Pacing webchat with Martin Yelling

This Friday (Feb 1) marathon coach Martin Yelling will be joining us from 1 - 2pm to answer your questions on how best to pace a race.

Martin holds a BSc in Sports Science and a PhD in physical activity promotion. He's worked in departments at Loughborough and Demontfort University and has worked with runners at all levels, from seasoned marathon runners to complete beginners.

Got a question for Martin? Post your questions below.

Martin will be holding a seminar following the Race your Pace half marathon organised by Human Race on 16 Feb at at Dorney Lake, Eton, where RW will be providing pacers.

The seminar will include advice on how to calculate your race pace, how to get it right in training and on race day and what to do when things go wrong. The session will also include advice on nutrition, racing strategies, last-minute practical planning, adequate rest and recovery, and mental motivation before and during the race. Find out more at



  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    @KK - even with their sparkly new timex watches?

    Hi Martin - my biggest issue is losing pace 3/4 the way through a race. I normally have beeps on my garmin telling me when im too fast / too slow, but do you have any suggestions for pace games mentally?
  • Hi, I'm relatively new to running, and I'm definitely a low tech runner and work my pace out at the end of a run, can you recommend a good entry level gadget to help me keep an eye on my pace whilst I'm out running?
  • Hi Martin - I'm doing my first Ironman in October, should I attempt to pace the marathon or just concentrate on staying alive? It's a flat course which I would normally do just under 4 hours.

  • Hi Martin. When going into a race, I often have a good idea of what pace I want to run. Lets say that my goal for a flat 10mile race is 60mins, so my goal pace is 6 min/mile. However, sometimes early on in a race, I might find myself alone, while there may be a group of 5 or 6 runners up ahead going at say, 5min50 /mile.  In such a situation, what is the better strategy?  Stick to my planned pace, running on my own in early stages and perhaps pick up the pace late in race if feel strong enough?  Or, join up with those ahead of me in early stages, running at 5min50 / mile, at risk of going out too fast but taking advantage of being able to work together in a group, and get "dragged along". 

    What would you recommend, and would the strategy differ depending on the race distance? e.g. 5K  versus 10 miles.

  • Hi Martin

    i am really struggling to run slow enough on my long run days, i am nearly a minute quicker than i should be per mile. HELP!!!

  • Hi Martin

    I'm hoping to hit 4.30 marathon so what paces do you recommend for

    long runs

    steady runs

    Plus a half marathon in March plese?


  • Hi Martin

    I hope you are keeping well.

    I am running Rome marathon on 17 March - I really struggled with two marathons last year in last 5-6 miles - finished Munich in 2:53:01 and had to go on a drip I was so dehydrated!  I was at 2:03 at 20 miles and felt good until another mile down the road....  My PB is 2:49:58 but feel can do a lot better as training much more now and getting faster in all other distances.  I am really small and generally quite a cold thing who doesn't sweat so much and have a fear of needing to stop to go to toilet during race!  So don't drink anything after about 8 the night before the race and rely on what I get during the race.  In Munich I couldn't drink out of the cups without spilling it all over me!  Do you have any advice of what I can do in races to get enough fluids?  My boyfriend has offered to nip around the course with some Lucozade Sport but not sure how easy this will be in practice!

    Any advice would be much appreciated - I really think this is where I have my biggest issue!



  • Hi Martin, I'm desperate to do a sub-4, which would put me in the "good for age" category. So far I've done 4.06.38 and 4.08.04, so I think it's posssible!! I'm doing Manchester in April (very flat course) and have signed up for the 9.09 pacing group. My concern is that it leaves nothing to chance. Should I just stick with the group and then "go for it" in the last mile? I only need/want to do 3.59.59!!

    What's your advice? Big thank you! Kate

  • Hi Martin,  Did the marathon last year in 4 hrs 13 mins, and want to beat my time this year. Seem to be on course for 3,45 (something bound to go wrong !!) , but as I'm running further , obviously as last year time becomes a big factor.   Running 8-12 miles is good at the moment , but I have an ideal run which is 8 miles ; 4 miles, then rest an hour , then 4 miles back home.

