Easy methods to Run a Sub-4-Hour Marathon


Operating a marathon is a tremendous feat, particularly in the event you’ve been constructing as much as it for some time. There’s nothing fairly like the sensation of crossing that end line and figuring out what you’ve achieved!

The expertise of working a marathon by no means will get previous. Every one is new, attention-grabbing, and completely different. However in the event you’ve run a number of and so they’re beginning to really feel straightforward, you might be questioning the place to go from right here?

Except you wish to do an ultra-marathon, the subsequent query it is best to ask your self is how you can run a sub-4-hour marathon? Most runners who’ve just some marathons underneath their belts aren’t at this level but, so it’s a superb objective to achieve for.

Right here’s what you might want to learn about working a sub-4. We’ll talk about how you can know you’re prepared for it, ideas for coaching, ideas for race day, and we’ll even provide you with a 14-week coaching program to get you began!

Is It Tough to Run a Sub-4-Hour Marathon?

The common marathon ending time—worldwide—is 4 hours, 29 minutes, and 53 seconds. Extra particularly, for males, it’s 4:21:03, and for ladies, it’s 4:48:45.

So if you wish to run a sub-4-hour marathon, you might want to be an above-average runner. You must stick with a quick tempo for 26.2 miles, which requires a variety of endurance, bodily and psychological toughness, and an incredible health stage.

That doesn’t imply you could’t intention for this objective in the event you’re a more recent marathon runner. You simply have to know the benchmarks to hit in your journey to a sub-4-hour marathon.

Are You Able to Run a Sub-4-Hour Marathon?

These are the benchmarks you might want to work towards if you wish to run a sub-4-hour marathon.

When you hit these numbers, you’re prepared to start out coaching for a sub-4-hour marathon. It should take time in the event you’re nonetheless a bit methods off, however that is one of the simplest ways to construct the endurance you have to.

The excellent news is that in the event you constantly work towards these benchmarks, a sub-4 race will come rather more naturally.


As a way to run 26.2 miles in lower than 4 hours, you might want to have achieved different objectives first. You will have to have a number of marathons underneath your belt, along with your most up-to-date one ending between 4 hours and 4:20.

If you happen to’re nonetheless working your method there, a great start line is a 10k Private Finest (PB) of between 50 and 53 minutes. This exhibits you could maintain a great tempo for 6-ish miles, which is a superb base to construct on.

You’ll additionally have to run between 15 and 20 miles per week—or extra—initially of your coaching plan. If you happen to can’t try this but, work on it earlier than you get began.


If you happen to’ve achieved the entire above, you possibly can settle into a great coaching program to achieve your objective.

Even in the event you’re assured in your working capacity, we extremely advocate not skipping this—a strong and targeted coaching program is important for hitting these sub-4 numbers.

You may be coaching your physique to go more durable and sooner, constantly, for an extended time frame than it’s used to.

For this reason endurance is important. You will have to coach constantly for between 12 and 22 weeks to prime your physique to run a sub-4-hour marathon.

The Splendid Sub-4-Hour Marathon Tempo

Operating a sub-4-hour marathon is all about your tempo. You will need to preserve a median tempo of 9:09 per mile to cross the end line in underneath 4 hours.

This will not appear too troublesome, particularly in the event you can preserve that tempo in a 5k or 10k race. Nonetheless, maintaining that very same constant tempo for 26.2 miles with out fatiguing is rather more of a problem.

If you happen to run your first two-thirds of the marathon at a 9-minute per mile tempo, it is best to have sufficient of a buffer to decelerate a bit as you fatigue and nonetheless meet your objective.

Nonetheless, making certain that you simply meet the tempo necessities would require a pacing technique.

There are lots of methods on the market, like damaging splits, a quick first half, slower second, or the 10/10/10 methodology.

Sub-4-Hour Marathon Coaching Plan

Enter your e mail beneath to get a replica of our 14-week sub-4-hour marathon coaching plan!

