Using a marathon race as a long run

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31/08/2011 at 13:27

Charlie Spedding was an elite runner. What he did and what we do are very different things. Plus, whilst he did run some world class marathons, he is the first to admit he messed up an awful lot of races and lacked consistency. So not a good example at all.

I'm not knocking anybody, and I wish everybody all the best in distance I don't feel prepared for myself. But it will interesting to see how people do convert HM times into marathon times. I know very few people who's marathon time has come out exactly as their hypothetical time suggest.

31/08/2011 at 14:56
Cop-out wrote (see)

I'm sorry but I'm with Stevie See here.

Of course those calculators make it crystal clear with your hypothetical marathon time. However, in the real world ... Do a bit of power of 10 stalking .....and you will see that it is just hypothetical. Very few manage to demonstrate the balance. And like Stevie says. When you finally nail that MP marathon after 6 months training your 10k/10mile will have come down thus giving you a new and faster MP.

There`s a degree of confusion here.

A pace calculator (such as McMillan`s) gives you a rough guide to pace equivalence over a variety of distances. 

At/near the start of the marathon training process, input  a recent race time. This will provide an indicator of marathon potential 12-16 weeks down the line.

The calculator is not a cast iron predictor  of paces at all distances but it does provide a useful tool.

Using Stevie`s figs (see above), McMillan predicts 2`52`49; Riegel (a different equation) predicts 2`51`26; Cameron comes out at 2`54`54; Daniels & Gilbert`s VO2 max predicts   2`52`08. In other words, there is near universal agreement that he is capable of running low 2`50`s.

`Hypothetical` perhaps - but entirely realistic provided he does the required training (and it makes no difference whether you`re elite , or not).

Now say, Stevie decides that 2`52 +/- is a bit ambitious/aggressive. He`s got a few injury issues/busy months at work and therefore can`t do the required training. He decides, instead, to aim for a 2`59`59 marathon.

To achieve this time on race day he must run at about 6`53/mile.

THAT will be his m.p. (or goal m.p., if you prefer).

He should (according to most coaches) spend a certain amount of time training at m.p. ie. running at 6`53/mile. If he doesn`t, he will find it much harder to find and hold that pace on race day.

Furthermore, goal m.p. also impacts on the pace at which he should train, i.e. on the pace that he should run: (i) long runs (ii) tempo [lactate threshold] runs and (iii) rep sessions (iv) recovery runs; and, of course, (v) marathon pace runs.

That is why McMillan`s calculator is so useful. It`s principal utility lies not in predicting a marathon time but in allowing you to input your goal m.p. [by time] and in so doing, derive appropriate training paces.

Thus, if Stevie were to input 3`00 for his marathon, the calculator recommends tempo runs @ 6`15 - 6`31/mi; long runs @ 7`23 - 8`23/mi; recovery runs @ 8`23 - 8`53/mi etc.

These figures are obviously not absolutely inflexible but again, they do provide useful guidance and how to structure one`s training.

Apologies to Stevie for using him as my guinea pig .

Edited: 31/08/2011 at 15:20
31/08/2011 at 15:16
Joolska wrote (see)

If you do the endurance work, you will convert your HM time ok.  HM pb: 1.26.40; marathon pb: 3.03.19.  Fits the calculators pretty well.

Charlie Spedding swore by a very steady 28M about 4 weeks out, IIRC (at work so don't have his book with me).  If you do a full-distance training run, I wouldn't put any MP in it.  The stress caused to the body by the endurance effort will be more than enough.

Think he ran 28 mi @ one month  before Houston.

Stevie. I think Spedding was pretty consistent. His `inconsistencies` stemmed from injury problems, in particular chronic problems with his achilles tendons. But I do agree that running 26 (or 28) miles shortly before marathon is high risk for most of us.

Edited: 31/08/2011 at 15:16
31/08/2011 at 15:44

Yeah, that bronze medal at the Olympics was pretty shoddy...  Tsk, tsk, Charlie...  I thought his book was pretty insightful and honest about the extent to which he relied on external motivating factors as well.  Fact remains that out of 7 marathons he finished top 3 in 5 (thank you, wikipedia) and I'd say that is consistent.  Top 8 in the other 2. 

There are quite a few on the sub 3 and sub 3.15 threads (although more those aiming for sub 3 and well below that) who do a steady (i.e. MP + 60) complete distance or overdistance run as part of their build-up.  Their mileage is moderate to high rather than high (so 70-100 mpw).

31/08/2011 at 16:06

I'm OK being the guinea pig Beetle  I do see your point, it almost boils down to ambition really. As a non marathon runner all my MP's are hyppothetical!

I'm not an expert on Charlie Spedding, I have only read/heard a synopsis of his career. I was in no way suggesting he is 'shoddy.' In fact, I used the word inconsistent, which I stand by.

