Thursday 14 February 2013

Pacing questions

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not following any particular training plan for the marathon. But I have made my own loose plan, based mainly on increasing the long run each week, and adding in other sessions from plans I've looked at.

The long run is always at a slower pace than the shorter runs, but I always want to go as fast as I can manage. Last Friday I ran 14 miles, and I had a vague idea that I wanted to run around 9.30 min/mile pace. I knew I could run a half marathon faster than that, and I'd be happy to run a bit slower than that in the marathon. I ran it at 9.25 pace, and felt reasonably ok.

But later I looked at a pacing calulator (on the runner's world website). It calculates the pace you should be doing various training runs at according to a recent race time. The last race I did was the Poppy Half marathon in November, but that wasn't a very good one, so I used my 10 mile race from October. I think I've lost some fitness since then though.

Anyway, after I typed in my time, it told me that my long run pace should be 10.21 - 11.40 min/miles! I wouldn't be surprised if that ended up being the pace in the marathon, but that seems very slow for shorter training runs, and certainly a lot slower than I have been doing.

The calculator also gave me a tempo running pace, which was great as I had no idea what it should be. I suppose that depends a lot on the distance, but it suggested a pace of 8.39 min/miles. So yesterday I put some fast music on my ipod (always a help), and ran 3.4 miles aimimng for tempo run pace. I finished with 8.27 pace, and that included a warm up half mile! So again, the suggested pace seemed a bit slow.

Tomorrow I'm aiming to do a 16 mile run. I suppose I'll try to go out as slow as I can, and see what that 10.21 pace feels like. It might make the run feel easier, or it might mean that I can speed up on the way back.

So does anyone have any advice on this? I'm pretty clueless. It seems to me that if I want to run a certain pace in the marathon, I've got to be capable of that pace or a little faster on my training runs. Or not? Any advice greatly appreciated!


  1. I find I need to be able to run a little faster on shorter runs to be able to maintain the pace during a marathon. I have found though that when I am really very fit...long time ago...:) I can run faster during a marathon or any race than in training. I also know that if my weight is good I can maintain a faster pace much longer. My general rule is to be able to run faster than marathon pace for any shorter distance.

  2. I'm a marathon running coach, I have tons of advice :). Of course, it could take an eternity to type it all out.

    Every plan to train for a marathon caters around each individual, which is why these online calculators drive me mental :). Personally, I truly believe in HR training and Maffetone HR for the long run; this teaches your body to utilize fat for fuel the most efficiently way. Pace is a product of fitness and the fitter you are, the faster you'll run in the same HR zone.

    I wouldn't run all your long runs at marathon goal pace, it's too taxing on the body. But I would incorporate MP mid runs or cruise intervals at MP (start with cruise then build to medium length runs). Long runs I'd alternate each week from about a 10:00 one week to mixed long run ranging from about 10:00 for a bit then adding in MP here and there. It's hard to tell when I don't now your HR but seriously don't run all your long runs at too high a pace - you'll get injured and not recover well. Also, don't run them too slow or you aren't utilizing fat for fuel.

    Email me if you have any specific questions, not really easy to answer on a blog comment. :)

    Good luck!!

  3. Unfortunately I can't offer any advice, because if I were to run a marathon my only goal would be to finish.

  4. Hmmm, I like what Jill said and will be trying to figure out what "Maffetone HR" is. I think those long run paces predict too slow for me too, I tend to just go with what feels comfortable - a pace I can go forever without feeling too taxed. Then, anything shorter I always try to just push the pace for at least some portion of the run but not usually all of the run. Sounds like you nailed your tempo!