How to determine marathon training paces
Week 3 – April 22nd

Monday April 23rd – Easy run

The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s 10 mile run. It’s really important to run your easy runs at an easy pace. Even if you feel rested and could go faster, you won’t properly recover unless you keep the pace easy (varies by a runner’s ability, but for me is 8:00 – 8:30/mile pace).

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 6.1 miles, 49:21 minutes, 8:01

Tuesday April 24th – Track/Speed workout – repeat 1600m

1 mile (or 10 minute warm-up @ easy pace) + strides
3 x 1600m w/ 400m rest
10 minute c/d

Weekly speed (also called interval or track) workouts are an essential part of my marathon training. This week, I’m increasing the distance of the interval, compared to last weeks’ ladder workout. I’m completing 3 x 1600m (or mile) with 400m (or 2:30 – 3:00 rest).

My times for each 1600m were 6:21, 6:21 and 6:09. My target time for 1600m was 6:14 – 6:25, so I was within the range and even a little faster on my last interval.

biggest running challenge

How To Determine Your Training Paces

Unless your goal is to simply finish the marathon, most people have a goal time in mind. The key to determining a realistic goal & proper marathon training is having realistic goal time that corresponds to your abilities and current fitness levels. You can then use this goal time to determine your goal paces.

Typically your goal time is based on a finishing time from a recent race. Either previous marathons or half marathons. It’s important that you don’t simply choose a goal time that you simply want. You really need to look at previous races, your current fitness level and what kind of plan or coaching you plan to use to prepare for the race.

The next step involves using a performance calculator. The best ones are from Jack Daniels or Greg McMillan. I’ve actually had Greg McMillan help coach me (through one of his programs), so I tend to use his calculator.

Enter your most recent race time into the calculator. Ideally you want to use a race distance that’s close to the marathon, like a half (instead of a 5 or 10k). As long as the race was within the last 6-8 months and you’ve been running since, this is a good gage of your current fitness level. The calculator will then give you an equivalent for the marathon. You can use this as your goal time.
If you’re a beginner and haven’t run a race before, you might consider running a 8-12k race first. Not only will this give you some race experience (so you can see if you enjoy running long races), but it will give you a test of your fitness level and a time you can plug into the calculator.
Once you determine your goal time. Then you can use the calculator to determine your workout paces.
In my case, I haven’t run a race since last July when I ran a marathon. I had some issues with my feet during that race and I finished well off my goal time, but still a respectable 3:14. I have been running regularly since last July, so my goal this year, is to break 3:00. This is what I plugged into the McMillan Calculator. Below is a screen shot for my paces using this calculator.

Using McMillan Calculator to determine paces

Tempo Runs & Cruise intervals at medium-hard effort with short recovery

Using McMillan Calculator to Determine Training Paces

Speed Paces for Intervals of Less than 10-15 minutes

As you train for the first 3-4 weeks, hopefully you’ll start to see improvements in your fitness. If you established a realistic goal, you’ll likely be running at or very near the assigned paces.

If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

Wednesday April 25th – Easy run

In Clovis, CA on this morning for business. Ran 6 miles at easy pace around the Fresno State campus. The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s track workout. Nice & easy run.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6.31 miles, 49:55 & 7:54

Thursday April 26th – Tempo Run

Sometimes you may forget your watch. If you do, don’t panic. Just complete the run at your best effort. Today was one of those days for me.

My training plan called for a 7 mile Tempo with approx. 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool down.

This run was a bit challenging because I rarely run hard early in the morning. However, this is great practice for the marathon (which will start at 0630 on July 4th). Also, this run was different because their were no mile markers on the bike trail (Clovis Old Town bike trail).

I simply noted that it was 700am when I started the run. I warmed up briefly and then gradually picked up the pace throughout the rest of the run. Same as the previous week, my tempo pace is 6:45 – 7:00/mile.

When I returned to the car, it was 8:10, so I believe I was somewhere around 8.5 – 9 miles (I had to stop for a traffic about 4 times which added to the time. Regardless of the distance, the effort was definitely there. I was feeling a little tired and stiff on this run (after a lot of driving the day before) so my guess is that I probably didn’t complete all 7 miles in at target pace.

Run Distance, Time (estimate): 8.5 miles, 1hr 10 min

Friday April 27th – Conditioning Workout at Gym

Bike Blast workout at my local gym for 45 minutes. Workout consisted of alternating 1 min hard on stationary bike at varying levels of resistance and then barbell and body weight exercises. The purpose of this workout was to take some time off my legs and build strength to help injury proof my body.

I strongly recommend completing conditioning & strength work at least 2 times/week during your training. 3 times per week is optimal during the off season.

How Middle Age Runners Stay Injury Free

Saturday April 28th – Long Run

The goal of this run is to get time on my legs and complete my weekly long run. Bi-weekly, I increase the length of the long run as I progress through my schedule. Ultimately I build up to 18-20 miles. On weeks where I’m not running 14+ miles, I typically run 10-12 miles at easy pace. With tough Tempo and Track workouts every week, I believe it’s important to slowly ramp up the length of the long run. As long as my schedule is long enough (14 – 16 weeks), I have plenty of time to get in the long runs and recover.

On this day, I actually was committed to join some friends for a 5k charity run, so ran I 12 miles prior to joining the charity run. Below is my Strava results of the run. Pace was easy, but I did run a few miles in the mid to lower 7 minute/mile range. I felt good/strong. The last 5k was at easy pace.

Marathon Training 15 mile long run

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 15.8 miles, 2:03:28, 7:47

Week 2 Summary: 7 days with workouts, 6 with running – 47 miles