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# Marathon strategy - too fast or too hot

I'm really struggling trying to work out what my target marathon pace should be. My PB on the half marathon is just under 1 hour 37 (set at the recent Edinburgh Rock and Roll half). The run predictor says that equates to a 3 hour 20 marathon.

For the recent Edinburgh marathon I trained to the 16 week 3 hour 30 Runnersworld training program (and found it fine). For the marathon I kept to 7:50 min mile pace and my HR below 160 (80% of max) for the first half. However my pace started to slow from the half and then really drag from the 18th mile. Miles 22 to 25 slowed down to a walk/run. I came in around 4:04. I felt wiped out afterwards but didn't actually feel that sore the day afterwards.

Here is my Garmin record of it: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/182735758

Obviously Edinburgh was fairly hot. So I'm trying to work out whether I went out too fast or was it the heat?

What pace should I target early in the race to have a better finish? Thanks!

## Comments

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I think the 3 hr 20 min time is a bit optimistic based on your half marathon time, as all the calculators provide a time based on you having equivalent perfomance at the longer distance.  However, its rare for anyone to be at this level of performance  for their first marathon.

The heat would defnitely have been a contributory factor, but it does look like you went out too fast as your speed slows from mile 15(ish) onwards and then you summoned up the last bit of energy for the last mile where you got back to around 8 min/mile.

I had a similar experience myself with my first marathon last year, when the day of the event turned out to be the first hot day of the year.  I also went out too fast and suffered in a very similar way.  I reckon I could have run it about 20 mins quicker, if I'd started at a slower pace and not had the heat.  If you applied the same logic, your next marathon you would aim for a time of 3h 44m which is around 8'30"min/mile.  Sadly, I can't confirm if this approach will work as an injury has prevented me running another marathon yet!

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I would agree that 3:20 off a 1:37 is optimistic.  I have good conversion and just ran 3:20 off a 1:32 half.

You probably did go off too fast - 3:30 is 8 m/m.  Was this your first marathon?  How many long runs did you do? ie 20 miles or over.  What was your running/training like before the 16 week marathon period?

• Thanks.

My 16 week training schedule ramped up to about 50 miles per week with about 4 x 20 mile runs in the past few weeks. I've always felt good at the end of long runs but tend to run them at 9 min miles.

I'm thinking a 8 30 min mile pace may be a better target and speed up at mile 15 I still feel fresh.
• nigeleccles wrote (see)

For the recent Edinburgh marathon I trained to the 16 week 3 hour 30 Runnersworld training program (and found it fine). For the marathon I kept to 7:50 min mile pace and my HR below 160 (80% of max) for the first half. However my pace started to slow from the half and then really drag from the 18th mile. Miles 22 to 25 slowed down to a walk/run. I came in around 4:04. I felt wiped out afterwards but didn't actually feel that sore the day afterwards.

Here is my Garmin record of it: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/182735758

Obviously Edinburgh was fairly hot. So I'm trying to work out whether I went out too fast or was it the heat?

What pace should I target early in the race to have a better finish? Thanks!

The heat won't have helped but looking at your Garmin link you picked up the pace on the slight downhill around miles 2 - 3 and didn't throttle back afterwards.  I also note that you didn't keep your heart rate below 160 for the first half - you only did it for 5 miles.

You can't judge your pace for your next marathon now.  You have to go through a training cycle first.  Given that you have completed a 16 week schedule maxing at 50mpw I think that you'd benefit greatly from the 'Advanced Marathoning' by Pfitzinger and Daniels.  It has a slightly different approach to schedules than runners world with periodisation and greater emphasis on aerobic development.  I'll bet anything you like that aerobic conditioning is your weakest link.  This'll help.

Good luck!

P.S. I reckon a pace of 8:00 - 8:05 would probably have seen you get a much better result at Edinburgh.  Even a bit more discipline at sticking to <160 HR and accepting the slow down would probably have given you 15 minutes.

• I did Edinburgh too and agree that the heat could have been an issue, however is say your heartrate was a bit high. I kept mine below 70% of working heart rate for the first 20 miles and I didn't slow down much at all, but because if the heat my pace was 15secs per mile or so slower for the same heart rate compared to marathon-paced training runs in cooler conditions. Ultimately you need to choose heart rate or pace, it's difficult to use the two together if external factors like heat come into play, unless you've trained in those conditions and know how your heartrate responds.

As has been said, you can't judge your next marathon pace from your recent performance, see how your next marathon build up goes. Good luck
• 3:20 off 1:37 was hugely optimistic... That's double it and 6 minutes added. I work it out as more like 3:35-3:45?

Nice work doing 3:20 off 1:32 by the way Minni, was that London? Really good conversion rate. Slightly Off topic but my longer term aim for sub 3:15, think I have to get to 1:25-1:28 for my half time.

Anyway, Nigel, The recent RW thread about converting half to full came out with stat of multiply by 2.26 or close to that, which gives 3:39... Maybe 8:20mm pace for you. Big 30 seconds per mile difference to 7:50mm - thats 5s faster than the pace I did to do 3:28..

You never mentioned what your gel strategy was either? You may have run low energy wise a bit.

Edinburgh was fairly hot, maybe needed to take on more fluids or more in the days before. The amount of electrolytes I drank in the 2 days before you could probably lick my arm and wouldve tasted like lime! Extra gel might've helped replenish.

You'll know more the next time anyway.
• Thanks for all the feedback. I think race predictor should have a health warning on it!

On a similar note, is it common to have a significant number of 'off form' races? By that I mean races where training has gone well, you feel fine but your HR runs higher than normal early in the race and you know it is going to be a bad one from mile 2. I noticed in the marathon my HR hit 80% much faster than in the half even though I was going 30 secs per mile slower. I've had the same thing happen in previous half marathons. On all occasions I've felt fine.
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nigeleccles - is very common to have lots of 'off form' races, and they are the ones we learn most from.  I spent years trying to get my 10k time down and every race ended horribly wrong - I could run a HM at a faster pace than a 10k!  I always expected too much and went off too fast. I think this is often the case with 'off form' races and people tend to blame lots of external things rather than looking at the obvious.

In a marathon I think the heat can account for a minute or two but not crashing totally - this has to be down to pace.

I don't train to HR.  I did dabble with it a few years ago but never raced with a HRM on, preferring to go by feel.  The fact that I was wearing it in a race would increase my HR because it would be something else to fret over!

What is your running background?

• I've been running for about 2.5 years now, 2 marathons (Inverness and Edinburgh), 4 halfs, 3 10ks and 2 5ks to date (oh and two Mighty Deerstalkers which were both a lot of fun!). I tend to use the Runnersworld training programs and I use a HRM.

I went too fast in both marathons and paid the price. I think the lesson has sunk in now. Well, I hope!

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