The Sub 3:30 Marathon Experiment

Jan 2020 Update:

So training has started as of 1st Jan. In order to make a 15 minute improvement in my marathon time I’ve got to make some noticeable improvements in my training. 15 minutes is a big deal, that won’t come without some effort. So I’ve started to follow the Runners World sub 3Hr 30min training plan which is 5 runs most weeks, a mix of easy effort twice a week, mid to high effort twice a week and a long run. Now to confuse the situation I am running a 106Km ultra 2 weeks after Brighton. So a marathon plan alone isn’t going to give mt the mileage I need for the ultra. So I’ve decided to modify the plan a bit. Firstly 5 runs a weeks has become 6. Long runs starting around 9 miles and working up to 20 are starting at 10/15 miles and work up to 30 miles prior to marathon day. Finally I have opted to take the short easy runs (3-5 miles) and add an extra mile on. What that has meant is that week 2 totalled 45+ miles already and im likely to hit 60+ miles training weeks before I get to Brighton.

Progress though has been encouraging. My training runs were often mixed with some real high pace (for me around 3:30 per km/5:40 min per mile but also regularly 5:30 min per km/8:51 min per mile. So far after nearly completing 3 weeks of training my tuns are averaging 7:47 min per mile which equates to 4:50 min per Km. an average that is much faster than I used to run at. And it feels OK. I’m not finding it a real struggle and I’m not finding I’m on the edge of what I can do. A good indicator of where I am now is my rent long run at the end of week 2 – 17.06miles averaging 7:57 min per mile which, in a training run, is probably one if not the fastest run over 15 miles. And I still felt strong and could have carried on. My splits were good and I wasn’t flagging at the end.

So it’s going well. Im enjoying the training and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. Building the miles further and looking to see my pace hopefully improve a bit to underpin my hope of making my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon. Fingers crossed!

Dec 2019 Update:

Brighton 2019

2019 – my first Marathon year.

Brighton – April

3 Hours 44 min 7 seconds

Write Up here

2020 – the. 3:30 marathon experiment begins!

In 2020 I aim to try an push 15 minutes off my Marathon PB and go under 3Hrs 30min. For many that’s an easy target, for more thats far too fast – we all have different targets which are all as challenging and significant on a personal level. Mine just happens to be 3:30, yours might be 2:30 or 4:30 or 5:30 – we all have our own goals to work to.

I’ve drawn uo a training program using Excel which is based on the Runners Worlds Training program for a sub 3:30 marathon. The link for that Runners World training plan online is here:

What I have done is prepare a spreadsheet with all my runs listed and then built a training program about delivering the ones I want to target for performing well at.

Currently my training program focusses on hitting Brighton Marathon on form for a sub 3:30 time. 16 weeks starting in the new year.

Over time I will build out the rest of the year too but for now, and for the purpose of this blog I am focussing on Brighton.

If you want to see the training program or wonder if my template might be useful then you can download it below.

Notes on the plan:

I have-it most sessions in as the below example:

1M/@9, 3x(0.5M/@6,200m@10),1M/@10

This translates as:

1 mile at 9min/mile followed by 3 repeats of – 0.5 miles at 6 min/mile then 200 metres at 10min/mile – cool down 1 mile at 10 min/mile

I have also included an adjacent column for the approximate total training time. For me thats also key as time is not so easy to find sometimes and knowing a good idea of the time I’m committing to a training session means I can better plan and work around training days.

I plan to put routine updates on this blog post during my training. Compare plan to actual, record general comments and how things feel. And hopefully come late April 2020 I can report on a successful marathon and breaking that 3:30 barrier.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. cavershamjj says:

    I have the same goal for Brighton. I’m following an intermediate plan off which is allegedly good for sub 3:30. It’s my first marathon so at least I am guaranteed a PB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nickbr4 says:

      Good luck. Be interested to see how your plan differs from mine. Guaranteed PB is always nice 😊 👍


      1. cavershamjj says:

        I’ll do a post at some point. Basically it has one quality run a week (hills, intervals, fartlek etc) and 5 easy pace runs, 2 light, 2 medium and one long.


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