Sub 3

For anyone trying to crack the 3 in any marathon anywhere in the world

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Cheerful Dave    pirate
25/11/2013 at 14:02

Tim, my alternative view is that 'ultrastu' is talking a lot of cock.  He's using results from thousands of marathon finishers to prove an optimum strategy.  Unfortunately when he works out his average % that people slow down, it's weighted at one end by a small number of people that get it right on the day, with anything between a small -ve and a small +ve split, and at the other end by lots of people who completely blew it and ended up walking chunks of it.  In other words, his data is biased by failures.

In all probability, whatever you plan to do, you'll end up with a positive split.  The smaller you can keep that the better your run will have been.  Acknowledging that that's the likely outcome on the day, and actually planning to slow down (i.e. setting out at a pace you can't possibly maintain throughout) are two different things though.

25/11/2013 at 14:24

HR - Gotta love a satisfying race.  Well done.  You sound bang up for it at the moment.

bufo - Congrats on making the team.

Padams - Cracking pace for XC, well done mixing it up at the pointy end.

GOBI!!! - Hullo! What sort of bike racing are you doing, TTs or proper scary road racing?! (I'm not that much of a wuss, honest, it's the thought of other people's poor handling skills that puts me off bunch racing...)

So I've had four days' enforced non-training with this stupid lingering nothing-to-write-home-about cold, but feeling better after today's lunchtime session because I managed to ignore it and complete my quickest ever rowing interval session (partly down to having fresh legs I guess.)  My first session with all reps under 1:40 pace:  8 x 500m, 3.5mins recovery, average 1:39.7.  I didn't kill myself and it didn't even feel very fluent after some time off, so I'm sure I can still improve on that.  Best thing I've taken from it is that I can at least crack on now and get a few more sessions in before the race on Saturday week.

25/11/2013 at 14:35
Cheerful Dave wrote (see)

Tim, my alternative view is that 'ultrastu' is talking a lot of cock. 

No beating around the bush CD! Love it!

TB - I'm with CD. I typically assume I'm going to run an even pace (for more effort in the second half obviously), but sometimes it comes out as a slight +ive or even a slight -ive.

That sounds positive CW. Good news.

Lev_ - I found pool running quite fun when I had to do it, but not to the extent I'd want to do it if not injured - thought that's mainly because of time constraints (which would mean it would have to replace a run).

A very easy 13m for me today says things seem to be all back to normal. Monday would usually be long run day, but obviously that was never going to happen after the last week and a half. Hopefully I'll be in my normal mileage range by the end of next week and I can start doing a few sessions (only a bit of light tempo, strides and maybe some hills for this week and next).

25/11/2013 at 14:37

Oh, and for the ale lovers amongst you, a local brewery - Ascot Ales - have got a Christmas ale that is, somehow, like Christmas in a bottle. It's got to be tried if you can get some of it.

25/11/2013 at 14:42

I started reading the first of those links and couldn't get to the end as I was getting too annoyed (and laughing at the same time). This would be a perfect example of how you can use statistics to prove a hypothesis which you've already decided is correct. You could easily use it to prove the opposite - the main thing I took from the stats was that a higher proportion of the sub-4 hour runners did a -ive split than for the 4 hour runners, which seems to suggest the opposite to what he was trying to prove.

As CD says, you will almost certainly end up with a +ive split whatever you do. But I think it would be a bad idea to actually plan to +ive split by more than a minute or two. My best marathon times (relative to what I was expecting based on build-up races, training etc.) have been very consistent pacing.

Edited: 25/11/2013 at 14:43
25/11/2013 at 15:34

Padams: even my (very rusty) A-level maths enabled me to see that he isn't a great statistician.  I'm tempted to send the link to my dad (PhD in stats) just because it will infuriate him.  And quite apart from anything else, using data from London, where the first half is intrinsically faster than the second half (assuming you aren't caught up in traffic), due to the downhill 3rd mile and the fact that the twists and turns come well into the second half, means you have started by selecting a course which lends itself to a positive split for someone who runs to even perceived effort, let alone someone who paces it poorly.

25/11/2013 at 15:51

Not a hugely "positive" response so far

I have spent a little more time looking at the formula and in essence for me to attempt to run 02:52 marathon, it would have me run the first HM at 06:23 per mile. Then allow a progressive slow down of 3 seconds per mile. So my final mile would 07:02. About a 5 minute slow down in second HM

Having people pass in the second half would be tough, there is a "psychological" feel good factor to chase people down that are slowing down when I ran a negative split. There is also the danger that I might not slow down enough and run even faster

The 5 minute split seems a little wide and would feel happier if this was a 3 or 4 minute split. Talking to him tomorrow so will see what to decide. Happy to risk trying it though if it is to be 5 minutes.

25/11/2013 at 16:04

Bit jealous of all the quick 10k talk. I've been targeting the Christchurch 10k in Dec which is very flat, and fast on a calm day. Park runs are coming on nicely with a couple of 17:30s recently and a 17:23 this week so was hoping to threaten the old 36:09 pb. Just found out I'm working on this day now so I'm going to be 'all revved up with no place to go'. Like the sound of Stubbington but I see it's full. May try to pick up a place if I can find one going nearer the time.

