Is a sub 4 hour marathon possible for me?

21 to 39 of 39 messages
03/10/2012 at 12:59

When not training for an event i was running an average of 25 mpw,was usually 3 runs of 5 miles and a 10 on a saturday,all easyish pace with the wednesday 5 at a tempo effort just to keep basic(for me) speed in my legs

For my marathon training my midweek longer run i didnt go above 10 so i think it would be worthwhile increasing this during training for my next mara in 2013.

As a marathon newbie im open and willing to take on advice from more experienced people,but then again i suppose its not a one size fits all sorta thing

03/10/2012 at 13:17

I'm doing my first half marathon in November. Recently, I switched from just going out running as far and as fast as I could to follow a more structured plan. Training is going well and at the moment I am doing about 35 miles per week over 4 days and am feeling really good. Even though I havent even run my first half yet I am thinking about running the Manchester full marathon in April 2013. As I am feeling very comfortbale with my current training I was wondering if it would benefit me if I started increasing my weekly mileage (on my LSR only I was thinking). Is this a good idea and would it help or harm my half marathon training ?


03/10/2012 at 13:37

Finding a mileage base that suits you is the knack of training. So many factors like age, weight ,experience, lifestyle, health, experience, years of running all come into play. Most folk if they start running try and up the mileage too quick and get injured so work up gradually. Depending on your physique, build and genetics you may be able to run 50 miles a week no problem but for others 20 will cause them to suffer repetitive strains and injuries.  Certainly the higher mileage you do per week will enable you to have stamina for the last few miles in a marathon. ENJOY the first one and learn from it would be my advice for whats that worth............

09/10/2012 at 15:36

My times are not far off yours.

22.31 5k

48 10k

1.45 Half marathon (I've done 8 in a year and that was my fastest as they have ranged from 1.57 which was my first half all the way to 1.45)

I also did a marathon in 4.18.

My target was to do Sub 4 like yourself and I was doing really well up to Mile 20 when I crashed and burned. In my experience, doing a marathon is a completely different ball game.

You really need to build up your endurance for doing the distance and also be super focused.

I run an average of 35 miles a week now. And my aim is to run the Florence Marathon in Sub 4hrs. I was bitterly disapointed with my last marathon time and thought that based on my other times that Sub 4 was going to be feasible but the odds were stacked against me...

In all fairness I have now learnt from my mistakes... I don't think its only the training that had an impact on my time... I have to add that I had 4 hours sleep both nights before the race as my brother kept me awake with his snoring, I spent the day before exploring the city as i was abroad, I didn't have a proper breakfast, I had a stomach cramp at Mile 20 as I don't know what possessed me but i was so hungry and ended up eating slices of apple that were given out to the runners that gave me a massive cramp and it was raining the entire time and i was wearing so many layers I felt like i had a weight on top of me! So I guess you can safely say that I didn't stand a chance but this time I am going to try and remedy the situation.

I got myself a room all to myself the night before, I'm bringing my breakfast and also carrying Clif Bloks with me on the course so I won't eat any random foods laid out on the course. As for the weather I can only HOPE that the weather gods are kind to us!

A friend of mine who I helped train for a marathon ran the Berlin marathon recently marginally faster than i did. She ran the entire course whereas I ran the first 20 miles and walked/jogged the last 6 miles. She had perfect weather conditions, a good nights sleep etc... She said it couldn't have gone any better and she ran the fastest she has ever ran as when we were training together she is a much slower runner than I am... Her HM PB was just over 2 hours and she managed to do Berlin in 4.16...

I think that experience does play a big part in it as well... You just never know how the day will go but i think its achievable if you put the training in esp the long runs as it gets you ready for the distance.

09/10/2012 at 16:41

sometimes it just isn't your day, Melissa. It'll make it all the more sweet when you break 4 hours in Florence though, good luck

09/10/2012 at 19:54

Slight update to this thread as I now have a chip timed half marathon under my belt.

I was aiming for under 1:45, but crossed the finishing line in 1:43:45. Going by that calculator, both my 10K and HM times put my full marathon pace at 3:38.

So, while I wouldn't aim for that far under 4 hours, I think I'll do my training, see how it goes and possibly aim for just under 4. However, I'm already getting ideas of entering another marathon next year, so if I do that I may finish the first not worrying about time and then go for sub 4 hours.

09/10/2012 at 21:21

Hi all....

I am new to both posting messages & marathon running but have been following this thread with interest. I have always enjoyed running and have been regularly entering local 10K & 1/2 marathon races over the last 3-4 years since hanging up the football boots. I find having a race on the calender makes the evening runs much easier, anyway... I have just got a ballot place in the VLM (4th year trying) and plan to crack into the training to aim at sub 4. I currently run 15-20 miles a week which is a lot less than some of you guys, but I have a good level of all round fitness & endurance. I literally go all out on race days crossing the line with nothing in the tank. For this reason my race strategy needs a rethink for the marathon distance so - any advice would be most appreciated.... I realise I need to up my milage in the coming months and find a more comfortable slower running speed.

I am a guy of 37 years old & regularly run 10K in 40 to 42 mins and half marathons in 1h 34 to 1h 40.

09/10/2012 at 22:42

Interesting stuff!

Many of you are about 2 years behind me in terms of running development, so here is a brief synopsis of how I got myself a Boston qualifying time in my first marathon (VLM 2012) aged 62. If I can do it, I'm sure many of you can do it to.....

My first race (Sept 2010) was a HM off about 3 months training at around 20-25m/wk - result 1:40:59. Next up a few 5k parkruns - best 21:36 or there abouts and a 10k in December 2010 of 44:xx.

