Nailing Marathon Pace Runs

by - Thursday, August 23, 2012

In all my years of running and training for races, I have always struggled with tempo-style runs. For some reason, I can never quite master the start slow, build to fast in the middle and then end slow.

I either start too fast and burn out or start too slow and can't pick up the pace to where I need it to be for my tempo miles.

And trying to maintain an even pace during the tempo miles has always been practically impossible, especially over longer distances.

But last night, I finally nailed it.

First 2 miles my calves hurt. Last mile my stomach hurt. But totally nailed marathon pace on the 3 in the middle.

The training planned called for six miles with three at marathon pace. I picked a route that I knew would be gentle on the hills during the faster miles and hit the road.

My plan was two warm up miles, three MP miles and one cool down mile.

The two warm up miles were dicey. My calves rebelled and I had to stop numerous times to stretch them out. They were so tight that even stretching hurt. I would hobble a few steps, stretch, jog, and repeat until finally I just gave up and decided to push through.

When Garmin beeped that I'd gone two miles, I picked up the pace -- of course way too fast at first. I glanced down at Garmin and saw I was pacing an 8:30 mile. I reigned it in a little bit and saw I was pacing 9:30. Picked it back up until I was finally able to find that 9:00 per mile happy medium.

I tried to keep the effort consistent throughout the three marathon pace miles. I did an OK job:

Mile 3: 9:09
Mile 4: 9:07
Mile 5: 8:57

And then boom, as soon as my faster miles were finished, my stomach spazzed out and I slowed to a shuffle and then a walk to calm it down.

I alternated shuffling and walking the rest of the way home, trying to get my stomach to mellow out. It never really did, but I still finished with an overall solid pace.

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  1. I call that a pretty good pacing! And you even negatively splitted it, so it was perfect.
    It is hard to hit times precisely to the second on roads. Therefore I would not worry about it. When I am on a road I do not care about my mile splits but about overall average pace. Or I do tempo on a track where I can check my splits every 100m (if I wanted to be super obsessive) and thus hit all miles precisely on target pace:)