25/11/2013 at 16:52


I've got so many issues with those articles but I'll stick to facts and personal experience. As well as the 2nd half of London being slower, this year the 2nd half was also significantly hotter (from what clubmates have told me). A faster first half will increase % glycogen used vs fat and force you to slow down in the second half.

My personal experience is that I've run 3 marathons - in the first I ran 1:28/1:37 for 3:05, in the second 1:25/1:27 for 2:52 (last 6m into wind) and the third 1:22/1:41 for 3:03 Was in better shape for the third and yet only 3 mins quicker caused a calamitous slow down. 

Trying new things and challenging established ideas is good. I just think that this is one established idea that is firmly cemented in fact.


25/11/2013 at 16:59

8 miles for me today with 2m of a new tempo style run I'll be doing for VLM which a very good (2:38) lady marathoner from my club suggested.

It involves doing a mile at tempo, followed by a mile at marathon pace. Just did one mile of each pace today but hope to be doing up 4 of each at the peak of training

25/11/2013 at 18:11

CW - one of my shoes wears more than the other on the outer of the heel, I put a bit of shoe goo on it to make it last longer. So are you running rpoperly again now, or still stop/start ?

MrB - Stubbington can be wind affected though. Chichester in feb is the place for a fast 10k.

Unless you are an elite or high mileage then you should expect a small +ve split, its not wrong to. I ran a slight -ve split at VLM this year but without any build up races I guessed at how fit I was, and got it slightly worng.

25/11/2013 at 18:57

TB -- I ran what felt (and was) my best marathon by far this year in London, with a positive split... of 18 sec. Given Jools' factors (like the downhill bit early on), I think that's pretty even. I still have fond memories of Abingdon 2010 when again I was much more even-paced than usual. Aside from anything else, a significant +ve split normally feels awful, because you do it having blown up to some extent, and feel like you're dying on your feet. (Unless you've artificially done it I suppose.) Whereas an even or negative split feels great, because you're strong at the end. In my book, the first 10M or so should just feel ridiculously easy. An even pace does not mean even perceived effort...

TR -- err, not sure yet. Will try running my commute tomorrow and then I'll know better. Things are certainly much better, but I'm not sure if I'm totally niggle-free, which is what I want of course. Didn't feel anything peculiar today but then I wasn't running.

PP -- glad you're well. Well ergo'd too.

25/11/2013 at 19:16

Eastleigh is meant to be quick but starting to get close to Marathon time 23 March.

25/11/2013 at 19:32

CW - wait until you can run daily and then do that for a while, doesnt have to be far, it will toughen you up.

Toro - it is fast. 3 weeks out is ok, but I'd rather be doing my last 20. I reckon I'm going to do the Salisbury 10 which is 5 weeks out as my main race and use it to compare to my recent Lordshill 10 time which I know equates to 78min 1/2, which I can then use to convert to a MP. Simples ! What could possibly go wrong with such a simple idea !

25/11/2013 at 19:36

Ha Ha TR.  I am hoping for Fleet or Stafford half 4 weeks out.  Easy 5 for me and looking forward to track tomorrow night.  My first time since 2008 when I used to run in Spain.  Happy days.

25/11/2013 at 19:41

I also meant to say I have 3 10km over next 6 weeks, Telford 15 Dec (Elite Start), Wheaton Aston 27 Dec and Stubbington 19 Jan.  Quite excited.  Meeting "Coach" tomorrow to discuss goals and how to achieve them, looking forward to it and hopefully will be productive before session.  

I know people here have achieved a lot on their own but I am quite nervous especially when it comes to building mileage and as i'm not paying i'll take all the advice I can get.  I'll let you know what he thinks!   

25/11/2013 at 19:46

Toro - Fleet 1/2 is an option, but a pain in the bum to get to from here, 4 weeks out I'd like to do a 23M longest long run too. Good one on the Coach, hope it works out.

25/11/2013 at 21:30

It's called confirmation bias and that's almost as bad a case as that tw@t with the knotted hankie theory who used to make ridiculous claims about how fast he was gonna run and often partook in diets that would make Bobby Sands turn in his faeces smeared grave. No not pug the other Northern tosser.  Presumably he's fckd off to Racereporter's World where he'll fit in better.

Oh and for the avoidance of doubt I don't think I've ever run a negative split when going 'nads akimbo. I've been very close (and unsurprisingly closest in my two best bang for buck fitness wise efforts) and suspect that anywhere between 90seconds positive or negative is about optimal. If you're looking to be anymore accurate than that then you're probably related to Al_P or summat and definitely over-complicating things.

As you were.

26/11/2013 at 11:21

Quiet here today.

Just spotted Marders had a "reasonable" run on Sunday. Not sure if he'll be pleased with it, but I understand he's had a few issues in the build-up so seemed like a good result to me.

An hour on the turbo last night. Was going to do some 15 min efforts again, but decided it would be less effort to just do one longer one than several short ones, so just did one 30 min effort in the end - mostly 290W but ramped it up for the last 5 mins to 320W or so, which felt hard but not silly. So I definitely wasn't trying hard enough on my 15 min efforts last time!

26/11/2013 at 11:52

Padams: I think it is outside the England CG standard, so not what he was hoping for, but I think VLM will count as a qualifier if he can improve his time there.  I saw him in Frankfurt and he hadn't had the best few weeks going into the race.

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