12

Marathon Pace Strategy / When do you hammer? (Read 1476 times)


finally Sub-3!!!

    I'm on marathon #4 now and all within the last 12 months. Feb 3:10, Dec 2:59. Jan 3:02 (hills), Feb 2012 Mereceds Marathon, Birmingham Alabama

     

    I honestly thought I had a good pacing strategy until I decided I wanted to shoot for a PR at the risk of really falling off the last mile or 2. 

     

    For the first 3 races, I ran my predicted VDOT pace until the final 5k and then just ran hard.  Typically, I fall within a few seconds of my predicted result with this method, and feel pretty spent and satisfied afterwards.

     

    I usually spend 20 miles waiting patiently and holding back to stay on pace, 20-23 gets a bit uncomfortable and by mile 23 I have reached my "hurt line." Then I suck it up and run hard to finish.  I looked at my data history and relieved that "run hard" at that point for me is 5-10" for 2 miles, 3rd mile is at average pace and then I hustle to the finish.

     

    It seems to me that with a 5k to go, I really don't have much distance to make up any time.  I dont think I could make up 60" over my avg pace if I really dug for the 5k. 

     

    I was thinking of running to mile 20 and opening it up before I really start hurting.  I dont want to go out from the gun, shooting for an even effort with a too aggressive pace and end up blowing up.  I still want to have a good race.  I am just looking for a better plan.

     

    I am hoping for some feedback here.  What strategies do you guys use to pace? And when do you hit the gas and empty the tank?

    I am open to suggestions.  Thanks in adavance.

      Marathon pace is hammering, if you are fit. Smile

       

      If you find yourself in position to "hammer"--i.e. turn up the effort substantially at any point in the race--it simply means that you went out too easy. Sounds to me like a better question is whether you could run a bit faster, not "hold back" over the first 20 miles. There's really only one way to find that out--go out faster.

       

      Are you fit enough to handle a faster pace at the beginning? Your workouts and races should tell you this.

        Optimal pacing for a marathon is pretty much constant pace. Of course the problem is that we often don't really know exactly what we're capable of on the day - so we don't know what the correct pace is to go out at. But you have to make an educated guess based on recent races and training. If you going to err it's better to go out too slowly than too fast.

         

        Constant pace is very far from constant effort - if you hit the best time you're capable of on the day it'll be very hard work towards the end, but relatively comfortable for the first half. If you run a constant pace and it's easy at the end then it just means you could have gone faster.

          I think you have to go out fairly hard and try not to drop off too much in the final 10K. Bank your time while you're fresh and hang on the best you can in the final 10K. It's going to hurt. But if you're actually able to pick up the pace in the last 10K, you've probably gone way to easy for the first 20 miles and you'll never make up that time.


          finally Sub-3!!!

            Marathon pace is hammering, if you are fit. Smile

             

            If you find yourself in position to "hammer"--i.e. turn up the effort substantially at any point in the race--it simply means that you went out too easy. Sounds to me like a better question is whether you could run a bit faster, not "hold back" over the first 20 miles. There's really only one way to find that out--go out faster.

             

            Are you fit enough to handle a faster pace at the beginning? Your workouts and races should tell you this.

             

            Really? If I started out at mile one with the effort level I feel at mile 23, there is no way I could even finish the marathon.  For me to feel "hammering" at the 5k, 10k, and 13.1 splits would require me to run those paces.  I do not believe this is a valid marathon pacing strategy for me.

             

            It seems to me the phrase "marathon pace" implies effort level would increase throughout the distance as one approaches 26.2.  This should require some level of self governing to maintain an even pace (flat course, ideal conditions).  Otherwise it would be called marathon paces or marathon effort. 

             

            I do have to hold back for the first part of the marathon to be able to maintain that pace.  So far, I've ran within 1-2' of even splits.  As I said, even though I am hammering the last 5k, my pace doesn't change much.  I am just no longer holding back, I am giving all I've got for the finish.  I believe I am pushing myself deep into over-rev from 23-26.2, as I am sure we all do, but I know with absolute certainty there is no way I could maintain that effort much over 20 minutes.  I was hoping to give it a go at 30 or 40'. 

