Sub 3

For anyone trying to crack the 3 in any marathon anywhere in the world

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02/01/2013 at 12:34
Ah okay I've seen fetcheveryone before. I may have to have a look.
02/01/2013 at 12:38

Hello sub-3 gurus and Happy New Year. I'm a first-time poster and sub-3 aspirant looking for some advice. Let me give you a bit of background first. I'm 40 years old, and I've been running for around a decade, although most of that was purely for fitness, I only started racing and trying to get fast 3 years ago. Yes, yes, better late than never! I have never run a marathon, but have raced a few halves and 10K's. My PB times are 10:K 39:28, 10M 1:07:18 and 1/2M 1:27:58, all within the last 9 months or so. I'm averaging around 30-35 miles a week running at the moment, including a long run (~13M) plus speedwork and tempo (up to 5M at tempo pace). I feel it's time I stepped up to the 26.2, so I've just signed up for the Milton Keynes Marathon in May, since it's local to me. That gives me 16 weeks to train, which seems to fit nicely with many of the plans I've seen. I know that I'm going to have to increase the training miles, and I think I'll be able to get up to 55-60 miles a week OK. So, all that being said:

1) Is sub 3 a reasonable goal if I put the work in?

2) I can use a couple of 1/2M races during the training period to gauge my progress - what's a reasonable goal time to be on target for sub 3 marathon? I've seen some stuff saying 1:25:00 but others saying 1:23:00.

3) I would really appreciate any advice on the best training plan to choose. I have looked at tons online but would really like to hear some real-world experiences.

4) In looking at the training plans, it seems that all that's missing from my current regime is more mileage at easy/steady pace plus (obviously) an increase in my long run distance, including some at marathon pace. Is this extra running likely to improve my 1/2M and even 10K times? I'm hoping that the increased mileage is the magic ingredient I'm missing! Otherwise I can't see how I'm going to get below 1:25 for the 1/2.

5) Any advice on in-race nutrition would be useful. I don't generally drink or eat during 1/2M races but I understand that this is not an option for the marathon. It seems the MK marathon has Gatorade drinks and Hi-5 gels available. Do the gels have merits, or is sticking to the sports drinks a better approach?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

02/01/2013 at 16:44

Hi Electric Sheep (prepare to be called ES from now on!), welcome.

I would say about 1:22 or 1:23 for the half is more usually reckoned to be about the mark to do a sub-3 marathon, but on the other hand a few people are "abnormally" quick at the marathon. Most people are slower than the performance prediction calculators would suggest for the marathon when based on times for halves and lower though. So from that, sub-3 might be a little out of reach on your present form...

But... it all depends how much quicker you get through increased training. And how "trainable" people are seems to vary quite a lot. You might get quite a lot quicker as you ramp up your training and bag a sub-3 easily. It's hard to say until you try, and you're quite right (point 2) that it is a useful marker to do some half marathons along the way. And yes, your performance in those shorter races should really benefit too. There have been some stellar performance climbs by some members of this forum (in Marigold's case, to elite levels, correlating not just with heroic training but also shedding a lot of surplus weight, which can be a bonus by-product of increased training volume and can have a large performance effect).

The cliché is that a marathon is a race of two equal halves: the first 20, and the last 6. Seconds, or minutes, are gained or lost in the first "half"... but minutes, tens of minutes, or even an hour can be lost in the last few miles, depending on how badly you blow up. The last few miles of the London marathon look like a battlefield, with scores of 'walking wounded' even amongst very respectable performers. So developing your endurance to the point where you can bang out 20+M runs without too much trouble is absolutely key. My own preference is to do one or two runs of the full 26M or more in training, but most wouldn't bother. Certainly getting up to at least (say) 22 or 24M in training is pretty conventional.

And keeping your pace to plan for the majority of the race -- when it should feel ridiculously easy for many of the early miles -- is crucial. Think of it as a light 6M warm-up and then a 20M race.

Marathon pace miles in long training runs are tough; too many may just dent your performance, but doing some of your long runs with a fast section in the latter part ("progressive" run) is important to get a realistic idea of pace and (in my case at least) to build some confidence in what is achievable.

