GFA London 2018 Target

I didn't get into London this year like most people!  So I've signed up to Manchester instead with the best case target and training geared towards a GFA time of 3:05

I did my first Marathon in April and it Paris, with a time of 3:29.  My training was not ideal and I had to contend with ITB injuries and a foot injury.  On the day I felt like I was on for a 3:15 - 3:20 but sufferred cramp at mile 17. 

I feel like I can learn from that experience and train more wisely and with the benefit of experience having trained for and completed a marathon.

Just before Paris I got my 5k down to 19:06, my 10k time was bang on 40m and my HM time was 1:33.

I have improved since Paris with an 18:42 5k time (which, if I'm honest, I think I can improve on as I wasn't feeling 100%), I did a HM 2 weeks ago in 1:27 and a 10m last week in 1:05. 

My current plan is the keep the mileage manageable from now until January and concentrate on the XC season and a 10k race in November where I am hoping to go under 39m and a 5m on Boxing day where the ultimate target is under 30m (current PB 30:55).  So speed work for now and then January start increasing them miles with a target of 1:25 for February HM and 2:20 for March 20m race.

If at any point I feel like my training isn't producing the results that I would need for a 3:05, I'll re-adjust my targets to 3:10 (Boston) or just beating my Paris time and running the best race I can.

My question is, is this a realistic target for me?

If I get a 1:25 in Feb, would this be considered a good time leading up to a 3:05 Marathon time?  Likewise if I get the 1:25 and then the 2:20?

I've been running well the latter part of 2016 after a rest and recovery period (injury to ITB) so I'm buzzing for next year having achieved 3 PB's and 3 distances in the last month.  But I don't want to get ahead of myself and set myself up for failure.

Any advise appreciated.





  • just be aware that occasionally they change the GFA if they are getting more men in that age group achieving it they might make it harder...


  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭

    Yeah that's fair enough, I think if it was made any tougher I'd have to leave that particular goal for another year and just stick to my original goal as 3:05 will be hard enough as it is.

  • How many miles do you mean when you say 'keep the mileage manageable till January'?

    And how many miles do you mean when you say 'increase the miles' for the marathon training?

    I would not race the 20 miler in March if it was me. But I would expect to run sub 3:05 off a 1:25-1:27 half, if I had done enough easy miles in the build-up and not knackered myself by racing a 20 miler.

  • A 1:25 half would be a good indicator of something just over the 3 hour mark, but you're looking for a big jump so it's hard to say - it looks like you'll have the basic speed but you might not have the endurance to convert it to the longer distance.

    With Manchester on 2nd April next year, January seems a bit late to me to start building a proper endurance base, especially it it's just your second one.  I do prefer a longer slower build up though, others vary.

    If you run 2:20 for your 20 miler in March though, you've no chance.  Your confidence will be sky high but you'll have knackered your engine. Either find one in January and use it as part of building up distance, or just stick to the half in February.

  • literatin and Dave have said it - more miles, run more slowly will get you closer to what you want to achieve.

    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • I'm interested as to why you both think the 20 miler is a bridge too far - would you call running it at marathon pace too much ? Is it just a personal preference ? I know P&D don't do [email protected] ever either but perhaps use the 20 mile race for the 15 mp they prescribe ?

    Reason I ask is that I follow a few local folks on Strava that are coached locally and sub 2.50 marathoners and the 20 mile strenuous race seems to be the done thing amongst that group.

  • The 20 mile race at MP will take too much out of most folk.

    Sub 2.50 marathoners might not be most folk though.
  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭

    I am using the HM and the 20 Miler as kind of time trial each month to if my training is on track.  All my other long runs will be slow and geared towards endurance instead of speed, with interval training and tempo runs in the week.

    One or two of the long runs I will be time on feet runs for 3-3.30 hours as this is something I didn't really do in my previous training.

    It does seem strange not to use the 20m as a guage as to where I am?  There are lots of 20m races on around the same weekend and my impression was they were intended for Spring Marathon training.  Lots of runners at my club race them before marathons too - they are seen as the must-do events if you are marathon training in fact?

    I'm currently running between about 22 miles a week which is enough for the distance of the races I've been covering and to keep my fit for the beginning of the Cross Country season.  I am happy to gradually increase this over the next couple of months by a few miles if this will help me build up my endurance and set me up for the amount of miles I'll need to run to get my time.

  • It's not so much the 20 miles, mf, it's how close it is to his marathon that's the issue for me.  I'd be surprised if many of your local sub 2:50ers would run a hard 20 mile race less than a month before a target marathon.  A few months before perhaps - a lot like to do that.

    I used to do a local 21 mile race which would typically be 4 or 5 weeks before London.  Every year I'd run it at a pace I thought would be MP, and every year I'd start London with bags of confidence only to fade big time towards the end.  Then I stopped doing it and took 8 minutes off my PB.  So yes, an element of personal preference but I don't think many would recommend 20 @MP that close.  Maybe do it as an easy training run with a few quicker miles in the middle?

