Should I be worried?

I don't usually get many replies to any threads I start but I hope someone will be able to give me some advice.

My weekly mileage for the last 14 weeks looks like this: 36, 40, 28, 42, 21, 45, 53, 36, 11, 35, 29, 44, 12, 44

The dips in mileage have been down to small injuries I have picked up.

I did the Stafford Half Marathon in 1.37.50 3 weeks ago and the Blackpool half in 1.40.50 yesterday - started off steady but finished too quickly. I had intended to try out target marathon pace of 8 min miles for a 3.30 marathon but got a bit carried away. Now I have any ankle niggle which I am sure will be fine in a couple of days. Anyway, my mileage for the next two weeks is 36 and 42 (including the marathon itself).

I have only done 2 runs at 20+ miles (20 and 22). My last "long" run was 18 miles 2 weeks ago.

I still have this 3.30 target at the back of my mind but think I should really be aiming for 3.45. I am worried I am going to start to fail in the latter stages. I watched someone really struggled in the latter stages yesterday who I thought would be fine and he is considerably fitter and better prepared than me (although was going for a much quicker time).

I'm feeling very nervous about this now and would appreciate advice on training, nutrition, rest or whatever for the next two weeks. Have I done enough to have a go at that 3.30? Would it be stupid to set off at 8 min mile pace and be comfortable for say 15 or 16 miles and then have 15 mins contingency time for the rest of the race to get under 3.45 if it goes wrong?



  • WeVWeV ✭✭✭
    No one then.
  • Why not start off at a pace of 8.20-8.30 and see how you are going after 10 or so miles? then re-assess again at mile 18-20.
  • There is always a pace that you can run at that will prevent you hitting the wall.

    I would say that your weekly mileage in the build up is going to make 8 mins/mile a little too quick if you want to avoid a very uncomfortable last 10K.

    How did you feel towards the end of your 22 miler and what pace was that done at? Presumably, it was at something like 8:30-9:00 mins/mile?

    Your optimal pacing strategy may well be towards the top end of that range, any quicker and you probably risk losing time hand over fist towards the end.

  • WeVWeV ✭✭✭

    Thanks for replying.

    The 22 miler was run at 8.53 pace. The first 15 miles were easy by it was difficult from 17. My splits were 8:58 9:15 9:03 8:53 8:52 8:18 8:33 8:42 8:38 8:30 8:32 9:05 8:44 8:33 8:39 9:13 9:11 9:17 9:24 8:56 9:17 8:49. But this was a training run so intend running quicker a week on Sunday. I felt like I could have gone on to do the full 26.2 and would have comfortably gone under 4 hours. I know the later stages are going to be difficult and just hope I will be able to dig deep to maintain the pace I choose to go at.

    The more I read people's experiences and comments on other threads the more I think I should be sensible and aim to do as 1e-runner suggests and go at around 8.20 pace. Given that my ankle is still causing me some trouble (and I have missed today's run - and will probably miss tomorrow's too) I think just getting round is my first priority. Second is to aim for a sub-3.45. Given my half marathon PB was run at 7.26 pace I don't think running at 8.20 pace should be too unreasonable.

    It wont be the end of the world whatever happens as long as I get round. I'm thinking of doing another marathon later in the year.
  • The half pace is not too relevant in these circumstances unfortunately.

    If you had been averaging 70-80 miles per week over that period then, yes, you could look at aiming for a time related to your half pace and probably be easily under 8:00/mile.

    However, to do that you need a really well developed capillary network to keep pumping loads and loads of oxygen to the muscles. Fat uses huge amounts of oxygen when being metabollised. The only way to get the required capillary development is through piling up the steady miles and that is the area in which you have struggled.

    With a restricted oxygen delivery there will be propotionately more glycogen in the fuel mix (which requires significantly less oxygen to metabolise) and obviously the quicker this is used up the sooner you struggle.

    So the aim is to go slow enough to deliver oxygen through the limited capillary network at a rate that fat can be burnt at.

    I agree that on the face of it 8:20 looks slow compared to your 7:26 half pace and I'm sure it will feel easy during the first half. However, you could still be using glycogen too quickly to make it the optimal pace.

    Hope that makes some sort of sense?

  • WeVWeV ✭✭✭
    Yes it does, but how would I work out my optimal pace?
  • I would say start off at your 22 mile pace and see how you feel at 18 miles. If you feel you're under cooking it and can push on you've only got 8 miles to go. Short enough to finish it but long enough to make up quite a bit of time to give you the confidence of getting round while finishing at a good pace. It'll stand you in good stead for your next marathon later in the year. Not worth putting yourself at risk of not finishing or damaging your ankle further. As you say, your preps not been as good as you'd hope so enjoy the day and work towards the next one, where hopefully, you can post the 3:30 you want to achieve. IMHO of course!
  • Thats a tricky one and was why I was asking about the pace of your 22 miler.

    There was no obvious dropping off of pace during that run (I assume the variations were as much to do with changes in terrain as anything else?) and you felt as though you could have continued to full marathon distance at that pace.

    So that basically gives you a line in the sand. The optimal pace is certainly no slower than 8:53.

    At the other end, if you ran your theoretical marathon pace of approx HMP + 20secs/mile, ie 7:46/mile, I would estimate from your weekly mileages that you would crash and burn around 18 miles. At this point you could expect to lose anything from 1-2 minutes/mile for the rest of the journey, ie 8-16 minutes.

    Now if you did slow down by 2 minutes/mile (and believe me that is not at all stretching the point) then you may as well have run a full 1 minute/mile slower in the early stages and kept an even pace throughout (and enjoyed the experience far more into the bargain).

    So, optimal pace is a good deal slower than 7:46 and quicker than 8:53, where exactly in that range is a bit of guesswork but I have a hunch that it will be 8:30-8:40. You may just about get away with 8:20 but just be cautious.

    Whatever you manage though, even if you're on your last legs at the end, you'll know you can go much much quicker in the future just by getting more steady miles in.

    Good luck.

  • I agree that 3:30 / 8 min miling looks optimistic given your recent half M performances and middle-of-the-road mileage (better than mine though, and I'll be just the wrong side of 3:00 or so).

    I reckon you're possibly looking at more like a 3:40 to 3:45 marathon, and would counsel running at that pace to 20 miles and seeing how you are at that point. Only then would I suggest thinking of upping the pace if you still feel fresh, and I would expect this to be unlikely!

    Good luck - remember lots of rest from now on.
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