly? 

    As for training is say train for sub 3 in you're in sub 3 shape, or 2.45 if you're in 2.45 shape etc.  if I tried to train to the paces of sub 3 it would finish me off! 

  • Well yeah it is harder for a woman to reach sub 3 - look at the world records - men are faster.

    Are they saying that the schedules are for men and women would need to adapt ?

    I don't think they work like that.

    And I don't think the GFA times are that scientific - its more that they don't want road blocks along the way than they are trying to be perfectly fair to men and women.
  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Its more that a female 3:00 is equivalent to a male 3:00. IMO folks should also do the amount of training that they can commit to and build into their life and then see how fit they get and what sort of target that leads to fitness wise. for example you'll find a PnD 55mpw schedule rather than a 3:15 schedule.

  • Noooo I would not train for 2.45.   I want to aim for sub 3 and wanted to hear other views so these posts have been really helpful.  I plan to increase my weekly mileage and intensity of training as I am able to commit more time and effort to my training so will see how it goes.

    Minni, good to be in contact with a fellow women especially around the same age group and level..  It’s odd but true (for me) I have become a lot faster the older I have become, and I do find it puzzling at times,

    I am firm believer of muscle memory and as the years past our body becomes more resilient to the pounding, we become mentally stronger especially when the going gets tough and finally (big one for me) realising one size does not fit all.  We adapt our training plan based on our own  experience and by knowing what works best for our body, rather than relying on what we are  told  works. Over the years I have adapted and personalised my training schedule that works well for me now.

    The main change I have made over the years is making my runs more quality then being a mile junkie.  I ran less mileage last year  and I  knocked 20 mins of my time.

    What I have noticed change is my recovery especially if I burn the candle at both ends!  Last year if I felt very fatigued or had pushed myself I would not run the next day even if it meant having 2 rest days, (which is also one of the reasons I did not clock as many miles) but I would  “listen to my body” to make my runs quality as well as prevent injury. 

    One thing that  I never change through the years is working on the mental side as well as physical I do meditation/hypnosis regularly as part of my training. For me this really plays a big part!

    Hal Higdon, marathon runner and writer, ran a marathon in 2:29 at the age of 52

    Canadian athlete Ed Whitlock ran a marathon in 2:54:48 at the age of 73. When interviewed he said his schedule works for him but may not work at all for another person, there is no magic schedule out there as we come to know with age  

    So plenty of good running years ahead ....

  • How close are you to a  3 hr marathon now Sharona ?

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Interesting Sharona.  How many miles a week do you run in marathon training and do you think you can stick to the same and still knock so much time off?   I think as you get faster it gets harder to continue to knock the time off. 

    What are your times for shorter distance?  I really struggle with this and it takes years to knock a minute or so off a 10 or 5k but I can make big improvements over the longer distance, which is why I know I could never aim for something like sub 3.  I think at my current speed I can knock a few minutes off the marathon but to get any more than that I would have to get much faster over the shorter stuff. 

    I work best running 6 times a week with an average of around 55 miles a week with this peaking at low 60s in marathon training.  I'm not sure my body knows what muscle memory is and I have to keep reminding it!

  • I always plan my goals on how well the training goes and then I assess the situation closer to the time. When I completed Paris I was going for Sub 4 but managed to get pushed up to the 3:45 pen as I knew I could go faster on the day and came in 3.42.   Last year goal was 3.30 but felt stronger on the day and came in 3:24 and found it comfortable... so I just see how I feel and of course hopefully injury free.  I am completely aware though it’s a big jump to sub 3 at 6.50 min miles but this time I am increasing mileage and following more of a plan/schedule.

    Minni in answer to your questions how much mileage I did depended on how long the long run was on weekend so I would run 40 -50 miles a week and had two days off a week.. For my next marathon which is London   I have decided to increase mileage 60-70 and follow a schedule.    I did not follow a schedule last year, I just ran... and just made sure I completed 3 x 20 1 x 18 run and allowed myself more rest days.  Also competed in 16 mile race in Kingston a month before.  

    Also you question short distances, I have only ever taken  in 10Ks as part of my training with my best time being 42 mins average 44 mins. In past I never competed 5Ks  (except JP Morgan 3.5 miles which I completed in 23.50 however I just completed my first park run  at 22.39 which I hope to improve as the training kicks in! 

    So will see how my  training  goes and see where it takes me on the day but I do listen to my body and would not push if I know I am not at that level.

