It was not something I would have considered back in 2002 when I first started running marathons.
I ran my first marathon in 2002 at the New York City Marathon debuting with a finish time of 2.43.36.
I didn't realize the importance of what it meant to train at marathon pace.
Quality Vs Quantity
Did 24-mile long runs prepare me to break my goal of 2.22.00?
I started working with the last American female to win the Boston Marathon, Lisa Rainsberger.
What The Best Do
The best believe in recovery. So, when it comes to preparing for a marathon the best train to perform.
In addition, they do train at marathon pace and for long durations.
Why do you think they make it look so good on television?
So, the goal is to see you make faster progress then I did and succeed.
You have the potential to make it look and feel easy to but the question I want to ask you is this.
To Maintain Pace You Have to Train At Marathon Pace
I had no idea what I was doing in 2002 when I first started running marathon.
So, don't grow frustrated when the results aren't coming as quickly as you would like.
Remember, work smarter, not harder.
An athlete seeking to improve their marathon time can considerably lower their present personal best. So, learn to train at marathon pace. Also, other factors go into it as well such as sleep and nutrition. How much attention do you pay to your easy, recovery run pace?
If you fail. Keep trying.
I failed over and over at this before I finally started to learn what was going wrong.
First Major Mistake
Listen to me on this.
Remember, you need to hydrate well in this race. So, don't pass up aid stations.
What you are doing the other parts of the day?
You can ruin your marathon build up in a matter of minutes by ignoring your calorie and fluid intake.
Again, don't pass aid stations. So, aim to grab a few dixie cups at each one. Remember, this isn't a 5K or a 10K but the marathon.
What matters most. Losing a few seconds or several minutes by races end because you were careless early in your marathon?
The runners that don't drink will pay for it later. So, you will be the one passing them because you made the right decision and took the time to stop or grab a couple cups of fluid.
Second Major Mistake
Far too many miles run above race pace.
It took me 15 long years of training to eventually run 2:19:35 for the marathon.
I was trying to break my current best of 2.19.35 in 2011 and qualify for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. Of course, I thought doing 15-milers at 5.45 pace was going to get me there.
Regardless what pace it is, the magic happens when you start to train at marathon pace. So, is your goal is to hold 9.00 mile pace for 26.2 miles? Well, you need to get to a point where you can do 14-18 miles at 9.00 mile pace, not 9.45 pace.
The best way to get to that type of fitness is to break your long runs into segments.
So, doing a 15-22 miler at goal marathon race pace is not only daunting but difficult.
I always aim to do my long runs at a heart rate of 160 beats per minute. Of course, I start off running much easier when I am not very anaerobically fit.
Take Your Time
Remember, a 3 to 5 mile run at this effort is sufficient early on.
So, aim to build your long runs easy at first.
A 20-mile relaxed run will be endurance. That being said, try to alternate doing my harder long runs (done at 160BPM) with an easy long run the following week.
For example, leading into the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon, I did a 20-mile log run in 1.50.02 (averaging 5.30 per mile). The following week I did a 22-miler at 7.00 mile pace.
Focus On Recovery
So, recovery is just as important to training yourself to train at marathon pace. Remember, not taking recovery seriously is quick way to burn out and frustration.
It does nothing to do great workouts if you don't see results.
Remember, work smarter, not harder. I want you thinking about leverage.
No one should be able to touch you come race day. Training hard breeds confidence. In addition, assists you in being more relaxed than those around you.
Power In Progression
You can start by gradually building your long run to 10 miles.
So, run the first 8 miles relaxed running the last two-miles at your goal marathon race pace. The following week, try going the first 4 miles easy, 4 miles at 10 seconds slower than your goal race pace.
As you gain fitness you can graduate to doing long run workouts extending out longer distances.
For example a 15-miler with the first 5 miles easy, next 5 at 10 seconds slower then goal pace with the last 5 miles at goal race pace.
Don't Get Discouraged
One of the hardest things to do in our sport is to be patient.
You may want to lose weight, running your first marathon or have a specific goal time in mind.
This is an endurance sport and it isn't just about how far we run but how far we endure.
Do Not Be Afraid To Fail
There is nothing wrong with moving on to something else if you feel it is your time.
All I am saying is this, don't move on until you are certain you have done everything you can to reach your goal.
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