Using a marathon race as a long run

How fast can you run a marathon if you want to peak for one on a faster course about 4 weeks later?

Also would it be more effective doing the entire race at say MP + 30 or doing a portion easy and a portion at MP? 

Comments

  • How about running the first 6 miles at MP+1, the next 10 miles at MP and the last 10 miles at MP+1 or more if happy to slow down that much.

    Are you doing all your long runs at MP?  

    What will be more important than pace is what you do between the 1st and 2nd marathon.  

  • Are you mad? image Running 26.2 miles as a 'training run' for anything other than an ultra is a daft idea. Doing 26.2 miles with a large volume run at MP 4 weeks before a target race is an even worse idea! In my opinion of course. If you're marathon training 22 miles is about the limit. Even for the elite men.

    I'm not marathon training expert but 10 miles @ MP is a workout in it's self! But if anybody wants to correct me feel free, but I can't see how it's a good idea. Plus it's an expensive training run if you enter a race.

  • Seeing as how you might race a marathon somewhere in the region of MP+30, that pace wouldn't be a good idea.  MP is not your marathon race pace, unless you are among the elite of the elite.

    Depending on your level of fitness and ability, anything over 20 miles begins to become a risk of totally depleting your glycogen stores.  That has a huge impact on recovery, especially as the further you run past that point the less training benefit you're getting and the more damage you could be doing that you have to recover from.  You'll be running on blood sugar as a fuel, unless you are already a great fat converter, which would probably mean you've already run long miles in training at easy to steady pace, below MP.

    Anyway, don't talk to me about running...  Listen to Stevie.

  • Yeah was I was going to add the whole distance vs rewards issue. I would argue that after 18 miles you're into diminishing rewards. As mentioned above MP is hypothetical, and most of us mortals run 30 to a min slower in reality. I mean, my MP is 6:50 but my long run pace is 8:20 ish. I wouldn't dream of smashing out a 7min mile long run! And to add to that I'd have no chance what so ever of managing a 6:50 marathon! By 16 miles it would be all over.
  • I'm confused! How can 6:50 be your MP if you can't run a marathon at that pace come race day? Surely MP is the pace in which you are planning to run your marathon?
  • I agree with Stevie but wouldn`t be quite so dogmatic.

    For me - I have found 22-23 mile long runs to be optimum. I also try to do 1 or possibly 2 x 24 milers in my training cycle (haven`t managed that this cycle).

    In terms of pace, I aim (3-5 weeks pre-marathon) to be able to average 6`45/mile (sometimes a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower) in my last couple of long runs (22-24 miles).

    My last long run 2 weeks before a marathon is usually about 17/18 miles at 7`00/mile pace - which generally feels pretty easy.

    I will then race my marathon at 6`15/mi - 6`25/mile.

    I think much depends on your training (and injury) history and general levels of fitness.

    I would be pretty wary of running marathon distance so close to your goal race. Firstly, running 26 miles at any pace will take quite a lot out of you. Secondly, in a race situation you might be tempted to push the pace beyond what is sensible.

    It does seem to be the case that the risk/benefit balance changes when you run over 23 miles. In other words, the risk of incurring an injury (and/or over-tiring yourself) increases very significantly, as against  a relatively minor training advantage.

    Personally I might try a slow paced marathon (i.e. 7`15/mi - 7`30/mi for my level of fitness) 8 -9 weeks before goal race day - but not any closer and not any faster.

  • dean101 wrote (see)
    I'm confused! How can 6:50 be your MP if you can't run a marathon at that pace come race day? Surely MP is the pace in which you are planning to run your marathon?
    + 1
  • My understanding is that your ideal (hypothetical) marathon pace is based on the estimated time from a half marathon/10 mile race.

    For example:My 10 mile time is 1:01:42 which predict a marathon time of 2:51. Which then equates to a 6:31 min/mile. That would be my hypothetical marathon pace.

    However, I WOULD NOT be able to run a marathon in that time. MP is a good training pace, then closer to a marathon people tend to ease of by 30+ seconds, which then race goal pace. So I would be around a 7min/mile. And if I'm honest I doubt I'd pull that off. Only elite runners convert their HM times accurately into marathon times.

    I hope I'm right that took me ages to write image

  • Stevie see, I always thought MP was exactly that so thanks for taking the time to explain it.  I have taken note!!
  • Actually, marathon pace is exactly what it says. When a schedule (e.g. Pfitz & Douglas) prescribes m.p. - it means goal m.p.  - i.e. the pace you intend to run your marathon. 

    Stevie, if you can run 10 miles in just over an hour then you should - with proper training - be able to hold 6`30/mi over marathon distance. There`s a proper equivalence between the distances and times.

     

  • the 26.2 mile long run would be london btw

    stevie thats basing MP on your 10 mile time. If you train for marathon and base MP on  a marathon time then it is MP surely image

    as an example.  (for 3hour marathon) 6.52 would be MP and about 7.20 would be MP+30

     Lots of people run marathon distance in build up including elites. at 7.20mm its less than 3.15 on your feet, considerably less time than slower runners spend on 20milers. (for elites its about 2hrs30)

    I dont see how it would be considerably more taxing than a 24mile long run or more taxing than people who run 20miles depleted image

    EdinburghKe2 do you have experience of doing this?

