Pacing Your Marathon

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This entry was in response to the question 'What is the best way to pace a marathon?' (

  1. What pace should you aim for? The best approach is to use another race result to work out your probable marathon time. There are calculators, such as VDOT Calculator that can help. Yasso 800s can also be used to predict finishing time.
  2. How should I maintain my target pace? The primary technique is to practice your target pace in training. You should have a good sense of what pace you are running from this practice. You can check your pace at the mile markers, which is the only absolute indication of pace. Sadly, GPS devices are useless at showing current pace, as they can vary widely from moment to moment. I would recommend a footpod, such as the Polar device or the Garmin add on. These foot pods require calibration, but can be accurate to within a few seconds a mile.
  3. Should I am for an even pace? On a flat marathon, I would suggest aiming for a pace that gets you to the halfway point 1 to 2 minutes ahead of target pace, then even pace to maintain that 1 to 2 minute buffer. Most people, including elite runners, slowdown in the latter part of the marathon. The small buffer gives some slack to slow up for a drink, or retie a shoelace. There is a pace band calculator at Marathon Pace Band that builds in this buffer time.
  4. What about hills? Hills should be run with an even effort rather than an even pace. This will mean running slower up the hills and faster down. Preparation for a hilly race should include downhill training, as the downhill sections are tough on the legs - Downhill Running.
  5. Keeping on pace in the last 10K The last 10K is notoriously tough, so check out The Last 10K.
  6. Using a pace group A pace group can help you achieve your best performance Using a marathon pace group.
  7. Pacing other runners Pacing other runners is rewarding and a great way of giving back to the running community. If you are pacing other runners for their marathon race, check out Thoughts on Marathon Pacing