miles at marathon pace
4. Run the First Half
by Time, the Last by Feel
marathon distance is so extreme that it somewhat exceeds your brain's
calculative powers. Consequently, as I
suggested above, you can't pace yourself entirely by feel in a marathon as you
may do in shorter events. Instead you need to pace yourself initially by paying
attention to actual pace data. Only
after passing the halfway mark can you safely go by feel, running the
remaining distance at the fastest pace possible and using pace data only to
monitor your pace rather than to actually control it.
your very best to run the first mile at exactly your goal pace time. Don't run slower to "save energy" for the
final miles, because it's very unlikely that you will be able to make up time
at that point, and don't run faster to "put time in the bank," as this usually
results in a precipitous decline in pace after 20 miles.
the one-mile mark, check your split and adjust your pace accordingly in the
next mile. Continue trying to nail your
target pace perfectly throughout the first half of the race. At that point, you will be able to rely on
your teleoanticipation mechanism to guide your pacing the rest of the way.
5. Know the Course
pacing is not the same thing as an even distribution of energy. Even pacing becomes a very poor pacing
strategy for the marathon when keeping an even pace requires sharp fluctuations
in your rate of energy expenditure. Hills, of course, are the complicating factor here. When you're running uphill you have to
expend much more energy to hold the same pace you were holding on the level
terrain that preceded the hill, and when you're running downhill you can go
faster with less energy than you can on level terrain.
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should try to keep your energy expenditure relatively even throughout a
marathon, which means you have to slow down when running uphill and speed up
when running downhill. This is
something you will tend to do naturally, but instead of just taking the hills
as they come, you should study the marathon course beforehand so you can factor
the placement of hills into your pacing strategy.
example, almost the entire first half of the Boston Marathon is downhill, while
the second half is not. Therefore you
should plan to run the first half at a pace that's slightly faster than your
target pace for the whole event. By
contrast, the San Francisco Marathon is much hillier in the first half than in
the second, so a planned negative split is definitely the way to go in this
the hillier a marathon course, the slower you should expect your finish time to
be. So if your main interest is running
a fast time, choose the flattest marathon you can find, and then run it like a
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