Can you just pick a pace at which to run?

Stupid question of the day - can you just pick a pace (within reason) at which to run or are you stuck with what you have?

I'd really like to run my September marathon in 4:15 or less because everyone I know who has done one has done it  at this pace or quicker and I hate being the worst at things!  However, based on my current times, I'm more in line for a 4:30 at best.

Is it possible to just pick a pace and train to it even if that's not what you're used to running?  From the McMillan running calculator, a 4h marathon would equal a 9:20min/mile.  Can I just base my paces in training on that (long runs would be 9.20-10.40mm, I currently run about 10.35mm which is 70% HR) or should I accept that I'm slower and run to what I can do now?  I've just done a 10k race in 58mins, according to the calculator, I would finish in just over 4 and a half hours. 

Does any of this make sense?  Any advice much appreciated image


  • Since you're close anyway, and using heart rate, I'd say yes -- pick a set of training paces that conform to a 9:20-ish MP. Then see if your heart rate is within the typical range.

    If, for instance, your long runs at 10:20 (*assumes a minute extra, which isn't a universally held belief, but it's close enough for me*) have you at 75% of your working heart rate range, then you'll have to slow down and re-assess.

    If you find yourself pushing hard with the training, try to allow good recovery time, along with sleep, nutrition, etc.

    Good luck!

  • RR you might be able to do it because September is so far away.

     However those training paces are OPTIMAL for your current fitness, running at them will bring the most improvement providing you get the volume and mix right.  Someone explained to me the toothpaste analogy and it works quite well imo, if you work faster than your current fitness your only squeezing out the toothpaste (improvement) from half way up the tube so you get less toothpaste (improvement) out.  Start from the bottom and squeeze all the way up.

     If you're desperate to improve then just add in more miles at your current fitness pace.

  • Hi all,

    Just wanted to say thanks for the advice.  I've looked at the 4h schedule on here and think I could push myself to do it but if my HR is soaring then maybe I would be better to slow down and not kill myself trying! 

    I think I'll give it a go and see and if it's not possible I'll just have to try again next year image

  • I'd have thought it's better to train at your current fitness, and then re evaluate as your fitness improves. Picking a 4:15 shedule doesn't mean you'll run a 4:15 marathon, and using a 4:30 one doesn't mean you'll not achieve faster on the day. From what I know of the RW schedules the main difference if the pace rather than the volume so you could adjust the pace as you go along.....or pick a shedule that doesn't have a time attached to it (such as Hal Higdon ones, but think there are many others out there) so you don't feel you are working, or not working, towards a speciifc time.

    Oh and Ultra Sparkly Bridget (this year's 4:15 super six) has started a thread for 4:15 marathon in the spring marathon secion, could be worth popping along to that.

     Good luck with it though whatever you decide.......I'd like to aim for 4:15 next time I do a marathon. (Current pb 4:41) My plan is to try and get faster over shorted distances for a bit before going for it 

Sign In or Register to comment.