Was your average marathon pace quicker or slower than training long run

Hi all, I am curious to hear from those who ran recent/or previous marathons whther your actual marathon average pace was faster than your long slow run average pace.

Almost everyone says to run the long slow runs at least 10-15% slower than marathon pace. I am running my first marathon and have managed a certain pace on all slow runs and hope to go faster in the marathon but it is difficult for me to gauge what effect going faster will have on my running in the last half/quarter. I am therefore interested to know peoples pace in training/marathon and the perceived effort/ehaustion level:

1. What was your average slow long run pace and what was your perceived levels of exhaustion at the end of long runs (over 18 miles) on a scale of 1-10 (10 being absolutely done). Important to record what it felt like at that time not on reflection now.

2. What was your average pace in marathon  and on a scale of 1-10  what was your level of exhaustion?


  • ShazmoShazmo ✭✭✭
    I completed my first marathon a week ago and finished in 3.59, which is 9.09mm. I had done most of my LSRs at 10.10mm. This was not a deliberate decision, I just went with what felt very comfortable on the training runs. I did the last couple of long runs at 9.50mm, but this was a deliberate effort to go a bit faster to see how it felt (tough). During my long training runs, I generally felt very relaxed until the final quarter, when I tended to suffer from very fatigued legs, possibly due to my training runs covering a lot of hills (hilly where I live).

    I ran very even splits of 9.09mm in my race and I felt very relaxed, perceived level of exertion about 5. My legs felt tired from about 20 miles, but cardio wise I felt good.

    I'm not quite sure how I managed to feel so good in my race, compared to training runs. I bit of it was down to the race being a flatter route than I'm used to and the weather was cold which suits me. Oh, and a bit of luck!

    I hope this helps.
  • I haven't done this year's marathon yet but based on last time I was a minute per mile slower in the race largely due to starting out too fast and hitting the wall.  I don't record effort scales so can't really compare but as a slower runner I tend to train and race at a similar pace.  At the moment I'm averaging about 11:45 on my long runs and I'd expect to have a similar marathon pace....though I may be able to pick it up to say 11:30 on the day.  It will depend on the conditions as most of my training runs seem to be in torriential rain and wind (sleet and hail on several occasions too!) so if it's good running weather I may be able to go a little quicker, but not much.  

    I use a hert-rate monitor and I keep my heart rate below 70% of working heart rate on my long runs.  I know cardiac drift, etc, can play a part but having used my monitor consistently for 8 months or more I have a good feel for what HR my body can sustain so I will be using that in my forthcoming race, rather than levels of exertion (which for me can be quite subjective).

    I agree that most runners would run their LSR's slower than race pace, but that depends slightly on the pace that they are aiming at in the first place.  Maybe I don't push myself hard enough in races but I definitely don't see me going much faster than my training pace.  I would say that a better race-pace predictor is a recent half-marathon time (double it and add 10%) rather than looking at your training times.  

    Interesting study though - I'll check back later when more people have responded.

  • dprovan

    my London average this year was 9 min mile, (finished just in front of 9min mile lollipop man) my long runs were done at approx 9.30 min mile. Not planned, just what I feel ok with over 20 miles. Exhaustion at end of 20's  varied a bit, but on average about 7. I don't train or do the marathon with a watch, just note start and finish time. In training runs I always run a bit slower than I feel I could, but I've never followed a training plan, and in the actual marathon I just run at a speed as fast as possible that I feel I can maintain after a gentle start to warm up and kid myself it's easy!!. I think I've done negative splits in 3 out of the 4 marathons I've done, (would need to check back to be sure) but more through luck than judgement and my haphazard method probably goes against all advise, but works ok for me. I might follow a plan one day and try and do it all properly to see it improves my time?.

  • If you train properly then yes race pace is quicker.

    My long run pace is 9 m/m plus and race pace prob about 7.30 m/m

    Don't forget your long runs are on tired legs and your race legs should be fresh.

    A lot of people seem to race their long runs and struggle in the race itself.
  • I knock out a 24 mile lsr in about 3hrs 30 mins{just under 9min/miles} & can race at 6:50 min/miles, so about 2 mins per mile slower.  For me it's more about time on your feet which will come into play usually around mile 20 onwards.  I've noticed, that although still feeling shattered, my breathing's relatively controlled compared to some of the other runners around me!image

  • cougie/LuvsaPB

    That's a big difference between your training and race pace.  I couldn't run much less than 9mm in a marathon, but over 10mm in training certainly feels to slow, and I think if I trained at 11mmm I'd feel I'd got used to running to slow?.  Sounds like I've got something a bit wrong that could be worked on? Perhaps try faster on short runs and slower on the long one's next time?.

  • Not done a marathon this year but of the two i have done both have been at a slightly quicker pace and i think that's because of what Coughie says, long slow runs in training are done on tired legs. 

  • My long run pace usually comes out at around 8:10 per mile, and at the end of a 20 I'm tired but not shattered. My marathon race pace this year came out at 7:09. Interestingly (or not) my long run pace has only decreased by a few seconds despite the fact I'm now running the marathon nearly a mile per minute faster. It appears that for me running long runs at around 8:10 to 8:20 has always been my natural comfy pace, and it's more that I can now push myself beyond that more over longer distances that has come out of training for and completing 4 marathons. My first marathon I was only 15 seconds or so faster per mile than training long run pace, now I'm a minute faster.

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    8:15-8:30 LSR

    7:00 MRP

    Mind you, I do mix the long runs up a bit.  Shortly before the taper begins I'll make sure they have some faster pace work in them.  Also I will do some slightly shorter of the long runs at marathon pace, 8-13 miles.  But generally comparatively slow in the build up.

  • I would do long runs at 8:15 ish and do the last 3 miles at 7:30 ish. This would bring my average pace a few secs above my target marathon pace of 8 min miles.

    For long runs over 20 miles would feel v exhausted at end - 8/10.

    When I ran London last month was able to grind out pretty even 8 min miles with a lot of concentration and some pain for last hour but felt no more exhausted than after long runs. Also, this was tempered by hitting my target of sub 3:30 with 30s to spare image
  • I can update this with real data!!  Edinburgh was really hot but I got a PB by 23 minutes so chuffed with that.  I held the same pace I averaged for my long runs so given the weather I was pleased.  I reckon I'd have been able to go 15secs or so quicker if the temperature had been reasonable.  I felt shattered at the end but I was still running with good form, so no wall-hitting this time and not much slowing down.  I averaged 11:45 which was the same speed I averaged in my last 20 mile run.  

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