Four Hour Twenty Minute Marathon Training Plan
Is This Program For You?
Before beginning this four hour twenty minute marathon training plan, you should be sure that a 4 hour 20 minute pace is a reasonable goal for you. You must maintain a 9:55 average pace per mile which is equal to a 6:10 per kilometer pace. If you have run a recent marathon that is in the 4 hours 21 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes, this is an achievable goal for you. If your current personal best is 4 hours 31 minutes to 4 hours 35 minutes, this goal is possible, but will be very difficult. If your time is currently over 4 hours and 35 minutes, I would highly recommend setting a more easily achievable goal of about 10 minutes faster than your current time. Once you meet that goal, you can keep advancing toward a 4 hour 20 minute marathon.
This program assumes that you are in good running condition and are prepared to undertake strenuous marathon training. Most runners that are at this level maintain a high level of fitness on a year round basis. They will take time off for recovery during the year, but are never far from their base of fitness and never far from race shape. If you have not been running for a long period of time, you will need to rebuild a base of fitness before starting a marathon training program.
If you are like most competitive runners, you are never far from race shape. Barring injury or illness, the typical competitive runner trains year round with some planned time off for recovery. A period of rest is a critical part of your training year. You will always have short periods of recovery following a race. The longer the race, the longer that immediate recovery period will be. Most runners will recover for 2 to 5 days following a 5K or 10K race and for 2 weeks or more following a marathon. In addition to the short periods of race recovery, it is a good idea to plan a recovery period of 2 to 4 weeks after your race season in order to restore the strength of both your body and your spirit, so that you are mentally and physically fresh and ready to run for the following race season.
It is after that planned period of rest, that you will want to rebuild and improve upon your base of endurance and strength that will support your training for the coming year.
This program is broken up into phases. The first phase is a pre-season schedule. This is commonly referred to as “base building” I do not like the term “base building” because it suggests that something must be built from the ground up. As I said earlier, competitive runners are never far from their base and never far from race shape. The pre-season training schedule is designed to refocus and strengthen the base that has already been built over years of consistent running.
The pre-season phase, as well as all other phases, is based on multi-pace training, and includes endurance, speed endurance and speed work. The emphasis will be on endurance training, but it is necessary to include both speed endurance and speed work so that you will maintain both your lactate threshold level and your footspeed. If you are not coming off a period of recovery and consider yourself in proper condition to start a marathon training program, you should be able to skip the pre-season build up schedule.
Following the pre-season schedule, there is a 20 week marathon training program. Again, if you are not coming off a period of rest, recovery or injury, and are able to run 14 miles comfortably, you should be able to jump right into the marathon training schedule.
This four hour twenty minute marathon training plan is presented to you below in PDF format. You can view the pages using your scroll bar or the PDF viewer controls at the bottom of each page.