1st Marathon Pacing/Training Advice

Hi all

So I’m doing my first marathon in Milton Keynes in May. So far training is going well having completed an 18 miler today (longest run ever).

My concern is pacing and training speeds and my feelings after long runs.

My PBs are as follows:

5k - 25:10 
10k - 54:47
HM - 2:17

I was originally aiming at sub 5 hours, would love 4:30 but that probably overly optimistic. I aim my long runs (actually most runs) at 11 mins a mile or slower and try and keep my heart rate below or around 75%.

I get to the end of my long runs and I’m fucking glad it’s done, cardio wise I could go on and on, legs however are in peices. I certainly don’t finish feeling fresh.

Am I there or there abouts? Any advice on what I should be aiming at?


  • Cal JonesCal Jones ✭✭✭
    That was how it was for me when I went into my first marathon. Time-wise, my 5K was a lot slower, 10K was a bit slower (I think around 58) but my HM was a lot faster (2:02:34). Due to a month out with an injury, I didn't do enough long runs - I got a 19 and a 20 done, but spent the last couple of miles of the 20 cursing and swearing because my legs hurt so much.
    When I got to the marathon, I stayed with the 4:30 pacer until about 16 miles but started going backwards at that point, and by 20, I was getting shooting pains and had to stop and walk a lot. It was only the appearance of the 4:45 pacer on my shoulder that got me running again in the final mile.
    Based on that, I'd recommend getting more than one 20 miler done, maybe get another half marathon in your schedule (no closer than 4 weeks out, since it's your first marathon) and do some leg and core strength work, focussing particularly on the glutes.
    As for the race, you can judge that based on how your training (and second half, if you do one) go, and how warm it is. If you're not sure about pace, go with the slower option - you don't want to end up hurting and cursing for the last 6 miles like I did. Most races have a 4:45 pacer so that could be a good option if you think you can do better than 5 but aren't sure about 4:30.
    Most importantly, it's your first marathon, so soak it all up and try to have fun. It'll be a PB regardless of how fast you go.
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Hi Slowfoot, like you aiming for a marathon, but in September. I am doing a lot of swimming and cycling as well as running. My friends who have done marathons echo Cal make sure you have the 20 mile runs in the bank. One friend who is very experienced adds at least a mile walk on the end of each long run so she is used to being on her feet longer. 
  • Thanks for the replies Cal and TT.

    I’ve got a HM penned in for a week on Sunday as it goes and planning to run that at 10 min miles and see how it feels. I suspect the 18 will still be in the legs though. It’ll be a nice PB if I pull that off. It’s my next long run so a bit of a rest until then now.

    My schedule has me down for 2, 20+ milers, interestingly the first is the Thursday after the HM, then an easy week before a 22 and then I’m easing down to the big day.

    Glutes, yes must work on them more. I do boxercise as a cross training effort, and he does seem to like to make us squat so hopefully that and the core work we do will cover me. I do need to stretch them more though, I had a bit of back ache last night and realised I’d forgotten to stretch the glutes, doh.

    4:45 is a good shout, I hadn’t actually considered there might be a pacer for that, will have to see. I’m actually looking forward to it, it feels achievable 🙂.

    @TT, couldn’t agree more on walking after. I’ve been doing that since day 1. Walk to the start of my route and walk home from the end. It’s more time on your feet as you say, but also a warm up and down. If I just stop I’ll cramp up. It’s not usually as much as a mile though tbh.
  • I did my first marathon last May.. and my running times were not too far off your times... for 5K/10K and 1/2 marathon...

    Just be careful you don't go off too fast and blow up like I did... I had completed a few 20 mile runs before the marathon but I got carried away on a very hot day, and went off too fast... I ended up having to walk a bit, something I never did in my training, and ended up with a disappointing time for me. Good luck... The elation at the end of running your first marathon is something you will always remember.

  • A quick update, after a restful week I did my HM yesterday. I was aiming at 10 min miles but as there was a 2:10 pacer I opted to follow and see what happened.

    I learnt something, getting past a pacing group is a pain in the ass. Talk about blocking the road, took me over half a mile to get past and this was well in to it (mile 9 or so). I finally broke the elastic to them by 10.5.

