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Marathon Pacing - What Time to Expect in the Marathon

by Benjamin
(Berkeley, CA, U.S)

I have got a question about marathon pacing. I've been working out for a good 3 years now on and off. In high school I ran cross country and played soccer. My best 5k was 18min something.

For the past month I've been running / cross-training about 6 days a week for at least and hour a day. I always have plenty of energy left after my runs and when I jump rope for an hour or play soccer. I feel great.

I signed up for a marathon (a month from now), and I'm wondering how long it might take me to finish. Right now I can finish 5k runs in the 18 min range, and once a week I run a 10 mile trail.

running tips
Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question about what your marathon pacing should be.

I see you are reasonably fit.

Exercise six days a week, an hour per day is very good.

However, let me give you a reality check. Apologies if the below comes as a shock: a marathon lasts way longer than an hour and you are insufficiently prepared for it.

Ideally you would have built up your long run to a 2.5-3 hour effort, doing about 20 miles.
The best preparation for a marathon is in doing a weekly long run of 90 to 180 minutes, preferably backed up by a mid-week mid-long run of at least 90 minutes.


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Based on your 5k race time, it is within your abilities to run a marathon in less than three hours. I have worked this out by using the marathon calculator page on this site.

However, you will not be able to do it that fast as you haven't done those long runs.

Your best bet to finish this marathon is use really conservative marathon pacing, i.e. to run it at an easy pace, potentially adding in walking breaks from the beginning, e.g. alternating 7 minutes running, 3 minutes walking.

When you ignore this advice, the second half of your marathon will be very tough and you will be forced to walk at some point.

As far as time goals go, I'd ignore them for this marathon. I'd expect you to run it in 4+ hours.

Check out the following pages for some marathon running advice:

Marathon Training Tips - The main ingredients for a successful marathon.

Marathon Training Nutrition - Tips and pointers taking care of your marathon diet and marathon training nutrition needs.

Hope this helps.
Best of luck.
Kind regards,
Dominique

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