             

            From these few posts, I see you guys do not experience the marathon in the same way I do.  I would have imagined everyone to get to some point where they felt they could turn it up and finish strong towards the end of any race. 

             

              I usually am passed by droves of over-achievers at the beginning, I move progressively through the pack in the middle, and hit the occasional crash-and-burners at the end.  This must be a "Marathon pace is hammering, if you are fit" strategy.  Start as hard as you can finish requiring a much faster pace in the beginning and a much slower pace at the end while maintaining the same "hammer" for the event.  This, is not for me.  But I do appreciate the advice.

             

            Does no one reach some point in the race where they give-it-their-all and finish strong?  Is it usually a slow death to the finish?

              Really? If I started out at mile one with the effort level I feel at mile 23, there is no way I could even finish the marathon.  For me to feel "hammering" at the 5k, 10k, and 13.1 splits would require me to run those paces.  I do not believe this is a valid marathon pacing strategy for me.

               

              It seems to me the phrase "marathon pace" implies effort level would increase throughout the distance as one approaches 26.2.  This should require some level of self governing to maintain an even pace (flat course, ideal conditions).  Otherwise it would be called marathon paces or marathon effort. 

               

              I do have to hold back for the first part of the marathon to be able to maintain that pace.  So far, I've ran within 1-2' of even splits.  As I said, even though I am hammering the last 5k, my pace doesn't change much.  I am just no longer holding back, I am giving all I've got for the finish.  I believe I am pushing myself deep into over-rev from 23-26.2, as I am sure we all do, but I know with absolute certainty there is no way I could maintain that effort much over 20 minutes.  I was hoping to give it a go at 30 or 40'. 

               

              From these few posts, I see you guys do not experience the marathon in the same way I do.  I would have imagined everyone to get to some point where they felt they could turn it up and finish strong towards the end of any race. 

               

                I usually am passed by droves of over-achievers at the beginning, I move progressively through the pack in the middle, and hit the occasional crash-and-burners at the end.  This must be a "Marathon pace is hammering, if you are fit" strategy.  Start as hard as you can finish requiring a much faster pace in the beginning and a much slower pace at the end while maintaining the same "hammer" for the event.  This, is not for me.  But I do appreciate the advice.

               

              Does no one reach some point in the race where they give-it-their-all and finish strong?  Is it usually a slow death to the finish?

               

              I think you misunderstood my point, probably because you are coming from an ironman background. These are super-long races that require holding back. The marathon is a funky distance because it is short enough to run hard, but long enough to pay the price if you tip the balance early.

               

              I suggest racing more at shorter distances, particularly 10k to half-marathon. This will teach you a bit more about the intermediate effort levels of running that are the key to racing marathons at the limit.

                Really? If I started out at mile one with the effort level I feel at mile 23, there is no way I could even finish the marathon.  For me to feel "hammering" at the 5k, 10k, and 13.1 splits would require me to run those paces.  I do not believe this is a valid marathon pacing strategy for me.

                 

                It seems to me the phrase "marathon pace" implies effort level would increase throughout the distance as one approaches 26.2.  This should require some level of self governing to maintain an even pace (flat course, ideal conditions).  Otherwise it would be called marathon paces or marathon effort. 

                 

                 

                Does no one reach some point in the race where they give-it-their-all and finish strong?  Is it usually a slow death to the finish?

                 

                out of my 6 or so marathons, I've only had one that I didn't death march into the finish.  My very first one, many years ago, I did the Jeff approach and just went for it.  That last 10K of my first marathon was the slowest and most painful 10K of  my life. Though I've never gone out that hard again, I still went out too hard on most of  them (too hard for the conditions and my training. Only my most recent did I get the pacing correct. From what I've read and understand, very few runners, elite or near elite, are able to run a full marathon darn near their threshold pace.  Most mere mortals can't do that. 

