How do you decide your race pace?

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08/05/2012 at 07:21


Huge 'well done' and a great report. I think all marathoners can relate to your highs and lows of the physical and mental challenge. Only thing I can throw in is that I've found cycling and regular stretching has helped massively with regards to injury and recovery from long runs.. I'm a total believer in cross training now and wouldn't even consider another marathon without cycling as well.

08/05/2012 at 08:53

Great report, it reminded me of VLM last year (my first marathon) where I eventually limped home in 4:50, having cramped badly at mile 16 and walk/ran the last 10 miles.  Like you, I learned so much, changed my running shoes (Newtons now), running style, fuelling, and I take salt caps on long runs to stave off cramp.  I also did many more long runs, including getting 3 x 20 milers in. With all this, I completed VLM 12 months later in 4:10:58. 

And I also agree with NfS above, cycling is a terrific alternative and an absolute joy in the summer when it gets too hot to run!

08/05/2012 at 11:46

thanks guys, yes with my knee problems i think the cross training and cycling may have added benefits.

Great improvement phatboyrunning, I am raring to build my strength and experience and have another go.

08/05/2012 at 12:23

Great report and well done for toughing it out and finishing. As the others have stated we can all relate to when the wheels come off the wagon. It is good you can take the positives and you will learn a lot more from the bad ones than the good ones. However, we need the bad ones to make the good ones even better.

Rest well and revel in the fact you are now a marathoner.

08/05/2012 at 16:01

Really impressive and that's not just empty praise- I can tell you quite specifically why I think you should be incredibly proud. 

When I got to eighteen miles I felt pretty dreadful.  Nowhere near as bad as you but I felt utterly despondent that the only two options were to bail out or keep going.  And the trouble with keeping going was that is that it wasn't just going to be a few minutes more of pain, but well over an hour of feeling broken.

Every cliche associated with marathons comes alive when you are tested and find the inner resources you never really knew you had.  And although I hate the song, (and stand by with the sick bucket), it is a case of searching for the hero inside yourself.  Or strapping on the Man-suit as the Marathon Talk guys would describe.  When I emailed my sponsors to thank them I said

"I won’t be doing another.  I was tantalisingly close to running under four hours but chasing a time would seem to trivialise the whole experience.  I was pretty much at my limit at the finish and felt like death.  I am not as big a wuss as I have always assumed and that’s enough for me."

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I didn't have any significant hiccups in my training or on race-day so am happy to bow out of this marathon m'larky.  You though, sound as if you've identified a handful of variables that are amenable to change, and I suspect you'll address them and get a sub-4 next time around.

So, as for this thread's starting point:  what are your thoughts on your race-day pacing?  


Edited: 08/05/2012 at 16:02
08/05/2012 at 18:14
I think the main thing to take away from the marathon is it is all about experience. I'm doing several halfs a year and each time I learn something about myself. My pace, my endurance, my fuelling strategy. These all prepare you for the big one in a way that long slow runs cannot.

I still think I can push my half pace up by a few more heart beats a minute. My race on Sunday was 3 or 4 beats up on average to my previous race. From this I'll calculate my pace for a November marathon. LSRs should be slow and are not an indication of what your marathon pace should be. Other than you should be running them at least a minute slower than marathon pace.

Without knowing anymore about your running I would guess that most injuries are due to ridiculously high mileage at high paces without a base of years of running.
Edited: 08/05/2012 at 18:17
08/05/2012 at 18:22


thank you. That means a lot. I won't lie I do feel quite emotional today. The whole experience was mental (as they say where I come from). Despite knowing that my body was knackered and I just couldn't run for periods I still went to bed last night wondering if I had whimped out somehow. Part of me feels unsatisfied that I did not run the distance and another part feeling proud that I had got something of a time from that scenario. I was delighted when I awoke this morning and could barely walk with the pain in my knee and that is swollen, so that I had physical proof.

I was going to ask you what your plans were now? I don't know, I want to do more running, I am a 39 year old newbie and want to do some more. I think I will need/want to do another marathon and yes the 4 hr thing might become a bit of an issue if im not careful. I do however think the wise move would be to build a lot more mileage, experience and learning before trying again. This experience means that I wouldn't want to face an all or nothing scenario in a hurry and whilst I understand that a marathon will never have any guarantees I will want to go into the next with fewer uncertainties.

I tend to waffle, in case you didnt notice. So to the question about pacing. As you know I ran all of my long runs somewhere between 9:20-10 min miles. I am amazed that i never once looked at my watch to check my pace or time in the marathon. I decided to run it by feel, I set out at what felt easy/comfortable and when i came to the hills i deliberately shortened my stride. I was cruising, I went through 6 miles thinking I have covered that for nothing ie no perceied effort, it felt like a warm up. I now know I was averaging 9-9.10 min miles. But then all of a sudden around 11 miles I became more aware of effort levels and consciously decided to ease back a bit. My pace then moved to 9.20-9.30 ish. I then maintained this reasonably well until the real problems kicked in. I believe that my early pacing had a direct contribution in my knee problems and subsequent cramping which so hampered me. I also believe that other factors contributed ie my fuelling and the fact that I didn't get as many long runs in as i should have.

But in terms of pace, I am convinced that I could have maintained 9-9.10 min miles off long runs of 10 min miles as the perceived effort did not seem noticeable. I would do some things differently though and i think you did this far better than me. I would have forced myself to run even slower for the bulk of my slow runs (say 10-10.10 min miles) and threw in a number of 9 min miles at the end or throughout. Also I only had one session per week that had faster stuff. Therefore I would definately do more 4-8 mile runs at marathon pace. I think i missed a couple of tricks here.

One final observation related to my original question. I used the example that I ran a 10k probably faster than i was physically ready to do, simply because i went out quick and just hung in there. It will sound obvious, but it smacks me in the face that i am able to get away with that in a 10k, maybe to some extent a half but a marathon is a different beast. The only way I was going to get through that run without 'blowing up' would have been to really went out very slow. So there is learning for me. If i was ever in that situation again pre marathon I would either withdraw or go extremely conservative and show it more respect.


Edited: 08/05/2012 at 18:31
08/05/2012 at 18:39
Your LSR training runs are far too fast then.
08/05/2012 at 19:06

Tim, I agree. I would now do LSR at 10-10.10 min mile pace maybe even 10.30 pace (I would go slower if i could but i find it near impossible to run any slower it would be walking) with faster miles or more hills thrown in.

Hilden, I meant to add in my earlier post, you have my respect for being able physically and mentally to rattle out 26 consistently paced miles as you did. That takes huge strength.

08/05/2012 at 19:21
Just remember that you are building different type of muscle for a marathon to the muscle you already have for your 5k and 10k. You have lots of fast twitch muscle but little slow twitch. Even if you have to walk you need to get out and do a couple of hours a week with your heart rate below 70% WHR or 60% max. This is what develops your ability to burn fat rather than glycogen, and teaches your body to store more glycogen. After a month or two you'll notice the difference. It's not about speed, it's about heart rate.

The half marathon and marathon are not called the 20k and 40k.

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