Marathon within 4 hours? 9 hints

Do you want to run a marathon in 4 hours? Here are tips for your dream time.

Earlier we shared an article do you want to run a half marathon in 2 hours?

The article was widely read and we were asked if the same tips applied to a full marathon. In part it certainly is. A big difference is of course that you need a lot more training kilometers in your legs for that entire marathon. And of course also that not everyone ‘out of the blue’ runs a marathon within four hours.

As a guideline you can say that for a sub4 marathon you should be able to run 5 km in 25:12, 10 km in 52:17 and a half in 1:55:55. Of course, a half marathon time says more about your marathon potential than a 5 or 10 kilometer time.

Do you want to run a marathon in 4 hours? These tips will definitely help you.

You know exactly what you are training for: you want to run 5:40 /km, this pace is regularly reflected in your training sessions. It is good to get used to this speed physically and mentally

Of course you don’t have to pick up all the tips at the same time, choose two or three tips to get started.

1. Intervals

If you don’t do interval training yet, interval training is a golden addition to your workouts. With interval training you can gain a lot of speed for your marathon in a short time. The art of this training is to run at speeds that you are not (yet) used to. So that your body gets to know the stimulus of this high speed. There are dozens of types of interval training, we give three possible intervals here.

After a warm up you can run 10 x 200 meters in 55 seconds*. You notice that the first 200 meters go well and that it gets tough in the course of the series. After an intensive 200 meters you can dribble very quietly for 200 meters.

Another workout is 400-meter intervals. Run 10 x 400 meters in 1:56 / 2:02. After 400 meters you walk very quietly for 200 meters to recover.

In addition to 200 meters and 400 meters, 800 meters are nice to take with you. Famous 800 meters are Yasso’s. These are special 800 meters at a pace in min/km that corresponds to your desired marathon in hours/minutes. So if you want to run a marathon in 4:00, your 800 meters will go in 4:00 minutes. In the course of your marathon you do a ‘Yasso training’ every week. The first time you do 4, then 6 and then 8. After an 800 meters at 4:00, you can dribble 400 meters quietly.

2. Trainer or buddy

An interval training is 1000 x more fun and easier if you have a trainer or a running buddy with the same goal. Don’t have a trainer or buddy yet? Then you can find a running buddy near you with this ticket on Prorun.

3. Start at 5:40 /km

A marathon is far. It’s a distance where you run into yourself if you start too hard. You have trained a lot at 5:40 /km, the trick is to run as flat as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to build up some margin and therefore start a little faster. Run the first kilometer in 5:40 /km and run as flat as possible.

4. Strength training

Strength training is a valuable addition to your marathon. Incorporate squats into your workout or other days. Not just any squat, but squats where you jump. This improves the push-off in your running stride. Lunges are also excellent for stronger thighs.

5. Running technique

Have you not done anything specific with your running technique before? Then it is good to get started with your technique. Technique training can be expanded by training on arm swing, knee lift, push-off and much more. Without a trainer you don’t have to pay attention to everything at the same time, then it’s good to train your stride frequency. Experience or one higher cadence good feels and makes you faster. Do you want to hear from a technique trainer which running style suits you best? Then you can do a session with the famous technique trainer Franklin van Doesburg.

6. 1 kilometer in 5:40 /km

In addition to interval training, it is good to choose 1 kilometer during another training to run 5:40 /km. This way you learn to feel what the pace is and your body gets used to your desired speed. It’s fine to choose 1 kilometer (for example, the third or fourth kilometer of your workout) during a quiet workout to run at 5:40/km.

7. Exercise 4 times a week

With one training session per week you maintain your current fitness level, with two training sessions per week you slowly build up. However, do you want to run a marathon? Then 4 training sessions per week is ideal, for a marathon four training sessions are desirable, for a half marathon three is enough.

  1. Interval
  2. 14 kilometers of easy walking (6:20 /km) with 4 times a kilometer at 5:40 /km
  3. 7 kilometers at a pace of 6:00 /km
  4. Endurance run of 20+ kilometers at a pace of 6:20/km.

Are you looking for schedule? View our marathon training plans.

8. Lose some pounds

Are you a few kilos heavier than necessary? Then it helps enormously to lose some kilos. Ron van Megen and Hans van Dijk’s calculator is inspiring to lose some weight. You can enter your current weight and your PR in their calculator, then you can see what happens to your times if you lose a few kilos. Example: You are 78 kilos and your marathon PR is 4:06:30. If you lose 3 kilos, you will not run 4:06:30 with the same power, but you will already be at 3:57:01. Are you curious how that works for you? Enter your weight and your PR here.

9. Running on power

Do you already apply many of the above tips and still stay on the same level? Then a Stryd can offer a solution. Stryd is a (quite expensive) power meter with which you can train for power. The big advantage of Stryd is that you have a trainer on your shoe that every workout analyzes and includes in the advice. This way you can do your intervals and endurance training based on power and you know for sure that you smartly trains based on your current form.

Did we forget another tip?

Let us know in a comment what made you run faster.

*Times determined using Daniels’ Running Formula from Jack Daniels

PS: Prefer a more extensive schedule? View our marathon training plans.

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