Letters to the Coaches: Creating a Level 4 Plan

Hello David,

Hope you are well. I purchased the 80/20 level three plan back in June and used it to train for my first marathon. I loved it! It helped me to a 3:24 in NYC. I am looking to shave some time off and am running my second in March. I know there is no “Level 4” but do have any suggestions on how to tweak the plan to help get me to my goal?




So glad to hear about your success! 3:24 in your first marathon is a solid result.

Although we don’t yet have a Level 4 plan Marathon plan, if/when we do build it, I would create it in this manner:

1. An increase of 20% total volume from the L3 plan. If the weekly schedule called for 7 hours of running, I would up that to 8.4 hours. That could be achieved by simply adding 20% to each run, or adding another 1.5 hours over 2-3 runs.
2. Add 1 interval segment to every other interval run. For example, if Monday called for 3×2.5 in Zone 4 on 5 minutes rest, make that 4×2.5. Make no modification to the next interval run, then add an interval to the third interval run.
3. Increase the long week-end runs by 2 miles. This would be done in conjunction with #1 above.