  • I based my projected marathon time on my 10 mile time because my HM time is way out of date.Marathon pace is what I SHOULD achieve all things being equal. The point is most people reading this will have a marathon time that is slower than their time predicted from a recent HM (assuming it was a demonstrative of current ability). Most runners are simply not fit enough to achieve maximum potential at marathon distance. Even elite runners have a % lag in projected times, albeit far less than your normal runner. Your MP is assuming you have trained and prepared properly.If I entered a marathon tomorrow I'd do well to run 3:15. I haven't trained properly. So give me 6 months at 65-75 miles a week and I'll do a 2:55. Maybe, who knows, it's beside the point. BUT what I can guarantee is my HM time would have come down in that time making my projected MP even faster!

    I'm not trying to preach, I just think if people who haven't run a marathon before go out at hypothetical MP then you're asking for trouble. Again, like I said. I'm not expert, but from my experience of fellow runners it's what tends to happen.

  • Stevie -the whole point of mp training runs is to train your body to run at marathon pace. The problem is that people spend their lives training at 7`30/mi pace and then wonder why they cannot find - and hold - 7`00/mi pace on race day.

    The key is to select a realistic goal m.p. in the first place, and then gradually increase the distance over which you can run at that pace.

    The goal m.p. should ideally be based on a recent race (the longer the race the better).

    Frank Horwill says "Train at your target time pace weekly – If your target is 2:37:12, that’s 6mins/mile. Start with 9 miles (one-third marathon) and run the distance in 54mins. If the aim is 3:3:24 (7mins/mile), run 9 miles in 63mins, and so on. Once you feel comfortable with pace, add a mile regularly at the same pace until you reach 18 miles (two-thirds marathon). This might be an extra mile a week, fortnight or month." [Horwill`s emphasis]

    If you can presently run 10 miles in @ 60 mins then 2`51 is a realistic goal (McMillan suggests 2`52`49 off 1`01`42).

    Treadmill Hater. Most coaches take the view that long runs over the 22/23 mile mark take more out of the body than they put in, so to speak.

    Pete Pfitzinger says "My experience as a runner and coach indicates that long runs greater than 22 miles (35 km) take much more out of the body than do runs in the range of 20 to 22 miles (32 to 35 km). I occasionally included runs of 27 to 30 miles (43 to 48 km) in my marathon preparations and believe that I ran slower in my marathons because of those efforts." [Advanced Marathon Training, 2nd Ed, p.15]

    Higdon suggests 23 miles for experienced runners

    Jack Daniels (`Running Formula` p.90) states:

    "An upper limit of 20 to 22 miles works well for many good runners. However, less talented or less fit runners who set 20 miles as their long run gold stand a greater chance of overstressing themselves (the run may take 3 hours or more to complete). Certainly, runs lasting 3 hours or more are not popular for elite runners, so why should they be useful for a less talented person? Ultra marathoners and some marathoners will benefit from long runs in excess of 20 miles, but the improvement in performance for races like a marathon, half-marathon, 15 K and 10k is likely to be very slight (if it exists at all) in a physiological sense."

    I suspect the picture is a little more complicated. Firstly, ultra-runners quite regularly exceed 26 miles in training (possibly at the expense of speed ?). Secondly, 26+ mile training runs have regularly been used by the Japanese who, as we know, have a very successful tradition of marathon running.

    Nevertheless I think the Pfitz/Daniels principle holds good for most runners most of the time. At my own level of fitness I wouldn`t risk a 26 mile run  - and certainly not so close to my goal marathon, but, if you can knock out 26/27 miles without over-exerting yourself -  go for it.

  • I definitely think MP for someone marathon training is anticipated race day pace. If nothing else, it familiarises your body with running at that pace.

    looking at mcmillan:
    I can run 10miles in an hour,  that predicts 2.48 and therefore hypothetical MP is 6.25. I currently MP run at about 6.50

    which would be in line with dont talk to be about runnings view of MP+30 is your marathon pace.  

  • MP is (or should be ) your marathon race pace, i.e. the pace you can realistically hope to race the marathon.

    Long runs are often run at goal m.p and adding time. So I will start a long run at m.p. + 1 1/2 mins (actually my first mile is more like m.p. plus 3 mins, but then I`m old and knackered). Over the last 5 miles I would aim for m.p. plus 30 seconds.

    Pfitzinger suggests " The most beneficial intensity range from most of your long runs is 10 to 20% slower than your goal marathon pace. A few of your long runs should be done at your goal marathon pace - the rationale for these sessions is explained later in this chapter.... The first few miles of your long runs can be done slowly, but by 5 miles (8 km) into your long run, your pace should be no more than 20% slower than marathon race pace. Gradually increase your pace until you're running approximately 10% slower than marathon race pace during the last 5 miles (8 km) of your long runs." [Advanced Marathoning, pp.15-16]

    mp+ 30 is 30 seconds/mile slower than race pace.

    If McMillan suggests that you can run a 2`48 marathon, then that is your (realistic) goal m.p. and that figure/pace can be used to pitch the speed of your long runs, tempo sessions and rep sessions (which is precisely what the McMillan calculator sets out to do).

  • 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.

  • Im with beetle and a few others. MP is the pace you run marathons at  image

    beetle,  I do my long runs at about 7.15 which would be 10% above suggested MP (2.48) and feels comfortable. At the end of longish run 6.50 is tough, would struggle to get down to 6.25 on my own

  • 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.

  • thanks joolska

    just googled and he says on runnerslife he did a 28mile run 3 weeks before hand and thats despite his low weekly mileage

    incidently, one of the normal contributors did a 28mile LR on sunday image

  • 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.

  • 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 image.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • I'm OK being the guinea pig Beetle image 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 ... image

  •  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.

  • 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 image)

  • 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.

  • 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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