Even splits and negative splits during a marathon are ideal for staying on pace, but they can also seem unfathomable.
If you have trouble staying on pace, there are a few tweaks you can make to your training to help you hit that next marathon goal—whether it's sub-four hour, sub-three hour or the ever-popular Boston Marathon qualifying time (BQ).
Emily Toia of the popular running blog runemz.com shares her tips for maintaining an even marathon pace.
Train at Your Pace
It may sound simple enough, but training at the pace you hope to run your marathon is a good way to help you stick to that pace.
While there are race days with fast courses and great conditions, you can't always count on these to hit your marathon pace time.
Physically your body will be prepared for this kind of time and mentally you will know that you've run this pace before and can do it again. Toia—who has run 11 marathons and is a BQer—uses this pace-training strategy.
"I try to make sure I do enough marathon-pace runs—running at the pace I want or need to keep for the time I'm looking to get. I make sure I have as little stress as possible the week prior and keep my legs active," she says.
Throw in Some Speed
Aside from training at a pace, it's important to incorporate tempo runs and speed training in your plan.
Building up speed in training is key for those extra kicks and power you need at the end of a race, or to get up a hill and keep time.
Keep a Pace Reminder and Use Your Watch
If you've ever run a marathon you've seen them: temporary tattoos and paper bracelets, all with a race-time breakdown. Though you may know you need to hit 8:30 per mile to BQ if you're a woman, seeing it broken down on paper can help. But just because you have your pace chart on you, don't forget your watch.
When you get to the starting line, the time you see on the clock as you run by may have no bearing on your own performance. Invest in a watch with a GPS function or just a simple digital watch to help you keep track of your pace and progress, and don't forget to synch.
"I always check my watch at the first mile marker. It's much easier to make needed pace adjustments at mile 1 than mile 10," Toia says.