Listed here are some tips about how you can profit from your coaching. Implementing these will make it easier to get there sooner, despite the fact that it might appear counterintuitive.

3 Weeks Effort, 1 Restoration Week

Restoration is as necessary as pushing your self towards a objective. Intention for 3 weeks of arduous effort after which one restoration week.

A restoration week doesn’t imply you are taking the week off. As an alternative, throughout this week, it is best to decrease your depth barely, cut back your distance, and work on straightforward runs and lighter cross-training.

This “energetic” break offers your physique a relaxation with out interrupting your coaching schedule. The next week you will get again into it with excessive depth.

14 to 22 Weeks In Whole

Coaching to run a sub-4-hour marathon takes time. You’ll be able to’t anticipate to push via coaching in a number of weeks and run effectively on race day.

Count on between 12 and 22 weeks of coaching. If you happen to’re already working near 4 hours, you may be prepared in 12 weeks. If you happen to’ve nonetheless bought a option to go, it is best to think about rising it to 16 or 20 weeks.


Tapering is a crucial a part of marathon coaching. That is if you cut back your coaching load for the two to three weeks earlier than you run the race.

This break permits your physique’s muscle glycogen ranges, antioxidants, and hormones to return to regular. Muscle injury additionally will get repaired, which implies you’ll be in prime situation if you begin your race.

Don’t underestimate the taper—it may be one of many hardest components of coaching!


Including in resistance coaching at the very least as soon as per week will assist to construct muscle, which can improve your general energy.

It may possibly additionally make it easier to iron out muscle imbalances which will have an effect on your efficiency, whereas constructing muscle in your legs.

We advocate doing sooner or later of non-running cross-training per week, in addition to a devoted core exercise day. Having a robust core is extra necessary than you assume!

Monitor Your Effort

If you happen to don’t have a smartwatch, now could be the time to get one. Operating a sub-4-hour marathon depends on pacing, and your coaching schedule would require you to run a sure tempo throughout completely different runs.

If you happen to’ve by no means paced your self earlier than, it might take per week or so to get into the move of issues. Monitoring your time, distance, and tempo is one of the simplest ways to see the way you’re progressing because the weeks go.

Sub-4-Hour Marathon Coaching Ideas

Incorporate Totally different Forms of Runs

Utilizing various kinds of runs in your coaching not solely prevents boredom, but it surely helps you develop your endurance

Race Tempo (at the very least one every week)

By “race tempo” we imply the tempo you have to to maintain up with to run a sub-4-hour marathon!

Operating at your race tempo—or thereabouts—will make it easier to get used to the sensation of the tempo you need to be retaining.

You’ll be able to start by working 5 to 10 seconds slower than race tempo if you might want to, however the objective is to be working at the very least considered one of your weekly runs at this tempo all the way in which.

Tempo Tempo/Intervals

A tempo run ought to be at a sooner tempo than your race tempo however shorter in distance. It additionally helps you practice at a barely sooner tempo than your marathon tempo, in order that if you come to working your marathon tempo, it feels simpler.

If you happen to’re aiming at hitting a sub-4-hour marathon, your tempo tempo can be between 8:30 and eight:50 per mile.

Lengthy Run (one every week)

Lengthy runs are important to construct up endurance. It’s best to intention for a tempo that’s slower than your race tempo by about 30 to 40 seconds, so 9:30 to 9:50 per mile.

That is the perfect alternative to work on cut up timing, experiment with fueling methods, and determine the most effective restoration methods for you.

Straightforward/Restoration (one to 2 extra every week)

Straightforward runs might really feel frustratingly gradual, however they’re helpful for restoration whereas retaining your mileage up. Intention for 75% of your max coronary heart price throughout these runs.

Restoration Is as Essential as Coaching

Don’t neglect restoration. If you happen to don’t enable your physique the time to relaxation, you’ll discover that it’s arduous to maintain your tempo when D-day comes.

Everybody’s restoration routine seems completely different. Relying on what works for you, you might embrace foam rolling, getting a sports activities therapeutic massage, light stretching or yoga, and utilizing compression gear.

