RW Break 3:00 Marathon Plan (16 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

Want to break three hours in the marathon? This plan, developed by the Runner's World experts, will help you do it. The program starts with 32 miles a week and a 10-mile long run, and peaks three weeks before the race with 56 miles and a long run that's 22 miles. Most weeks feature one day of rest and six days of running, and include workouts like intervals, Yasso 800s and tempo runs to help you get fitter and faster. Each daily workout includes detailed instructions on pace and distance, plus Runner's World's best tips on nutrition, gear, racing, and staying motivated and injury-free.

Sample Day 1
3 Miles Easy

Welcome to week one of the Runner's World Break-3:00 Marathon Plan. Each Monday, you'll get a note about your training for the week ahead. And each day, you'll receive an email reminding you about the workout for the day. As you train, tap into our online community, where you'll find tips on training, nutrition, and injury prevention, and you can connect with other runners. Your training kicks off with 3 miles at an easy pace of 8:10 per mile. You may run within 15 seconds of this pace either way, depending on weather, terrain, and your state of rest. For the next few weeks, you'll log most of your runs at this pace with one interval run. This week you'll have three other short, easy runs, one interval run, and a day of rest. On Sunday, your first long, slow distance (LSD) run will be 10 miles. If you want to add miles, do it on Tuesday or Friday. But don't extend any run by more than one or two miles.

Sample Day 2
4-6 Miles Easy

This pace should feel comfortable and conversational. If you are huffing and puffing, then you're running too hard, and it's best to back off to a pace that feels more sustainable. (Pace: 8:10/mile)

Sample Day 3
6-7 Miles with Intervals

It's tempting to go longer or run faster than the plan prescribes, but it's best to stick to the plan. The mileage and speed build gradually so that you can get fitter and faster without getting injured. The body needs time to adapt to the training and get stronger. The most common running injuries--like IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and achilles strains--stem from running too many miles or running too fast before the body is ready. Remember: The first goal of training is to get to the starting line feeling healthy and strong. 2 miles of easy running 6 x 400 at 1:28 pace with 200 easy run recovery 2 miles of easy running KEY: Wednesday will be interval day and here's how it works. You begin with an easy warmup run (in this instance, 2 miles). If the track or path you use is measured in yards or fractions of a mile, follow this key: 1/8 mile (200 meters), 1/4 mile (400 meters), 1/2 mile (800 meters), 3/4 mile (1200 meters), and 1 mile (1600 meters). In today's workout, you will run 400 meters in 1 minute and 35 seconds and then run easily (jog) 200 meters. You will repeat that 400/200 sequence for a total of 6 intervals. Follow that with 2 miles of easy running as your cooldown and you are done.

Sample Day 4
0-3 Miles Easy

At the end of each easy run, you should feel like you have the energy to run one more mile. (Pace: 8:10/mile)

Sample Day 5
4 Miles Easy

Sunday is your first long run, and it's best to prepare for it. For any run of 75 minutes or more, you may need to refuel while you're on the road. You'll need 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour, and you can get that from a variety of energy gels, chews, or sports drinks. Test out different brands and flavors to figure out which products give you a boost without leaving you with an upset stomach. (Pace: 8:10/mile)

Sample Day 7
10 Miles LSD

Your first long run is 10 miles. Long runs build endurance and help you get comfortable spending more time on your feet, as you'll have to do on race day. Each week, you'll add one to two miles to your long run. Maintain a pace that is between 8:00-8:20 per mile. You should expect to do these longer runs at the slower range of your easy pace. Naturally, as you run longer, you'll fatigue and your pace will slow. Don't worry too much about long-run pace. Just focus on covering the distance for the day feeling strong. To stay energized throughout the run, be sure to refuel at regular intervals, say every 45 minutes. Don't wait until you get hungry or fatigued. (Pace: 8:10/mile) .

Sample Day 8
3 Miles Easy

This is week two of marathon training; after this week there will be 14 weeks until race day. Your schedule will be similar to last week's. You'll have one rest day, intervals, and four short runs. Your long run (LSD) on Sunday will relax to 12 miles. If you need to move your long run to another day, that's okay. Just be sure not to do two quality workouts--including long runs, hill runs, speedwork, or marathon-pace runs--back to back. It's best to follow any quality workout with a day of rest or easy running. Today you have the option of running three miles at an easy pace (8:10/mile), or resting. .