How I'm working on my pacing with less than three weeks to Twin Cities Marathon

As you could tell from my 20 mile race last Saturday, I’ve still got some work to do on my pacing. Not only did I go out too fast, my mile splits were kind of all over the place. So, with less than three weeks left until Twin Cities Marathon, here’s how I’m planning on working on my pacing.

  • Running Watch

As I mentioned in my post about preparations for Bear Water Run, I have finally figured out what training view works best for pacing myself. I can see my current mile split’s average pace, along with distance and total time. For me, it’s important to see my average pace for the current mile instead of my average pace for the entire run. I can more easily adjust in a mile than by having a too fast mile affect following miles. And since I know what pace I’m aiming for each mile to keep even pacing, I only have to remember that number. I also have the distance and time on there so if I decide to grab a pace band, I can match up my current distance and time with it easily.

  • Final Pace Run

I have one last pace run coming up this Saturday, four miles. One final pace run. I still can’t believe that’s coming up. Even though I’m not planning on running my marathon at the marathon pace I’ve been training at (10:30 minutes/mile), I’ll still run my pace run at a 10:30 pace. More about my pace strategy for the marathon will be coming up but I still want to test myself at pacing 10:30 minute miles. Especially since when I know I’m going to run fast, I usually go out too fast. So this will be a test of going out slower while still keeping even pacing.

  • Long Run Pacing

In addition to the last pace run, I have two long runs left. Twelve and eight miles. My goal for these long runs are to keep them around 11-11:15 mile splits and again make sure I don’t go out too fast. This will be about 10-30 seconds slower than what I’m planning to run for the marathon so I’ll also be getting a feel for that pace.

  • Easy Run Pacing

Ten more easy runs left and these ones I won’t be checking my watch constantly for the pacing. I’ll look at my mile splits and I want it to be around 11-11:15 mile splits but I’m not going to stress myself out over them by constantly checking my watch. I’m treating these easy runs as being easy and not as something else to stress over. Hopefully. We know from my tapering for Lake Minnetonka Half that I can get a little anxious and blue while I’m cutting back on my mileage. So I just want these to be slow and getting my legs moving.

Thirteen runs left all together and I’m hoping to only pay attention to my pacing on three of them. My pacing for this training cycle has bene all over the place but it’s been the first time I’ve really paid attention to it. And it’s helped it get better and I feel more confident in my pacing that I have in the past.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 10

It feels strange to be less than two months out from the Twin Cities marathon. It seems like I just started training yesterday and now I'm up to seventeen miles! I'm getting more nervous the closer it gets but I just have to keep on following the training plan and trusting it.

Monday, July 31

I felt so good this Monday. And that’s something that hasn’t happened in a while. I slept right through the night which helped and I wasn’t feeling sore (or at least too sore) from my 15 mile run.

I really needed that boost because Mondays were starting to feel like a drag. I was dreading doing my weights workout which is something that had ever happened before. Being energized and back on track motivation wise was just awesome.

Tuesday, August 1

First run of the month! And remember when I said in last week’s recap that my short runs were going up to five miles? Yeah, they are still at four miles for this week. Of course, I was thinking I was doing five miles until right up to the point where I went to start my run and my watch said four miles.

In the end, having a little shorter run was probably a good thing because it was extremely hot. 87 and sunny. Of course, I skipped the treadmill and still ran outside (carrying water and wearing a hat). Luckily there was a bit of a breeze so it wasn’t just still, hot air. I took advice from recent Runner’s Girls Podcast episode and just ran at a pace that felt easy.

You know what? It felt pretty good. I was at a slower pace but kept pretty even mile splits during the run. And I was so glad I only ended up having four miles instead of five. After talking with Mike, I’m going to do my Tuesday runs in the morning from now on and he’ll take Vinnie on a pre-work walk. Which will work out great since I usually am running around like crazy Tuesdays after work and don’t get a chance to eat dinner until after 7 p.m.

Wednesday, August 2

Now this run actually did step up in mileage to eight miles! I was planing on mapping out a route ahead of time but totally forget about it until this morning. So, I just did my normal seven miles and added a little bit extra towards the end.

Now this was a great feeling run. It was in the mid-60s when I started and a slight breeze. So much better than the almost 90 degrees run the day before (or the last Wednesday). Everything just felt good and I kept up a little faster than easy pace at the beginning and then reined it in at the end.

I’m just really loving my morning runs and appreciating them them more and more when I have to run in the heat.It’s also nice to be running in weather a little bit more similar to what the end of race day will be and getting used to that temperature.


Thursday, August 3

Remember how it was about 90 on my Tuesday run after work? Complete opposite for my Thursday run. It had rained during the day and we had a cold front come through so it wasn’t even 60. After the last couple weeks of hot runs it felt heavenly.

