Monday, July 31, 2006

So, Just what IS my Marathon Pace?

ORN: Sunday: 7 miles, 9:18/mile

In planning and training for the Portland Marathon on October 1, I'm trying to target my pace. Numerous runs on the training plan are set for "Marathon Pace'...but just what is it? I'm asking for help here.

The data:

1. In the St Louis Marathon in April, I targeted a 9:45 pace, which I held pretty well through 23 miles, when I had to walk the uphill portions of the last three miles. I ended up averaging 10:18 over the entire course.

2. Four weeks later, I did the Indy Half Marathon in an 8:53 pace.

3. Four weeks after that, I did the Sunburst Half Marathon in an 8:39 pace.

4. I have, to date, targeted a 9:30 pace (on my Garmin, probably a 9:35 or so in reality).

5. On Saturday, with temps in the 80s and very high humidity, I ran 11.4 miles at a 9:31 pace (on the Garmin). I was trying to run at 9:45. Couldn't do it.

6. On Sunday, the training schedule called for 7 miles at MP. With the temps and humidity even higher, I set the training pace feature of the Garmin to 9:30 and couldn't keep it at pace...I ran it at 9:18.

7. I'd like to finish Portland strong...I have no need (on this one) to get under 4 hours. That will come, perhaps in 2007.

So, good running friends, what should I target my MP at for Portland, two months from tomorrow?? Or am I obsessing too much??

Thanks for your help as we all persevere.


Darrell said...

Isn't it great how those last three miles can reek havoc on a perfectly decent marathon pace.

Wrong or right, I've always set my marathon pace based on my expected finishing time, or a little faster allowing for the inevidible slow down (those last 3-6 miles).

The whole long run thing is somewhat of a mystery to me. Most things I read suggest doing long runs slower than marathon pace. Other things I read suggest running at MP is the best way to simulate the race. So what better way than to run MP on your longest run to maximize the effort. Inituitvely to a dimwit like me it makes sense, physically its probably a disaster waiting to happen.

Bottomline, your MP is based on your predicted finish time. (Just don't run it for your long run, like me, huh.) By the way, nice job with the 9:18 on Sunday under less than ideal conditions. With your steady improvement this year, you should meet your expectations in Portland.

So a lot of words here but probably not much help. Isn't obsession just another word for a well executed plan?

Joe said...

Darrell, good points all.

Finishing time...if I came in at Portland in the 4:10-4:15 range, I'd be very pleased.

That would put the pace in the 9:40 range.

Are we on to something here??

George said...


From a running newbie, I would say, about 9:40 range also, but I think you might want to wait a month to decide that one for sure.

Which Garmin do you have? I have the 305. I love it!!

Joe said...

George, my concern is that if I wait a month, I won't have time to get many quality miles in at MP. Only two months from today and I'm lining up in Portland...thus the question.

I have the Garmin 201...have had it about 18 months and like it a lot. It appears to be about 3% fast, when I compare it on a TAC certified course. Thus, a 9:30 on the Garmin may be closer to a 9:40 in reality.

Donald said...

Hey. I'm checking in from Darrell's blog. I loved your Pikes Peak post - I've run the marathon there before, and it's amazing.

Your marathon pace is probably something slightly slower than your half-marathon race pace, perhaps 15-30 seconds per mile. But like Darrell said, don't do all of your long runs at this pace.

For the past few years I've done marathon training and racing by heart rate, and it has worked pretty well. It's a bit complicated to start but fairly easy to maintain after that.

Good luck!