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# Is 3:30 realistic for my first marathon (VLM)

Hi all,

Am running my first marathon (london) in April and am after a bit of advice please.  According to several different calculators they are giving me a finishing time of around 3:15, I think this is unrealistic so am basing all my training paces (am using the Mcmillan running website) on a finishing time of 3:30.   Has anyone else found these pace calcultors to be accurate for a marathon? Obvioulsy this is my first and being London I don't know how congested it is?

My pb's in the last 6 months are:- 5K :-20:25, 10K:- 42 Mins, Half33.

Thanks for any advice I just dont want to get myself injured thinking I can acheive an impossible time!

Katy

## Comments

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Hi Katy

The McMillan pace calculators are optimistic.  There was a great thread on here that collated people's half vs full mara times, and the female average came out as 2.25x the half - so 93mins for a half puts you at 3:29.

Another rule of thumb is 5x your 10k - and that's 3:30.

Good luck, get plenty of slow miles in, and remember that any time will be a PB

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Aim and train for 3.30. It's your first marathon do wouldn't be great to crash and burn in your first one?

What finishing time did you put in your entry form? As where you start will play a part in how fast your first few miles are. If you get congested and are the trying to chase 3.15 it may be hard work.

It's also worth seeing where you are when you get further along your training as you won't really get an idea of what you are capable of until you have experienced a couple of 20 milers.
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3.15 off 1.33 would be a relatively good conversion and would mean really putting the endurance work in; I'm not sure I'd be as conservative as 3.30, but 3.20-3.25 might be more realistic than 3.15 (I think I converted 1.33 or 1.34 to 3.19).  I would train to effort rather than pace at this stage and take a final decision about target time 4 weeks out.  If you are doing a half marathon as part of your build up that should give you a good idea about how much you've improved from the training.

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The main reason I was being conservative was due to congestion at the start. I've been in the 3.30 pen before and struggled to get below 9 min miles until 4 or so miles meaning the first half was a lot slower than I was expecting and I therefore had to really gun it from about 15 miles which wasn't what I was planning. On a less congested course my pacing is usually spot on.
• Hi Katy i ran my 1st marathon in 3.29.33 that was with pbs at the time of 5k 20.20 10k 42 mins and half of 1.38

like a previous post said lots of longer stuff at a slower pace ,i did loads of 10-14 mile runs ,my longer runs were 2x18 and 2x20 run at about 9 min mile pace ,

as for race day in london the pace for the 1st 3 miles was 8min miles anyway and after that i just stayed at 7.55 - 8min mile all the way ,if i was you i would think about running at about 7.45 pace ,in my opinion it should feel really easy for the first 8 miles or so whatever pace you choose

• I'm in the same position as you, Katy: Half mara PB of 1:34, and I'm targeting 3:30 for my first marathon in April. Something quicker might be theoretically possible but I suspect it could be a grim experience and potentially risky. I'd rather have a bit in the tank for the last few miles and negative split than risk blowing up.
• I ran 3:16 at Manchester last year off recent 1:35 HM and 42:10 10K PBs but I did do a lot of miles in training.

• You'll smash 3:30
• Katy -   With the extra miles you are going to put in the PB's for the shorter distances should drop.  Which plan are you following?  Best to air on the side of caution for your first one but agree with others that 3:30 maybe a bit soft.

• Hi all,

Thanks for all your replies.  I really cant remember what time I put down when I entered knowing me I always go cautious and probably put down 4 hours.  I always do this for any race I enter then get really frustrated by the congestion and people running a lot slower than myself - so could this be a problem at London?  Am running a half in March so that is a good idea about seeing my time then to see if i've improved.

GazOC:- What mileage did you do in your Marathon training, as our times are really simular.

BarryB:- Am following the advanced training plan that came with the london Marathon Magazine, it involves running 5 times a week, building up the long run by 15 mins each week and the longest run you do is 22 miles that is in week 13.

Am confused if this is the right plan for me as looking at it I am already running at the standard of week 5, have started at week 1 as just dont want to get injured - anyone recommend plans that they are following/followed?

Thanks for the help - feel a bit out of my depth and quite daunted by the 26 miles, really want to prepare and train properly and to the best of my ability!

Katy

• Hi Katy,

I averaged around 300 miles a month from the start of January until the end of March. Not much speedwork or intervals, just lots of long, slow running.

Gaz

• I've found Mcmillans predictions to be pretty much spot on. Though I tend to run the longer races faster than they predict from the short races - no speed!

