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5 Tips to help you achieve a Sub-Three-Hour Marathon

The sub-3-hour marathon can be the pinnacle of many competitive runners’ journeys, but just how hard is it? And what do you have to do to achieve it? It requires a lot from the mind and body, and the training will be tough, but with these 5 tips to help you achieve a sub-3-hour marathon, it can be done!  

Pacing is key:

  • Break the race into three smaller chunks of 10 miles, 10 miles, and 10 kilometres. For the first 10 miles, stay as relaxed as you can, there is still plenty of time to make up time. The second 10 miles are about focus, you might go through a rough patch, but stay focused, conserve energy, and keep the pace the same. The final 10 kilometres are all about digging deep, ask yourself every kilometre marker, can I hold this pace to the finish? If yes, try and go a little faster, then repeat at the next kilometre mark.  

Training with intensity:

  • Sub-3 requires you to run at 6:50 per mile or 4:16 minute kilometres, so you need to get used to holding that pace. Incorporate a range of different speeds into your training week. Structure your training in blocks, with an aerobic base to begin, where you focus on getting your body used to the distance and conditioning of training for a marathon. Then as race day approaches you will want to incorporate more specific training. This will involve structured sessions like tempo sessions or having sustained long runs working to your goal pace. Alternating speeds is also beneficial, running a little under pace, and then a little over pace on repeat can help replicate what the race is going to feel like. 

Dial in your fuel:

  • Just like a car, if you don’t give your body the right fuel it isn’t going to run! The latest running shoes advocate percentage improvements in your running efficiency or overall time. But fuelling correctly has the potential to be the bigger influence in breaking that 3-hour barrier. Science in Sport is backed by research showing that over the course of a marathon, their products can help you stay optimally hydrated and fuelled (Leckey, et al: 2016), plus they can also increase exercise capacity at marathon pace by up to 4.5% (Lee, et al: 2014). This means towards the later stages of a marathon, fuelling correctly can be the difference between losing minutes to your overall time.

Recover, recover, recover:

  • You can train harder and more frequently if you are recovering correctly. During training, prioritise, sleep and rest where possible. But above all, give your body the right nutrition after hard sessions. It’s not just about giving your body protein to repair; you’ll also need to top up on glycogen stores so you are ready to train again quicker and thus get that bit fitter. This is why we created Rego Recovery to give athletes the chance to recover optimally and get back into training harder.  

Be consistent:

  1. A simple one to follow and is specific to all areas of marathon training and racing. Whether it’s staying consistent with your rest and sleep, or consistently practising your fuelling on long runs so you are used to taking on board gels during the race. Consistency is the key to unlocking that magical sub-3!  


Now you have everything you need to have a crack at that 3-hour barrier for the marathon so, pick that goal race and get in training, good luck.  


Leckey et al. (2016) J Appl Physiol, 120(2), 107-113. 

Lee et al. (2014) Int J Sports Med, 35(14), 1216-1222 

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team