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MaffetoneSub 3

Running a Sub 3 Hour Marathon, Boston Qualifier or Marathon PR

By May 29, 2017April 14th, 20226 Comments

A lot of runners want to run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon or Boston Qualifier, yet many of them fail to accomplish this. I’m here to help break down what goes wrong in training and racing to improve from there.

Hi my name is Floris Gierman. I’m excited about the launch of my new site extramilest.com. It’s focused on running, in particular about How to Run a Sub 3 Hour Marathon or a Boston Marathon Qualifier.

I improved my marathon time from 4:11 to 2:44 at the Boston marathon by training smarter, not harder. I’m excited to share all the things I’ve learned over the years to become a faster, healthier and happier runner. Hopefully this will help you on your journey to improve your running and your health

In the coming months I’ll be posting several videos and blog posts, probably on a weekly basis. Although the topics are aimed around running and Heart Rate training, the focus will be much broader with important topics like Nutrition for your training and for race days, training your mind, importance of rest and recovery, creating personalized training schedules etc

I have created a Free 30 page PDF with the Fundamentals of Training and Racing. Receive this PDF for free via this sign up form.

Table of content for marathon training guide

Marathon Training and Racing Guide

One question I’m often asked is: How do I get faster to run a sub 3 hour marathon? The number one mistake I see is that many runners train at a Heart Rate and pace that’s too high and fast for their current fitness level. Several years ago I came across Dr Phil Maffetone’s work, he is a world class endurance coach and author of 20 books. He changed my approach to running completely with low HR training. Slowing down your HR in most of your training runs will develop your aerobic system, so over time you can run the same pace at a lower HR.

Most runners who miss their marathon goal start out their race strong, but in the later parts of the race their blood lactate increases, and their blood sugar lowers, so they are unable to maintain this goal pace, around mile 18 to 22. Not that they don’t want to, physically not able to.

There are many different training methods to prepare you to run a fast marathon. A few popular ones are Jack Daniels Plan A, Pfitzinger 55-70, 70-85, >85, Galloway Goal Sub 2:59, Higdon Advanced or Hanson Advanced. Each training approach and plan has unique aspects, differentiating between the length of the plan, starting milage, ramp up, rest, days/week, longest run, intensity, etc.

These training plans work for many to accomplish their goals, but many runners fail using these programs as well.  They feel the programs are too hard, they get injured, or the schedule just does not work for them.

Every athlete is different, some have more muscles or body fat than others, some are very fit with a solid aerobic base and others lack current fitness, some have had specific injuries or sicknesses. When a training plan tells you to train at a certain pace, for example 7:30 min / miles, but your fitness level is at 9 min/ miles, you’re training at a heart rate that’s too high for your current fitness and you’re adding a significant amount of stress on your body. 9 out of 10 people I get in contact with train too often at a Heart Rate that’s too high for them, this increases cortisol stress hormone levels, slows down aerobic development and increases risk of injuries.

You don’t need speed work to become a faster runner. That’s right, I just said that. You can progress for many months by only running aerobic miles, so running only at a low heart rate. Most of the training plans schedule speed workouts, such as intervals or tempo runs, in week 1 of the training cycle. There is a time and place for some speed work, however you don’t need to start with 1 or 2 speed sessions per week until several months into your training cycle.

I trained for my Boston 2:44 PR with only 6% of my running time at high HR, the rest was all aerobic at low HR using Maffetone’s 180 formula.

Floris Gierman from extramilest discussing importance of fun in training

Training for a marathon has to be a fun experience.

One of the most underestimated aspects of marathon training is preparing mentally for what’s to come.

When you first sign up for a race, you’re all excited and you can’t wait to go out and train. Then after a few weeks, life can get in the way, and your motivation could decrease, you might miss some training sessions or you’re not enjoying the training. I’m in the same boat, full time job, I’m married with 2 young kids, balancing work, life and training isn’t always easy.

There are several strategies and tactics to stay motivated to put in your best effort and go the extra mile to reach your marathon goals. This is one of the most exciting parts. We are capable of accomplishing so much more, with clear goal setting, more about this.

Proper nutrition can make or break a race. When you run for 3 hours or more, you’re burning many calories and sweating a lot. Having a well thought out nutritional strategy is key to improve your chances of success, much more to follow on this.

I take a holistic approach to reach my goals, what I mean with that is not only to look at what pace and distance do I train to get ready for a race, but also make sure all other factors in my life are under control, like stress levels at work and in personal life, nutrition, sleep, recovery etc

But I also look a step further to reduce cortisol stress level, through mindful living, meditation, gratitude journal and regular journal, cold showers, using a standing desk vs sitting on your butt for 12 hours a day, taking frequent walks throughout the day, getting enough vitamin D, etc

If you’re stressed because your home life or work life is out of balance, this will directly impact your athletic performance, so there is a much bigger picture to look at when training to reach your running goals. This is all such an exciting puzzle to solve and come up with a strategic approach.

I’ve interviewed several world class coaches and athletes like Dr. Phil Maffetone, and 6 time world champion Iron man Mark Allen to learn from the best.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of self-experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve bonked at multiple races and successfully completed many Sub 3 Hour Marathons, and endurance runs up to 50 miles and 100 miles.


You’ll get a weekly email from me with Strategies & Mindsets from best selling authors, world class athletes, coaches, and me, Floris Gierman.

No spam ever ⎯ and emails are never shared.

Would love to hear from you, what is your running goal and what is your main obstacle to overcome to reach this running goal. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments, I'm here to help.

It's my hope that my teachings help you and causes positive change. Thank you for watching!



  • Viviana Lopez says:

    Hi, I ran my first marathon last year & did it in 5 hours 28min, I’ve been running half marathons for 8 years my best time is 2:14, my biggest obstacle is speed. I have endurance but improving my speed is challenging.

  • Cody Russell says:

    A lot of great points in there Floris! I too train while maintaining an aerobic heart rate and have only been on the adventure for a few months. I think you nailed a big component when you discussed keeping cortisol levels low. I’ve found that if I cut out drinking caffeine (I do drink decaf coffee for the antioxidants) my HR was much better on training runs with the decreased activity of my adrenal glands.

    Love the work you do and the passion you bring to the table for the gift of running. Let us never take it for granted!

    All the best,

    Cody Russell

  • Anand says:

    Hi Floris. The video quality is very good. image stabilization is awesome. Sound is clear too? What equipment did you use to get this video done.?

  • teno says:

    Hi, Flo.
    Thank you for sharing. I’m a slow runner. My MAF test result at 19/Feb/2019 is around pace 08:09/km for HR 137 BPM. I will have marathon race at end of July. In your opinion, is it OK to run my longest long run training for 2,5 hours? Because even my MAF test will be better (for example pace 07:30/km at my longest run), i will only run maximum 20 km. Thanks a lot.


  • Kevin McCoy says:

    I’ve watched several of your Youtube videos and have been trying the MAF formula for less than a month. I ran a 3:15:07.5 on June 1st, am 53 years old. I am having second thoughts about the validity of 180 minus age since I know my MHR is around 195. How can a generic 180 minus age be right for me since I have a higher MHR than many people 30 years younger?

    Regards, Kevin

  • Kalle says:

    I’ve signed up for my first marathon, in end of October. Aiming for 4:30 or possibly sub 4-hour time.

    The biggest obstacle is improving my maf pace. There are so many tempting hills and trails and interval sessions I wanna do. Makes it hard to stick to the slow stuff.

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