  • A lot of people do a 20 mile race (the popular one when I lived in the midlands was the Ashby 20) as a warm-up, but although some people do seem to race it successfully and then go on to race well at London, you'd more often see people race the 20 and then fall short in their spring marathon. I remember doing it at easy(ish) pace, and my friend (CC2 of these forums) doing it as 10 easy, 10 MP, and we both ran sub 3 that  year. By contrast, one of the sub-3 aspirants being mentored on the forums was complaining that she always ran a good time at Ashby, so why couldn't she translate that into a sub-3 at London...?

    When this has been discussed on the sub-3 thread here you get both approaches but also a middle ground where some people suspect that maybe they'd perform even better in their marathon if they didn't smash the 20.

    And my own coach wouldn't let one of our sub-2:50 girls race Ashby before London one year. I didn't know her back then but I remember seeing her out for her LSR running the route slowly in reverse and thinking 'wtf is that girl doing?'!

  • Tom13Tom13 ✭✭✭

    I think running a 20 mile race with a section of it at MP (15/16 miles) as Muddy suggests is a very good idea. As an example, I ran a 20 mile race 5 weeks before Manchester Marathon in April, didn't race it but used 16 miles at MP as a confidence boosting training run. Much easier than running it as a solo session.

  • TL;DR: many people DO a 20-mile race before a spring marathon; most don't RACE it.

  • If you're testing yourself (twice) a month in the build up to the marathon then you'll definitely have blown your chances of your best time.

    You can't race all of the time and expect the body to be able to train and recover as well.

    You have to believe in the training and go with that. Maybe race one half as a guide to where you are - but don't do that too close to the marathon.

    Lots of runners in your club might be doing much better times if they didn't race a 20 before a marathon ?

    (I know some veteran runners can race marathons on consecutive weekends just fine - but you don't fall into this category)
  • Scott D wrote (see)

    It does seem strange not to use the 20m as a guage as to where I am? 

    That's the temptation, but sometimes you just need to trust your training.  What you're gauging is not where you are, but where you were at the start of the run.  You won't get back there until you've recovered properly and it'll be a few weeks at least before you're capable of your best possible marathon performance.

    There are a lot of 20 mile races around that time but if you look at times of people who run them and then a marathon later there won't be many who run the same pace in both - they'll either have run the 20 too hard and can't match that in the marathon, or they've run the 20 more slowly and have a better marathon run.

    Also bear in mind that many of those races are timed for London, which is three weeks later than Manchester next year.  A 20 mile race in early March is a lot more compatible with VLM on 23rd April.

  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭

    Thanks all.  I guess I haven't really gone in to what times they are running they 20 miles and if they are "racing" the 20 miles, I just know that they enter.

    BTW The HM is first Sunday in Feb and 20 is first Weekend in March so there is 4 weeks between each "race" and the Marathon.

    Thinking about it, perhaps my own experience of racing the 20 miler last year at around marathon pace and finishing at 2:32 contributed to my problems in Paris at mile 16/17?  It was 4 weeks between.

    I will strongly consider running some at MP and some slower.  So, for example, would it be an good idea to run it say 7:30-8:00 m:m for first 10 miles and 7 m:m (MP) for the second 10 miles?

    However, still train for a 1:25 HM in Feb? 

    Thanks for all your responses.  I know to run the GFA time in April I'll have to train smart and disciplined and it looks like running the 20m race as a training run and not a race is one sacrifice I will need to make (we all prefer to "race" a race don't we!).

    I've also decided to drop out of a 15m XC race in mid January as this caused me problems in the early stages of last years training.

  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭

    "Also bear in mind that many of those races are timed for London, which is three weeks later than Manchester next year.  A 20 mile race in early March is a lot more compatible with VLM on 23rd April."

    This is true, I had considered this but underestimated the significance to be honest!

  • Yes, still race the HM in Feb; those are easier to recover from (indeed, the same coach who wouldn't let my friend race the Ashby 20 before racing London has given his blessing to my doing 2 HMs 2 weeks apart in my London build-up).

    And yes, 10 miles at 8mm and then 10 miles at 7mm sounds good for the 20-miler.

  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭


    10 at 8mm and 10 at 7mm would still be a PB by a couple of minutes if my pacing is right!  I think I'd be really pleased at having run the second 10 at 7mm having already run 10 miles too so it could be a good confidence booster as well.


