3 hrs 30 mins for a marathon - in 9 weeks

Expert 9 weeks 5x/week
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To run the marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes, you need to maintain a pace of a little over 12km/h (5 min per km).

In order to follow this training programme, you must be able to run the half-marathon in 1 hr 35 mins or less than 3 hrs 40 mins for the marathon.

As you run several times a week throughout the year, this programme only takes 9 weeks. It breaks down into 2 cycles separated by a light training week.

You will train on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, preferably.

You need to have Decathlon Coach application to launch this program !

Week 1 - Cycle 1: discovering the paces

Your speed for sessions at a specific pace will be 12.4 km/h (4 mins 50 secs per kilometre), i.e. a little faster than the pace you will have to maintain during the race (4 min 58 sec).

  • 01. VO2max 12x (30 sec -30 sec)
  • 02. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 03. 1 hr 15 mins with 15 mins at 80 to 85% of the maximum heart rate
  • 04. 3x 2 km at a specific pace
  • 05. long 1 hr 30 min run

Week 2 - Cycle 1: gradual increase in the training workload

The marathon training is demanding. Maintain your healthy lifestyle (sleep, nutrition, hydration) to prevent any issues. Remember to change into some dry clothing at the end of each training session to avoid catching cold.

  • 06. VO2max 10x (1 min - 1 min)
  • 07. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 08. 2 x 3 km at a specific pace
  • 09. 1h15min of jogging on hilly terrain
  • 10. long 1 hr 45 min run

Week 3 - Cycle 1: heavy training schedule.

If you are concerned that your shoes might not last until the marathon, replace them now. You will break them in during the recovery week. It is risky to make such an important change within one month of the marathon.

  • 11. VO2max 5x (3 min - 1 min 30 sec)
  • 12. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 13. 1 hr 15 mins with 15 mins at 80 to 85% of the maximum heart rate
  • 14. 4x 2 km at race pace
  • 15. long 2 hr run

Week 4 - Regeneration week

The training workload drops significantly this week so that you can recover from the effort made during the previous weeks.
While sticking to 4 training sessions per week, the sessions are shorter and less intense.

If needed (fatigue, physical issue, etc.) don't hesitate to skip a session.

  • 16. 45 mins on hilly terrain
  • 17. rest
  • 18. 1 hr with 15 mins at marathon pace
  • 19. 45 mins on hilly terrain
  • 20. 1h of jogging on flat terrain

Week 5 - Cycle 2: heavy training schedule.

We immediately start again with a very heavy training schedule, so this is not the time to get into any bad habits: sleep, a healthy lifestyle, diet and hydration are still of utmost importance.

  • 21. VO2max 10x (1 min - 45 secs)
  • 22. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 23. 1h15min of jogging on hilly terrain
  • 24. 2 x 4 km at a specific pace
  • 25. long 2 hr 15 min run

Week 6 - Cycle 2: Maximum training load

With the objective 4 weeks away, this is the toughest week of the programme. Stick as close as you can to the paces, do not go too quickly and don't overdo it; the following week is still quite intense!

  • 26. VO2max 4x (4 min - 2 min)
  • 27. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 28. 4 x 3 km at race pace
  • 29. 1 hr 15 mins with 15 mins at 80 to 85% of the maximum heart rate
  • 30. long 2 hr 30 min run

Week 7 - Cycle 2: slight decrease in the training workload

Even if the training intensity drops a little, this week will still be challenging. Hang in there, this is the final week of intense training.

  • 31. VO2max 8x (2 min - 1 min)
  • 32. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 33. 1h15min of jogging on hilly terrain
  • 34. 3 x 5 km at race pace
  • 35. long 2 hr run

Week 8 - Cycle 2: start of the relaxation phase

With the marathon 2 weeks away, it is time to lighten the training schedule to be fully rested at the start. We will stick to 3 sessions this week, without exceeding an hour of running.

  • 36. 1 hour of jogging on hilly terrain
  • 37. rest
  • 38. 2 x 2 km at marathon pace
  • 39. 1h of jogging on flat terrain
  • 40. rest

Week 9 - Regeneration and competition

The workload drops so that you feel fresh for the start of the race. The programme includes just too short running sessions, which is just enough to stretch the legs.

  • 41. 40 mins with 10 mins at marathon pace
  • 42. rest
  • 43. 30 minutes of jogging + 5 accelerations
  • 44. 20 minutes of jogging
  • 45. warming up for the day of the race

Coach advice

"You want to run a marathon in 3 hrs 30 mins. This is a serious objective that requires experience, discipline and a big time commitment. This training programme will give you the best chance of meeting your objective."
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