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840 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Jul 23, 2014 6:55 AM by lenzlaw
heymish Rookie 2 posts since
Jul 22, 2014
Currently Being Moderated

Jul 22, 2014 5:55 PM

Sub 3-Hour Marathon - Advice Sought!

I’m hoping to do a sub-3 hour marathon at Auckland this year and would love some insight from anyone with marathon experience!


I’m currently running 50-60km per week without injury in accordance with a Jack Daniels training plan.


PR’s: 5km  is 18:30 on a loop course (in 30km wind), about 6 months ago, and 10km 40:00 about 3 months ago.  I am fitter now, and would expect around 18:00/39:00 for 5km/10km.


Current Training:

I can hold an 8km at 3:55m/km at a firm pace at peaking drifting from 81 to 86% Max HR.

I can hold a 20km run at 4:45m/km comfortably, and up to 25km under 5:00m/km without breaking 70% max HR.


I completed my first run of more than 25km on the weekend was 30km in 2:35:00 – I hit the wall at about 25km and dropped off from the 5:00m/km pace.  This was without nutrition or hydration, and after a bottle of wine the night before.  Perhaps not the best for my physical conditioning, but wanted to hit the wall for experience.



Am I kidding myself?!


I have 14 weeks to the Auckland marathon.  Is it feasible to ramp up to 90-100km peak weeks over 14 weeks or is this counter-intuitive?  If not, what should my weekly milage peak out at over this 14 week period.


What sort of tempo runs should I be hitting, and at what pace?


I am doing a flat half marathon 4 weeks out – what time will I need to be looking at here to be on track for a sub-3-hour?


What sort of splits would you suggest the Auckland Marathon should be run in to target a sub-3 hour (note - the first half is undulating, with second half flat)?


NB: this is my first marathon/half-marathon.


Thanks for any insight or help!

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jul 22, 2014 7:48 PM (in response to heymish)
    Sub 3-Hour Marathon - Advice Sought!

    Well, honestly, I think you're kidding yourself.  Your recent (and projected) race times (10K/5K) don't really support a sub-3 marathon time.  Ramping up to something like 95km/week will be pushing things pretty hard, even if it is do-able. To see what times you should be hitting try the McMillan Running Calculator ( - other online sites have similar calculators, not sure about Daniels).  More to the point is getting in the miles between now and then and avoiding injury. Remember the last 3 weeks will be a taper, so you really only have 11 weeks.  If you can run 1:20 for the half-marathon then you have some hope. (An old rule of thumb is to double your half-marathon time and add 15 minutes.)  For the marathon you will definitely want to run negative splits, particularly since the first half is rolling.  But negative splits in a full is one of the hardest tricks to pull off.  If you can get through the first 20 miles in good time (say 2:15) and feeling good, you may be able to pull it off.  Good luck!


  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jul 23, 2014 6:55 AM (in response to heymish)
    Sub 3-Hour Marathon - Advice Sought!

    The problem with race times at shorter distances is that they don't usually do a good job of predicting marathon times for those of us who are not elite or top-level athletes.  5K time is particularly inaccurate because it simply doesn't deal with endurance - it's basically a sprint.  Looking at the difference between 5K and 10K paces gives you some idea, about 12 seconds/km or 20 seconds/mile slower.  I was thinking of McMillan more in terms of your tempo pace.  The projected race times assume a "well-trained" athlete.  If you had been doing 95km/week for a year or so, at your current level, I would likely put you in that category.  That is why I suggested a 1:20 half time.  Doubling that and adding 15 minutes gives 2:55 which is a more realistic estimate given your experience and training level.  And it leaves a 5 minute "fudge-factor".  Keep in mind that the last 6.2 miles is the "second half" of the marathon, since you typically "hit the wall" around 20 miles, and running gets progressively more difficult, as your body resorts to burning fat as glycogen is depleted.  Doing long runs at a somewhat slower than marathon pace can help teach your body to burn fat while running, which will help during those last 6 miles.


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