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Sub 4.20 Marathon Goal - How Do I Get There?

by Mark
(UK (Brighton))

Hi, I'm 39 and have been running for nearly 2 years. I have a half marathon and a marathon coming up in the next three months and am looking to beat my PB.

My 5k pb is 25.07, 10k pb 53.03, half 1.58.04 and marathon 5.07 (calf problem at 21km, was on schedule for a 4.40).

I am 5ft 7in my weight is 13st 7pound and I'm big-built.

I run 25-30 miles a week including 13m - 15m run at the weekends with a bit of mountain biking in between runs.

Can you give me some advice on running sub-9 min miles comfortably.

My first 3 miles are always my worst and in a half marathon miles 8,9 and 10 I can usually run at around 8.30 but slow to 9s there after.

I can run comfortable at 9.30 but would love to run the same at 9s. Any advice would be great. Many thanks.

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question about improving your personal records on both the half and the full marathon.

First thing I did was plug in your results in the Race Conversion Calculator.

It's a useful tool to work out if your racing times are well aligned.

So, what I did was plug in your 5k time, then compare the expected 10k and half marathon times with your real times.

Based on your 5k time your expected 10k time is more than 30 seconds lower than your 53.03 PB and your expected half marathon time is about 2.5 minutes lower than your 1.58.04 PB.

Additionally, your 4.20 sub-marathon goal as suggested by the title of your post appears to be within your abilities given your 5k, 10k and half marathon performances.

So, why are your racing times not fully aligned?
And why will it be tough for you to hit sub-4.20, despite your performance in other races?

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The answer? Your base, your basic stamina is not developed fully enough. You have got the basic speed, but can't maintain it for long enough. The only way around this is by doing a lot of long runs.

As I indicate in my marathon training tips the main component of a successful marathon is the long run, with the mid-week mid-long run being a close second.

I'd encourage you to make your weekend long run progressively longer (make sure to hit 20 miles a few times) and also schedule in a mid-week long run of at least 90 minutes in length.

In order to make the weekend long run easier you could turn it into a walk/run in which you run at least 70% of the time.

The weekly longer long run and the mid-week long run together will do wonders for your stamina.

They will help improve your times in all distances. But the differences will be most noticeable in your half marathon and marathon performances.

In addition, I would encourage you to make sure you use a variety of training speeds in your workouts. Many people just have one speed when it comes to their running training. You can improve your performance by doing some tempo running in addition to your easy, steady-state base running drills.

Tempo runs help you improve your lactic acid threshold, which in turn, will help make you a faster runner.

I hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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