Staying hydrated, getting sufficient sleep, and sustaining good diet are additionally important to gas your physique for restoration.

Don’t Sweat Missed Exercises

If you happen to miss a run throughout your coaching plan, it doesn’t imply you might want to begin over or your plan is ruined. Life occurs. The easiest way to maneuver ahead is to simply keep it up along with your plan—there’s no have to attempt to make up the missed miles.

If in case you have a nasty week and miss a number of runs, then think about the week a restoration week and modify your coaching plan to mirror that.

Nonetheless, in the event you miss runs regularly or have unhealthy weeks usually, you gained’t be prepared. You will see that that you find yourself including weeks to your coaching schedule.

Run With Others

If you happen to discover coaching classes boring, you possibly can ask a fellow working pal or member of the family to affix you.

It’s an incredible concept to coach collectively if you understand somebody with the identical objective as you. You’ll be capable of encourage one another when the going will get powerful.

If you happen to don’t know anybody near you who would be part of you, you possibly can at all times be part of a working membership if there’s one in your space.

Add Selection to Your Routine

It’s a good suggestion to attempt to do your runs on new routes, except you want retaining issues the identical.

Experiencing various kinds of terrain, hills, curves, and surfaces will make it easier to be extra ready for no matter comes your method.

Ideas for Race Day

Get Motivated

Though it might be troublesome, attempt to flip nervousness into pleasure on race day. That is what you’ve been coaching for!

Keep in mind every part you’ve already achieved. You’ve come to date, and now you should utilize every part you’ve discovered and labored on to hit that objective.

Get There Early

Attempt to arrive with loads of time to spare so you possibly can settle in, do some stretching, and get your mindset proper earlier than the race. If the race is shut by, this can be a number of hours.

If you happen to’re touring for the race, it’s an incredible concept to get there the day earlier than in the event you can, or perhaps a few days. This gives you time to relaxation, settle in, and possibly take a look at the course earlier than race day.

Deliver a Assist Particular person/Crew

All of us want help. If you happen to can, take alongside a pal or member of the family who may be there if you cross the end line and cheer you on.

It’s an incredible little bit of motivation and an ethical booster to see your help particular person/individuals there on the finish of a protracted race!

Prep Your Gear 24 to 48 Hours Forward

You don’t wish to be working round making an attempt to prepare stuff on race day or the night time earlier than. Be sure to kind out your gear 24 to 48 hours earlier than so that you don’t have to consider it once more.

This consists of your clothes—laying out your garments and footwear for the day—your gas—ensuring you will have sufficient to see you thru the race—and issues like charging up your smartwatch.

Go By the Course

If you happen to get the chance, bodily going via the course beforehand is a superb concept. It should take a number of hours, so it might be greatest to get it accomplished the day earlier than.

If it’s on the highway, get another person to drive you. It will enable you the liberty to look at any sections which may be difficult and take notes.

Carbo Load

Carbo loading can have a big optimistic impact in your efficiency. You’ll be able to carbo-load 24 hours earlier than your race, however ensure you’re solely consuming good carbs! Don’t take it as an excuse to eat no matter you need.

Know Your Occasions

Hold your focused cut up occasions in thoughts so you possibly can monitor your progress alongside the way in which. If you happen to’re behind, you understand you might want to run the subsequent cut up at a sooner tempo.

If you happen to don’t keep in mind them, write them in your forearm so you possibly can verify rapidly when you might want to! Or, you might be able to set an alarm in your smartwatch to warn you when you need to be hitting your cut up occasions.

Have Enjoyable

Keep in mind, working a sub-4-hour marathon is a superb quest, but it surely ought to be enjoyable. In case your self-confidence is low, do not forget that this isn’t the one likelihood you’ll get. Give attention to having enjoyable, hitting your cut up occasions, following your technique, and seeing how issues go.

Have you ever downloaded your 14-week sub-4-hour marathon coaching plan? Get it now and you possibly can be working a sub-4 in 15 weeks from now!

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