Training distances apart (agree to disagree). I think it's not benificial or necessary to run over 22 miles when marathon training. Just because lots of other runners do it doesn't make it a good idea. My times have been plumeting this year but I'm almost certain there are still sessions/aspects to my training that could be counter productive. Personally, marathon training I wouldn't run for more than 3 hours. But like I say, that's not a can of worms I dare open yet ...

31/08/2011 at 16:36

 I saw marigold did a 2.40 marathon distance long run in his build up. In terms of physiology it might not be hugely beneficial but it must be good for confidence.


even with big MP sections its a huge jump from 22mile LSR to 26.2mile race.

01/09/2011 at 12:28
Beetle wrote (see)

There`s a degree of confusion here.

A pace calculator (such as McMillan`s) gives you a rough guide to pace equivalence over a variety of distances. 

At/near the start of the marathon training process, input  a recent race time. This will provide an indicator of marathon potential 12-16 weeks down the line.

No it won't.  It will give you what your pace equivalence is now, should your conversion be good.  That pace equivalence will give you a variety of training paces.  Those training paces are based on your present race paces, i.e. where your ability is now.

Unless your conversion is good, such that you are doing the mileage and paces of training for all those paces in the calculator, it will really only give you indicative paces at those distances close to that which you entered.  E.g. enter 5k, and it will be pretty indicative for your 3k and 10k paces.  However if you're training for 1500, and you enter your latest result, you can guarantee that it will be complete bollocks for your marathon prediction (unless as above your conversion is good because you're a Kenyan running 20k a day and have been doing since you started school).

However, it will give you MP, a good training pace.  Why?  Because it's usually a solid aerobic pace that doesn't run up to threshold so maintains a bearable level of blood lactate, and allows you to run long distances at a good speed.  Glycogen is the main fuel at the pace - drop a bit slower to induce more fat burning.

Why is MP not the same as Marathon Race Pace?  Because the marathon goes beyond the glycogen endurance potential of all but highly trained marathoners.  If you want your glycogen to last the distance, increase your storage space through endurance training, increase your fat burning mix through endurance training, and try to get the whole race done within just over two hours.  So you have to mix into your marathon race pace a bit of slower than MP running to stretch your resources out, a bit of care not to go faster and raise lactate levels that you have to recover, and add in the fact that fatigue hits everyone differently and in ways that no-one's managed to explain or predict.

Why doesn't McMillan predict?  Because your paces will change as you change your training and move through your plan.  Your MP now will be correct for the systems you want to train using it, and in 6 weeks time it will be affecting your physiology slightly differently.  If I started training today, using my MP as a goal pace, in sixteen weeks I would be ready for a marathon at that pace, but it would no longer be my MP.  (Probably more like MP+30 )

01/09/2011 at 12:58

Agree with Ratzer.

In my opinion the majority of marathon training should be based on your current race fitness - because it's primary goal is to develop the physiological capacity to run your best marathon which is achieved by training at certain intensities relative to current short distance fitness (using completed marathon times is fraught with danger in this regard).  Once you've done all that you use your race results during marathon build-up, natural physiology and training data to decide on your marathon goal.  

To base things on a goal marathon pace is arse about face and one of the main reasons people fall on their arses in the race.

As for running a marathon in training in preparation for a marathon.  The usefulness / destructiveness of this is very much dependent on your ability.  A 2:30 marathoner running 26.2m in training - no big deal in many cases, as long as it's at an easy pace.  A 3:30 marathoner doing so - very bad idea.

The best limiter to put on these things for slower runners is one of duration at easy pace.  That way you are familiarising your body with the amount of time you expect to be running whilst not kicking your arse by being on your feet too long.  The key to this is doing them at a slow pace and by doing this you'll never run the 26.2m.

Edited: 01/09/2011 at 12:58
01/09/2011 at 13:06
Treadmill Hater wrote (see)

 I saw marigold did a 2.40 marathon distance long run in his build up. In terms of physiology it might not be hugely beneficial but it must be good for confidence.

Confidence/physiology - vital to be strong in both areas to run a good marathon. So what's wrong with doing it?

I swear by doing a full 26.2 in training 5 or 6 weeks out from the A-Race and it would typically be Target MP +50/60s. I did one before Abo last year, before London this year and am about to do another one this Sunday before Liverpool Marathon in October. When you're in the A-race and you've got 4 miles to go, it's starting to get very tough but you know that the remaining time you have left on your feet is far less than what you've actually done in training really helps bring you home strongly.

There are words of caution though and I suspect that the slower runner you are, the less beneficial/more dangerous it is. I suspect if you are slower than say a 3:10 marathon runner then it is probably ill advised to run a full 26.2 in training. I certianly wouldnt fancy doing a run of say over 3:30 in training.

As for theoretical MP, etc. I'm a bit like Jools in that my shorter distance times should be quicker given my marathon time. So if I'm doing intervals (although I rarely do - whats the point when you're a marathon runner, eh?) at '5k pace' it is not actually the pace I am likely to be able to run a 5k at even though theoretically it should be.


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