To run a 5 hour Marathon we believe you need to be running 3- 4 times a week. Before starting this plan we recommend you spend 3-4 weeks regularly running c.3 times a week to ensure you are ready for the challenge. The plans give you designated days on which to train but they can be flexible. However it’s really important to establish a good routine in your training. You should try to have at least a days break between the more challenging runs we have planned (ie intervals, hills, and fartleks). All runs are structured by time and effort as opposed to distance. This is easier for you. Running by distance does not take into account varied terrain, weather and mood! Running by time is more consistent.

Your longest run is 3 hours. Research has suggested that the fitness benefits of runs of more than 3 hours are outweighed by the fatigue and muscle damage you suffer as a consequence. We will aim to run a few longer runs on back to back days- giving you sufficient endurance to tackle the distance.

Before all Interval and Hill Sessions try a 10-15min easy warm up followed by the drills shown in the first video.

For all other runs, try a short use of a short mobility routine before you start the run, as shown in the second video.


Fartlek: Loosely translates as ‘Speed Play’, these are continuos runs where you vary your pace and effort for set periods of time.
Strides; Short 20 sec relaxed sprints, focusing on tall posture and a fast smooth turnover of steps. Run 5- 6 with a jog/walk back to your starting position after each one.
Short hills: A steep climb that takes 30-40 sec to run up. Run these at a fast pace/effort. Walk back to the bottom each each one.
Long hills: A climb that takes 60-80 sec to run up. More of a grind- run these at steady pace/effort. Slowly jog back to the bottom each each one.
Strength (core): 60 secs of each of these 6 exercises in turn = 1 round. See plan for number of rounds. (see first video below)
Strength (legs): 10-15 reps of each of these 6 exercises in turn = 1 round. If in gym substitute leg press for Squats or lunges. (see second video below)

Pace Guide (Run Gears)

Gear 1 (G1): Easy conversation pace, if you aren’t able to talk, slow down!
Gear 2 (G2): Breathing starts to get a little more strained but you can still manage a short sentence. Comfortably hard or 7 out of 10/ 70% effort.
Gear 3 (G3): Breathing is deep but rhythmical – working hard, 75% to 80%. For more experienced runners this would be roughly 10k race pace.
Gear 4 (G4): Hard running- could say a word or so. Less control over breathing. Probably only maintain this for 10mins before slowing down significantly. Feel the lactic burn! 85% effort.
Gear 5 (G5): Flat out Sprinting. Wouldn’t be able to speak at all! 10-20sec all out effort.

Here are some training plans based upon your goal time.

  • 5+ hours
  • 4 hours 30 minutes – 5+ hours
  • 4 hours – 4 hours 30 minutes
  • 3 hours 30 minutes – 4 hours
  • 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Sub 3 hours