Sub 3hr Marathon Training with TrainerRoad

I’m aiming for a sub 3hr Marathon at Boston in 2019 - what trainer road programme/workouts would you suggest to support this?

I’m a triathlete and ran a 3.10 in London this year during the low volume LD plan so I’m keen to support my run training with cycling (which is my favourite) & swimming again to keep things interesting and reduce the chance of injury.



I’ve got the same goal essentially. My best marathon is 3:09 and I’m targeting a 2:50 at the end of February to get a BQ.

I didn’t even know TR had run plans :joy:

I personally have been using the jack Daniels Vdot o2 plan… has me running 40-50 miles a week, 5 days a week. I’m a little worried it’s not enough for my goal so I plan to start doing 6 days a week to try and bring it closer to 60 miles.

The current plan has been working well though. I PRed in a half marathon with a 1:23:12, and also PRed in a 5k with a 17:23.

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I did a 2.56 following Jack Daniels Marathon programme (closely) and used to cycle a couple of times a week. I cycled a couple of times a week without any particular focus. Just to keep ticking over. I remember being surprised at how well I still cycled (rode Flanders sportif a few weeks before my marathon)

So I can confirm Jack Daniels marathon programme works and unstructured cycling will keep your hand in.


Whenever I try and follow a Jack Daniels program, it turns out pretty messy… :tumbler_glass:



I’m a current sub-3hr marathoner (55yo) and I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time focused on cycling or TR plans. Maybe…maybe…use TR for easy recovery now and then. But, if you are truly putting in the work and mileage to go under 3hr, you won’t feel much like working out beyond your run training. Your mind and body need the rest and recovery between workouts to fully benefit and build towards your goal.

See you in Boston!


Agree with this. Sub-3, BQer here as well, and when marathon (or any strictly run race) training, I don’t ride with any real intent. It’s recovery or just to shake things up. If you’re trying to cut 10-15 minutes off of your marathon PR, you’ll want all of your intensity coming from running. I did 30-45 minute trainer sessions exclusively in zone 1 on days where I wanted to be off my legs a little bit for added recovery, but ultimately the only way to run faster is to run. TR would just detract from your ability to complete your key running sessions and still recover.


So…how do you think us triathletes manage it?? If there’s a will, there’s a way. You can do both if that’s what you want. Correct/structured straining, patience, good planning, time management, motivation, nutrition, hydration, sleep etc etc etc. It’s possible.

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Short of the pros, there are almost no triathletes doing sub 3hr marathons in a IM. That list is extremely short.

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Yeah, as a sub-3:00 marathoner and triathlete, I know what you mean. That said, OP is looking to PR by 10-15 minutes as his stated goal and asked which TR plan will help with that. The answer is “none”. If he’s willing to compromise his run training to maintain some bike fitness and just hope for the best, then he’s got some options. But trying to do a bunch of different stuff as well as you possibly can, in this case better than he ever has, usually leads to disappointment.


This is true, and while longer, the list of triathletes who can run a 3:00 straight Mary while training is still pretty short. I doubt I could do it. Moreover, why would I want to since it would compromise some aspect of my training. It makes way more sense to focus on the quality run workouts and use the bike and swim for recovery sessions.

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The three hour thing is relative. I can comfortably knock out a sub-3 hour marathon on relatively minimal run training assuming the bike training is endurance-focussed. In fact I did that a few years ago due to an injury that prevented me from running until a few weeks before the marathon. To some extent the lungs and heart don’t need to know what the legs are doing if you have a long enough history as a runner.

When you’re looking to PB however, that’s a whole different thing. That takes true dedication to the running as @kurt.braeckel said. I’m off the bike other than a few times a month at the moment to focus on getting a PB in my February ‘19 marathon. I use an adapted version of the Jack Daniels’ method.

I have every confidence in TR’s bike plans, but for an open marathon I’d probably opt for one of the well-known author’s plans, or a variant of one.

One of the hardest parts of marathon training for me is the knowledge that my bike power is almost certainly declining - in fact I’ve noticed my leg muscles becoming visibly leaner. I do commute between 10 - 25k five times a week, which may go some small way to maintaining bike fitness.

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what’s your PB in the open marathon? also, whats your bike power/weight?

I seem to have the opposite results as you. I’ve been a running from when I was in high school and some college, and got back into it again about 2 years ago. this year is the most ive run in 20 years though… im at around 1300 miles so far. I would be ecstatic if. I hit 2:50, but sub 3:00 should be in the bag and would walk away happy with a BQ.

I haven’t biked in about 5 months where I was at around 300w FTP, and a 4.0w/kg. I would think with a week or two of spinning I could come close again. Ive got a month to get warmed up before I begin the build toward Leadville so hopefully all this running helps :stuck_out_tongue:

My marathon best is 2:42; I’m looking to break 2:40 next year.
I’ve been running for almost 20 years - did my first sub-3 back in 2002.
My biking came later, when I started triathlons about 7 years ago. My FTP `PB is 275 in spring this year, which put me at about 4.5W/kg. It’s currently set at 260W for when I do recovery rides.