Nutrition-wise, I use about 4 caffeinated gels now, Tim Noakes' theory being that they should prop up blood sugar towards the end, even if they can't help your legs much, so avoiding a catastrophic descent into hypoglycaemia. If nothing else, they can be a welcome psychological boost. I find I can't stomach much in the way of sports drink but sometimes try some of that too if it is on offer. If anything, the more experienced people seem to use less, maybe being more conditioned to the endurance.

The "P&D" book (Pfitzinger & Douglas, Advanced Marathoning) is well-regarded, though they seem a bit light on truly long runs given my own bias.

02/01/2013 at 16:53
Edited: 02/01/2013 at 16:56
02/01/2013 at 16:59

1) Any old tw@t (as long as you're not a floppy labrador) can run sub3 if you're prepared to make enough of an effort.

2) 1:23:xx - esp for someone who counts 13 as a long run. Whoever's been telling you 1:23:00 is being overly specific.  

3) The masterplan involves being able to run ~20miles without it taking you days to recover, running some long-ish (10m) MP runs without it feeling like an all out effort (but it is fckn hard - if it's not then it's happy days as you're well under sub3 shape) and doing some very hard running/intervals.  Preferably all of the above every week and doing as much easier running around that as life, commitment and recovery needs dictate.  Pretty much all plans serve up the same kind of tosh with their own (not very) magic ingredient. A plan can give you structure and purpose but IMHO there's no secret sauce to do with exact paces and zones and all that swaddling.

4) Confused.  What's the difference in this and 3 above?  Are you really asking if getting fitter will make you faster overall?  I think the general consensus is there a strongish correlation between getting faster when you train harder.

5) Don't sweat the small stuff...yet. 

Reasonable New Year and all that.

Defintely mellowing with age.

As you were. 

02/01/2013 at 17:26
Couldn't Run A Bath wrote (see)
4) Confused.  What's the difference in this and 3 above?  Are you really asking if getting fitter will make you faster overall?  I think the general consensus is there a strongish correlation between getting faster when you train harder.

OK, I walked into that one!

Edited: 02/01/2013 at 17:30
02/01/2013 at 17:38

I did 40min in the morning 

This is in km's 4.01, 3.56, 3.51, 3.46, 3.50, 3.44, 3.51, 3.55, 3.47, 1.25 for 0.22mil 10km or 6.43mil Average per mile 6.13

I did 30min in the afternoon

This is the km's 4.20, 3.58, 3.44, 3.45, 3.45, 3.40, 3.42, 3.05 (0.48mil) 4.83mil or 7km Average per mile 6.13 

Tomorrow session.

02/01/2013 at 18:14

It's a bit early in the VLM campaign for the special one , but nice to see him.

PP - you actually recorded all of that !

ES - what CRAB said.

02/01/2013 at 20:06
Electric Sheep - 1.28 off only 35 mpw means you could absolutely piss 3 hours if you increase your training.

However, why are you only thinking about 3 hours and only 55-60 mpw? Why not aim for 2.50 and increase your training to 70-75 mpw? It's only another 17 mins/day.

One thing is for sure, once you break 3 hours you'll realise it's not all it's cracked up to be and will be looking at how fast you really can go.
02/01/2013 at 22:44

CW, CRAB, TR, LD - thanks for your replies, I am soaking up the knowledge!

LD - 70-75 mpw just seems like a huge step up from where I am now. Maybe for my 2nd marathon though, if I manage 55-60 as well as expected this time around.

I will buy "Advanced Marathoning" with some of my Christmas Amazon vouchers.

02/01/2013 at 22:59

Pearls of wisdom from CRAB (again)...only thing I would partly disagree with is the need for intervals during marathon training. Those 10M (or even 12M) MP runs will see you right. VO2max is for those 5/10k types....

