Debut marathon pacing advice (Read 156 times)


    Hello all,


    I am seeking advice on pacing for my first marathon coming up on 13th April.


    I have been logging my workouts on runningahead for 6 or 7 years now. This has included running and playing field hockey.  So I have some miles in my legs, although not at Marathon training volume I guess. I have only done half a dozen fun runs over the last few years, up to 11km only. No half marathons or marathons. (Please see my log for details of the training I have completed. )


    A summary in my own words if that helps..

    Started with a base of 50 to 60k per week with maybe a 16k or 18k longest run.

    I have been following some kind of plan (about 17weeks long) since middle of December,  and progressed the long run to 35k, with maybe 4 or 5 runs of 30km or more so far.  2 to go!  Roughly the second half of my plan has been based on Pfitzinger, somewhere between the 18/55m and 18/70m plans. I have peaked at a bit over 100km/week. Long/medium long run paces have been from around  5.07 to 5.20. per km. Tempos around 4.30 per km. Intervals a touch under 4 per km pace. I have run the two Pfitz Marathon Pace runs  which included 19k and 21k at 4.45 to 4.47 per km. (which was really hard. Not sure WHY I picked 4.45 perk for that, probably sweet talked by those online calculators! ) The only recent  data re speed is that I did a fun run 26th January, 5 miles in 34:26 on a hilly course, and a 5km time trial with net down hill in 19.xx mins. At about the same stage of training last year  I did a 42.14 for 10k time trial. During my first MP run I got a Garmin best time for the half marathon distance of around 1.41.13


    Health wise with a month to go I am starting to believe I will make the start line undamaged, there are no major issues. Fingers crossed!


    I would be very grateful for any advice and opinions coming my way. And I apologise for all the km paces, thats the way we do it down here :-)




      Take your time trials and pop them into the Pace Wizard. It'll give you the best possible pace, if the conditions are similar (temperature), and if your aerobic conditioning is tiptop. Doesn't hurt to plan for a slightly slower pace for the first half. Over time, you'll be able to equate your time trials with possible MRP. Good luck!


        Thanks Jimmyb!


        Those race paces look pretty right going by plugging  in my 5 mile race, and looking at HM vs my effort 13.1 in training etc.. But good advice to go slower early though, its all new territory and I don't know how I adapt to endurance training as yet. So I'm leaning towards 3.30 to 3.40 range to start, then review at halfway, then again at 20 miles. That's if I can think at that stage :-)




        comfortably hard

          Hi DJS,


          Not an expert here as I've only done one marathon, but I'll add my thoughts in case they can be helpful in any way. Based on your log, I think 3:30 to 3:40 looks very safe, maybe even too safe. You recently just did 18 miles at what you call marathon pace averaging 7:57/mi (and two of those miles were a cool down).  That workout alone indicates you should really be sub 3:30. For me, I know 18 miles at true marathon pace would be incredibly hard, too hard, especially in the middle of training. I wouldn't even consider that kind of workout. So, my guess is that your actual marathon pace might be a bit faster than this.


          That said, since it's your first, I would definitely play it safe and shoot for negative splits and a strong finish, and I think you can do that starting at 8:00/mi or slightly faster. Re-evaluate at halfway. If you feel good, which you probably will, ease the pace down slowly and just try to come home strong and somewhere under 3:30. I think, in a perfect race, you might even be able to get closer to 3:20 on this one, but I don't think it's worth the risk to go for that.


          Just make sure you have a plan and stick to it. In the early miles, if you're doing it right, you will feel amazing, and your goal pace will feel too easy. It should feel like this so don't speed up. I'd say around halfway it should still feel very comfortable but you're working a little and then somewhere around 20-22, the racing starts, it becomes hard, and at this point you just give it everything you have.


          Good luck, and stay healthy.


            Hello comfortably hard!


            Thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate the advice.

            As you say have a plan and stick to it. And yes I think around 8:00/mi is reasonable to start with now based on calculators like jimmyb's and my training. Whatever happens I think I am going to learn a few things on 13th April, can't wait!





              Just to finish the story..

              Today I ran my first marathon, basically took on board Jimmy B's and Comfortably Hard's advice. Guys, I have to say thank you! I went with the 3.30 pacers, started slowly then caught them after about 4km, stayed in that ballpark until about 32km, and still feeling REALLY good and hitting a downhill I went for it and did around 4.45 average for the last 10km. Pretty smashed at the end, but it was great fun flying home. 225th overall, and 77th for the last 12km split!  Finished with 3.28.54. Absolutely ecstatic with that result. Probably could have gone even faster but as you said there was some risk since I hadn't done the distance before. The net result was a GREAT experience, no wall, a satisfyingly (comfortably :-)) hard effort and a great result. And of course I am more than keen to continue the journey and do another one soon!



                Congrats! Looks like your plan came together and ran well.

                Current Goals: Run and stuff

                  That's great news, and an ideal finish for your first marathon!  With that experience under your belt, no doubt you will challenge yourself a bit more in your second.  Not sure picking a goal will be any easier for #2, though. Smile

                  Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.


                    Hi, thanks for the comments guys, I appreciate that. And yes Led, next time I am sure other issues will be muddying the waters. But lets just start with 3.28.53...Nothing like a PR!




                      Great pacing overall - I only wish my first one could have gone that well.   I clearly recall literally praying to God to help me during that last 10k - I and I swore if I got through it I would NEVER run another marathon.    15 Marathons later, ever once in a while I still get that feeling around mile 23-24, swearing this will be my last one. Smile


                      Well done on your first Marathon!!!  Enjoy that post marathon high that will last most of the week!