what marathon time to aim for

Having just completed my first half marathon on my way to the FLM next April, in 1:52 (it was very windy so I missed my 1:45 target) - what sort of time should I aim for the marathon? I've done a couple of unofficial halfs of my own in similar times, so with 6 months to go, lots more training what should my target time be? How does 4 hrs max sound?

FYI - I'm 49, 103kg (presently - diet to start in New Year as I want to enjoy the run up to Xmas) resting heart of 50.

P.S. I'm not really after training tips but an estimate of what sort of times I should be aiming at for 10k, 10mile, half marathon and 20 mile - all distances scheduled to run before FLM.


  • GavoGavo ✭✭✭
    For marathon times, it may be too soon to start estimating. If you can do a 1:52 1/2m you should be able to get this down as your general fitness improves & you become a better runner.

    As for times for other distances, it depends on local conditions but your 1/2m is about 8.5 min miles so that should get you 1:20 - 1:25 for the 10 mile (if you can get down to around 8 min miles) and around 2:50 - 3:00 for the 20 mile (taking your times up to around 9 min miles). For the 10k, it can depend how long it takes you to get warmed up & what your quicker running times are.

    Entirely unscientific of course!

    Good luck

  • IanIan ✭✭✭
    I did my first 1/2 marathon in 1:43 in February 2000 and subsequently did the 2000 FLM in 3:47.

    As a general rule double your 1/2 marathon time and add 20 minutes. You will improve your times a lot over the next 9 months. Make sure you do some more races - a couple of 10ks perhaps and another 1/2m in the spring.

    RW occasionally publishes charts of time predictors where you can predict your marathon time from your 20m pb. Obviously the closer to your actual distance the better the prediction - its no use trying to predict your marathon time from a 5k. There is an electronic version of this on the US version of RW on line, but I've always found it to be wildly over optimistic.

    By the way, I would have done better in FLM 2000 if I had not had to stop to fix my shoe twice and not gone off too fast. Remember, if you've done a 1/2 mara. the first half of a full one always feels easy. If you stick with the RW pacers for your estimated time you won't go wrong.
  • Thanks Gavo. I don't think my general fitness is the problem (I mountain bike, and do general gym work as well) but I am noticing a steady improvement in my running as I pile on the miles. I'm sure that once the weight starts to come off then times will get better - seems at the moment the excess fat is converting to muscle which will explain why the weight is holding steady even with the mileage.

    10k - 50 mins on a treadmill (which is 8 minute/mile) but not on road yet. Would hope for 45min in Brighton 10k coming up on a flat course (if wind doesn't blow too hard).

  • IanIan ✭✭✭
    Sorry, but I also meant to say congratulations! You did well. You've made an excellent start to do a half m. in under 2 hours. Given that your weight will drop as you raise the milage you and given the fact that you have plenty of time you could realistically aim for sub 3:45 or even 3:30. Try to follow the RW schedules from January - or start now with the online versions. Good luck!
  • Ian - thanks as well. I would realistically hope that if my training goes to schedule I would aim for 3:45 but unless somthing exceptional happens I don't think 3:30 is within my grasp although maybe a 1:30 to 1:40 half is. I don't want to try the FLM and find I don't make it by going too quick - I want to "enjoy" it as well. Maybe 3:30 is in the future.
  • Hi fatbutfit.
    Suggest you look at the forum general and Sean Fishpools HR etc etc. I startded this many weeks ago now, you may find it helpful.

    For instance you will see that the times you should be able to do now in line with your half marathon are.

    Marathon - 4hr 5min.

    10k - 49min.

    10mile - 1hr 24min.

    So you should on the way be able to improve on these times and your marathon.

    Hope it helps. Ron.
  • Hi Ron - just had a quick squiz over at your recommendations but they will take some digesting, so will read them at leisure. Like your time suggestions above, so with more work can get them down. I don't have a HRM yet (well I do but I can't find it since moving house!) so am shopping about for a new one - the other is very old anyway. Do you suggest one with a computer download facility, or is that over the top for what I want to achieve. I don't want to get too nerdy about all this.
  • Fatbutfit - having completed two marathons in the last month I can definitely say for your first marathon forget about times and make sure you make it a - I won't say enjoyable - survivable experience.
  • John - thanks for the message. I thought that thread had died! I'm doing the Brighton 10k on Sunday coming, which, on a flat seaside course (hope the wind's not howling though) should give me a baseline time for this distance. I've then got a hilly 10k and more hilly 10mile planned for early December so be interested to see what those times are as well. I did a flat 18k 1:30 without busting a lung the weekend before last, so I think I'm on schedule for the 4hr marathon.
  • Fatbutfit,

    How did you get on in the Brighton 10k? If you did manage 45 minutes, this equates to about 3:27 for the marathon. Your 1:52 half equates to about 3:55. So, you should be on for a sub 4 hour marathon.
  • Hi FBF - 4 hours sounds about right, but that's what you could do now - long time until April so you should be able to reduce that ?

