The perils of pacing….


It’s been another solid training week.

We decided to go to Edinburgh today to take in the Festival, so I switched my weekend sessions and did my long run yesterday, and the easy run today.

The plan for my long run was 18-22 miles, and with the marathon only five weeks away now I decided to push for the full 22 miles. If I could get that under my belt, then it’s only another 4.2 on race day. Easy!

I’ve been getting bored doing variations of the same route for my long runs, so I decided to go into Dundee with Joanna when she went to work and run home from there. A good plan: new sights, different roads, but just one problem – yesterday it was almost all into a 20mph headwind!

I’ll be honest, after 18 miles I was burst. I’d somehow managed to lose a gel (I still have no idea how that happened), so I had to make do with 2 rather than 3. It wasn’t lactic acid in my legs that stopped me, it was sheer exhaustion. A wee sit on the side of the road did the trick, and I soldiered on to complete the 22 miles.

As race day gets closer, I’ve been thinking about pacing. My goal was originally to aim for a time of 3:45, which was based on my half marathon PB doubled plus 15 mins. From everything I’ve read online that seemed reasonable. That equates to a pace of 8:23/mile – should be do-able based on my race performances from 2015.

However I’ve had this nagging thought at the back of my mind, based on my experiences as a bike racer. In those days, my training and race pacing was based on power. I had a power meter on my bike, which measured the amount of watts I generated. It’s a more scientific way of training.

The problem I have with racing to a power, or pace target, is that it could be a limiting factor. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.

I ‘retired’ from bike racing at the end of 2012, but got my mojo back towards the end of 2013 and did one more season. I was training to power, but didn’t have a power meter on my time trial bike for the first half of the year.

What happened when I raced? I set new PBs at both 10 & 25 miles! I’ve always wondered what would have happened on those days if I’d had a power meter on the bike – would it have slowed me down?

As I embark on my first marathon I find myself questioning the pacing strategy. I’ve raced 2 half marathons back in 2015, both in around 1:45, which is under 8:00/mile. Is 8:23/mile the pace I should run at? Will I be leaving some time on the table? Or will it be bang on based on my training?

I guess it won’t be long until we find out…..

How do you manage or think about pacing when you race? Do you agree that running to a target pace could be limiting your potential?

This week in numbers:

Miles run: 45.1

Time on my feet: 6:46:34

Currie’s consumed: 1

10 thoughts on “The perils of pacing….

  1. Good job completing 22! About pacing… I pay more attention to my watch during training than I do during the race. I go more by feel, or effort, in the race. I figure out when I need to push myself harder and when I will need to simply hold on to my current pace to make it to the finish. For my best half marathon, I focused on catching people around mile 7( not quickly catching people but using that motivation to pick up the pace a bit). When I ran sub 1:30 in the half for the first time, I didn’t even know that I did until five minutes after I finished the race.

    1. Great advice Amanda, thank you. I guess my fear is that I’m still a relative newbie at racing, so I don’t have enough experience to know what feels right. That will come with time, I’m sure. I’m excited to do this first marathon, but next spring I’m thinking of going back to half-marathons & 10ks. We’ll see where this journey takes me, thanks for coming along with me!

  2. I think you’re right Alasdair. I think sticking to a rigid pace strategy could limit your race time. I like to race how I feel especially with a longer race like a marathon when your feeling can change through the race and adjust pace to suit

  3. I would say forget about your ‘target’ pace and go with what how you feel on the day. The first 16 miles of Loch Ness are undulating with the first mile downhill so it’s going to be difficult to stay at the same pace the whole way

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