    I finished in 2.06.35, 10 minute PB. My last 2 miles were my quickest and felt good. My first 20 miler is due on Thursday, that will be interesting 🙂.

    thanks Dave, I’m looking forward to it 🙂
  • DaisydooDaisydoo ✭✭✭
    Well done Slowfoot! Hope you are feeling well today ☺ 
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Great effort Slowfoot and well done on the PB.
  • Thanks 🙂

    I managed my 20 miler last week, varied my route a bit as well unfortunately adding some hills I didn’t know about. I survived ok, was dying during mile 17 but a well placed coop and a bottle of water sorted me out. Came in just under 4 hours so I think 5 for the full distance should be easily achievable especially given MK is pretty flat.

    There is good stuff coming from these long runs. I’ve a working fuelling strategy so far, a gel every 5 miles or so. This meant I was carrying 4 for the 20 (3 plus a spare) and that really didn’t work well in terms of trying to keep my shorts on (3 is fine, 4 isn’t). New shorts required.

    In order to get my weekly miles in I did 3 the day after the 20, honestly they were the hardest 3 I think I’ve done ever. Legs felt like they were splintering, 5 a couple of days later were better but still hard. What’s a normal recovery from that kind of long run?

    I’m suffering still this week and missed a couple of short runs as a result. Just general fatigue than any injury and erring on the side of caution. Missing a few short ones won’t matter, right?
  • Just to close this off. I finished MK in 4:57, I followed the 4:45 pacer from the outset but started to stretch the elastic around 18-20 then broke it at 21 drink station as I needed longer to drink and take a gel.

    We were ahead of pace (probably 2-3 mins in hand), but I was feeling it. I think I’d have been ok but for my right quad, it tightened 4 times at the knee causing me to slow, then walk and then nearly quit on the 4th time it did it. It always eased eventually. I took to walking the ups and running if I could the flats and downs. I gave up on 4:45 by 22, and dropped all the time over the last 4 miles. The threat of 5 hours kept me going. I ran most of the last mile to the finish so ensure it.

    Overall I’m happy, I ran my first marathon. I was sub 5 hours with room to spare. No blisters, no lost toenails, no real issues post race other than aches. Win!

    Oh and anyone who says MK marathon is flat is a liar, so many underpasses and bridges make for a hilly second half.
  • MrM2MrM2 ✭✭✭
    Well done. Thanks for coming back to tell us how it turned out. Yes, I had heard that the MK 'flat' was not altogether true. I note that you refer to MK as your first marathon, so what plans do you have for future runs?
    I opted for Newport, on the same day as MK; now that is a flat marathon!
    All the best for the future.
  • hd0407hd0407 ✭✭
    Hi All, Thanks for having me! So I have recently found out I have a charity place in the VLM 2020 so very excited! I am inherently, a cyclist at heart so running is a bit of a different beast! As with i'm sure many a newbie I'm a bit anxious as to weather this is within the realms of my capabilities! I have begun training a few weeks ago, just to get my body used to running regularly. I am also a bit concerned about having a slow finish time. (I am running around 10.30 minute miles at the moment. So I imagine Marathon pace would be markedly slower than that!) Just after some advice really as if there is anything I can do to make a success of this! Specific training advice, do's and dont's etc...I only plan to do this once so want to make sure i do myself justice! - Thanks in advance for your help!
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Hd0407, well done, and food luck with the fund raising. You have chance to do some really good training. How about nipping on to the shades marathon training thread and asking there? They are a very friendly bunch with masses of experience.
  • hd0407hd0407 ✭✭
    TT thanks so much for the response! That's great I'll hop on to the other forum!
  • hd0407hd0407 ✭✭
    TT thanks so much for the response! That's great I'll hop on to the other forum!
  • ShandzShandz ✭✭
    One thing that might be helpful is looking at the Hal Higdon website for training and for training and race paces, mcmillanrunning.com is a useful website.
  • Woah there. It's a year away and you've just started training. Don't worry about pace at all. 

    1. You will get faster. 
    2. Plenty of people come in considerably slower than your pace. Seriously 6 Hours in and lots of finishers. 
    3. You run your long runs slower than race pace. Otherwise you're knackered by race day. Run the shorter runs faster. 
    4. Congratulations getting in. Listen to your body. Consistency is the key. To do that you need to avoid injury. Back off the training if you need to. There's a long time to go. 
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