I'd forget about what time you hope to finish in for now, it doesn't matter. The mcmillan calculator is meant for giving you training paces based on your current pb's, not an aspired to one. It's for optimum training now. You can run a short race closer to the VLM and find your race pace from that, it's ages away and you'll improve imensely in that time.

• i would definately definately join the 3.30 pen at the start of the marathon ,the last thing you want is to run 9 min miles for the first 3 and put pressure on yourself ,

• Hi Gaz, that is seriously high mileage, I'm averaging 145 miles a month - obviously thats going to change in the next few months!

Thanks Lardarse that makes sense!

Daniel - Can I just join the 3:30 pen even if I put down 4 hours or are they really strict with where you stand? Did you find it really congested?

Thanks guys!

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unfortunately if you didn't put 3;15 OR 3;30 on your form you will not be able to change pens...........it uis a nightmare around the sub 4 pens..........really congested for a number of miles.......especially as a lot of people put sub 4 for their first even though they had never run a step  before applying as sub 4 sounds a good number

• Katy -   The most important thing is that you have a plan and stick to it.  The plan looks OK,  I see a lot of it is based on time rather than mileage.  22miles is plenty long enough for your first plan, but a lot of runners would recomend at least 5x20 milers in the build up. You need  to get  your body used to running for a long time, it's your first one  and while it's good to have a target time the main target is to complete it.  I'm following the RW plan and mileage peaks at 55 to 60 miles a week.  There are a lot of marathon forums to lurk on/take part in which are a valuable source of info.  Have a look at this one, plenty of runners aiming for or completed 3:30.

• Seren nos:- manged to speak to the lovely people at VLM and I put a finishing time of 3:40 on my ballot, so I guess I will just have to go with the flow, and get to the front of the pen, I'll get my sharp elbows ready!

Barry - Thanks for the info will have a look at that forum.  Will look at the RW plan just to compare.  You are completely right I just want to complete the marathon, I just didnt want to push myself and get my pacing wrong for my training using the the wrong time on the pace calculator.  Have got a long 15 weeks to go and train!

Cheers all

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Katy1 wrote (see)

Seren nos:- manged to speak to the lovely people at VLM and I put a finishing time of 3:40 on my ballot, so I guess I will just have to go with the flow, and get to the front of the pen, I'll get my sharp elbows ready!

Barry - Thanks for the info will have a look at that forum.  Will look at the RW plan just to compare.  You are completely right I just want to complete the marathon, I just didnt want to push myself and get my pacing wrong for my training using the the wrong time on the pace calculator.  Have got a long 15 weeks to go and train!

Cheers all

Katy, What number did you use to contact VLM and did they ask you for any info when you called? I've no idea what my estimate was either.

• Ziggy I rang this number:-020790202003, which is on the website under contact us. She just asked for my postcode and name and then told me my time.

• Katy1 wrote (see)

Ziggy I rang this number:-020790202003, which is on the website under contact us. She just asked for my postcode and name and then told me my time.

Thanks Katy, just rang and apparently I guessed 3:40 on the ballot as well.

I'm aiming to go Sub 3:30 as well, although I don't know by how much.

• Hi Katy - last years VLM was my first marathon.  I was hoping for sub 3.30 but in the end clocked 3.46 because a) the congestion at the start and b) my first priority was to finish.  My only advice would be not to get too hung up on a time target - just enjoy the whole experience.

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Be prepared for congestion at the start and maybe work that into your training, with starting off slower and speeding up for the second half.

Not sure why they get so much congestion at London . I did Paris in 2009, similar numbers and only 1 start area. I was in the 4 hr pen ( not right at the front) and hit mile 1 at exactly 9 mins. There was also a lot less people walking after 5 miles also. Maybe some of us Brits think we are better than we actually are.
• Ziggy:- How funny, the same time - good luck with your training!

s3tjj:- Hi, thanks for the advice I'm with you on just wanting to complete it and will def enjoy it!

Millsy1977:- I think you are exactly right that perhaps some runners just dont have a clue what to expect and think its going to be easier than they think so they just put down any old finishing time.  When I ran my last half a girl I got chatting too said "ohh your white pen, I'm coming with you" when I asked her what time she was hoping for she said "I'll be lucky to get under 3 hours" when I said oh no that is the fast pen sub 1:30 she said "yea it dosnt matter" I then went on to explain about her holding faster runners up etc and still followed me, and she finished in 3:22! so frustrating!

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I think you to accept that some people will frustrate you and plan for that in advance. I started to panic when I first got held up and wasted too much energy trying to make up the time too quickly. Ended up in the most painful last 3 miles of my life as I ran too fast between miles 8 and 18.
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