  • MrSoftMrSoft ✭✭✭
    Interesting you should say about not racing a 20 miler close to a marathon. This is exactly what I did for my first marathon this year. I ran it as basically a long run with the last 5 miles at marathon pace. I also ran my 2 half marathons during my training as long runs with MP for last part of it. All

    My focus was doing races to benefit me at my marathon, not told worried about the times. Did 3hrs 26 mins with a taped up calf, and think I might have scraped GFA if I had been fully fit.
  • Scott DScott D ✭✭✭

    MrSoft, the advice is not to run the races, it's not the race them.  As you ran it basically as a long run with the last 5 at MP then you didn't go all out for the best time you can over 20 miles, you ran it as a training run for the marathon.

    I ran 20 miles last year in the race which was fine, but I ran it at MP the whole way trying to get a good time, which is what I'm being advised NOT to do this time round.

    Sounds like you had the right approach last year and I should do the same!

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I personally think that racing a 20 miler @ MP at any time in the schedule is a bit unnecessary, just because it takes too much out of you to recover for the rest of your training.  On the other hand, I think using a 20 mile race four weeks out has its uses.  I would personally use it as a dress rehearsal for the marathon; wear the same kit, and run with whatever fuel strategy you're planning, i.e. gel belt, full number of gels, etc, and practise your race nutrition.  As for pace, I'd probably do something like 10 miles progressive, starting normal easy run pace, building up to target MP, then run target MP for 10 miles.

    For the record, the longest I've run @ MP during a 20 was 15 miles, but it felt a bit too close to all-out race effort towards the end, not helped by having a minor cold but carrying on belligerently anyway. I'm not sure it taught me that much and probably made the following week's training slightly less effective.

  • only running 22 miles a week now and not building up till January......that would mean a very fast build up in mileage......

    I would be worried by this...but then I'm not at the level of you guys   image


  • Tom13Tom13 ✭✭✭

    Very good point PP makes about rehearsing fueling strategies. Found this to be particularly useful in the 20 mile 'race' pre marathon.

  • seren nos wrote (see)

    only running 22 miles a week now and not building up till January......that would mean a very fast build up in mileage......

    I would be worried by this...but then I'm not at the level of you guys   image


    Yes, that's not many miles at all. Scott - how many miles are you planning to build up to from January? If it was me, I'd want to be regularly running at least 40 miles per week all year round and then I'd gradually build up from low 50s in December to low 70s 3-5 weeks out.

  • There's a V50 runner in my club who always races a 20 mile race around 4 weeks before London and it doesn't seem to adversely impact his marathon - he still knocks out 2:32/2:33 times. But I think he is unusual in that he seems to recovery easily. In my first marathon I raced a 20mile race 5 weeks beforehand and it didn't seem to impact my marathon. It was also a great confidence booster. But in my last two, I have used the race in place of the P&D session with 20 miles including 15 at MP. I don't think I'd fully race one now, more because of the injury risk than the recovery required.

    Scott - your 10 mile and HM times are similar to mine but your 5k time is much faster (especially if you think you can knock more time off) so I reckon more miles over a consistent number of months and lots of long runs should get you your GFA.

  • I usually run Ashby 20 as 10 miles easy/10 miles picking up the pace and can be out for my usual run the next day having done that. If I raced the 20 I'd lose maybe a week of good training as I recovered, possibly more. I'd still be able to run (but I do tend to recover quickly since I've been doing regular high mileage) but the quality (such as it is) wouldn't be there.

    Slowkoala - five weeks should be plenty of recovery time between a hard 20 and a marathon though I'd still expect your last couple of week's training to have been adversely impacted.

    I also agree that the mileage needs to be building sooner.

    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • Scott - 19.06 5K , 40 10K to 1:33 Half say that you have speed enough for a 3:05 but you are fading even before 10K . 

    I would advise starting to build up your long run and overall mileage from now just general running at steady paces  (base building) for the moment.

    Not personally a fan of twenty milers but then then I'd do a marathon if I going to race that far. image

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Scott, your 5k and 5 mile times are quick compared to your 10k time and half time. You are quicker than me over those distances but I'm 1 and 2 mins faster over 10k and half respectively. 

    Off 22 miles now, I'd say you need to be building up some miles now. Your conversion up the distances gets weaker by each distance and it's no surprise looking at your mileage.

    I did a 20miler 6 weeks out from London. My schedule had 20 miles at mp plus 15. I ran at at 7.07 pace. I then decided I would run London at 7mm, which ended at 7.04mm. Running relatively low mileage myself, I think you can get away with running a 20 miler a bit faster than someone on a 60 mile a week schedule. I didn't feel my 20 miler had an advrse effect, even on my next week's training. 

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    For what its worth, the only time I've ever gone under 2:20 for a 20miler is in the London, every other time, either race or LSR it was closer to 2:35+.

    I agree with all the others re LSRs, should be at MP plus about 1minpermile, save the fast run for when it counts!

    My own confidence builder was to run one of the 20s I did in training (usually about 4) at MP + 1 and then kick at 15 down to about 6:45 pace. If you can do that then a fade after 20 is not so likely.

    Good Luck with getting your GFA and see you at the Green start in 2018,image
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