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I have been intrigued by this for sometime now and am really interested to know how others decide what there race pace is, particularly when you are relatively inexperienced.
To explain my situation. I am a 39 yr old male, started running August of last year. I guess I must have been reasonably fit although i didnt think it at the time. I ran 2 10ks one in late September in 53 mins and the second in late Nov in 48 mins 20 seconds. At that time I knew I pushed myself to the limits and there was nothing else in the tank (basically went out hard and managed to hang on to a consistent 7:43 min mile pace).
Since then I have been training for the Belfast marathon on 7th May gradually building mileage with one fast session each week. I have not raced and unfortunately have not manged to squeeze in a half marathon race. All my long runs have been completed at a pace between 9:30 and 10:15 min miles. I have at least one more long run and have done 2x15, 2x16, 2x17, 1x17, 1x19, 1x21. I aim to do 22 next week. The focus for me in these runs has been to complete the distance and I have struggled with injuries, niggles and fuelling issues so until this weeks 21 miler I have not felt fresh at the end of any of them. This weeks 21.3 was meant to be a 20 but i added the extra as I felt good.
So, to summarise, this will be my first marathon. According to macmilian race calculator and based on my 10k time it suggests i could potentially do a 3:46!!. Now I think that is way out of my reach. My long runs suggest closer to 4:15-4:30... But what am I capable of? Would the race day adrenalin and experience enable me to go faster say 9 min miles rather than 9:40 min miles (training runs) or worryingly do i risk burning out? My first goal has to be to finish... I know people say to run the long run slower than race day but without knowing how others feel it is hard for me to compare how i feel at the end of my long run (which is really tired) compared to others. The other thing in my head is that whilst i am done at the end of my long run I am ok that evening and could run the next day, whereas I hear people advising that you should not run for a couple of weeks after the marathon, so perhaps how i feel at the end of the long run is not all i have in the tank. It might be helpful for me to add that i did yesterdays 21.3 miles at an average heart rate of 78%. Last 6 miles were about 80%.
So any views on how i should pace this? And how do you work out yours?