3h00min for a marathon - in 9 weeks

Expert 9 weeks 5x/week
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To run the marathon in 3h00min, you need to maintain a pace of 14km/h (4min15 per km).
In order to follow this training programme, you must be able to run the half-marathon in 1h24min or have already run a marathon in under 3h10min.

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 should preferably rest on Mondays and Fridays.

Once you have finished the marathon, whatever the result, you need to take care of your recovery.
You will take a dozen sport-free days of recovery, before gradually starting to run again.

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 14.5 km/h (4min08s per kilometre), i.e. a little faster than the pace you will have to maintain during the race.

  • 01. Short VO2max 12 x 200m
  • 02. 1h jog
  • 03. 1h15min with 10 min at a fast pace
  • 04. 4 x 2 km at a specific pace
  • 05. long 1h30min run

Week 2 - Cycle 1: ramping up 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 10 x 400m
  • 07. 1h jog
  • 08. 1h20min with 15min at a fast pace
  • 09. 3 x 3 km at a specific pace
  • 10. long 1h45min run on road

Week 3 - Cycle 1: heavy training workload.

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 6 x 800 metres
  • 12. 1h jog
  • 13. 1h15 with 10 min at a fast pace
  • 14. 5 x 2 km at a specific pace
  • 15. long 2h 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. 45min jog
  • 17. rest
  • 18. 1h with 12min at marathon pace
  • 19. 1h of jogging on hilly terrain
  • 20. 1h15min jog

Week 5 - Cycle 2: heavy training workload.

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 2 x (7 x 300 m)
  • 22. 1h jog
  • 23. 1h15min with 10min at a fast pace
  • 24. 4 x 3 km at a specific pace
  • 25. Long 2h15min run on road

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 5 x 1000m
  • 27. 1h15min jog
  • 28. 1h15min with 10min at a fast pace
  • 29. 5 + 3 + 4 km at a specific pace
  • 30. Long 2h30min run on road

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 10 x 500m
  • 32. 1h15min jog
  • 33. 1h30min with 10min at a fast pace.
  • 34. 3 x 5 km at a specific pace
  • 35. Long 2h run on road

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. 1h15min of jogging on flat terrain
  • 37. rest
  • 38. 5 + 4 + 3 km at marathon pace
  • 39. 1h jog on flat terrain
  • 40. 1h15min jog on flat terrain

Week 9 - Regeneration and competition

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

  • 41. 45min with 10min at marathon pace
  • 42. rest
  • 43. 30min + 5 x 100m
  • 44. 30min + 5 x 100m
  • 45. warming up for the day of the race

Coach advice

"You want to get below the iconic 3-hour mark for the marathon distance. This is an objective that requires a level of commitment and discipline that is equal to your ambitions. This plan should help you achieve a time under 180 minutes."
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