First marathon pace advice

Advice on pacing a first marathon

7 messages
15/03/2013 at 01:11

Hi there, I am running my first marathon - Brighton - a month form now (eek!).

I am looking for some advice/reassurance on the pace to go at.

Have been running 2 years and am 40.  Averaged 20-25mpw last year, averaged 35mpw in November, then I had 2 weeks where i hardly ran over Christmas due to an achilles flare up, and then since mid Jan i have averaged 38mpw (peaking this week/next at around 50); I have not quite done the miles I hoped to as I had to drop some easy runs to nurse the achilles  but have been consistent about quality sessions - long runs, tempo runs and some medium-long midweek runs.  The last 3 weeks I have added an interval session with 5x1000m intervals @7mm pace.  Achilles is now much better and am feeling much stronger.

Long runs since the start of December have been 21, 20, 18, 17, 15 and 6x13.  Generally the long runs have been at 9:30-9:45ish pace, except the 20 miler a few weeks ago where I ran the first 10 at 9mm pace (which felt comfortable) and the 2nd at 8:15 pace - and felt relatively ok at the end and only took a couple of days to recover.  In the last 4 weeks I have started adding some marathon pace running (which I set at 8:30 for lack of any better idea); I have a 18 planned for Sunday with a block of 14 at marathon pace and then a 21 miler next week before tapering.

I ran a half a month ago in 1:42:30 which is just over 2 mins faster than my first half back in September.

So the advice I would like is:

- Is sub 4 realistic?

- Would going out with the 3:45 pace group be too ambitious?

Advice from those with experience would be much appreciated!

Edited: 15/03/2013 at 01:12
15/03/2013 at 03:09

Well, I've got the experience of one marathon behind me, last autumn...and I well remember agonising over what pace to go for. There is so much advice on training and tapering and food/gels...  but much less about pacing.

You're quite a lot younger than me. You've done far more training than I did (I think I only had 1 week that went above 30 miles - perhaps 1 other week scraped to that milestone).  Your half time is much faster than mine. My training pace was typically 30s slower than yours...  and in my maraton, I was less than a minute from breaking 4 hours, despite very windy/ driving rain and quite some undulations.  So there is an excellent chance that you'll beat that time.

I have faith in the race-time predictors like this one.. www.runnersworld.co.uk/general/rws-race-time-predictor/1681.html... and you can convert a HM time to predict a marathon time - with a fair degree of probability (I say probability rather than 'accuracy' because there is definitely scope for things to go awry in a marathon).  This only works if you've done the appropriate training....  and I think you have done the appropriate training.

So... that website predicts about 3:34 for you.

I would not be surprised if you were able to achieve that... but I'd suggest that, given it's your first marathon, you need experience...  and it is better to do the first 22 miles at 3:44 pace and re-evaluate from there.

Good luck

seren nos    pirate
15/03/2013 at 08:03

You sem to have got the miles in and the speed is there in your recent races.......

The marathon is  very different ot the half......but that 20 mile race showed that you are running strong.......

I think you should try and stick to the 3:45 pace and then in the last 6 miles or so start going faster if you feel good.......

there is so many things that can mess up a marathon and one of these is usually bombing off too fast as you feel so comfotable and good at the fast pace to start with.....until the wheels fall off

 good luck...hope it all goes well

cougie    pirate
15/03/2013 at 09:14
Double the half time and add 20 mins. The race predictor is usually a bit ambitious I find. Is it just the 3 20 milers you'll have in ? If you'd done 5 or 6 I think that might let you get closer to your estimated time.

Good luck with it ! It's a PB whatever ?
15/03/2013 at 09:23

sounds very promising for a good time in your first marathon, you sound like you've been very sensible in identifying the key workouts, listening to your body and modifying the plan as necessary to avoid too much time off through injury. I agree with RWales and Seren that you should be conservative in the first half, stick like glue to the 3:45 pacers, and perhaps wait until the 20mile mark before gently increasing the pace if you still feel you're running well within yourself at that point. It sounds like you know how to listen to your body's signals, so i'm sure this will be straight forward for you. Have a plan B though. It can be mega windy along the beach front in Brighton, or it could be 20 degrees which will affect how hard your race feels. If so, back off very slightly from the start, otherwise you'll risk blowing up at some point, and if you do it's nigh on impossible to recover. Stay on the right side of comfortable in the first half and you'll be grand

15/03/2013 at 13:57

Thanks for the advice so far folks - If it is a warm day is there any guide as to how much slower to go?  

cougie    pirate
16/03/2013 at 19:06
Depends how you cope with heat. Some thrive in it. A few runs in the gym with extra kit on might be of benefit though.

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