If you've been reading my recaps of the first two weeks of Twin Cities Marathon training, you know I've been struggling with pacing. I had chosen a marathon pace 11:00 minute miles (a 4:48:12 finish time) just based on the fact that this was my first marathon and I've never run further than 13.1 miles. Even though my recent half marathon was a 9:55 average pace. And then I try to run slow than that 11:00 minute pace for my easy and long runs (and at it for the one pace run I've had) and I run faster than it. The only runs I've run close to what I thought my goal marathon pace was were in 80º and sunny afternoon runs. And those should have been slower paced runs. Race day temperatures are probably going to start around 35º and climb up to 50º by the afternoon (typical early October weather in Minnesota). I knew that I am capable of running faster and it was just tough to try to hold back.
On Monday, a bonus episode of Runner Girls Podcast came out where Meagan and Sue talked over the plan for Meagan's fall marathon. I was really interested in this because Meagan and I have very similar spring half marathon times and since I was struggling with my pacing I wanted to hear what Sue planned for Megan's pacing. What stood out to me most was Sue saying "You don't have to race at this pace" when talking through what she had planned out based on Meagan's recent half.
That's when it clicked for me. I was aiming for a pace that was way slower than my training potential and that's why I was struggling. I might not be running my marathon at a 10:30 pace but I have the potential to be running it at that. And that's what I should do in training.
Of course, I immediately jumped on my phone and opened up my Pace+ app (another Sue recommendation from a past Runner Girls podcast) to figure out what my training paces should be. First, I put in recent half time into the time predictor to get an estimate of what marathon time I should be basing my training off of.
It came out with a 15 minute faster marathon time, 4:33:02 (which would be a 10:25 average pace). I decided to round that pace up to a 10:30 one just because it was an easier pace to remember on my pace runs. I took that pace and inserted it back into the calculator to get a marathon time of 4:35:18. This wasn't really necessary but it was just something I was curious about.
Finally, I need to find out the paces I should be running most of my runs at. Back into the Pace+ app I went to calculate training paces. Most of my runs are easy runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and some of my Saturday ones) and then I have my long run on Sundays. I don't have other speed work runs with this training cycle so I just had to look at easy and long run paces.
And there I had it. An easy run pace of 11:07 and long runs between 11:07-12:16. I was struggling before to keep it even slower (I was guessing at 11:30-12:30 pace for my long runs) but these times seem much more doable. I've had two easy runs since then and it's been feeling better both mentally and physically.
My first run with my paces was done on the treadmill (it's gotten even hotter this week so I wasn't willing to run outside in close to 90º weather) so that made it easy to keep on pace. Just plug it in and go. My run the next morning was outside and was harder to keep closer to my easy pace but by the final two miles I felt like I had figured out how I should be feeling when running at that pace.
I've got weeks to go to get comfortable with the new pacing but I'm feeling a lot more confident in my training now that I've got that figured out. I'll be paying closer attention to my pacing to make sure that I'm not going too fast but it feels more doable than when I first just made a guess at my pace.
Have you had problems with figuring out race paces before? How did you deal with it?