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    3.24 to sub 3 is a massive jump. It may take a couple of years to get there so you may be better off aiming for 3.10 or 3.15 in your next attempt and then pushing on from there. 3x 20 mile runs doesn't seem a great deal, a lot of sub 3 runners will be doing a lot more than that.
  • So ran parkrun of 5k at an average of 7:17 a mile and now you want to run 26.2 miles at a much faster pace of 6:50/mile  in 6 months time  image  Your 5k time though does seem slow compared with your marathon time , you should be a lot faster but it was your first so pacing is hard to get right.

    as a comparison I can run a half at 6:50 pace but I dont think there is a schedule out there could get me to a 3 hour marathon that quick but if there is I want to know .image

  • Sharona - just to give you an idea of the challenge you have set yourself, last year, in London, only 50 or so women in total went under 3 hours, (excluding the elite). Not sure of your age, but in the LV40+ category a sub 3hr time would put you close or in the top 10.

    If you can go from what is currently an average runner to one of the best in the country in 6 months I think we would all like to know about your training programme!

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    It's also worth bearing in mind that people often take large chunks of their times for their first couple of marathons but after that it is usually a case of diminishing returns. For my last few I have taken off, 19, 12, 9. But my milage has gone 35, 45, 55 and I rekon just to take off another 3 or 4 minutes I will have to go up to 70+ a week.

    When are you thinking of going for the Sub 3 attempt?

    I'm not saying you can't do it, just that it will probably be a case of years rather than months.
  • I was asked question to how I trained last year and just responded thats all it was not in any reference to doing marathon in 3 hrs right now.  It would be ultimate  dream but this thread was started more out of interest the statistics between men and women achieving sub 3

    Re my park run was after a night out was not in training and ran for fun... During training last year  my average pace was 6.45  to 7 min for a 4-5 mile run  I trained with a very fast guy regularly who I feel pushed me to that next level I think that helped me, so running under 7.20 is not an issue   I was just answering a question and was not in in reference to my acheiving a sub 3!  

    For my training running with someone at a higher level (when they let me) really has helped me a lot over the years.  I ran with two guys reguarlly and I was always left behind at the end but it really helped with my training.

    I know how difficult it is to achieve sub 3  but one day I hope that goal could be met thats all!!







  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Sharona - my 5k time would equate to: (and my times in brackets)

    43:10 10k (42:52)
    1:37  HM (1:31:21)
    3:24 Mar (3:15:48)

    I'm confident I can run a faster marathon, think I might scrape under 1:30 for the half, doubt I'll get any quicker over 10k and don't really care what my 5k time is!

    I've found that over time my training has allowed me to able to hold a much faster pace for a longer period of time a lot more comfortably, but trying to speed that up a bit more over a shorter distance (ie 10k) almost kills me.  I think its just the way I am and it sounds like you are very similar.  Use 5ks as a marker of where you're at but I wouldn't worry if they no way relate to what you think you can, or can, achieve over the marathon.

    Which schedule are you going to follow?


  • Minni I am not a big fan of shorter races as I like to start slower and speed up as I increase my miles.  They say an  accurate prediction for a marathon based on a half-marathon time, rather than a 5k and as mentioned before only ran one 5K race in my life 3 weeks ok.

    I do not think one size fits all regardless of age, sex, or how you run and what you put in, although many are quick to put down and tell you what you can or cannot achieve when they do not even know you or your history, we are all different.. so yes maybe we could be in top 10 women at our age why not, why would it impossible! Only you know your limitations no one else.

    My history is I started running at a young age, I was selected for London and then England at 14. I ran 800 metres and cross country races (women were not allowed to compete 1500 then)  but for personal issues  did not pursue however I learnt a lot from many 1:1 sessions with coaches one of those I think is very important is on how you breathe  I focus on this a lot and it makes a hugh difference so I have been able to take a lof of what I was taught   from my younger years to my  later years!

    Minni I will send you a personal message so we can keep in touch during our training as we are very similar runners and with us both being women would be good to keep in touch with traininig.  My big next goal is improving my half marathon time this is what I am focusing on now.





  • been looking at Pete Pfitzinger or Richard Neurrkar schedule



  • It can be achieved if you are determined Sharona but it will take maybe a couple of marathons to get there and your half marathon time would need to be around 85 mins to give you a good chance of success.image

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