When you are running a marathon, it's vital that you predict your marathon race pace in advance. Then you can formulate a realistic pacing strategy that will maximise your chances of success.
It is no coincidence that the vast majority of marathon runners complete the second half of their race significantly slower than the first. This is often because they set themselves unrealistic pace expectations, based on a combination of past performances and blind hope. Over such a long event, any misjudgements in pace can have big repercussions later on in your race. Predicting your marathon race pace accurately has several benefits:
⁃ Faster race times
⁃ Quicker post-race recovery time
⁃ Increased morale (as you overtake runners in the second half)
⁃ Greater satisfaction during and after the race
Calculate Your Predicted Finish Time
For a marathon that does not involve challenging terrain, elevations or conditions (i.e. windy) use our Online Calculator to calculate your predicted finish time. You will need your most recent fitness tests (distance over 30 mins) or ideally, longer distance recent race result.
What To Do With Your Predicted Marathon Times
Once you have your predicted marathon finishing time. You can then do a Google search for an online running pace chart, below are two useful links:
Pacing for min/mile - Marathon Pace Chart
Create your Own Chart (Kms or Miles) - Marathon Guide
You should aim to maintain an even pace throughout your marathon, allowing for a small margin of difference for subtle variations in gradient and wind.
Running using Heart Rate or RPE
If you are running a challenging route (extreme weather or over challenging terrain/elevation) your predicted times will not be so accurate. In fact, using pace as a guide over hilly routes or in extreme winds is a bad idea anyway, because there are too many variables. You wouldn't expect to run at your normal marathon pace, up a steep hill for instance. In this case Heart Rate or Rate of Perceived Exertion are more useful guides to intensity. You may also prefer to run using these measures or a combination of all three.
Max Heart Rate (MHR)
|Sub 3:30 hours (Advanced)||85 to 88%|
|3:30 to 4:30 hours (Intermediate)||81 to 84%|
|4:30 plus hours (Novice)||76 to 80%|
Rate of Perceived Exertion (where 10 is the hardest)
|Sub 3:30 hours (Advanced)||6 out of 10||High Z3 to Low Z4|
|3:30 to 4:30 hours (Intermediate)||5 out of 10||Low Z3|
|4:30 plus hours (Novice)||4 out of 10||Mid to High Z2|
|% Threshold Run Pace|
|Sub 3:30 hours (Advanced)||93 to 95%|
|3:30 to 4:30 hours (Intermediate)||90 to 92%|
|4:30 plus hours (Novice)||88 to 90%|
Ensure you base your Marathon pacing strategy on real results from a fitness test or race done in the last 8 weeks. DO NOT GUESS!!!
Your race success will be determined by how well you pace for the whole race. If you set out too fast you will struggle to hold your pace throughout. Check our article for more on Race Nutrition.
Good Luck for your Marathon!
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