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5 Hour Marathon: Pace Chart, Training Plan & Tips for Success

Running a 5 hour marathon is a goal for many distance runners. Seasoned runners and new runners alike often find themselves aiming to complete a 5 hour marathon at some point. A 5 hour marathon pace might sound relatively easy during training, but maintaining the pace for 26.2 miles is an entirely different story.

How hard is a 5 hour marathon?

The difficulty of completing a 5 hour marathon varies greatly for each runner. Finishing a marathon in 5 hours will be considerably more difficult for a runner who averages a 12+ minute mile pace during training, or one who has never run more than a few miles at a time.

On the other hand, runners who have already completed a half marathon and can do so in about 2 hours and 15 minutes will find that a 5 hour marathon is right on par with their ability level and very attainable.

What is a 5 hour marathon pace?

A 5 hour marathon pace is approximately 11:26 minutes per mile (7:06 minutes per kilometer). Most runners find that they slow down a bit by the end of the marathon, so in order to finish a marathon in 5 hours, they run a bit faster than 11:26 for the first half and a bit slower for the second.

It’s nearly impossible to maintain the exact same pace for every mile of a marathon – with water stops, elevation changes, plus both mental and physical barriers along the way. Aiming for an average of 11:26 per mile and adjusting as you go is key.

How do I train for a 5 hour marathon?

Training to complete a 5 hour marathon requires more than simply completing the mileage on your training plan. With a specific time goal in mind, you’ll need to practice running at marathon pace and including some workouts with intervals that are significantly faster than your goal pace.

In addition, you’ll want to spend a great deal of your long runs running at a pace that is slower than the 11:26 goal. Including a variety of speeds in your training helps your body improve fitness while still having time to recover and avoid overtraining.

Although it’s nearly impossible to maintain the exact same pace over the course of 26 miles, having a pace chart will help evaluate your progress along the way so you can adjust your pace as needed to finish a 5 hour marathon.

5 Hour Marathon Pace Chart in Miles


>> Download the 5 Hour Marathon Pace Chart (and more) here!

5 Hour Marathon Pace Chart in Km

Use this 5 hour marathon pace chart and training plan to accomplish your 26.2 goal. Here's how to finish a marathon in 5 hours or less!

5 Hour Marathon Training Plan Tips

Maintaining a 5 hour marathon pace can feel daunting for 26.2 miles. However, with proper training, just about any runner can prepare themselves to conquer the distance and finish in 5 hours. Here are a few tips for following a 5 hour marathon training plan.

Complete easy miles at a slower pace

It might sound counterintuitive – but you’ll want to complete the majority of your training at a slower pace than your marathon goal. While it’s important to add in some race pace miles as well as intervals and speed workouts, it’s also important to take things easy.

Taking long runs and easy runs at a slower pace allows your body to build endurance without overtraining, providing it time to recover. The few workouts and race pace miles you complete will increase your fitness and allow your body to practice pushing the pace for race day.

Practice race day fueling during training

You’ve heard it before and you’ll probably hear it again – don’t try anything new on race day. This saying is true, especially when it comes to fueling. Be sure to test out your race day fueling strategy during training. Take this time to experiment with different fuel sources and timing to find what works best for your body.

Once you’ve settled on a type of fuel, practice consuming it during your long runs with the same timing you’ll use when running your 5 hour marathon.

Plan your walk breaks

Maintaining a 5 hour marathon pace will likely involve some walk breaks. Planning when these walk breaks will take place ahead of time will allow you to adjust your pacing plan accordingly prior to race day.

In addition, you can practice walking at the same places during each of your long runs to help your body adjust and get used to the amount of running it will be doing during the marathon.

Adjust your pace chart ahead of time

Similarly, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to maintain a completely steady pace for 26.2 miles. During your 5 hour marathon training, pay attention to your natural pace progression throughout long runs. If you notice that you typically slow down with each mile, adjust your pace chart to follow the same pattern on race day.

If you are planning to walk at a certain point every few miles, adjust the pace chart to compensate. Finding a 5 hour marathon pace chart and adjusting it to follow your own plan and natural rhythm will help immensely.

Remember that it is okay for each mile to be a slightly different pace – as long as they all average out to be 11:26, you will still hit your 5 hour goal.

Aim to have a bit of a buffer

During a marathon especially, most runners find that they slow down throughout the race. When distance increases and the body begins to fatigue, the natural tendency is to slow down. Recognizing your own tendencies will help you plan accordingly to accomplish a 5 hour marathon.

For most runners, the best way to do so is to start the race at a slightly faster pace to create a bit of a buffer for the later miles. If you only slow down a bit, you can start out running just a few seconds faster to create a small buffer for the end. If you typically slow down quite drastically or are planning to walk, you’ll want to start the race running significantly faster.

Switch from water to sports drink

Running a marathon, especially one in which you are aiming for a specific goal, requires lots of energy. As your body fatigues, you’ll want to stock up on extra calories that it can use to keep going.

A simple, yet effective strategy to do so is to drink water at the aid stations in the first half of the race, and switch to sports drink for the second half. This will prevent any sort of digestive upset in the beginning, and provide extra calories to fuel your performance at the end and avoid hitting the wall.

Create a mental strategy

Maintaining a 5 hour marathon pace for 26 miles requires just as much mental strength as it does physical. During training, many runners mistakenly focus only on the physical and neglect the mental aspect.

In order to avoid bonking or hitting a wall, you’ll want to create a mental strategy during training as well. Creating a plan for times when you doubt yourself or question your ability to meet your goals is key. Try finding some mantras, focusing on your purpose, or practicing positive self talk during training to prepare for race day.

Stay consistent

Running a 5 hour marathon is a big accomplishment. In order to succeed, you’ll need to stay consistent with your training. Find a 5 hour marathon training plan that works with your schedule and stick to it. Stay committed to the process, even when things start to feel hard or your body is tired.

Follow the training plan, listen to your body, prioritize recovery and stay strong – and you’ll be running a 5 hour marathon in no time.

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