Too cautious on Long Distance Race


A few weeks ago, I ran a 10k in 38min14s and last weekend I ran the Berlin Marathon in 3h15min. According to the McMillan race pace calculator, I should be quicker on both my Half and full Marathon. I tend to be very cautious with my pace on longer distance (more than 10k) and I never feel I have given 100% on these distances.

I was wondering if you could share your experience on your race/ pace strategy? How could I feel less careful with my pace? Should I do more long distance training? etc? 

Thanks in advance


  • Great times! IMHO, race predictors need to be taken with a hefty handful of salt. Doing some work at target MP ought to help you see what is realistic. Maybe also get a raced HM done and look at 2xHM +15 mins as a starting point-?

  • Probably every time you run you do a 10k distance - so it stands to reason that you'll be better at it than you are at marathon and half distance.

    If you've done plenty of long runs - that should give you the confidence to go for a faster pace for the longer races.
  • race time predictors assume that you are well trained for a 10K when you do a 10K... and well trained for a marathon when you do a marathon. 

    I understand that, in the big majority of cases, people are not as well trained for the endurance sapping marathon.... hence the discrepancy (certainly true for me)

    But you feel that you've got something left in the tank after longer races...  Essentially, I think you've just got to learn where your threshold is...  something easier done with a half marathon than on the crueler full marathon.

    Next time you do a HM, set off at the pace recommended by the pace calculator (add 5 s per mile if you really want to be conservative)... and go at that pace all the way.  Be prepared to crash and burn at some stage.  If you do, then see how close to the finish you got before it happened.  If you don't blow up, then you still didn't go fast enough!

    If you don't take this risk, you could be pratting about for years, shaving a few seconds from your long distance PBs.... when all along, you've not given it your all.

    Great times by the way.

  • Roddie - you have to do the right race distance specific training. Even then, there is no guarantee you will convert across the distances based on the calculators - you are not just a statistic. Mcmillan blogged about this recently.

    To give you another example, your 10k is approx 30seconds slower than mine. Your marathon time is almost 30 minutes slower. So is Mcmillan wrong for you or for me! I think it will take several years for me to get to the Mcmillan 10k prediction based on marathon time as all my training has been marathon focused.

    if I try to race across all distances, then this just exposes  my strengths and weaknesses. I am cautious about Mcmillan race paces which is warned about, and then the blog on the 'hybrid calculator' was published, confirming this.

  • I think confidence plays a massive part- I am just a jogger these days but have PBs of 2:41 for the marathon and 75 for a half and low 35s for 10K, the only way is to give it a go - my 2:41 was run pretty much with two even splits, the first time I broke 3 hours I went through the first half way to quickly and was hanging on, the last marathon I ran (1998) was aiming for 2:36, had trained for 2:36 and ended up with 3:03 - now I appreciate that is still a pretty good time so I won't say it isn't but for me at the time it was a major disapointment BUT the fact is I went for the 2:36 but blew up on that occaision. I suppose the point of this is to say sometimes if you have done the training you just have to take the bull by the horns and give it a go.

  • Hi RoddieUK

    So really we need to understand your level of training for the Berlin 3h15m run. They may uncover part of the problem (is mileage enough, pacing etc).

    To compare as some have, my marathon PB is 3h7m (Brighton) but my 10k PB is only 40m30s. So where I have gained 8 mins on you !?!!? Could be the training ...

    I'm a great believer in being in the right frame of mind when playing sport, running etc. I woke up marathon morning, felt great, backed up by positive thoughts that training had gone well. Never underestimate the feel good factor and being positive mentally about what you want to do.

    You mention pacing... I did Sunday long runs with a monthly race pace 'test'. So maybe a month looks like 17m, 19m, 21m, then a 20 miler with 12 at race pace. I was trying for 3 hours but soon realised in training that I wouldn't achieve it (not by much but enough). But it was the training experience that allowed me to a) understand realistically where I was and b) adjust my race expectation.

    Hope that helps.

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