Loss of Pace

I am currently in week 8 of my marathon training plan (16 weeks) and have noticed a massive loss of pace in shorter runs. I know during marathon training the focus is on distance not speed but it's still a bit frustrating! I did a 5km park run this morning in 26mins - a good 3ins slower than my old 5km pace. My legs feel slow and I just can't get them going. Stamina wise 5km feels like nothing though - which in terms of marathon running is a positive!! Is this normal? I have a 10km race soon and I really want to run a fast time but at the moment don't feel it's possible...


  • Yeah, I know the feeling. The solution is to mix in a small amount of fast work. Google "polarized training" or "80/20 training". It's proven to be the best way to train - all the ellites do this. Matt Fitzgerald has a book out about it.

  • Is it possible you're doing too much ? Running faster than schedule ? Doing extra cross training ?

    Even if you follow a training plan to the letter - you still need to listen to your body.

    3 mins in a 5k seems a lot to me. What was your training this week ?
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Are you running your long and easy runs "easy" enough.

    Loads of people run their easy runs too hard meaning they are shattered when it comes to any races.
  • Yes, it is normal, but if you care enough about the 10k race you will want to have an easier week leading up to it. Also, what cougie and Millsy said.

  • Thanks for the responses. I think it could be possible I have been running a lot of my runs over the past 7/8 weeks a bit faster than I should - I really struggled at first to slow down going from being predominantly a 10km runner. My usual average running pace for each run at the moment is about 5.40-5.50 kilometres - which is about my target marathon pace. 

    I currently run 5 times a week, usually a 9-11km run Monday and Wednesday, a shorter (supposedly) faster run of about 6-8k Tuesdays, 5km on Saturday and a long run Sunday. I also do 2 x Body Pump classes a week.

    Does this sound too much?



  • literatinliteratin ✭✭✭

    It doesn't sound too much but it sounds way too fast.

  • Definitely too fast.  You haven't lost your pace, you've affected your ability to sustain your usual pace during races, because your body is knackered.

    All that said, i'd personally expect your race pace to always be a little compromised during marathon training as you can't really taper properly for them so will always be tired to some extent, even if your runs are all at the right paces.

  • Hi AliceOCarter. I just wondered if your pace cane back ok? What did you do if so? I’m having the same problem now. I’ve overdone it but am cutting right back and legs still so heavy.
  • I dont think many people who arent full time professionals can train for a marathon and also do speed work for shorter runs, it is normal to notice speed drop off when working on long distance.

    For me, it was only when an 18-20 mile run started to feel kind of "normal" that the speed started to come back. That was last year. This year I've only done half marathons but my speed has notnaturally returned and am thinking Ineedto focus on it soecifocally if I want it to improve. I dont know whether last years running long distances has reduced my speed or whether it is just aging. Between 2015 to 2018 I ran 5-6 days a week with at least 3 runs a week of 10-15 miles and never had an issue with speed, halfmarathon times were 1:42 / 1:44 / 1:43 - once in same month cane 4th, 3rd and 2nd in cat (F35) (Jan 2016) so I am thinking its just age/menopause/being over 40 now, and gender/hormones as it now takes about 2 hrs. I have lost 20 minutes plus, over a half marathon distance since 4 years ago and find I can no longer do weight training or cycling any other exercise on the days I run and also need more recovery in between runs as well as my speed having gone.

    I am going to try working on speed after my half on Sunday, but have never done any specific speed work before, and suspect I will not manage both speed and distance. My mileage has already dropped this year, as I can't run long on consecutive days now, so 30 miles a week is my limit (with no cycling) wheats 4 years ago and up to last year I was doing 30-50 a week plus bike rides.

    I suspect the same will be true of shorter faster runs  - attempting to alternate those with distance probably wont work for me either, as both are tiring and both will need recovery time in between. You too might find you just have to choose between speed and distance to some extent, I suppose a mid-way compromise is also possible but you probably wont get long distance and high speed at the same time.

    Maybe focus on speed after your marathon as you return to shorter faster runs? It will also give you something to aim for as it's common to feel a bit down and flat or demotivated (post event blues) after a big run event especially if it's taken a year or more to train for, and having a new focus and a different type of event to train for after your marathon is a good thing!
  • Long runs and easy runs should be ran at  1 to 2 minutes per mile slower than goal Marathon race pace.  The aim is to build mileage to increase aerobic capacity that  is needed to run a marathon.
    Shorter faster paced runs Marathon race or faster are to increase leg turnover and to get used to running at Marathon pace.
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