What is the Secret to a Sub 3:00 Marathon?- Doug Kurtis

Have you ever met someone whose excitement and passion is so infectious that you cannot help but be in awe of them? How about someone who you struggle to even wrap your head around their incredible accomplishments? We all know those storytellers who have so many great stories to share, you could sit there for hours listening to them telling you their adventures.

Ever wondered what life is like for a marathoner who has run 200 sub 3 hour marathons, and 76 sub 2:20 marathons? We interview this inspiring masters runner.

My guest today is all three of those, and someone who could make even the biggest running hater love the sport.

My guest today is

Doug Kurtis

  • World Record holder for most career sub 2:20 marathons-76
  • Winner of 40 marathons- Detroit 6 times, grandmas 2 times, Bangkok 3 times
  • 5 time OTQ
  • Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame in 1998
  • Total of 205 marathons, 200 under 3 hours
  • Best marathon 2:13:34, and ran 2:15:47 at age 42, masters winner
  • Director of many Michigan races including the Detroit Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and Corktown
  • Used to write for Detroit free press, currently writes for Run Michigan and Michigan Runner
  • Motivational speaker, course designer, and coach

Some of the topics Doug and I are going to discuss today include:

  • Why running in a group or with training partners is more important than most people realize
  • How dougs first marathon involved running into a drug store, having his blisters popped, and jumping back into the race
  • Dougs secret to how he was able to train for the 200 sub 3:00 marathons
  • Advice on how to run your first marathon, and why you should consider your hometown marathon for your debut
  • How to overcome nervousness on race day
  • Dougs best advice for marathoners on getting through the bad patches

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Links and Resources mentioned in this Interview:

The Detroit Marathon

Run Michigan

Corktown Races

Downtown Detroit Runners

Don Kardong Runners Connect Interview

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7 Responses on “What is the Secret to a Sub 3:00 Marathon?- Doug Kurtis

  1. Great podcast, Tina! It was nice to “meet” Doug – he’s certainly a very fun, kind person and I enjoyed his stories! Would have loved to have heard more about specific training for sub-3 hr marathons (sounds like he ran quite a bit of mileage, but what were his key workouts in the buildup? Did he favor long tempos? Shorter VO2 Max stuff? Marathon paced miles w/in long runs?) Also would have loved tips on any additional stuff he did (strength work? Core work? Stretching/drills?) to help keep him healthy as he ran all those amazing races.

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for the feedback 🙂 I think you can tell (I hope) that I did try to pry that out of him, but did not want to keep pushing at it. Maybe we will have a Q&A with him at some point, and you can request specific questions like those to be answered. Glad you enjoyed. Any other guests you would like us to have on the show?

  2. Jennifer,
    Kurtis was tough and seemed immune from injury. It sounds like just getting in lots of time on the feet is what worked for him and is what he recommends. Specifics details less important than time spent running.

    Here (link below) is a minimal approach that is all about the details:


    Marathon pace runs and Yasso 800s are the main focus along with lots of recovery. It may work for people that are not as durable as Kurtis.

    • Thanks, John. Very interesting blog post on running sub-3 on a more minimal approach. I like the progression on the MP Monday runs (though would argue that the lack of warm up before jumping into that pace increases your risk for injury unnecessarily) and the speed work with the Yassos. Also think that you might not need to have quite that much cushion built in (6:40 pace for a runner whose “stretch goal” is to break-3 is a bit aggressive), but training “over” the pace will definitely help make the 6:52 avg pace on race day feel a lot more doable. Love (and agree) with your thoughts on running the long runs VERY easy with a MP fast finish. Just not sure I’d do that every week. Cool thoughts – thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks, Tina! Haha! I did notice you tried and understand that it wouldn’t be polite to keep pushing. I was just hoping he’d delve into his specific training a bit. As for other guests…hmm…would love to hear a coach talk about how they go about creating a training plan for their marathoners. As a currently self-coached runner I’ve been following the standard plan from Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning book. I’m ready to mix it up this season but am wary of putting together a “Cafeteria Plan” – where I pick and choose from different books and workouts (Hansons, McMillan, Pfitzinger, Daniels). I know that I need to have it structured with a build up that makes sense – putting in specific workouts where they should go – but I don’t have a clear insight at this point in how to do so. Would love to hear from a coach on how they develop specific training plans for their athletes. How do they start to develop a plan? What blocks of workouts do they use? How do they advance the fitness of the athlete through the season? How do they tailor those plans to athletes who are endurance monsters vs. those who are speedsters? 🙂

    • Thanks for your feedback Jennifer. I will definitely take notes from your suggestions, and look into this in the future. We would love for you to join our community, and you would love the training program too. That is the problem that we would struggle to give a specific recommendation as that is where most coaches make their living, through putting those plans together. Will look into coaches to interview for you though. Have you signed up to our newsletter? We will give you lots more tailored advice from there. You can sign up on any of our pages 🙂

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