Spring 2011, I ran Reading HM in 1:39:xx so basically the same result from the same training through the winter. I decided if I was to improve, I had to do something different and joined a club. After a few weeks of track sessions and fast intervals, I had my 5k time down by 30 secs and 10k time down to 43:01 - you get the pattern. In a club (track race) my 5k time fell again to 20:14 which is still my PB.

Autumn 2011, I decided to target VLM 2012 and got a place on the club ballot (they had 3 places from Sport England, another reason to join a Club)!

I decided I had to build my base from October and carry it into the mara training which incidentally kicked off 26 Dec 2011. To build my base I ran in all of the club cross country races (8) and this proved to be a masterstroke as my strength, endurance and fitness soared.

Feb 2012 - HM PB 1:34:xx

Mar 2012 - 10k PB 41:38:xx

Apr 2012 - 10m PB 1:11:xx and into the marathon off 140 - 150 miles/month from Jan - April.

VLM - 3:32:13 debut marathon.

Bottom line: do the base now Oct - Jan (XC racing); do the miles; do plenty of build up races and yes, you can easily beat 4:00:00


22/10/2012 at 10:27


23/10/2012 at 17:28

Mike - your times when you started out blow my times after 6 months of running out of the water. I have no chance!

24/10/2012 at 09:35

Interesting reading. I've done 9 marathons now in 7 years starting with 4.45 down to 4.10 at London this year. I've also got a place in London next year and would love to achieve the sub 4. I've also ran 4 Ultras - one 70 miler last year and 3 this year, a 40 in May, 70 in July, and a 51 4 weeks ago. I've got a 50 miler in Feb booked in too. I've got endurance for sure (46 year old with 5 kids). Does anybody know which training plans are best to use please? I've tried a few, including runnersworld sub 4 last year which did get me a better time. So many out there, thanks

24/10/2012 at 13:10

Seems a similar situation to mine. Similar PB's at 10k and 10 mile (though I'm slightly slower over a 1/2 marathon), and I'm aiming to go under 4 hours in paris next april.

I've had a spring of races over september and the start of october, so had a couple of months training for them, peaking at 35 mpw. Now training for a 10k in 4 weeks, which means less mileage (about 25-28 mpw), but more speed work. Then 4 weeks "no mans land" training, where i'll just aim to maintain the weekly mileage, but perhaps change the ratios of runs (so less shorter and a longer LSR).

And THEN, at the start of december, the marathon schedule kicks in. I've used a mish-mash of different ones, which can fit my schedule. At the moment the plan is to total 44 mpw max, though thats a bit of a moveable feast at the moment. I intend to review it every 3 or 4 weeks, see if I can look to do more.


I've no idea if any of that will do me any good (never done a marathon before), but if you want someone to bounce ideas of and stuff I'll gladly contribute, as it seems we're coming from similar backgrounds, aiming for similar times on similar dates!

24/10/2012 at 13:15

Dave Runners world did a good sub 4 one last year building base then hills etc - thats the one I did the best using. I just decided to write my own using bits from other runs. I've got a 50 miler in Feb first so decided to concentrate on that then continue onto a marathon plan shortly afterwards. I think if it wasn't London I probably would have got the sub 4 but London being London is not fast unless you get a good pen.

25/10/2012 at 09:14

Is the runners world one online? I probably won't follow it because it is my first marathon and i am already following a plan i like but it would be good to have for the future.


05/11/2012 at 13:00

Whats the deal with the "pens" at the start of the VLM then ? Is it a case of first come 1st served - I guess this can seriously influence the opening miles of the race ?

I am following advice from Mike & starting early - today infact on a 24week plan which is a hash of many plans as per Dave Swindon which essentially keeps me out running 20-25 miles a week through Nov & Dec before ramping up in the new year...

I have a 10m race on the 18th - will post my time.

05/11/2012 at 13:36

Runners world schedules are good and online. Go to the training page and search for what you want you can adjust too.................Got to do the long runs and try not to miss many of those as thats where the stamina comes in and training for the last six miles, the first 20 are easy.......get started now....

19/11/2012 at 12:56

Well yesterday morning I managed just under 1h 8mins for 10m road race which I was well pleased with (conditions near perfect - bright, not a cloud & cool air temp) - to be honest others running around me looked way more comfortable & on a couple of the relatively minor but long hill climbes it was hard going.... Anyway thats the last race for me this year - I am now into the "no mans land training" as per Swindon Dave till after Xmas which is my own mix of 20-25 miles a week runs.....

19/11/2012 at 15:23

I did my first half marathon yesterday and got in at 1hr 53mins. Interested to hear what your half marathon times are - especially Jane as you seem to be an extremely accomplished runner.

19/11/2012 at 22:01

Jane-have a look at the RW Smartcoach.  I've used it a couple of times with reasonable results.  It takes your current milage com.bined with a recent race time and produces a schedule that gradually increases both your training speed and milage.

The McMillan running calculater is great for showing what your capability is at longer distances based on a race time from a shorter race and also gives you tables of running paces based on your ability.  If you use the two together you should do ok.

The one thing I would say is that you have to be completely honest with the data.  Set the schedule up based on the milage you run and a recent race time rather than trying to produce the finish time that you want.  If you start a schedule at 25miles per week ideally previously having run that milage for 6-8 weeks is far better than having gone from 0-25 over 6-8 weeks.  If your milage has been inconsistent over that period then it's best to take an average for the period.

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