Advice on marathon pacing


<div>I’m new on here and am hoping for some last minute marathon advice.

I’ve been running consistently since 2015 and in 2016 ran a 3:37 marathon. I followed my own made up (rubbish) training plan and for the last 4 miles felt absolutely appalling. I was on for 3:30 until about 5 miles from home.

This time I’ve been following the P and D Advanced Marathoning 18 week training plan, 55-70 miles a week. I have done every single run in the plan so far 

I’ve been running my lactose threshold runs at about 6:50 a mile and my long runs somewhere between 7:20 and 8:40. I managed a 22 miler at 7:39 pace and felt fine at the end - no slowing down at all.

2 weeks ago I ran a half marathon race in 1:27:15 and that was after a 19 mile run 3 days earlier (admittedly at 8:38 pace) then a very mini taper of 2 days.

I have run a 5k in 19:34 and a 10k in 40:36 (Both months ago)

So! My question is, what should I be trying to run a marathon in?!

Sensibly perhaps I should be going for 7:10 a mile but, given that I did that half marathon 3 days after a long run I reckon I could probably run a half faster than that if it has been the goal…

Any advice would be very welcome..

Thanks </div>


  • Hi, my times are probably similar to yours, but the fact that you've recently run 22 miles at such a fast pace with no after-effects suggests that 7:10-7:15 mins per mile should be very doable. One very rough rule of thumb is to double your half time and add 20 minutes for a marathon, so this would also agree.

    Well done with the training, sounds like it's going really well. You'll have to judge how you feel on the day, but I think &:10 would be a good pace to start at and pick up if need be. You're probably going to start thinking about 6:52 pace and the magic sub-3 number, but I think that might be a bit much. I've tried that many times and each time have got to halfway in about1:31-1:32, but then struggled to keep this up and finished in 3:10-3:15. 

    Starting conservatively and picking it up is a better strategy than going for broke from the start, it can be a long way on knackered legs.

    Good luck!
  • Depends on how much you want to risk it as your on the cusp of a sub-3.

    Personally I feel us marathon runners run too conservatively as we don't know what we are really capable of. 

    You seem to have a good base with the P&D plan and that 22m run looks good as does the relatively un-tapered HM. As your an experienced runner you can look at 2* your Half marathon time plus 10-15 minutes which would give you around 3.05 so 7.10 mm looks reasonable.

    To run a sub 3 marathon (which I would think you will soon be capable of)  you really need to be running 1.25 or better for a HM, 38/39 min 10K, have some luck on the day and lots of marginal gains (carbon-magic shoes).  Also with  with pacing, though the theory says negative split in practice, the vast majority of runners fade in the second half as the same effort in the first half will add 5-10 seconds in the second, so if you are aiming at 3.05 maybe a 1.31/1.34  split.   Good luck, you will come out stronger for the marathon for next time. 
  • Thank you both very much for your advice. I think we are all in agreement. I’m thinking 7:10 would be a sensible pace. 
    I am tempted to go for broke with the 6:52 but I think I’d need to be running 6:45 really as I think I’m sure to fade a bit..

    I reckon if I tapered for a half I could do a 1:25 but until I do that I won’t be sure!

    Its encouraging to hear that I might be getting close to sub 3 so I think if I go for 3:10 this time and see how I feel. 

    Thanks for your help 
  • Well it didn’t go quite as well as expected!

    I started off ok and did the first half at 7:15 mile pace. 

    Then this dropped closer to 7:20 by 20 miles and I really struggled through the last 4 miles to finish in 3:21:50.

    If I’d gone off at 6:50 pace I don’t think I’d have finished!

    It could be that I’m simply not as good at marathons as I hoped. That time certainly doesn’t tally  with a 1:27 half. But other reasons could be the 24 degree heat, the 1050 feet elevation and the almost total lack of crowd support. It was a really small event. I came 9th place!!!!!

    I will do another - in the Spring on a flat course and see if I can knock 15 mins off that time!
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    edited September 2021
    Firstly, well done for running a fast marathon in that kind of heat it is not easy.

    Next time out - with good conditions and people to run with - you will knock a good chunk of that time.  I think you've pinpointed the reasons for the 3.15.  As an aside I went from a 3.15 marathon to a 3.00 marathon in 2 months and 2.50 in 5 months,  your on an upward curve and keep the training consistent and I am sure you will run some very good times. 
  • Thanks, I’m really keen to do another on a flat course. So you did another 2 months later? I was wondering how quickly I could do another. Did you do much training between the 2 as it must have been mostly recovery and taper!
  • Newport is apparently one of the flattest courses and that’s in 4 WEEKS TIME!

