Marathon Pace Advice

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Sep 2017
1:14pm, 28 Sep 2017
266 posts
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With two and a bit weeks until the Birmingham marathon I'm in a bit of a quandary about how fast to try and run it.

I was originally following the Furman training plan but due to a few weeks away from running in June/July I found my fitness had dropped off too much for the faster paced running and so switched to the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 plan which is nearly all easy paced runs.

My easy pace, which I derived from the target marathon pace from the Furman plan of 9:29/mile has been around 10:29/mile and I've done up to 20 miles at this pace with the last couple of miles a bit quicker.

Although training has been going well I can't imagine being able to maintain 9:29/mile for a full marathon. The longest I have gone at this pace in training is 10 miles and my half marathon PB from September last year was ran at 9:00/mile pace.

Having said that I know I have a tendency to underestimate what I am capable of but I don't want to go out too fast and have a miserable race in the later stages or even worse not finish. Mentally I've always struggled with the concept of lots of slower miles translating into being able to run the full distance at a considerably quicker pace.

My only other marathon was back in 2011 when I finished in 4 hours 40 minutes and I definitely want to beat that which I could do with my current easy pace. I would like to finish in under 4 hours 30 minutes which was my original target in 2011 which would mean something like 10:15/mile. My original target for Birmingham was 4 hours 15 minutes which would mean going under 9:45/mile.

I know there's probably not enough to go on there for anyone to really tell me what I should do but if anyone has any advice on what sort of pace I should think about or wants to tell me what they would do in my situation then I'm all ears.
Sep 2017
2:18pm, 28 Sep 2017
1,794 posts
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I think running 26.2 miles at your target pace can seem crazily impossible when you are in the middle of training.

I ran a spring marathon @ 8:53/mile and am now 3 weeks away from my next. I had set myself a target of 8:35-8:45 but on what was supposed to be 14 miles @ marathon pace a couple of weeks ago I could only maintain an average of 8:55/mile and no way could I imagine going a further 12 at that pace!

And looking at the same session in the build-up to the spring marathon I ran that at 9:09/mile and remember that feeling really hard.

So hopefully being rested and not having training heavy legs will make the difference.
Sep 2017
2:56pm, 28 Sep 2017
2,014 posts
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Based on your HM PB you should be capable of sub 4hrs 20 for the marathon. However, from what you say, I think you believe 4hrs 30 target is achievable. So, if I was you, I would probably set out at pace for 4hrs 30 and re-evaluate at 20 miles. If feeling good, push on, if not feeling good, try and maintain.
Sep 2017
4:25pm, 28 Sep 2017
7,438 posts
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I would agree that how a particular pace feels in training can feel a lot tougher than it will during a race, after you have tapered. I really struggled to run my marathon pb pace in training. You should be fine to run 9:30 pace. Stay relaxed and try and run to even effort and your legs will thank you as the race goes on.
Sep 2017
5:45pm, 28 Sep 2017
267 posts
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Thanks for the comments guys, appreciated as always :)

I think my biggest fear is not finishing which generally brings out a cautious approach and there's plenty of occasions where I've finished a race and felt I could have gone faster so probably need more self-belief!

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With two and a bit weeks until the Birmingham marathon I'm in a bit of a quandary about how fas...

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