Pacing webchat with Martin Yelling



  • Loving the questions coming in alreadyimage See you at 1PM.

  • How would you change the marathon pacing from training in the UK now to running a marathon in a warmer (25c+) country in May?

  • Welcome to today's Q&A, where coach Martin Yelling will be here for the next hour answering your questions on pacing.

    A big thank you for joining us today, Martin… now over to you! image

    Katie RW

  • Thanks Katie, I'll start to work my way through these questions above and we'll see how we get onimage

  • @KK You are spot on.  Appropriate pacing is crucial, particularly at the start of a marathon.  Mental strength comes in different forms during a marathon.  At the start runners need to be disciplined to hold back when perhaps they might feel like going faster.  Then, as the race unfolds, the miles tick on and the race gets harder so it becomes more important to be disciplined to stay on track and dig in.  Remember that tough moments do pass. Break a section down (eg just the next mile) focus on only that moment and your pace through it. Also remember that you may drop off your target pace a touch every now and again and not to panic and totally throw the towel in. Keep the effort level up, stay focused and keep moving.

  • @EmmyH losing pace mid way through a race can happen because you’re tired and are starting to feel the pace, have gone off too fast, or have lost focus!  If it’s the latter then the beeping GPS certainly helps you stay on track but ultimately you should be able to ‘feel’ that pace and judge it spot on.  That way you can relax a bit and let the pace take care of itself mid race.  To do this successfully you’ve got to practice in training.  A cheeky little bot of electrical tape over the face of your GPS will stop you taking a sneaky glance as you try and run sections of your run at a target pace (remember to turn off the bleep!).  Confidence in your ability to self regulate your pace will help you mid race to relax but still stay on track.

  • @RebeccaA6 Low tech running is great.  An easy way to get a feel for your pacing is to know the distance of you run and then try and run it at a desired pace time. For example, if you know a route is 3miles and you are running it in 30mins then you are 10min miling.  You only need a stop watch to look at to be do this.  It doesn’t need to be fancy or high tech.  That said, a simple, user friendly GPS that doesn't take a degree in astro physics to work (for example Garmin 110) will tell you the time, pace and distance of your runs as you run.

  • @KateF Congratulations on the IM bug! You should look to pace the bike to survive the run!  Correct effort level, pacing and nutrition on the bike leg plays a huge part on your ability to complete the marathon.  Assuming you get the bike section spot on then pacing your marathon is still vital.  Once you get into your running off the bike you might feel ok and be tempted to pick up the pace.  Don’t.  Hold it back. Pace control at the start of the marathon is vital.  If you hit a wall in an ironman marathon you know about it so respect the first half and stick to pace plan and strategy.  There is also a real need to be flexible in ironman as plans rarely work out as you’d planned!

  • @sultan Great question!  Even with the best laid pacing plans sometimes a race can throw you a curve ball. You have to assess whether you are prepared to take a risk and go with the group and the benefits of the competitive context or whether you’d prefer the control of running solo.  A group can give you lots of in race benefits, it’s motivational, you get protection from the wind, and can ‘race’  -all help drag you to a better time. Yet, get it wrong and start too fast and get carried away and you could jeopardize your race goals.  The longer the race the more important it is to settle at the start and control your own pace.  Groups may change and runners come and go in the early stages. Ideally, in the second half of loner races (10miles and up) running with a group at (or close to) target time really works. For shorter races, the risk is less so get stuck in early!

  • @IanStatham There could be a couple of things going on here Ian.  1). You are fitter than you think you are and so your long slow runs can be a little quicker. 2) You are simply not being disciplined enough and need to hold back.  The longer a long runs goes on the harder it’s likely to feel as it progresses. What feels ‘easy’ at the start certainly won’t as the miles tick by and then run gets longer.  Get your head around holding back.  If it doesn't feel easy – you’ve gone off to hard and back it off.  Do that on marathon day and you’ll be in for a special 20mile treat!