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Gregh, I would be interested in more details with regard to your “adapted” version of the Jack Daniels method. Can you please elaborate ? I aiming at doing my first marathon at Firenze this winter. MAny thanks

There’s nothing fancy, I just simplify the plans a bit. I just use the Daniel’s paces to guide my easy runs, long runs and intervals.
I’m a big fan of increasing durations of marathon pace training during long runs.
I went from 2.42 to 2.39 this year so worked reasonably well.



Having read the thread it seems you guys are all very capable runs so I thought I might ask for some tips. I found myself constantly switching between plans run slow, spend time in z4, cross train on the bike , stay out of the gym, I am always think oh maybe that would be better. My story is that during the London marathon 2018 I broke my leg at mile 16 but managed to hop to mile 24 where it just give up on me. I have now return to running and cycling and have “lucky” got a place in the 2020 marathon. I have been running around 15 to 20 miles a week and also sort following TR build plans with some success and a little cross in the gym. I have been trying to do 1 hard fast run, one long run and one speed work session and have improved my pace. Do I just carry as I am or would following a dedicated plan by somebody Jack Daniels and Greg Mcmillin and what ever google gives me.

As I write this I am not sure what I am after advice or reassurance that i am on the right road.

Thanks guys

Highly recommend the Daniels plan as well. Used it exclusively in my 30’s and did 1:16 half and 2:42 open (in really bad weather). (In comparison, did ~3:35 for IM distance in my early 20s, way before there were any sort of structured training programs for tri’s). Definitely the most detailed, specific plan I came across outside of hiring a coach. I would compare it to the structure and specificity/individuality of the TR bike workouts.

For anyone that has used the Daniels plans…I’d be very interested in hearing what changes/modifications you made and your experiences in terms of how prepared you felt.

As background, I started the Q2 90-113km plan back in June. Because I was in the middle of triathlon season, I did the the two quality workouts in combination with 3 TrainerRoad workouts (from Olympic plan) and 2-3 swim sessions. I didn’t aim to hit the weekly km goal as I simply wouldn’t have had time to and also wouldn’t be able to recover with the additional cycling workouts.

Ambitiously, I set my starting week one paces so that my final marathon pace runs would be the same as that required to get a sub 3 hour marathon (4:16/km). I saw this as a “stretch goal” but also thought I just might be able to do it (I did a half marathon in 1:28:30 in March).

Training was going well and I was completing the quality workouts as planned and hitting the prescribed paces. My weekly km’s fluctuated between 40 - 80km depending on how I felt each week and how much time I had for additional runs outside of triathlon training. However, I went through a patch of 3-4 weeks with limited running due to 18 days holidays combined with my “A” triathlon race (just before holidays which required a weeks taper).

Now, triathlon season is over and I can mostly concentrate on running. I have 7 weeks to my marathon but I have 17 quality workouts left. So, if I want to do all quality workouts left in the plan, I will need to do a few weeks with 3 quality workouts. Either that, or I should cut some of the workouts completely.

So, my questions to anyone who has done the Q2 plan before would be:

  • Of the 4 types of quality workouts (marathon pace, intervals, tempo, long easy), which would you recommend shortening and/or cutting completely? My thinking is cutting the interval sessions because I think they have probably the least benefit compared to other 4
  • Do you think its more important to do the quality workouts at the prescribed paces or get the weekly mileage in?
  • I’m unsure what I should aim to run at on the actual marathon…my current marathon pace runs are done at 4:14/km and I can complete every workout at this pace but I’m usually at my limit (longest marathon pace run was 17 miles with 12 miles at marathon pace) and can’t imagine doing that pace (or close to it) for a full marathon. Is this a sign that I should lower my expectations or will the taper/adrenaline significantly improve ability to run at that pace over the full distance?
  • The longest marathon pace run in the plan is 17 miles with 12 miles at marathon pace…does this sufficiently prep you for doing full marathon at marathon pace? Or should I add in sessions with longer marathon pace runs?

Sorry for the long post…but would be great to hear anyone’s perspective from the Daniels plan…my training seemed to be going very well and I was confident I could go the distance at sub 3 hour pace but now I feel like I won’t be sufficiently prepared in time for it

@davidboyle88, first congratz for all your training investment. I would tend to stay that you are the only one able to answer your questions as the way your react and adapt to your training stimulus and training volume is quite personal. You seem to have an impressive volume of training. My advice would be to trust the process while keeping an open view on your fatigue and recovery capacity and adapt eventually. Probably not the answer you were looking for but it seem important that you try to get a real feeling of what is best for you.

Thanks Alex. Will keep that in mind.

Anyone else have any thoughts/experiences to share? Particularly interested to hear of changes/modifications made by others in similar situation