Q+A: I ran a 3:28 marathon - can I do sub-3?

Q After running a sub-3:00 marathon in my mid-30s, I spent the next 17 years running only occasionally. But last year, to celebrate my 50th, I returned to serious training for the Flora London Marathon. I finished in 3:28, and this has got me thinking that I can get under three hours once again. Is this goal beyond me, or can I realistically train towards it?

A Every year we have to set new goals, particularly when we pass an age milestone. Of course, we can’t expect to be better in our 50s than in our 40s – though sometimes it does happen – but we can aim to do the best we can with what we’ve got. However, I think that as you’ve only recently returned to serious marathon training, there’s no reason why another year of putting in good work should not enable you to run faster next year. It’s partly a question of how much time you have and partly a matter of avoiding injury.

Use the next month or so to train mainly for the 10K, doing two fast sessions a week at around 10K pace and aiming for a weekly mileage of 35-40, which will help improve your overall speed. During September and October adopt a half-marathon training routine, gradually increasing the distance of your weekend run and adding one longer mid-week run, but retaining one fast session a week. In November, ease down and give yourself three weeks of lower mileage, then start building up the mileage in December, without worrying about the speed. This should give you the endurance to tackle the RW three-hour marathon schedule. You may not achieve the three hours, but the extra amount of training should enable you to improve on last year’s time.

Bruce Tulloh, RW Coaching Editor