LD - so long as those 55M contain the key runs, I think there is little to be gained by increasing mileage. For someone running 10 yrs at 35 mpw the risk of injury will far out way the potential benefits. For me mileage (and I maybe the exception to prove the rule) is somewhat overrated...anyway that is what I hoping as the target is 2:30'ish off ~45 mpw (~5hr training a week), but most of those miles have to count.

Padams - I liked that course in 2008, however not sure I will run this Sunday. Good luck. 

PP - I liked that training record....

7M @ 5:36 m/m this lunchtime...didn't feel too bad but couldn't have done too many more.

Blisters    pirate
02/01/2013 at 23:10

Good Lord (Above), I thought that the Special One was dead.
Best not tell that I've been out and done a RACE already this year. TR will be pleased to hear that I did marathon pace for 5 consecutive miles, but we'll gloss over the heart rate records.
Meanwhile I've checked my annual stats (9 months in my case), and Padams beat me again.
One long run to slot into the programme this week, then it's a case of not being stupid until Jan 20th. I will NOT be aiming for sub 3. I tried that last time, and the crowd found it quite amusing.

03/01/2013 at 00:10
Electric Sheep - check out Tracey Morris for a bit of inspiration! A late 30s fun runner who entered the London Marathon, upped her mileage to 70mpw+ after Xmas and qualified for the Olympics. That could be you mate !

It's not that hard cos you can run a lot of miles very slowly and sometimes do it twice a day.

So, if you build up slowly you could do a 22 miler, a 14 mile midweek run, and three double days of 12 miles (4+8) and that's 72 miles with TWO rest days!

If you only do 55 miles you may be tempted to run too fast. Will you be less or more prone to injury?
03/01/2013 at 06:50

LD - fair point....

oh dear.."out way"....I'm illiterate as well!

03/01/2013 at 08:09

I beginning to think that joining this sub 3 forum has been bad for my health. Decided to go out for a run(5 mile jog) yesterday my first in over 2 weeks! My man flu is still refusing to give up though! I got the bug just after joining this forum, I am beginning to think I must of caught the virus from here! has anyone else suffered from ill health after joining this forum!

I am picking up some great advice on here though. I will hopefully be well enough to start running again properly next week. I have just bought a copy of Advanced Marathoning to read and I am going to build a plan to run 75 miles a week. Would anyone care to share any plans they are using?  I have also changed my goal from just beating my last marathon time, to setting a goal of beating 02:50. Reading other peoples posts on here has inspired me to set a more ambitious target.

03/01/2013 at 08:28

Coro - 7M at faster than MP, very nice!

Some good advice from various people there, can't really disagree with any of it or add anything particularly useful.

Did our 45 mins cycling "pursuit" last night. Only four of us, I caught one, but another was on a mountain bike and was catching me - depressing! Good session.

03/01/2013 at 08:57

ES - advice from CRAB and Coro, you dont realise how honoured you are (and how often they post nowadays).

Take Dids 5 runs idea and remove one of the commute days and thats my usual VLM training. Still got another 6 weeks of pre training training yet though.

03/01/2013 at 08:58

Blisters - when I had a poster of you on my wall, you used to run MP for a whole lot further.

Edited: 03/01/2013 at 08:59
03/01/2013 at 08:59
ES - if you used to be an international cross country runner as a youth and do some stunning times once you crack on with the help of one of the UK's most respected* long distance running coaches then I'd say LordD's (tabloid) analogy is highly applicable. Otherwise I'd look at what people have done around here as a reperesentative indication of what might be achieved. It's a right mixed bag of ovals but there is a strong bias towards more miles (indicatimg more overall focus?) resulting in an improvement.

Coro - as expected (the run not the fckwit-itis). Spolling NFRS (thankfully) is it?

As you were.

* couldn't do jack for Johnny Xempo though.
03/01/2013 at 09:24

ES -  I found my biggest improvements came from increasing the mileage I ran 2.51 (my first marathon) off 45mpw then upped it to 70 and ran 2.36 a year later, Upped it to 90mpw (pretty much all slow) and ran 2.28.  This year I hope to see the gains from the same mileage but more mp and sub mp work.

Coro - Nice session.

14 this morning, legs grumbled, but it was 5.30am!!

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