  • Afternoon Martin,

    Last year was my first year of running, my first race was a Half marathon which I ran in April in 1:49:55, then another in July in 1:41:45.  I then trained for the Liverpool Marathon in October which I did in 3:41:15, so really my training was only concentraing on building up stamina. 

    In the past few months I've done some 5k Parkruns and seen my times whittle down from 22:05, a few in the 21 and 20 minute marks, then 2 around 19:50.

    I'm doing the Reading half in March and am confident I will PB, but is it too big an ask to get sub1:30?  I know I've improved a lot, but would that be asking too much?

  • Hi MartinK. Great result in Liverpool and your first sub 20 parkrun. I'm not going to answer your question as the whether it's too big ask to go sub 1hr 30!  It's never too big an ask!!! Your times would suggest that this is certainly possible and should trainign continue to go well then why not take a punt and go for it. 1:29 does have a nice ring to itimage


  • I haven't got a question Martin because I know it all aready but wanted to say how spot on the current training talk sections in the podcast are, very encouraging and reassuring at this point in a Spring mara programme,  thanks very much. 

  • @runbird I’m assuming what you really mean is that you’d like run UNDER 4hrs 30 so we’ll aim for 4hrs 29mins!  It sounds so much neater that 4hrs30:01! With that in mind then you should look to complete your long runs at around 45seconds slower per mile than this – especially at the moment as you build your stamina. So, a 4:29 marathon is 10:16 per mile.  11:00 min miling seems about right for your long runs.  As you get stronger it’ll pay to include some sections (3-6miles) at your target 10:16 pace.  Steady runs can be done quicker than this. This will help boost your fitness and make your marathon race pace feel a little easier.  There is no hard and fast rule for this but if 10:16 is your marathon race pace then a steady run in the region of 9:15/30min miling. This would be faster than your target half marathon pace. 

  • @NicolaDuncan2 Good luck for Rome! Great PB and pleased to hear that your training is going well to this point.  It’s pretty normal to have a fear of needing to stop for the loo during a race and when you’re aiming for a personal best a road side pit stop can be frustrating!  You do need to train your body to get used to ‘timings’ with food and fluids before the race to give you confidence that you won’t need to stop.  Finding out what works for you on you long runs is a good place to get used to this.  If you are desperate to stop early on in the race then the likelihood is that you’ve consumed too much fluids before the run.  As you’ll already know, you don't need to over drink before you start but do need to make sure you are adequately hydrated.  I’d say you should be looking to continue to hydrate after 8pm and on the morning of the race – but without over doing it.  That way you’re giving yourself a better chance of staying on top of your fluid and energy needs in the later stages of the race. In the race itself, assuming you have hydrated the day before and morning of appropriately, then drinking to your thirst is a good strategy.  Then use what’s on course or take a couple of gels to meet your energy needs.  Having your boyfriend chase around the route will just throw your focus and concentration so I’d leave that!

  • @MrPuffy - you're totally welcome!  Glad they helping.  They must be if you haven't got any questions! Keep doing what you're doing! 

  • @KateMcintyre2 You should definitely stick with the pacing group.  Pacing groups are there to to get you round bang on target time.  The key is not to panic. The 9:09 sub 4 group will mean that everyone is thinking the same as you.  The group should set off at exactly the right pace – and so hold you back!  The further you go with the pacing group the more likely you are to stay on track and motivated.  If you feel good in the last few miles (3 and inside) then is the time to see how far sub 4 you can go! If you need to practice running with a pacing group join one of the RW pace groups at the Race Your Pace Half marathon event.

  • @Piers That’s a decent chunk off last years time! Splitting runs does actually work for a training benefit and if you’re only doing it on a few runs whilst still maintaining a focus on your long runs of continuous running then I’d say that’s fine.  It fits with your schedule and it work so stick with it.  Just make sure you also include those longer continuous runs as they make your marathon.

