Training volume for a sub 3 hours marathon?

What is the ideal training volume to finish a marathon bellow 3 hours?

Answer by
Carlos Gomes Ventura

Training volume is fundamental for all long distance runners, and, in particular, the marathoners (men and women).

High training volume doesn't necessarily mean better times.

The performance improvement is proportional to the skills and potentials of each individual, and to appropriate rest time. There are marathoners that do less mileage and run better than high training volume runners.

The ideal training volume for a marathoner that wants good performances should be between 160 and 170 km per week (100 - 106 miles per week) during the period of the training program.

High volume will not always be positive, nevertheless all this training volume should be mixed with fast pace training, fartlek, hill running and track training.

The most important factor in running a marathon below 3 hours is the sum of a good life style, psychological conditions, balanced finance conditions, good nutrition, persistence and a coach that isn't afraid to be demanding.

Talent, discipline and skills are fundamentals.

I am in favor of high training volume, because it builds the essential base.

Carlos Gomes Ventura
Phone: (11)3686-5384 and 4191-3490 - e-mail:  


Answer by Luis Tavares

Training volume isn't the main factor in running a marathon below 3 hours. The most important is the mix of volume and intensity together with a good distribution of the training load. Running a marathon below 3 hours means a pace of 4:16 min/km during the race, and if you don't run at this pace during the training, it will be very difficult to achieve this goal.

It's important that you do 2 interval trainings during the week, as for example, repetitions of 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 meters at a pace of 3:55-4:00 min/km (6:18-6:26 min/mile) with recovery pauses between 1 to 3 minutes depending on the extension of the interval (1,000m, 2,000m or 3,000m). The number of intervals should be between 6 to 12 repetitions.

Do the 30-35 km long run at 4:12-4:20 min/km (6:45-6:58 min/mile). On the other days, do 12-20 km at 4:30-5:00 min/km (7:14-8:02 min/mile) pace. If the athlete is able to do this training, he is capable of running a marathon below 3 hours.

Luis Tavares
Phone: (11)3159-8456 - e-mail: - site:  

Answer by Luis Antônio Sturian

You can run a sub 3 hours marathon doing a program of four months with an average volume of 100 km (62 miles) per week. It was confirmed by our athlete Alexandre Bazzo that finished in 2:58:29 in Curitiba, a challenging hilly and warm marathon.

An elite athlete does 180 km/week, while others do 160 km/week, and there are even those that do 200 km/week. It depends on the athlete's skills and peculiarities, some are faster than others. It is obvious that the amateur athlete is very different from the elite. 

Luis Antônio Sturian
Tel.:(19) 434-2545 - e-mail:  


This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.


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