Plus, this was a taste of what race day weather would be like. Early October in Minnesota is pretty gorgeous weather-wise. The Twin Cities Marathon starts at about 8 a.m. (guessing I’ll be crossing the finish line by 8:30 but I’ll know for sure when I get my corral assignment). It will probably be right around freezing (when I ran the 10 mile last October I wore a long sleeved shirt and pants) and getting up into the mid or high 50s by the time I finish. Which will be interesting for planning out what I’m wearing.

Back to my Thursday run. It was hard to keep myself from going faster than my easy pace because going faster felt easy. I ended up just going about what felt easy after the first two miles and ended up with even splits for the end of my run. Which I was pretty impressed by. I think if I hadn’t been running into the wind (it hasn’t been windy since May-ish on my runs) for mile 2 I would have been sub-11 minute miles for the whole run.

I could tell afterwards that I had worked my legs hard during the run even though it felt like an easy pace. After I did my core workout (yay I finally got it in!) I spent a lot of time foam rolling my calves and hamstrings.

Friday, August 4

Yay for a rest day! I was feeling pretty sore from the mileage (not surprising since I’ll be at 41 miles by Sunday) so I was glad that I didn’t have anything to do today besides yoga.

One fun thing I did was stop my Run ‘n Fun, a local running running store, to pick up “a couple” Gus. I still have some in the box that I ordered earlier this year but I knew they wouldn’t make it through these last two months of marathon training and I wanted to try some of the indulgent flavors. I ended up leaving with nine different flavors of Gu and two containers of Nuun, they had a ton of different flavors of both! Plus, I got a 10% discount on everything. I could order a container of Gu (and probably Nuun) cheaper from the companies directly but I love supporting local stores and this gives me a chance to try new things.

For yoga, I did the Yoga for Tired Legs video because my legs were really feeling it. I could have sworn I had done this one before but I didn’t remember ever doing some of the positions. It felt so good and I also spent some time in corpse pose after (mainly because I didn’t want to get up). You’ll probably see me doing this video more often on Fridays, and maybe throwing it in on other days, as I continue to climb in mileage.


Saturday, July 5

Finally back to doing a pace run! It was upped in mileage (eight instead of seven) and this time I figured out a course ahead of time. It was a cool morning but I knew I’d heat up quickly because I was aiming for a 10:30 pace.

I ended up going faster than that 10:30 pace for most of my run. Early on in my first mile I saw around a 9:34 average pace and knew I had to to slow it down. I’m pretty sure it was a combination of the cooler weather and not having a pace run in three weeks but I only had one mile around the 10:30 mark.

It felt really good to run that fast. I was pushing myself a little bit at points where it was hilly but I was surprised that I could go at that pace without much of a problem. Of course, I’m going to have to learn to reign it in so I don’t go out too fast on race day and end up hitting the wall super early. I think sticking with a pacer that’s around 10:30 will help a lot with that.

Sunday, August 6

Long run day again and I was a little bit nervous about it. Mike and I had gone to a comedy show the night before so we didn’t get to bed until close to 11 p.m. And my alarm was going to go off at 5 a.m. I was going to be running 17 miles on about six hours of sleep. And I didn’t want to sleep in any later because I was already figuring I’d finish my run about 10: 30 a.m. and the sooner I finished the less hot it would it be.


After having my bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and peanut butter and my coffee,.I packed three Gus for this run and headed out with Mike. It’s so nice not having to worry about driving to where I’m running and back since Mike’s dropping me off and picking me up. It was drizzling a little bit and was overcast so there wasn’t really anyone else around on the trails. And I headed out.

And it wasn’t too bad of a run starting off. The sun started coming out (thank goodness I was wearing my hat since I didn’t wear my sunglasses) and more people were around me. I switched up my fueling strategy to sipping my Nuun water (which slowly turned into plain water as I refilled my half-empty container a couple of times) every time miles and taking a Gu every five. All three flavors I took along (Chocolate Outrage, Peanut Butter and Tri-Berry) were delicious, the chocolate one was just like frosting which I loved!

I started struggling about mile 11 and switched from an audiobook to podcasts about mile 13. I didn’t run completely out of gas but the lack of sleep really affected those later miles. And the mileage I already had on my legs. But I felt like I finished as strong as I could, . Even though I took a couple of walking breaks in mile 16, I ran (slowly) up most of the hill at the end of my run and finished it off running. And treated myself to five Red Velvet Oreos when I got home (after my protein smoothie). Best reward ever because I was craving something sweet when I got done.

41 miles done for the week. My first week over 40 miles and next week it’s only going up! My shortest runs next week will be 5 miles (for real this time) and my long run will be 18 miles. I’ll also be running on vacation next week since we are camping Tuesday through Saturday. At least I know I’ll get enough sleep before my 18 mile long run! The only camping plan we have is going to see Mike’s parents and sisters for a walk and dinner and they’ll understand if we head out early.

How did your last week go?

A Change in Pace


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.

Marathon Time Predictor
Marathon Time Predictor

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.

Marathon Time 1030 Pace
Marathon Time 1030 Pace
Training Paces
Training Paces

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?