  • @StephWG  There are many factors that could be impacting on your calf Steph.  Certainly an increase in ‘speed work’ could be one.  Without knowing what the specific of your running history and the type of speed work you are doing and the footwear you are wearing, it’s hard to make a call.  To run a half marathon PB you need to be efficient and strong.  If the speed work is causing you problems and risking that consistency then I’d recommend dropping the intensity and sticking with strength style tempo and threshold efforts to push the pace and boost your PB cause!

  • Hey Martin  

    Yasso 800s – undoubtedly a great training session, but what do you reckon to the theory that they relate to your marathon time? (Predicted time seems way-optimistic to me.)  Thanks.

  • @agentginger Thanks for supporting Marathon Talk! Tricky one that.  I’d say that for more experienced runners who have spent years building their fitness, strength, running economy and ‘systems’ develops a better ability to run at a higher percentage of their maximum.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they are a faster runner per se but that they have a better ability to run for periods at a relative higher intensity.  To be on the safe side a more controlled pace, particularly in the marathon, and a more even pace throughout has been shown to yield better marathon results.  We are all individual and practice in training will certainly help you get a gauge on what works for you!  Include sections at % higher and see how you respond! Guidelines are only guidelines and nothing beats personal experience to find your own levels.

  • Martin. Did 3:57 at Liverpool last year but talked most of the way round and never hit the wall. Set myself a goal of trying sub 3:45 this year. Finding some of the training paces difficult already (struggling to lose those xmas pounds). At what point should I reevaluate my goals and look at maybe a slower Spring goal and go for the sub 3:45 in Autumn.Don't want do demotivate myself but also don't want to quit too soon.

  • Hi Martin,

    At the Race Your Pace Half should I run with pace group for my marathon time or go with the pace for half marathon PB?


  • Hi Martin,

    This year I will be running my first ever marathon at Brighton and then the Milton Keynes Marathon 3 weeks later. 
    Training is going well (Jantastic has certainly helped) and my target time is 4.5 hours each one.

    what advise would you give for the 3 week period between races in terms of nutrition, massages etc??



  • @Sweetfeetpete - you know, I used to doubt the Yasso 800s' but the more I see them in training the more I see them actually working in practise!  I'd use a combination of workouts to predict marathon pace though, and in my view, without doubt the long runs are the best predictor!

  • Hi Martin. I've been running for 3years now and because of knee problems in the past I have been for foot running. This has however been battering my calves. Is there any exercises I can do to try and aliveate this as I have singed up to a 20 mile race in march and need to up my mileage from 13. Chears mate.
  • @stuartwallace5 you should get your head down and crack on! At this stage the early miles you are running haven't yet kicked in.  Given time to adapt this should shine through as you get fitter.  You want to be pinging fit in April not now, so, suck it up and get on with it!  (A little tough love at this point!).  If you're still struggling and have progressed appropriately then reflect again in anohter 6 weeks.

  • @jeanettLow - it really depends what you want to get from the event.  if you want to get an indication of marathon target time and to run hard thn go for the PB group.  if you'd rather get confident in your ability to pace a half at target MP then roll with that pace group.  Both are good strategies. 

  • @Chris Blyth 4 It really depends which race is your A race! Lets assume it's Brighton as this is the first one.  Your priority after this is to recover in time to allow you to achieve your secondary goal in MK. If you give Brighton everything then it's going to take time to recover.  There are a few things you can do to help the process - run / walk / swim at a low intensity in the week after the Brighton. Staying active helps recovery. Stretch and work out those tired muscles. A massage may help. Eat well, natural and non processed protein / carb based inthe days post pace.  Once your legs begin to recover start running again.  There's no need for long runs but a few short effort mgith help maintain fitness between events.

  • Martin, you're a legend, The show is class. But I was just wondering.. what are the rules behind a "Comeback PB"! Is it based on time? As in a year ago or 2 years ago?

    Any chance you'd do a show on fell running?

    Cheers for all the amazing content!



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