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Marathon pace

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Marathon pace

Post  Tim C on Tue May 27, 2014 11:25 pm

So how does one go about determining their goal marathon pace?  I've run 2 halfs at 1:48 or better, which McMillan tells me equates to a 3:47 full, which seems WAY out of reach.  I signed up for the Santa Rosa marathon in August and would really like to break 4 hours (why - I don't know as it's just a number…).  

I've completed 2 marathons, one in 4:22 and would up dehydrated in the medical tent and one in 4:08 where I felt fine and the the last 3 miles were the fastest of the day.  3:59 is just a 9:07 pace, which I run all the time.  Some days it feels really easy, other times I just go 'how in the hell could I ever keep this up for 26 miles???'

Last weekend I ran an easy 12 miles but picked it up the last couple of miles at slightly under a 9:00 pace.  No problem to do but mentally it was difficult contemplating doing that for nearly 4 hours.  So I'm following Hal's Intermediate 1 program and would really like to run 3:59:xx but have no idea if it is within reach or not.  How does one tell???

What concerns me in my limited marathon experience is:  if I go out slow and cautious, I would probably be way too far below pace to break 4 hours.  If I go out too fast and crash at 20 miles - well that's no good either.  So how does one get a handle on what may be a reasonable pace to attempt to run at, assuming the weather cooperates that day???

Throw darts???
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Jerry on Tue May 27, 2014 11:50 pm

Tim,

When was your 1:48 half and 4:08 marathon? Have you improved your half time, by how much?, or fitness since?

If you don't have data point, you will have to follow your heart.  lol! 

About racing at reasonable pace, hard question. I think we learn more by going out conservative and realizing we leave some on the course, than going out too fast and crash. Then we gain experience about the balance of patience and competitiveness. It takes time and the learning never ends. And most of the time, we fail.

Keep trying.
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  mountandog on Wed May 28, 2014 8:41 am

General rule:  HM x 2 + 8 minutes -- so 3:47 is in range.  Two key points:

1) When did you run your last HM?
2) Is your weekly mileage high enough to build the endurance for 26.2 vs. 13.1?  Personally I think you need to run a minimum of 40 miles per week.  50 is much better.

You can run a good HM and run out of gas for a marathon if the endurance isn't there.  That's when the general rule or McMillan wouldn't necessarily apply.

Best way to figure it out would be to run a HM race about 4 weeks before your marathon.  Do a mini taper (3-4 days) and give it an honest effort.  You won't have your best time as you're in the middle of a training cycle, but if you're still in the 1:52-1:54 range you should be able to easily target sub-4.  If you're faster, then you can be more aggressive.  A HM is the best way to guage your fitness without toasting your legs for the marathon.  It will give you confidence that you've picked the best target.
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Michael Enright on Wed May 28, 2014 9:10 am

4:00 is within reach if you start the training cycle with the current ability to run a half at 1:48.

Hal's Int I or II is sufficient for your training for the goal.

I don't put much stock in McMillan or the predictors, because I've come up short on those over and over based on my half times. But my best half is 1:45:xx, and I've run a marathon at 3:51, on no more training than you propose, so I'm confident you can get it done. Whether you accomplish it or not will depend, as you know, on all sorts of other things, many of which you can't control (weather, just a bad day, etc.). So, control the things you can, do the training as proposed, and you'll get to the start line with the goal within reasonable reach.

Back to your race pace question, the idea of a "test" half 4 or 5 weeks out is a really good one. I would simply try to confirm your ability to run a half at around 1:48 in that race, if you do it, rather than get overly ambitious and try to run a PR in it.

When you get to the marathon, the overwhelming mainstream wisdom says go out at just under 9:09 and stick with it, trying to run even splits. I can't argue with that. Personally, I would run the first mile a little slower, just so as not to get carried away at the start, and then try to settle into a pace right at 9:00 or a few seconds faster (hard to fine tune it that much, in my experience), and see if I could hold it. A pace group, if available, may be a really good idea if you aren't great at judging your pace mid-race. If you feel great at 22 miles (unlikely!), unleash your inner beast and go for a negative split and a fast finish. More likely, you'll fade a bit at the end, but still be within reach of 4:00, and you'll just need to hang on and gut out that crazy last few miles.

