Marathon Pacing Strategy…

I’ve learned a lot about pacing myself since I did the marathon distance up Loch Lomond in November 2010.  During that run, I stayed around the 8 minute mile pace until about mile 20…where my legs started to feel bad and my pace lowered by about 20-40 seconds for each mile.  It wasn’t drastic, but it made me feel bad and I would have preferred to have started slower and finished strongly. 

Here’s what happened with my pacing splits over that (flat) route:

As you can see, I was strong in the middle, but slowed down (ie died!!) towards the end.  I kept running, but didn’t feel too good.

Here’s the pacing details from three of the runs I’ve done on my own in the lead up to this marathon:

  1.  a 6.5 mile run (in the rain this morning, aiming to start slower and increase pace as I went),
  2. the half marathon I did in March where I increased my pace after 7 miles successfully, and
  3. a 22 mile run where I ran for about 18 miles at a steady pace then finished strongly:

Everyone has a different pace and I feel that over the last 6 months or so I’ve been able to understand my pace  a bit better.  Hopefully I’ll be able to start steady (10 miles), increase the pace a little (9.1 miles), then increase it once more towards the end (7.1 miles).

I had 3 pacing options which I set up for myself yesterday before I ran this morning:

I can run 8 minute miles, but I think it makes sense to hang back and be sensible for the first 10 miles, then increase the pace slightly.  I had the same sort of idea for the half marathon, and ended up running it a lot faster.  We’ll see – anyway – there will hopefully be a 30 second increase in pace between the first miles and the last miles.

I got the little pacing strategy printed out and made a little pacing band for over my garmin for the run.  Neat! I’m getting excited now!

Of course things might happen on the day which will knock the pacing strategy out…but I’ll be glad to have a plan to go by.  And just like the half marathon I did recently, I’m not going to have a ‘time target’ as such… more a target for minute mile pacings for each little section.

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10 Responses to Marathon Pacing Strategy…

  1. Kevin says:

    Great post again Lorn, very helpful to me.
    I was hoping to maybe average 8.45s for Loch Ness ( which would see me home at about 3.50.00) but am very concerned about my legs giving way. Lots of things will have to go right on the day, for me….plus I’ve still got a bit of training to do before then and will spend a fair bit of time on trying to get the nutrition and hydration straight in my head.
    I suppose my goal should be to finish….seeing as it’s my first marathon…..don’t really want to talk (or think) myself into something then be disappointed?

  2. Lorn says:

    Glad it’s helping. I would say don’t set any targets now but rather see what pace you do your long runs (the ones on your own)then base your pace on that speed. Do a few long runs (18-22 mile) at race pace, what feels good for you over that distance, and try that pace.

    I had a history of getting so far, say 20 miles in a marathon or 10 in a half marathon and dying, still able to run but felt like crap, and slowed by 30 secs per mile.

    So in my training I tried to run strong and steady for say 18 miles, then increase the pace in the last 4 miles. It felt great to do that. Then in the half marathon I ran steady for 7 miles and picked up the pace. Started over taking loads of people and felt great!

    My plan is to split the out and back route into 6 small sections, running the first two sections (10 miles) slower, increasing a little over the next 9-13 miles, then finish strongly- hopefully! You’ll learn a lot in your training and if u want any advice u know where I am. 🙂 don’t set goals too soon, wait until you find out how your body does over long long distances x

  3. Lorn says:

    And if u train enough/right your legs won’t give way. Train with hills at the start of your training, do circuits (see crcuits page) and work you legs x x

  4. Cris says:

    Good Luck Lorn,

    I hope it all comes together for you on the day, I’m sure it will.
    x Cris

  5. Kevin says:

    Yeah, excellent.
    The hills and interval training have made a huge difference to my running this year. Robin has been talking me out of setting early goals too….it’s daft, I know….we’ve a few long runs in the pipeline….Thurso to Wick, Loch More, Occumster to Bilbster (via Watten) etc. Should be fun!

  6. lornpearson says:

    Sounds good Kevin. I’m up the last weekend in June, I’d be happy to run long with you if it suits 🙂

    • Kevin says:

      No problem Lorn. If you give me a definite date we’ll see about organising a longer run that day, possibly Loch More or something. I have a Mobile number for you, don’t know if it’s current….here’s mine 07XXXXXX397….I’ll continue pestering you here in the meantime.
      Good luck in the Marathon….although I doubt that you’ll need that.
      K

  7. Pingback: Marathon tips… | Lorn Pearson's Training…

  8. Pingback: GSR Half Marathon Pace Calculator | Lorn Pearson's Training…

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