How should I pace if I have trained poorly?

I would really appreciate some advice on pacing for Sunday's VLM. It is my first marathon and training has not been great - not aided by the fact that despite knowing better, I did everything wrong. I have typically run 38-45 miles per week, with too much emphasis on the long run, all run too quickly. My long runs were 13,13, 13, 16, 18, 16, 13, 20, 20, 16, 20, 20, 20, 15, 10. The 20s were all run at between 2:43 and 2:50 ie too fast (worse than that all structured by going off too quick and then wondering why it falls to pieces. There was one slightly better 20 which saw 14-15 miles at close to race pace followed by 4-5 deliberately slower miles). The last 13 was a half marathon run in just under 1:36. There were also 10-11 mile mid week runs during peak mileage etc. The poor reason for this dubious approach - I was forced to pull out of last years event due to illness the Friday before the race. I had trained consistently for 6 months etc and run five 20s and a 23 as my last long runs. With a half marathon time of 1:27 at the time a 3:15 was a reasonable possibility. So basically, this year I started hard thinking it would all come back eventually, but it never did... So race calculators say that based on my recent half marathon time (Ie 1:36), 3:30 ish is feasible. I am tapered etc and assuming fuelling, hydration, race day adrenalin etc who knows what is or isn't possible. But I am not a believer in miracles and unless I have mis-read my training there is a real risk that running a flat 8 minute mile pace runs the risk of blowing up badly. That said, I don't want to go too slow and not realise any potential. Any ideas?


  • Was the 1.36 a tough day ? Hilly or hot?

    It just seems a big drop off ?

    If it is a good indicator then it might be you are tired with the training. And then you've run all the long runs too fast.

    I think 3.30 is far more reasonable than 3.15. It might still be a push though if you have tired legs.

    Whatever you get will be a PB thoughso maybe don't fret too much.

    I think I'd pace for 3.30 but be happy to go off the pace slightly if you struggle.

    Have a good run.
  • Thanks Cougie

    You are right - there has been a big drop off in pace over the last year. Basically it took a while to come back from illness and when I did a standard weekday  run went from 7:30 - 8:00 min mile pace down to 8:00 to 8:30 min mile pace. I have never returned to "full fitness".

    The 1:36 is a fair indicator of current racing position for a half marathon. It was flat course with good conditions. I have raced two other halves since October and both were a minute or two slower but on slightly tougher courses.

    I would not dream of pacing at 3:15 on Sunday - That would be a recipe for walking from 14 miles...

    Question is more should I pace 3:30 and hope for race day magic that I can hang on or pace 3:45? Or compromise and pace 3:35 or 3:40? Problem is I can't see me negative splitting any race let alone a marathon! So whatever I pace at is likely to become a best time scenario.

  • I always tend to think you're better off with a solid plan than a range of options. You've identified a compromise position, if you'd take a 3:40 if it was offered to you today, then pace for that. When the time comes if you feel you can go a little faster when you get to the last 10k, then do it, but don't sweat it - aim for the 3:40, anything else is an unlooked for bonus.

    There, now stop worrying about it and focus on being well rested, fit and ready to go come Sunday! Remember to enjoy it!

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