                 

                I'd say the pace/effort I experienced for the first few miles was just a little uncomfortable.  But, after a few miles at that pace, it felt pretty easy as I got into a grove.  Not hard, but not real easy is how I think the first 10 miles should feel (and what my coach recommended).  It still took concentration to not slow down  to an easy pace. After mile 10 or so, you start to feel it more and more.  There's highs and lows during the race and you just have to push through it.   

                 

                It's hard to tell you how the correct pace should feel. I sort of knew what pace I wanted to run because I had done a handful of 18 to 20 mile training runs with a substantial amount of miles at a pace I felt I could run in the actual  race. Come race day, I had already experienced that feeling and had the confidence I could do it for at least 20.  The magic of the taper, and fueling while racing,  enabled me to go that last 10K at a strong clip, for me. 

                 

                Hope this helps.

                  out of my 6 or so marathons, I've only had one that I didn't death march into the finish.  My very first one, many years ago, I did the Jeff approach and just went for it.  

                   

                  Okay, just to be clear: just "going for it" is not the "Jeff approach" to marathons. Maybe politics, but not marathons. Wink


                  finally Sub-3!!!

                    I think you misunderstood my point, probably because you are coming from an ironman background. These are super-long races that require holding back. The marathon is a funky distance because it is short enough to run hard, but long enough to pay the price if you tip the balance early.

                     

                    I suggest racing more at shorter distances, particularly 10k to half-marathon. This will teach you a bit more about the intermediate effort levels of running that are the key to racing marathons at the limit.

                     You are wise.  Thanks for the advice.  I feel pretty green about all this, and I feel cheated that I skipped the 5-10k stuff. 

                     

                    I plan this year to focus on shorter races and try to develop some speed.  The last season I have felt at odds with going faster and longer.  I've made gains at each, but I can't help feeling that I missed a lot by going long early.

                       You are wise.  Thanks for the advice.  I feel pretty green about all this, and I feel cheated that I skipped the 5-10k stuff. 

                       

                      I plan this year to focus on shorter races and try to develop some speed.  The last season I have felt at odds with going faster and longer.  I've made gains at each, but I can't help feeling that I missed a lot by going long early.

                       

                      Unfortunately, "going long early" is the most common path. But, you have learned some stuff by doing that which comes less naturally to me. For example, I struggle with sticking to a fueling plan in a marathon and processing food/water while I run. I bet you've got this nailed.

                       

                      So, your background gives you some advantages, some weaknesses. Racing at the shorter distances is fun--get at it!

                        If you are running close to a well-predicted time by running  your "VDOT" effort and draining yourself over the last three miles, then it's quite possible you're already running just about the best race strategy available. Focus on improving your training. You're going to improve your time more through solid training than you are through a race pacing strategy, especially when this one has worked so well for you.

                         

                        MTA: Oh, your race is next month. I don't think you should expect terribly different results from your December or January races. Hope you get favorable conditions and be ready to run just as fine of a race again.

                          Okay, just to be clear: just "going for it" is not the "Jeff approach" to marathons. Maybe politics, but not marathons. Wink

                           

                          I was just messing... 

                            I was just messing... 

                             

                            I know, BT!

                              I'm pretty sure I've never "hit the gas" in a marathon.  I might have seen Thunder do it once--about mile 13 at the 2010 Baystate marathon.  He started putting a big gap on my that got to maybe 80 or 100 yards at one point.  I saw him again around mile 20/21 and then he left out the back door.

                              Runners run.

                              TripleBock


                                The best marathons I have run, I have been on edge ~ significant discomfort by mile 3-6.  It is a matter of running on this thin line to mile 18-22.  After ths in the race - I have been at max pain threshold the rest of the way.  But I usually manage a pretty even split.

                                I am fuller bodied than Dopplebock

                                12