How to run a 4hr marathon
Last week I posted an interview with my client who runs a 3hr marathon time. In response to that blog post, I’ve had many of you ask me about how to run a 4 hour marathon.
The difference in training for a 3hr and a 4hr marathon is the pace at which you run your speed interval workouts. The weekly mileage and long run will remain the same.
To start, we need to look at what is the pace per mile in order to finish in 4 hours
4:00: 9:10 mins per mile
So, for a 4 hour marathon finish you need to average a pace of 9:10 per mile. This is important to know for your training. Your training program should have two sessions per week of speed work. If you don’t have a program yet, be sure to check out my 16 week marathon training program guaranteed you to finish in your goal time.
Speed work to finish a marathon in 4hrs
Speed work for the marathon involves both short and long repeats of running a little faster than your goal race pace. For example, let’s say your workout has you doing 1 mile repeats and you want to finish your marathon in 4 hours. Those repeats need to be at a pace just less than 9 minutes per mile (about 10-15sec faster than your goal pace).
Start with 2 mile repeats in the first session. Add another mile repeat the following week. Try to work up to 5 or 6 repeats. Recover at an easy pace for a half-mile in between repeats. Make sure your breathing and heart rate have recovered before you start your next repeat.
The other speed work session in order to run a 4 hour marathon is a tempo run. Tempo runs are great because they teach your body to run faster before fatiguing. A tempo run looks like this: a slow 15-minute warm-up, followed by 30-35 minutes at a challenging but manageable pace, then a 15-minute cool down. The challenging pace is run at 20 seconds faster than your goal pace. Therefore, your goal is to run the temp at an 8:50 per mile pace.
Those are two examples of speed work sessions to keep in mind on how to run a 4 hour marathon. For a better understanding on how to fit these into your weekly training, here is an example week of training (this is a sample week taken exactly from my marathon training book):
Tuesday: Speed Work (1 mile repeats)
Wednesday: 6 miles easy
Friday: Tempo Run
Saturday: Rest or Cross Train
Sunday: Long Run
Running a 4 hour marathon is a nice goal for marathon runners who are already fit for running and would like to challenge themselves further. It is a difficult and relatively fast running pace for the distance, but not an impossible time to achieve – that is if you train well and follow a program. Good luck and please feel free to leave a comment here if you have any questions on how to run a 4 hour marathon.