Marathon Training & Racing from
Joe Bowman
All 50 States & DC under 3:00
A successful marathon is all about proper pace and preparation, so it only makes sense you
combine the two in your daily training regiment.  Preparation takes many forms but pace is just a
simple pace should be easy, right?  It can be, but you better do the preparation.
Starting to feel the relationship?  

Check out the
Training Topics and Racing Topics for general preparation stuff and go to Cool
Running's Pace Calculator for per mile pacing information (or check out the chart below).  Below
the chart you'll see base building logic and on the side bar you'll see three relationship
comparisons that should help you dial in the proper pace.
Race                                Race                                  Race                             
Time          Pace               Time           Pace               Time          Pace

2:45           6:17
2:50           6:29
2:55           6:40
3:00           6:52                 4:00            9:09                5:00          11:27
3:05           7:03                 4:05            9:21                5:05          11:38
3:10           7:15                 4:10            9:32                5:10          11:49
3:15           7:26                 4:15            9:44                5:15          12:01
3:20           7:38                 4:20            9:55                5:20          12:12
3:25           7:49                 4:25          10:06                5:25          12:23
3:30           8:01                 4:30          10:18                5:30          12:35
3:35           8:12                 4:35          10:29                5:35          12:46
3:40           8:23                 4:40          10:40                5:40          12:58
3:45           8:35                 4:45          10:52                5:45          13:09
3:50           8:46                 4:50          11:03                5:50          13:21
3:55           8:57                 4:55          11:15                5:55          13:32
How did you pick your pace?  
It's was a nice round number;
it's a pace you're familiar with;
it just looked doable?  Who
cares really...but now we need
to see if you've chosen wisely.
Relationship  Comparisons
#1 - Have you done any races
recently?  Input that time into
Runner's World's finish time
calculator and see estimated
finishing times for 10 other
distance.  Because it gives you
10 other times, you may see
some times in other distances
that seem 'in line.'  
Unfortunately using a
short-distance time to gauge
your marathon time often gives
false hope.  You may be able
to run a 17:30 5K on very little
mileage, but you'll never
survive a 2:48 marathon on
that same training.  
#2 - If you went out on a
normal run for an hour, how far
would you make it?  This is not
one of those all-out tests; you
shouldn't be exhausted at the
end.  If you are, we may have
bigger problems.  It's fair to say
that if you've done your
training mileage, you should be
able to run alittle faster pace
on race day than your normal
1 hour training run pace.
And one more...though a bit
#3 -What's your mile speed?  
Again, not an all out
effort...since you need to do 3,
1  mile repeats on this one,
each with a rest period no
more than 1/3rd the time of the
repeat.  If you can do all three,
giving a very hard effort, and
you don't fall apart on the third
one (all three should basically
be the same), you should then
be able to add 10 seconds per
minute run to your mile time
and you'll come close to your
marathon pace...5:00 = 5:50;
6:00 = 7:00; 7:00 = 8:10;  8:00
= 9:20; 9:00 = 10:30; 10:00 =
11:40; 11:00 = 12:50; 12:00 =
14:00.  But my mile time isn't a
round number Joe.  If your mile
time falls between 6:00 and
11:59, add 1 to the minute
hand to get your pace minute
number and divide your
seconds into 60 then multiply
that by 70 for your pace
seconds number...i.e. a 7:30 =
8:35.  If your mile time is under
6:00, add nothing to the minute
hand (and I'll see you in sub3
land) and if it's 12:00 or more,
simply add two minutes to the
minute hand.
Recognize that pace is a moving target up until about a month out from the race.  If your training is
going well, you should be getting faster so plan to re-evaluate your pace from time to time.  To help
you improve your pace, you first have to build your stamina and that means longer and longer
individual runs.  Think about these things as you build your base:
  • The Long Run - Regardless of your expected
    marathon time, I just don't see doing a run longer than
    three hours.  I'm not gonna stop you from a longer run,
    but I feel like being on your feet much longer than 3
    hours at one time will zap your legs in the coming days
    and that's no good.  You've got a mileage base to
    build for goodness sakes.  Same applies for building
    up to your three hour run.  You can't expect to run for
    an hour the first week and then do two hours the next
    week...endurance takes time.  Adding too many miles
    too quickly is a recipe for injury.  The 10% rule (no
    more than a 10% increase from long run to long run...
    and mileage week to mileage week) has always been a
    good measure.  I'd also tell you to be aware of how you
    feel around 2 o'clock the day after your long run.  If
    you're not a bit tired and sore, you have more to give
    in either speed or distance the next week.  A little
    fatigue is expected, but allot (i.e. your legs aren't going
    to cooperate on a run today) means you shouldn't
    increase anything yet.
  • The Medium Long Run - If your long
    run is three hours, then your medium
    long run should be 1/2 to 2/3s the
    length of your long run, so 1:30 to 2:
    00.  Can you make time for a two hour
    run in the middle of the week?  Really
    try to do it at least a few times during
    your training program.
  • All Other - If you only do two runs
    during a week, do the long and the
    medium long...that's five hours at its
    peak and there's nothing wrong with
    that.  BUT if you only do these two
    runs, you can't really improve. It's all
    about conditioning and conditioning is
    all about consistency.  Beside, if you
    only try to do these two long runs a
    week, these runs will eventually get
    slower and slower.
If you haven't seen the core workouts for a sub three marathon effort, go check 'em out.  You'll see
some general similarities and you'll see some added speed work.  If you think you're getting closer
and closer to a
Boston Marathon Qualifying Time, go look at that page as well and see if it helps you
dial things in a bit more.  And what about a training chart?  Hats off to
Hal Higdon and his Training
Are You
Joe Now
Pace Test