Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sub 4 Hour Marathon Recipe...

By Frank

Following on from my adventures at the Macau Marathon 2009, I have received numerous enquiries on my training regime and of my secret in running a sub 4 hour marathon and also in smashing my personal best by a good 24 minutes. Honestly speaking, I do not have any special recipe in doing so, but here's to just share a little on my training regime leading up to the race.

I started my training back in August 2009 from square one. It took me about a month to get myself in shape for a more intense training followed by base training and long distance runs. My weekly runs are pretty simple, stale and stagnant. Here's how it goes:

Sunday - Rest or 5KM recovery run
Monday to Wednesday - 10KM tempo run
Thursday - 7KM race pace run
Friday - Rest or 5KM recovery run
Saturday - 30KM to 40KM long slow distance run

Told you there's nothing special to it. Might even bore some of you. There's no even speed works to it as I given it up after a week trying it due to discomfort. However, one important thing that I paid attention to is my heart rate. My runs are normally done within 70% to 75% from my maximum heart rate though at times when finishing the run, I will raise it to maybe near 90%. I have learnt that finishing a run strong will be able to produce the "kick" that will be needed during a race and this has certainly proven to be very true.

And with 9 weeks leading to the race, I actually raised my weekly running distance to about 100KM a week for 3 weeks which totalled up to about 300KM. And this came from back to back runs in 19 days. Though not recommended (was lucky that I suffered no injuries), it actually helped me prepare myself especially in the tolerance area.

Following that with 6 weeks till the race, I have 3 different races of different distances and disciplines to help me get prepare. A 10KM race at the Nike+ Human Race 10K 2009 to allow me to test my speed, a Powerman 2009 duathlon for "waking up" my other muscles and finally a 42.195KM marathon long slow distance run at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2009. I sacrificed all of it and took it as training and therefore wasn't expecting anything good out from it and it proved that I made the correct decision.

Coupled with training, a good diet is really important. I don't really limit the type of food I take, but I try to stay away from oily food and especially fast food. Recovery is extremely important for me. I use supplements such as whey protein to aid me for it helps build lean muscles which will contribute to overall strength. Besides that, maintainance supplements such as Glucosamine and essential fatty oils will help too. Not forgetting that I actually detox myself while adding probiotics and this help me felt really "light". And a week leading to the race, I actually ate only vegetarian Subway sandwiches for 3 days and this help kept me "clean".

And during the race itself, mental strength has always been important to me. Mental strength to me is everything as it helps get the mind to work especially when the going gets tough. It also acts as a pain barrier. And with the extra motivation whether is the thoughts of someone special, a charity drive or to something as simple food, you be amazed with how the mind can react. And during my Macau Marathon 2009, I focus exactly on this and didn't think too much on the race itself. I kept my mind simple, turn my chrono away and just ran my best focusing on the thoughts that made me stronger.

Therefore, that's about it. Nothing too special nor is there any secret recipe to my training. If there is one word to describe it, I guess it will be "discipline". Just an advice here. Be patience especially with injuries and don't expect to obtain good results from each and every race. Don't be disappointed too with bad results and take every of it as a learning experience. Choose one major race and do your best there. Believe in yourself...


YB said...

First & foremost, congratulations on achieving a PB & wishing you the very best in future races with more PB to come. Thanks for sharing your training regime.

Yin said...

Hi Frank
Thanks so much for's especially interesting to read about the vegetarian diet you were on the 3 days before the big race...I also was on pretty much a vege diet that week before race day (of course i wans't aiming for super timing, just wanted to have a stress-free, injury-free race).

Congrats again on your amazing race :)

Haza said...

Hey, Frank, any tips on how to train for and run the sundown 84?

YS said...

Very inspiring and informative!

Allow me to add another item to the training... apart from all the tips, experience sharing, and ideas... I suddenly realized that one needs a lot of 'balls' and 'guts' to attempt whatever distance that has yet to be done before. One can have all the infos and tips on running long distance, but it is the 'die? die lor' spirit that makes dream come true.

Frank@Runnerz said...

YB: Thanks and it was my pleasure.

Yin: Thanks. Being on a clean diet does help in race day. However, I do reduce my fiber intake 2 days prior to the race to avoid any major bowel movements.

Haza: By asking, I assume you sign up or am planning to sign up? I will say it's pretty similiar to marathon training. Except that you will have to do a super long run, at least 50KM above at least once or twice so that your body will know how to tackle it on the actual day. Besides that, you can slightly increase the distance of your normal runs. Not forgetting core training too.

YS: Just respect the distance and it all will be over soon.

Anonymous said...


on detox :

1. when do u detox ? eve of race day or ? detox for how many days ?

2. how to detox ? detox tea bought from pharmacy ? any particular brand ?


Frank@Runnerz said...


1. I detox at least 3 weeks or more before a major race. This will allow my body to recover in time as detoxing will cause fatigue especially when one is really toxicated.

2. There are many brands out there. I'm taking Juvanex and it works for me. Also, try to stay on a clean diet.

Anonymous said...

Frank thanks, for all the advise.