How to run a marathon?


I will be doing my 2nd marathon in a couple of weeks and I don't know how to pace it. For my first marathon my aim was to get round, which I managed in 4 hours 42 minutes. I would love to get 4h 30 for this one. My half marathon times are around 1h 55 mins and all the race predictors I've put my times into say I'm on track for around about the 4 hour mark. I doubt that very much though! 

So, my question is, should I aim to be consistant all the way round, say with 10 minute miles? Or should I set out slower, at around 10.5 minute miles (that's what I've been training at) then speed up? There are pacers at the race, should I tag onto the 4h30 pacer or the 4h15? I don't want to start out too fast, maybe 4h 15 would be too fast. Arghhh! So many questions! 

Any advice from experienced marathoners would be very much appreciated. I thank you image


  • Difficult- I agree that 4hrs is over- ambitious off 1:55 half- 4:15 is probably a better target.

    I've never been in a race with pacers, so can't answer that, but how about staying behind the 4:15, and letting them drift ahead slowly.

    The most important thing is not to try to go off too fast, so making absoutely sure you never get in front of the 4:15 pacer seems sensible, and if you are struggling later- the 4:30 pacer will act as a sweeper.

  • What does your training tell you?

    If in addition to a long you have been doing a "semi long" run building to 16 or so at just faster than marathon pace, then go out at 10 seconds a mile slower than semi long.You will then feel so easy at that pace all the way to 15.

    If you have not been doing a semi long and you still have at least 3 weeks to go, then do a run ASAP at 4.10 pace all the way to 16. If that feels comfortable, then set off at 4.15 on the day. If it feels hard, set off at 4.30 instead, in both cases you will feel confident and easy on the day because the taper from two weeks will make you feel extra strong.


  • hmm, lots of food for thought there. I'm more inclined to set out with the 4:30 group I think and see how I get on. I can always pull away from them if needs be. I think psycologically I would struggle if I knew the 4:15 group were getting away from me. I'm doing another marathon in April so I think I'll leave the 4:15 for that image It's addictive this marathon lark isn't it image Thanks for the replies. x


  • Keep energy in the bank, don't try to bank time. Run flat splits, or slightly negative from start to finish. Look up the Marco method on the net for a minority viewpoint based on heartrate. That's my advice and it let me trim almost 7 mins off my pb last Saturday after 20-odd marathons.

  • Thanks for the advice Steve and well done on the PB. By flat splits do you mean pick a pace and stick to it, such as 10 and a half minute miles consistantly for example? 


  • 4:30 group sounds good, but you don't really have a plan b.

    I am slower aimed for sub 5 last time, ran till half way with 4:45 runners .. Then dropped back, but tried to stay ahead of 5 hours in the end I did 4:56 but 5h group came in at 5:05....

    So if you stick with 4:30 and it goes wrong you are a bit stuffed, also silly things .... Might need a long loo break!! Who knows.... So personally I'd start just a touch quicker with the 4:15 and accept in your mind you will probably slowly drop back to 4:30 without seeing it as failing so emotionally you can keep your focus.
  • well, as it turned out the 4.15 and the 4.30 pacers were really close to each other at the start line, so I positioned myself between the 2. I had the 4.15 pacer in my sights for most of the way, but my right leg kept on giving way on me between 17 and 20 miles. I was aiming for 10 minute miles all the way round, and ended up doing about 10m 10 seconds.

    I finished up with a PB of 4.27. image

    Thank you all for the advice.

  • FANTASTIC image Well done Porky that sounds great.

    Got my next on Sunday, It doesn't have any pacers, but i'll hopefully have Garmin do that job for me so im going to try along those lines. image

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