marathon level 2 versus level 3 from the book | 80/20 Endurance

marathon level 2 versus level 3 from the book

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    Hey Friends, greetings from Poland in Europe. I read the book, the forums and the blog post about target times that Matt wrote and i still struggle with my next goal and plan choice. I did the Amsterdam Marathon in October 3 h 47 mins and I was hoping to make 3h30m coming April in my home town marathone in Krakow. Now i wanted to start dedicated training from the book. I went for marathon level 2 as i did not feel i am not pro enough for level 3. But now level 2 workload seems quite low, so i am worried this might not even be in the ballpark for 3h30m finish. I just struggle what workload is needed for what ballpark targets. i I run regularly 40 to 50 km per week so looks like level 2 plan decreases the workload. But maybe i dont understand sth and workload is not really correlated with finish time? Thanks for any advice

    David Warden

    Mikael, so sorry for the delay in response!

    Workload is absolutely linked with finish time. For a given athlete, using the same training methodology, 8 hours of training will absolutely provide better results than 7 hours. Of course, we believe that 6 hours of 80/20 training is better than 8 hours of typical moderate intensity training, but if you take an athlete and only change the total training time, more time is always better (with an upper limit… 20 hours is clearly better than 100 hours a week!)

    Therefore, the Level 3 plan in the book will for sure lead to better results than Level 2.

    I think what you are looking for is, “which plan will get me to a 3:30 marathon time? The Level 2 or 3?”

    Unfortunately, no coach can link a level of training to a result, because it all depends on the athlete. Age, gender, experience, genetics, weight, body composition, course terrain, weather… these factors could mean the Level 0 plan would get Athlete A to a 3:30, while Athlete B would not make 3:30 on the Level 3 plan.

    What I can say is that the Level 2 plan is designed to get a male athlete, under age 40, with <15% body fat performing at least their second marathon on a "normal" course with "normal" weather to a 3:20 time. If you meet that criteria, the Level 2 will get you under 3:30 for sure.



    Thanks David,

    What you said makes the plan very legit I have to say. There are so many training plans out there that focus on target time – yet it indeed seems a bit like a marketing scam. There are so many conditions that go into the final result other than the training scheme.

    I decided to buy the level 2 one on trainingpeaks, have to say that having it all structured makes my life much easier. I am a father of 3 (soon 4) kids and it saves a lot of time to have the plan just plug and play in my watch.

    By the way, I noticed that the level 2 plan in the 80/20 book differs quite a lot from the one at trainingpeaks. Have you guys noticed this? The book one has days with 2 sessions/day, yet the one at peaks has 1 session per day.

    All the best to the 80/20 End Team!

    David Warden


    Remember, you can always switch levels for free if you find that the 80/20 plan you chose was to hard or too easy.

    Yes, the plans in the book were written in 2012, the plan you have now is the 2022. Edition. We make changes to our plans constantly. While the 80/20 ratios remain the same, we’ve made many improvements in 10 years!


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