    Make sure you don't skimp on the long runs though - I faded quite a bit once I hit 20 miles.

  • Hi guys - Brighton was 48:30 which I was a little disappointed with but may have something to do with a surfeit of alcohol the day before watching 3 games of rugby back to back on TV. So that equates to about 3:45 or thereabouts - if I can keep the pace going. I found the start slow due to bunching (I guess FLM will be worse so need to calculate that in as well) but after the 1st turn this got better and I felt pretty good. 2nd half definitely quicker than the first which is good so they say.

    As you say Cougie - long time to April but plenty of things planned and hope to get a few halfs Feb/March in and possibly the Worthing 20miler which is about 3 weeks before the FLM.
  • FBF:

    Without wishing to discourage you, I would echo Martin's advice - in your first marathon aim just to get round in one piece.

    I was turning in similar times to you, and went into my first full marathon having done the training and thinking 4 hrs or thereabouts. It took over 5.

    Never underestimate those final six miles. But otherwise - enjoy and good luck!
  • FBF

    I've read this thread with interest as I've put in for FLM (will be my 1st 26.2 if I get in) and have done similar times to you so far.

    Best half, 1:43 best & only 10K 43.

    I put 3:59 on the entry (sounded more positive than 4 hours!) and I'm reassured that this seems realistic.

    Must put in some long weekend runs over the winter, max so far is 14 miles.

    I also have The Grizzly to enjoy...
  • Hi Fatbutfit. Must have been the booze, because conditions were perfect for PB's at Brighton. Incidently your time represents a marathon of more like 4 hours. But I am sure you will get there by April.

    Just a reminder for everyone. Although long runs are an essential part of marathon training, no matter how many you do or how long, they will not make that last 10k any easier. What hitting the wall is, when your body has reached your limits of certain fuels and or the bodies ability to transport oxygen as needed. Your Anaerobic system comes into play more and if you have not done the training to develop it, than it will not be able to cope efficiently. This is by far the biggest single mistake marathon runners can make in their training.

    One of the best ways to tackle this problem is to divide your projected marathon time by 35 and this will give you a mile pace to train at. eg A marathon time of 3hr30min will give you a mile time of. 6mins.
    This is a training pace and not a target for your best mile time, which may be faster or slower.

    To get going on training for this start with say 8 x 200m at the mile pace. with 2min recovery, then bring in 4 x 400m and 2 x 800. When you can do this put the recovery at 1min. When you have acheived all this you should go for the mile in 6mins. When you can do that change your mile training pace to 5% faster and start again. Note if you can already do your mile training pace, go straight into the 5% faster pace. These are simple session but will work if done at least once a week

    All the best Ron.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Having run a few marathons (well 6) estimating marathon time from a 10k time is a bit of a mugs game.
    I'd suggest that nearly all keen runners would run 10k,that doesn't mean that they would all do a marathon.As is pointed out here, and I will echo,20 miles in a marathon really is halfway and if you don't do the training you will soon get found out.

    For my first effort I aimed for 4hrs, and did my training following the schedules,at that time my fastest 10k was about 48mins,and hadn't done a halfM.I enjoyed the run and snuck in 3 mins inside.

    To run 3h45 (which I did in 2001) I'd suggest you need to run a halfMin 1h40-45 and a 10k in around 45mins.
    This year I ran 3h31,1h36 and 42mins

    Hope this helps.

    Above all enjoy it!

  • Ron,

    I'm afraid your knowledge of exercise physiology is rather muddled - as is your advice on marathon training.

    Experience from thousands of runners demonstrates that several long (20+ mile) runs during training will (a) reduce the likelihood of 'hitting the wall', or (b) reduce the severity of the 'wall' when your glycogen reserves start running low. More long runs certainly do make it easier to get through the last 10k - you might not be able to maintain full speed, but a gradual loss of pace is much better than being forced into the 'death march' which is common for runners who haven't done enough endurance training. So, in general, the more long runs the merrier. The only argument against this that I am aware of is that long runs may increase the risk of injury and/or illness by depressing the immune system.

    As far as anaerobic systems are concerned - they are useful for a sprint finish, but they are not a significant source of energy for the last 10k of a marathon. For this reason, your recommended session of 8x200, although it might help to boost the anaerobic system, will be of little benefit for most aspiring marathon runners. In fact, for most marathon runners there is little point in doing interval training with efforts less than 1,000m to 1 mile. Efforts of this length (run at about 10k speed or a bit faster) will improve lactate threshold (enabling you to run faster without going into oxygen debt) - which is a key factor determining performance in long distance running.

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