    My question is , is this as good as an 8 mile run , or a lot worse because of the hour rest inbetween ? I'm visitong my dad in hospital , so can't cut it shorter !!!.


    Many thanks for your advice,  Piers 

  • Hi Martin, I'm doing the Great North Run this year and I'm hoping to do it in 2:30 but I'm having a problem with building my speed up because the speed work is playing havoc with my calf. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  • Hi Martin,

    I'm currently working my way through the marathontalk back catalogue (up to ep89 so far).

    My question is about whether training paces are equally valid and transferrable across the range of racing paces,

    e.g. a 2:20 marathoner can run a Long Slow run at 10-20% slower than race pace and still be running a pretty swift ~6:25 min/mile.

    But a 4hour marathoner (e.g. me) running 20% slower than race pace is chugging along at ~11:00 min/mile and at this pace struggling to maintain form and posture. It's hard to feel a sense of "flow" at this pace.

    Are the suggested training paces equally valid for slower runners as they are for faster runners, and do they confer the same training benefit?


  • Hi Martin,

    (Really interested to hear answers to AgentGinger's & Ian Stantham, as I'm in the same boat, in that my target Marathon pace is 8min per mile(-ish see later) & my 10k pace is 7 mins per mile,so running slower than 9min per mile feels 'unnatural/poor in form').

    My specific question, though, is around what pace to set off on, for the London Marathon in April. Although my last marathon time (2009) was 4:05 (I got severe calf cramp last 5 miles, which returned every time I went faster than a crawl). My half time is 1:40 & my 10k is 43:50, so all the calculators suggest I could potentially do a 3:30 marathon.

    At 54 this may be my last marathon so I'm torn between setting off at 8mpm to try to achieve the best possible time, or a more conservative 8:30mpm (3:45 target) so as not to blow it again & maybe go over 4 hours again! Obviously if I set off at 8:30pace I'll never get near a 3:30 finish, even if I feel good & increase my pace later in the race. So difficult! Can I perhaps use my training times (I'm doing tempo, intervals & a long run at 8:30pace each week & the Silverstone Half in March) to judge the pace I should start at? Or is all that all irrelevant, as I failed to break 4 hours last time?

    NB I read recently that negative splits aren't always the best way of achieving a PB, so I'm tempted to try 8mpm & see if I can hold on(?). Please advise a very confused runner.


  • I'm doing the vim and it's my first one. Training is going well, and I'm doing my longer runs at slower than my target pace. I do 10km in 56min and half marathon 2h15m. I've weight to lose and would love to do 4h30m. But this is a touch over 10min miles. Whereas my LSR are closer to 11mins but I speed up a bit towards end

    My question is on race day, do I just abandon all my training practices and go for 10min miles at outset. Scared i will suffer later.

    What's the best way to get comfort that 10min miles are suststainable for 26.2 miles
  • Hi Martin,

     I read a lot of people talking about reverse splits in Marathons as the best strategy but less detail on how  extreme to make the difference between the two halves.  Let me give a (not so hypothetical) example.

    I am running the Brighton Marathon in April 2013.  A time under 3 hours 15 mins gets me a good for age place in the 2014 London Marathon.  I have a 1:29 half marathon under my belt in the summer so 3 hours 4 minutes might be a reasonable target, which is scarily close to 3 hours. 

    I would like to give myself a shot at under 3 hours but do not want to go off so quick and blow up in the second half - perhaps even ruining my good for age time for London.   So a reverse split would seem to be the way to go.  If I go for 1:32 in the first half does that give me too much to do in the second half?  Should I go even slower in the first half.?

    I have a couple of 20 mile races to rehearse at but interested if there is any formula or advice on a reverse split.

  • Hi Martin

    Have 2 races planned in a 16 wk marathon schedule: 10k in wk 6, Half in wk 9.....

