Five weeks to go: Is a four hour marathon a complete fantasy?

I think it might be time rein in my expectations for the big day in five weeks. I’ve been hoping to get past the finish line in four hours or less, and as my pace has gradually increased over the past few months, doing so has seemed less and less like a complete fantasy.

Now I’m not so sure. A four hour marathon requires an average pace of a mile every nine minutes and 10 seconds. I can maintain that pace (and then some) on shorter runs, but on the longer outings doing so becomes a real challenge.

Take last Saturday’s run. I covered 6.8 miles in an hour, meaning I maintained an average pace of 8.49 minutes a mile for the duration of the run. That’s my fastest hour ever, according to Runkeeper. I should be chuffed to bits, but I’m not. See, by the end of that hour I was completely spent; doing another three hours at that pace was out of the question.

Of course how fast I get round doesn’t really matter – as I’ve said before, the Brighton Marathon is just the first stage in a very long journey to MdS 2018 – but I still want to do the best I possibly can.


So on this Sunday’s long run (see my week’s schedule, modelled by Sprog the Younger, above) my aim will be to maintain an average pace of nine minutes 10 seconds a mile for the whole three hours. I will be treading much of the course for the Brighton Marathon too, so I can work out if I really am in cloud cuckoo land with my four hour target. Will let you know how get on…

Any tips for improving pace without breaking yourself? Do share!

  One thought on “Five weeks to go: Is a four hour marathon a complete fantasy?

  1. March 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Good luck this week!

    Try to remember that with a good taper your energy reserves will go sky high. Which means that come time for your first marathon you’ll likely find yourself chomping at the bit to go out well under 9:10. The trick won’t be holding that pace, it will be resisting the urge to go faster with all the pent up energy and adrenaline coursing through your veins. But you’ll want to keep your early pace in check, somewhere between miles 15-20, you’ll be glad you did.


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