I hope you succeed!
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Admin on Wed May 28, 2014 11:36 am

I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.

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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed May 28, 2014 11:49 am

@Mr MattM wrote:I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.
So is Matt dissing us?
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Admin on Wed May 28, 2014 12:06 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.
So is Matt dissing us?

Ha ha... I didn't mean it that way.  I just know that runners who give the info requested in the sticky at the top of that forum tend to get really good advice on pace, and surprisingly accurate when the advice is followed.

If I were to just give my own opinion based on the info supplied I'd suggest conservatively that we double the HM time and add 20 minutes.  The higher the average weekly mileage, the less buffer time I would add.  But if we're talking the in the 40-50mpw range, then 20 minutes seems about right.  So, I'd look for a 1:50 or faster HM as a sub-4 indicator.

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Re: Marathon pace

Post  mountandog on Wed May 28, 2014 12:28 pm

@Mr MattM wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.
So is Matt dissing us?

Ha ha... I didn't mean it that way.  I just know that runners who give the info requested in the sticky at the top of that forum tend to get really good advice on pace, and surprisingly accurate when the advice is followed.

If I were to just give my own opinion based on the info supplied I'd suggest conservatively that we double the HM time and add 20 minutes.  The higher the average weekly mileage, the less buffer time I would add.  But if we're talking the in the 40-50mpw range, then 20 minutes seems about right.  So, I'd look for a 1:50 or faster HM as a sub-4 indicator.

No - Michele is right. You're dissing us.
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Nick Morris on Wed May 28, 2014 1:44 pm

@mountandog wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.
So is Matt dissing us?

Ha ha... I didn't mean it that way.  I just know that runners who give the info requested in the sticky at the top of that forum tend to get really good advice on pace, and surprisingly accurate when the advice is followed.

If I were to just give my own opinion based on the info supplied I'd suggest conservatively that we double the HM time and add 20 minutes.  The higher the average weekly mileage, the less buffer time I would add.  But if we're talking the in the 40-50mpw range, then 20 minutes seems about right.  So, I'd look for a 1:50 or faster HM as a sub-4 indicator.

No - Michele is right.  You're dissing us.


HAHAHAHA!!!
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Jerry on Wed May 28, 2014 2:17 pm

@Nick Morris wrote:
@mountandog wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Mr MattM wrote:I recommend that you go here and ask:  http://community.runnersworld.com/forum/marathons

There is a sticky at the top of the forum.  You'll get really good input.
So is Matt dissing us?

Ha ha... I didn't mean it that way.  I just know that runners who give the info requested in the sticky at the top of that forum tend to get really good advice on pace, and surprisingly accurate when the advice is followed.

If I were to just give my own opinion based on the info supplied I'd suggest conservatively that we double the HM time and add 20 minutes.  The higher the average weekly mileage, the less buffer time I would add.  But if we're talking the in the 40-50mpw range, then 20 minutes seems about right.  So, I'd look for a 1:50 or faster HM as a sub-4 indicator.

No - Michele is right.  You're dissing us.


HAHAHAHA!!!
Heeheehee!!!

Matt, shut down this site. You can do it. lol!
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed May 28, 2014 5:21 pm

I just couldn't resist especially since we don't hear from Matt often.  In fact, I thought he was gearing up to run a marathon, but we haven't heard since.  Hope he is running and doing well.

As far as picking the right pace, Tim, I think a sub-4 is indeed doable.  I am in the same camp as Matt in that I truly believe that most people fall into the double your half time and add 20 min especially if your mileage is on the lower side.  It will also be dependent on the marathon course you have chosen, but the 9:07 pace is indeed doable based on a 1:50 half.  As others have stated, I would also look towards trying to "race" a half marathon about 4 wks out using a 2-3 day taper.  You will have tired legs and the benefit will be how you race on those tired legs and it will be a great gauge of what you might be able to expect.  Remember, pace and this sub-4 try can/are be course dependent.  I doubt that a flat half can really predict a time for a hilly marathon.