    I guess that’s too soon to beat my time but it’s very tempting…no point doing it though if I’m going to be slowed down by yesterday’s marathon…
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    edited September 2021
    A 4 weeks gap is plenty, indeed your marathon yesterday will give you a fitness boost by then but make sure you emerge injury and niggle free.  I am doing London and Newport. I have run maybe 8 sub 3 marathons within 3 weeks of eachother and each time run the second faster. 

    Key is a weeks proper recovery, 2 weeks of training (generally easy with some faster sessions) and then a week taper.  Might see you at Newport and yes it is flat and most likely cool/ wet. 
  • Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I’ve just entered Newport! I’ve got nothing to lose and I’d much rather have another bash now than start all over again next year. Although I run all the time anyway, I increased my mileage for about 40 to 60-70 a week leading up to the marathon. I really reckon I can go faster on a flat course on a miserable cold day!

    Great work getting into London. What sort of time are you hoping for? Best of luck and thanks for the advice. 
  • Agree - I've run a few marathons close together and have always found that the successive ones are quicker. I'm running London and then probably Liverpool 3 weeks later in the month. What better training could there be for a marathon than running a marathon? But recovery is key. You're going from a reverse taper straight into another taper, and both probably shortened. 4 weeks is plenty, but bear in mind that if you run inbetween the races, you're not going to increase your fitness, just your injury risk, so take it easy. The next 3 weeks or so your legs are likely to be heavy and lethargic, and 26.2 miles will feel like a very long way, but you'll be fine. Best of luck!
  • Thank you that’s very encouraging. Well done getting into London.

    I was really disappointed with my time. I picked the wrong course. My stupidity. I did no hill training and didn’t realise it was so hilly. I feel like I was beaten by the course and weather but I can’t really face another 18 weeks of hard training, I want to do another ASAP! Also it’ll feel like a bonus race and I won’t have anything to lose. It’s great to hear that your second one has always been faster…

    Good luck with both of yours 
  • P and D do a 4 week plan for people doing 2…

    it’s lovely and gentle!
  • Sounds you have a plan and are in a good place Robert.  Sadly, CV has bitten ( thanks 11 year old positive son) so going to miss London now as feel rotten. 

    If I had run, I would have been aiming for 2.50 and am lucky to get in as get a GFA place.

    Hopefully if we both make good recoveries will see you at Newport  

  • Oh no I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you and your son are ok.

    How very disappointing. I hope you can roll your entry into 2022.

    At least you’ll have Newport as a back up even if not quite the same 
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    edited October 2021
    My son has bounced back, I reckon I am 85% but improving.  Out of isolation last Monday so commenced running again though a bit of a struggle this week. No idea what pace to go for yet for Newpoet, will wait until race week and see how I feel 

    Unable to defer my London place as a GFA but no problems really as run London seven times now. 

    I hope your training has gone well- its taper time. 
  • Thanks, I seem to be getting there. Hoping for sub 3:10 but quite a bit challenge 4 weeks after previous marathon. I still feel pretty knackered but getting quicker!

    Glad you’ve both made Covid recoveries. You’ll probably get back into London 22 on a GFA after Newport?
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    edited October 2021
    Your fatigue is only to be expected 2 weeks post  a swift marathon  I am sure you will feel great in 10 days time (strewth!)

    I will miss London GFA 2022 which is not that important to me.  I had a good first week back last week with a decent 16m on Sunday with the last 5 pacy.  Just wondering now about pacing myself and thinking might aim for 5m @ 33 mins × 5 and then hold on to the finish.

    How is your training going?
  • Look like it’ll be a great event and the weather is finally getting a bit cooler. I did a 15 miler today. 12 just a bit slower than marathon pace (7:45) and 3 miles slow at the end. I feel pretty normal now. Much less pressure on this one as it feels like a bonus. I’ll take it easy this week now and, with a flat course, hope to just scrape under 3:15!

    Best of luck with it, let me know how you get on!

  • How did you get on?

    I thought it was a great course for a PB, so flat. I ran around 3:10 pace up to 16 miles then started to slow a bit before the wheels totally fell off at 23 miles. I’ve never hit a wall like it. 

    Final 10k in 65 minutes!! I’m the end I was glad to even finish. Guess I need to keep working on it as I do think a sub 3:10
    is in me!

    Hope you got the time you were after and thanks for the encouragement on here. 
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