Pace for a Marathon (Read 65 times)


    Hi everyone

    I've done many 5 and 10 kms runs with a handful of half marathons and ready to tackle my second marathon.

    On my short runs, I try to maintain a consistent pace for the whole distance. With the marathon, what do you suggest?

    I'm aiming to finish in less than 4.5 hours. Do I start out at 5:30 per/km pace, knowing that I will slow in the last 10 km or do I aim for a consistent 6:20 per/km pace and hope I don't fade at the back end? I'm interested to hear your strategies for the M.

    Thanks Mark

      There does not seem to be an agreed on strategy for pacing during the marathon., but negative splits where you run the second half faster are considered ideal by most runners. That said the vast majority, like 97% of runners, including elites, run the second half slower. Of course there is something to be said for doing the whole thing at a consistent pace. There are factors to consider when pacing. Is the course flat? If not you may have to slow for the hills, Are you trained to run the whole distance at your desired paces? If not expect to slow drastically the last few miles, particularly if you ran too fast a pace at the beginning. The start can be crowded and sometimes there is no room to run as quick you want until the field thins out and then you might try to catch up, however the faster pace might slow your finish though as you burn through your energy. My own thought is use the crowded start as your warm up,then run at a comfortable pace and as you get used to it start to pick it up a bit. You may slow towards the end, but try to maintain a good pace. I realize this is rather vague, but I am sure you will get lots of advice here and some of it will be contradictory! Good luck!

      Slow and steady win the race


        Most will tell you that even pace is best.


        I actually tend to stat a bit behind pace and try to run the second half VERY slightly faster than the first.

        And you can quote me as saying I was mis-quoted. Groucho Marx



        SMART Approach

          Use your experience from your first marathon. This is very helpful. As mentioned above, a lot depends on your level of fitness. Are you running 25 miles a week or 50 miles per week or more. I am guessing somewhere in between. What is your training plan like and what is your level of fitness? 5k race time?


          The strongest advice I can provide is to use the first 2-3 miles as a warm up. I would want you to say to yourself, "geez I feel like I am running too slow". You won't be.....trust me. At 3-4 miles you will get a feel for a pace that feels comfortable and those first several miles should be a breeze and feel comfortable. They better or you will be in trouble later. Each race is different and conditions are different. Windy, hilly, warm etc. You need to take all this into account on race day. You will likely slow in the later miles but that is ok. What if at mile 20 you are tired but feeling pretty decent and say, "I think I can pick it up last 6 miles". That should be your goal but just know that is unlikely but not imposssible. It is a grind either way. The key for you is to not over estimate your fitness and goal time and to be smart in early parts of race.

          Run Coach. Recovery Coach. Founder of SMART Approach Training, Coaching & Recovery

          Structured Marathon Adaptive Recovery Training

          Safe Muscle Activation Recovery Technique



            Thanks guys for the advice. I do like the idea of a consistent pace if possible throughout the run. I'll be interested to see what others have to say. cheers :-)


              Keep in mind that as the day warms up that can slow you down.  Obviously this depends a lot on the particular race.