Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I have been thinking about how I can give myself a better chance of improving my Marathon times and think that my main problem is that I've been running my long runs too slowly. This is the most likely the reason for recent poor showings in the marathon as my training otherwise seems to have all the other keys for success. Well it could be my ticker but that's another story.

I run most of my long runs at a very slow pace considering my normal race pace of about 4:40 per K in the marathon. I'm doing my long runs at anywhere between 5:20 and 6:00 min pace.

What do you all reckon, too fast, too slow, or just right? Thanks in advance.


  1. Just had a look at what McMillian recommends for a 3.20 marathon - his range for the long run is 5.04 to 5.41.

  2. The program I am planning to do for the Gold Coast is done by a mob in the USA ( They say that shorter long runs (~20km) should be between planned pace and 10 seconds/km slower. Longer runs (28km+) should be about 40 seconds/km slower than planned pace (i.e. 5:20ish for you). BUT, I haven't done the program yet, so don't know how it will work out.... Seems to agree with 2P for the longer runs though.

  3. So many schools of thought on that one. This time (Canberra) I'm trying to alternate, a faster run one week (5:05 to 5:15s) and a slower one the next (5:30 or slower). The idea behind the slower one is time on the feet. I suppose my goal marathon pace is around 4:50s - 5:00s.

    My first few marathons I was serious about I was probably doing long runs closer to 6 min pace and the end result was only about 5 mins slower on marathon day.

  4. You could try, as Tesso suggests, every second long run a bit quicker. Don't make every long run 'hard', that is rather daunting and not much fun. Even so, aim to either even or negative split all your long runs. Doing 'fading' long runs is not good!

    When I ran 3:11 (faded quite a bit) I was running around 5:00/km for hilly 18 milers. So, about 10 to 12% slower than race pace. We usually started slower than 5 minute pace and negative split the runs.

  5. I personally have no idea (lack of experience). Looking at the stuff on McMillan, the info there would seem to make a lot of sense (just a 2P mentioned).

    McMillan also seems to advocate alternating slow and fast ones (week by week), kind of like Tess mentions. Only difference is McMillan advocates that the fast one is just a "finish fast", with just the last 30-90 minutes gradually increasing to marathon pace. I guess this would put less stress on the bod, but still give the majority of the benefit of doing the whole run faster.

  6. I'll tell you what I think, for what it is credentials are a bit shaky at the moment. From what I have read and what I have tried, I am increasingly convinced that a two-prong strategy similar to what Tesso mentioned is required. But let's go one step further...why? Well, the longer slower runs, which should be two out of three long runs, are to build up strength and, very importantly, teach your body to burn fat for energy. Run these on as little fuel as possible. No breakfast. Run hard at the end like Ewen said even though you feel like you are dying and the pace is nothing to brag about; you are forcing your stupid muscles to get energy from fat and enjoy it! Be ready to feel like sh*t and drink Coke at the end of these runs. Then, every three weeks, get out and run your long run at target race pace from go to whoa. You need to have a good flattish, uninterrupted course on which you can get frequent feedback on your pace. Progressivey increase the distance every three weeks. (Note we are talking about starting this no sooner than 12 weeks before a target race...other than that, adapt as best you can). The first time it can be 20 km, three weeks later, 25 km, three weeks later 30 km. The long, slower, fat burning runs are happening in between and faster running through the week. Coupled with an otherwise progressive training program, this will get you ready to run your best marathon ever. I know because this is what I did when I ran my best marathon times. And I haven't done it properly in the last couple of marathons. QED.