Sub 3 Hour Marathon Training Guide

Planning your Marathon Training

If you are going to run a fast marathon you need to have a solid plan in place to ensure you get the most out of your running.

Generally, athletes start to plan for a marathon race four to six months in advance of race day, although this will depend on the individual, how important their marathon training is to them (in comparison to other races) and how many marathons they intend to run.

As you will know, a marathon is a very intense race and getting it right means having a plan that leaves you in peak conditions on the correct day.

As an experienced athlete, you should plan your training in details with a full overview of the build up (macrocycle), smaller segments, ideally with individual goals within them of 3-6 weeks (mesocycles) and small cycles (normally 1 week) for the individual sessions (microcycles).

Some athletes will gradually build up over the entire macrocyle, before tapering in the last few weeks. Others will have a light week once for each macrocycle - you need to decide which is best for you, although at Momentum Sports, we tend to go for the latter.

So, what mileage are you planning to build up to? What ratio of long runs to interval to tempo sessions would you like to do? Do you consider recovery runs to be of use? Using your experience of previous marathons and by taking advice from others make up a loose plan of the overall training to be undertaken.


During you microcycle, which as we say is typically a week, you need to decide what kinds of training you wish to do and put them on days when they will allow you to perform each of them to the desired quality.

You'll almost certainly wish to have a long run (15 miles+) and one or two tempo runs (marathon pace over 5-10 miles). You should probably include at least one interval session, whether it is in the form of a track session, on the roads, hill runs or a fartlek.

Are you going to some non-running training - cross-training for aerobic work without the stresses of running, or some weights or circuits, or maybe some standalone stretching sessions to improve mobility.

Generally, we recommend that all athletes should have one rest day a week.

Intervals are vital to bringing the pace of your running down. Mile Reps are a staple diet of marathon runners and are something that you should probably look into. We suggest that once a week you get on a track, so you can precisely measure what you are doing to get the pacing right.


There are many different views of how precisely to taper for marathons. What isn't in doubt is that a taper is vital, to allow your body to be as fresh as possible for race day.

This involves a reduction in training and, ideally making sure that you eat well and, crucially, trust that the taper is working (many athletes panic in the last few weeks and stick in some extra unnecessary mileage, risking injury and tiring their body).

Many of the top coaches have opinions on how exactly to taper, here at Momentum Sports we are open to many of the ideas, but tend to think that it should be about 4 weeks in total, depending on how your build up as been going.

Reducing your mileage by 20% each week from a heavy week, is a good guide, so in the last week, just do 20% of the training you would normally do in those days (and make sure you rest on at least the last day and ideally the previous one before the race). 40% in the 2nd week before the race, then 60% etc etc.

Learn more / further reading

  1. Types of Training
  2. Mileage
  3. Long Runs
  4. Recovery
  5. Running Technique
  6. Strength / Power
  7. Lifestyle
  8. Marathon Running Gear

If you would like some more help with your training to move you on to the next level with your running, why not try our Online Coaching facility.
















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