Marathon Pacing for Optimal Performance

Jan 15, 2012   //   by Neil Scholes   //   Triathlon And Endurance Coaching  //  No Comments

Run Pacing

In a previous post I looked at Run Pacing and suggested that with appropriate pacing and clearly fitness dependent that an even paced race was achievable.  I made the point that even pace was increased effort – in other words the first few miles at your goal pace will feel proportionally easy and the last few miles will feel proportionally harder.  This aim to even pace a race is one that novice and elite runners alike can employ and indeed an even pace or indeed a negative split where you run the second half of the race quicker than the first is a strategy that has been used to good effect to set a number of world best or world record times and to take the win in distance races. Typically world records are set with slight negative splits where runners perhaps run the second half in around about 49.5% of the total. If we look at Mo Farah’s 2nd Gold Medal which was gained in the 5000m at the London Olympic Games we can see how his speed increased through the race. I will grant you that track racing is often a game of cat and mouse as opposed to the time trial type efforts those of us who have no where near Mo’s ability put out. However his 1km splits were 2:55; 3:01; 2.46; 2:38; 2:25 and his final 400m was a 52.94. He went through half way in 7:19 (52%) with his second half being a 6:22 (48%).

What about the longer distances for example the marathon? I feel that whether your goal is to break 5 hours in the marathon or trying to run a good for age time to qualify for Boston or Virgin London Marathon, trying to qualify for Kona or just trying to get close to our single marathon performance when running in an Ironman, pacing is vital to performance.  Once a coach and runner have set a realistic target based on current fitness and recent race times then they can put in place a race pacing plan.  The most common mistake that is often seen, especially in the longer distance races such as a marathon, is starting too fast.  This often dramatically affects the result especially in these longer races however even in shorter races such as your local ParkRun 5km try going out as fast as you can and see how you are going at the 4km marker – it won’t be pretty.

So race pacing is a skill to practice and if you do you can have a more ‘comfortable’ race and achieve those goal times. If it’s good enough for Mo it’s probably good enough for the rest of us so sit down with your coach and plan those marathon pace times.

<< Read Part 1 – Getting The Pace Right

About The Author

Neil is one of the most knowledgeable endurance coaches you'll ever be likely to meet, both in terms of qualifications and valuable experience. He's well into his second decade in the sport of triathlon and third decade as a competitive runner.

In recent years Neil has worked with Runners, from those looking to complete their first 5k through to Elites racing the Olympic Marathon, and Triathletes, from those looking to finish their first ever sprint event, through Age Group medallists at World Championships, Ironman Age Group winners to the Elite Squad at University of Bath.

As an accomplished Ironman triathlete, Neil races for Royal Navy Triathlon and has represented Great Britain at Age Group Level across various distances.

2013 has seen him run a sub 3hr at the Rotterdam Marathon, then complete his second 56 mile Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in June; he is now making his return to racing Ironman Triathlon.

Neil is available for Triathlon & Running Coaching.

 

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