10 Tips to Run a Sub-3-Hour Marathon

10 Tips to Run a Sub-3-Hour Marathon

Are you looking to run your first sub-3-hour marathon? Or perhaps you have done it before and are out of practice. Blackrock A.C. chairperson Barry Thornton started his running career at the tender age of 37, a late starter by his own account. Barry has since run 18 marathons over the past 13 years, with most of them in under 3 hours.

Below Barry shares 10 tips to run a sub-3-hour marathon.


1 – Mileage is king

Very few people break 3 hours without serious miles in the legs.  Peaking at somewhere between 110k and 160k per week is ideal.  Everyone is different so learning your ideal maximum mileage per week is important.

2 – Obey the 10% Rule

In increasing your weekly mileage, never run more than 10% more than the previous week. This will help avoid injuries.

3 – One Hard Session Per Week

For the 10 weeks before the marathon only do one hard session per week.  Tempo sessions are best, run at a little (3-5%) faster than your marathon race pace. Tempo runs should build up to approx. 20k 3 or 4 weeks before the race.

4 – Do Your Long Runs Slowly

Do at least 5 runs greater than 30k at a slow pace – around 5 minutes per km pace.

5 – Take a Rest Day

Take one rest day per week, either a full day off or a 30 minute very easy jog.

6 – Find a Club or Group to Run With

Tempos and long runs are hard alone. Find people of a similar standard to run with. Blackrock A.C. adult membership is open all year round.

7 – Eat and Sleep Well

Replenish all those burnt calories with good healthy food, particularly after tempo sessions and long runs. You do not want to lose weight during this period as it makes you more vulnerable to illness and injury. Likewise, get as much sleep as you can to keep healthy.

8 – Foam Roll and Stretch

Put aside 15-20 minutes a day to do this.

9 – Taper Well

Taper for 3 weeks. Week -3 run 75% of your peak mileage, week -2 do 50% and week -1 do 30%.  Keep running most days, decreasing the distance per run, rather than taking more days off.

10 – Live Life

Don’t let it consume you, it is only one part of your life, make sure you get on with other things that you enjoy and are important to you.


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