Break-4:00 12 Week Marathon Plan

The Sub 4-hour marathon plan is designed for the beginner runners who is looking to take their marathon training to the next level. While it’s not required, it is recommended that you have trained for a marathon in the past. You should currently be comfortable running 20-25 miles per week. Your previous personal best should be at least better than one of the following:

5k – 25:00 10k – 52:00 HM – 1:55

The goal of this marathon plan is to train your body to the specific demands of the marathon race. This means three things:

1) Increasing your fitness so that you can decrease your marathon pace and make it more comfortable.

2) Teaching your body how to burn fat as a fuel source as opposed to carbohydrates.

3) Simulating the fatigue you'll experience the last 10k without getting hurt or becoming too tired in training.

To accomplish these three goals, this plan will employ faster paced tempo runs that are often broken into shorter, but faster intervals. These shorter intervals allow you to run faster, thereby working on your speed and mechanics, while maintaining an effort that develops your aerobic system. To encourage your body to use fat as an energy source and to simulate the fatigue at the end of the race, this plan incorporates steady runs before your long runs to simulate late race fatigue and deplete your body of glycogen. Furthermore, your critical long runs will include running portions at or faster than goal pace to practice running goal pace when tired and low on fuel.

Your long run will top out at 18 miles. The reason for this is that long and slow 22 milers provide a deceptive sense of confidence about completing the full 26 because they don’t address the fueling issue. Furthermore, runs over the 2 hour mark show a diminishing point of return when it comes to building aerobic fitness. Moreover, they breakdown the muscles and will completely exhaust you, which leads to a significant delay in recovery. In addition, running for longer than 2 hours can significantly increase the chance of injury and doesn’t provide significant benefits for the increased risk. Instead, this schedule places runs on both weekend days, which will allow you to carry the fatigue of Saturday’s run into Sunday, which will simulate the latter stages of the marathon without having to run 20 miles first. By spreading the mileage throughout the week and the long run on the weekend, this plan ensures you that you’ll stay healthy and have enough training under your belt to finish the race smiling at the finish line.

The result is a training plan that trains your body to the specific demands you’ll face on race day while building your aerobic system and mileage to handle the full 26.2 mile distance.

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