Tactis for my first Marathon - VLM 2014


I'm doing my first marathon ever this year after gaining a ballot place in this years VLM.

Training has gone OK. I've not followed a plan specifically, I sort of made my own up. This consisted of my 'usual' runs during the week but with a long runs at the weekend. I've tended to do a long run one week and a longer the next followed by a shorter long run ( 12 / 16 / 13 / 18 etc. etc. ).

My question is one of tactics. Should I go balls out and cling on at the end or keep it steady all the way. I don't think I can pick it up for the last 6 if I feel ok - I've never been good at that.

My worst nightmare is crossing the line with something in the tank.

Aiming for a sub 4:00, best HM is 1:38 and I did a 20'er in 2:58 and felt crap when I finished. The thought of another 6 in an hour at that stage makes me think my sub 4:00 is a pipedream.


  • 15West15West ✭✭✭

    Worse thing you can do is go off too fast. Go for sub 4 though, may as well I reckon, but start at sub 4 pace and stick to it. There may well be runners world sub 4 pacer if you want to run in a group. The last 6 will be hardest 6 mi you've ever run...but just keep telling yourself that it will end! Between now and race day do a few runs where you practice marathon pace during some (or all) of it.

  • Oh PLEASE go balls out. It's only 26 miles isn't it ? Anyone can hang on...image

    Realistically - you should be able to go sub 4 based on your half times.

    The fact you were shagged after 20 makes me think you need more long runs though. You need to be happy running 20+ miles. If you aren't then adjust your target down.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    If your worst nightmare is finishing with something in the tank you've obviously never got to 13 miles and realised that there isn't enough in the tank.

    Head out at 9 min miles and see how you go. If you get to 20 feeling good then push on.
  • if you are aiming for sub 4 why are you doing your 20 milers at race pace. it will take you all week or more to recover....

    make sure you taper properly and don't run all those long runs too fast and you should be a good chance of sub 4 if you keep control in the first 10 miles and don't let the adrenaline make you go off faster....


    for my sub 4 I kept a constant pace.,...and it was unbelievable the number of people I overtook in the second half who had gone off too fast and slowed down to a snails pace........

  • Like you, I questioned what tactics I should use in my first couple of marathons.  My club coach gave me sound advice which I've stuck to ever since.

    From the start pace yourself consistently for the sub 4hr. Like others have said your 1/2 pb suggests this is a very realistic target.

    If through 13m you're feeling good - stick with your pace
    If at 15m you're feeling good/strong - stick with the planned pace
    Same for the 18m mark - stick with the pace
    At 20m the race begins, you're feeling good so have a little think - Can I speed up?
    At 22m if you're still feeling good - Go for it. Get home as quick as possible.

    In my last 3 marathons I've run 2 negative splits doing this and both times I've felt as though I had more in the tank at the end - Trust me this is one of the BEST feelings in the world (which inevitably makes you sign up for another marathon the following year as you're sure you can beat last years time). I've also found that this tactic breaks up the miles between 13-20 into bite size chunks.

    Good luck

  • This mirrors my plan exactly - sub 4 will be a 20 min PB for me (I said 'will be'!).

    I'm planning to do 9 min miling and not even 10 secs faster until I know I'm home and dry and can either hold or increase my pace at, say 23/24 miles.

    P.S. I'm sooooo excited!!!



  • Some good advice there - thanks.

    Taken all on board and did a 22.6 miler yesterday which left me feeling quite positive.

    I set out at 9:30 pace concentrating on not speeding up, telling myself I'd reap the rewards near the end - and boy did I.

    I felt very Ok at the end, sure my legs were aching but to be expected ?? Clocked in at 3:33.

    My new fuelling / drinking plan helped a lot too - though didn't enjoy running with a bottle it helped.

    Probably do one more long run before the big day.....9:15 min miles ???

  • well done mark ,,, like you this is my first marathon ... my goal is just to make sure I run all the way ,  I smashed my half pb in Milton Keynes yesterday then ran another 4 miles home , those 4 took ages as I was running alone and pushing hard in the previous 13.1.

    I think im gonna grab a rw pacer and be concervative ,as I still have a tendancy to go off too fast ... good luck mate you are doing well .  


  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    No. Stick at the 9:30 for your long run. The long run is about training your endurance, not your speed.

    I would say on the day 8:50/mi would be fairly easy to achieve based on your half and 20mile times.
  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Actually your half time predicts a sub 3:30 and LSR pace of 9:15.

    However, that's if you've done the training.

    What is your normal week like?
  • Great replies.....


    My normal week is Tuesday, Thursday, most Fridays, Saturday am and Sunday.

    Midweek runs are in the 7 - 10 mile distance as fast as I can. If its more towards 7 miles I make it a tough one; lots of hills near me.

    Fridays are steady 5 or 6 then either a Parkrun on Saturday am or another 5 or 6 miler. Sunday is my long run day, but again I tend to probably go too hard - 7 or 8 out 10 for effort.

    Thing is - I can't get near my race pace on a run. If I push it I can get to almost sub 8 min miles for a 7 - 10 miler. During a race I get to the 7 min mile mark. Hopefully that'll be the case for my marathon ???

    One more point.....should I have received my race number info for the marathon. Was I supposed to send them something back after receiving my success magazine ?

    I simply got my magazine, logged on and paid - haven't had anything back ???


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    You have to pick up your number from the Expo.

    You should receive another magazine in the next week or so that details everything you need to do.
  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Mark. After London, you need to read up on Tempo, LSR, interval and Easy runs. Also use McMillan to set your training paces.

    Running 7-9 miles as fast as you can has no benefit whatsoever and is usually counterproductive and just tiring you out. This is why you can't get near your race pace. Slow down.

    Turn that midweek into a tempo run. Say 3miles of easy running, 4miles at your half marathon pace then 4miles of easy running. You don't need to do more than 30mins a week at that speed working on your lactate threshold.

    5k race is good for speed work, some people do intervals.

    Good luck.
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