    Can I go all out for PB's, putting in mini tapers and recovery for each race,

    or should I treat them as training runs? Ran 5 half marathons last year, but this is my first marathon and aiming for 4.30 (aspirational!)

    Many thanks
  • Hi Martin, might i start by saying that i love your hair.

    I am an aspiring Vet 55 from Witney, Oxfordshire, UK, with short but curly hair, also blonde. Now, your hair is medium, dark and straight. Last week i read in runners world that hair makes you happy and being happy makes you run faster. I hate my hair and run 3:10 marathon, but i love yours, would i be able to break the 3 hour barrier with a beautiful head of hair.

    Cheers, Rennie

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Any tips on how to break 16 mins for a 5k?
  • Rennie's question (2above) is just a bit weird!
  • Rennie, in my experience running isn't great for your hair (having to wash it every day rather than every other as I'd prefer to avoid drying it out too much) but I don't think there's any evidence that it affects your pace. I can recommend Red Ken's Fresh Curls Shampoo and Conditioner range, as well as Aveda's "be curly" range of hair products.

    Hope this helps

  • Yes, can we keep this thread on topic please so it's easy for people to follow.

    Thanks, Katie RW image


  • Hi Martin, I ran a 1/2 marathon last year in preparation for a spring marathon on marathon pace, although I got great race practice I felt I would have got a better result by racing it. This year I intend to do just that so I can get a good idea of my current form ready for the VLM. Do you think this is a good idea bearing in mind the recovering period (my mileage peaks at 90miles/week)? What tactics do you employ during an illness, such as a sore throat or cold? There is mixed information on the web but I've always wanted to know the view of an expert. Thanks, Steve

  • 15West15West ✭✭✭

    Hi Martin...following on from Steve's question above...I am running a 1/2 marathon (wilmslow) 4 weeks before a marathon (London). Should I just stick to practicing my marathon pace in the 1/2, or go all out for a PB?

    Thanks, 15West

  • Hi Martin, would you say there was a sliding scale of weekly mileage to marathon time? For example you'd have a better chance of cracking a sub 3 hour marathon on 60 - 70 miles a week than say 50 miles a week? Or is it more down to key sessions at key paces? Does there come a point where doing extra miles won't be of any more benefit?


  • Hi Martin , I am 50 , a midddle of the pack runner . I have run 8 marathons over the last few years all but the first  being between 3.45 and 4 hours . I am now going to do my first ultra  the flat D33 ( 33 miles) . I like most people can struggle towards the end  of a marathon so would like your advive re pacing  ( I was thinking to aim for a sub 10 min mile pace realising I will manage quicker in the early stages but might struggle to keep this up from mile 20 , I would certainly go slower on any inclines to avoid lactate build up )  Many Thanks 

  • Hi Martin, do you have a session or tip which will indicate what pace you are capable of on marathon day. If training for a particular pace how can a runner know they have a chance of maintaining it on the day. Is it simply a case that if you hit the various training regime paces that marathon pace should be within reach?


  • Hi Martin,

    I'm doing the Brighton Marathon in April and would like to acheive a sub 4 hours (4.11 last year).  My only worry is that I am terrible a judging my pace, I spend the whole race checking my watch, I can't seem to just 'feel' it.  Any advice?

  • What are your views on HR in training as an indication of pace? For my last few marathons I did a 2 hour run one week out at approx 85% of anaerobic threshold and found that has been a great indication of race pace and what I can hold. I dont use the HR monitor on the day because of the "adrenalin creep factor" and last year i did a marginal 20 second negative split and finished pretty much on empty for a 3,35. However you said once on MT that if a non-elite negative splits, they probably havent gone out hard enough?

  • Hi Martin

    If it is windy/ very windy day what is the best way to pace ( particularly a marathon ) try and maintain an even pace still or easier into the wind and quicker with the wind.





  • Hi Martin

    What do you think about using heart rate variability for measuring fatigue and helping to work out how intensively I should be train as part of my marathon preparation?  I have heard that quite a few top runners swear by it. Have you any experience of using the ithlete app for this and would you recommend it?

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