Also as food for thought, my half marathon times dictate marathon times below 3:40 according to the McMillan calculator.  Since I am really a better half marathon racer than a marathon racer, I know that I'm closer to the 2x + 20 min.  This bears out if you compare my half and marathon times in the calculator.

What race are you thinking of running?
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Tim C on Wed May 28, 2014 10:12 pm

Thanks everyone for all of your replies.  You guys are a wealth of knowledge.

First off, I've run 1:47 and 1:48 but they were 3-4 years ago.  I haven't raced any halfs since then as I have a pretty fun gig pacing the 2 hour group at some pretty big events here lately.  Free entry, lots and lots of people starting with me hoping to break the 2 hour mark and running a 1:59 half is VERY comfortable for me.  Did the OC half marathon earlier this month and actually finished a little faster than I wanted in 1:58:30 - my bad.  (I kept trying to get my pacing partner to slow down…).  But I am done pacing, at least for now as it is fun, but it's really not much of a challenge - I need to push myself a bit.

As for mileage, you guys run more miles than I do.  I followed the novice program for marathon 1 and wound up dehydrated and in the medical tent with a 4:22.  For marathon 2 I changed from 4 days a week running to 5 and slowed my long run pace down.  I was able to negative split and feel really good after running a 4:08, which could have been faster for sure but I went out conservative.  The Intermediate 1 only has 4 weeks over 40 miles, mostly mid to upper 30's and I have never run 50 miles in a week, I don't believe.  I agree though that for me, more miles is better, as long as most of them are on the slow side.  I am 57 with 3 knee surgeries and 2 back surgeries (honestly the last back surgery was October 2013 which caused me to shut it down for about 8 weeks, but I have NEVER felt better than I do now - it's just not an issue).

I think I will try your suggestions and run a half marathon 4-5 weeks out and see where my fitness is.  I really don't want to overestimate where I'm at, go out too fast, and crash & burn.

Michele, I'm running the Santa Rosa marathon in northern California in August.  Potential to be hot but I have several friends that have run in 3 years in a row and they all say the weather has been great.  Flat course, 6am start and much of the course is in the shade.  The expo is at a winery, we will stay with my sister who lives nearby and the swag is great so…

Here we go...
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  mountandog on Thu May 29, 2014 8:38 am

@Tim C wrote:.  You guys are a wealth of knowledge.

Tell that to Matt. Good luck in your training. Let us know how the HM goes.
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  amyjoann on Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:06 pm

I'm finding trail running is way easier to recover from vs. road if you can find some trails go run them and forget about pace out there. I also think higher mileage is the way to go,but I think the trails will help you stay injury free
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Tim C on Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:29 pm

So it doesn't look like I'll get a half to race to see where I'm at.  I must say the training cycle has gone well and last weeks 20 went REALLY well.  Was able to pick it up the last 4 miles and run a little under MP, 8:50-9:00 with no issues.  Tired but good.  All of my MP pace runs have been fairly straight-forward, but I start playing head games with myself: "Sure, 8 miles at 8:55 feels fine, but can you do this for 26 miles"…  Only had one really hard run, an 18 miler after burgers and beer the night before - on a hot day - and didn't bring enough water - that run sucked… but I finished it...

So, I know I need to go out easy and see how I feel .  Assuming the weather cooperates on race day, I'm wondering how much of a negative split to short for.  I'm thinking 2:01 - 2:02 for the first half and, if I'm feeling good, start to pick it up a little at that point.  If I'm not feeling it, running the 2nd half at the same pace still gives me a PR as my best is 4:08.

Oh well, I'm doing an easy 12 tomorrow, a final 20 next week and then taper time.  Knock on wood, it sure feels good to not have any aches or pains this go around...
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Jerry on Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:29 pm

Tim, looks like a good plan. Good Luck!
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:28 am

Sounds like a good plan.  Make sure those first few miles feel so easy that it seems like everyone is passing you (they are) as they will come back to you as you pick it up and finish strong.
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Nick Morris on Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:09 am

Sounds good to me...Good luck!!
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Re: Marathon pace

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:39 am

Your plan sounds good.
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