QUESTION: Hal, you talk about doing “race pace” for shorter runs and “easy” for longer runs. I run my 5-milers at 9:20/mile; my 13-milers at 10:00/mile and did my last 18- and 19-mile runs at 11:00/mile. I still have to do my 20-miler this weekend. How does this translate to a marathon time? I don't know if I am supposed to start with 11:00/mile pace and then speed up, and at what point into the race and how much? I don't want to start too slow or too fast! Is there a strategy that I can apply?
HAL’S ANSWER: The pattern of your times for various distances show that the longer the run, the slower the pace. Given your progression from 9:20 to 10:00 to 11:00 pace as your training distances lengthen, this would suggest you might need to slow to near 12:00 pace for the marathon itself. But it's impossible (or at least difficult) to plan race pace based on training runs. Too many variables. Doing a test half marathon offers a better prediction, but that option may come too late for you. I assume this is a first marathon, thus I would begin at a slow pace (12:00?) and let the race come to you later. Better to go too slow in a first marathon than too fast and crash.
Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website.