Marathon Long Run – Throwing Out the Playbook

Workout Summary
19 Miles
First 14 Miles Avg Pace – 9:03
Last 5 Miles Avg Pace – 7:22

The Plan

I first heard about running miles at your target marathon pace late in your long runs from my friend Tyler Pake at Tyler is an awesome running and is a great coach and encourager. Then I read about it later in Advanced Marathoning by Peter Pfitzinger. As I put together my training plan for The Mississippi Blues Marathon I knew these long run marathon pace miles would be a feature of the plan. During my plan research, I also found this in the long runs in the Boston Marathon training plans available on their website. My marathon target pace is sort of a squishy topic. I put it anywhere between 7:45 and 8:00. 7:49 is BQ pace for a 45-49 year old, but I basically train at a pace that feels good.

 Getting Out The Door

Today’s run called for 19 total miles, with the first 15 at an easy pace followed by the last 4 at marathon target pace. I got up at 5am, made some coffee and ate a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey. I also drank a big glass of water and a bottle of low cal gatorade and made some peanut butter saltines and a bag of goldfish for the run. My current approach to fueling during long runs is to eat real food, preferably something with salt. I started doing this after training for my first ultra and reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. Ultra marathoners eat food, so I figured there’s no difference for marathoners. Seems to work just fine. So with all this stuff to do I was out the door at 5:51am.

The First 15, No Make That 14

Jeff Galloway teaches a run/walk method for long runs and racing marathons where you walk a minute and then run for the rest of the mile. I’ve used it with success and did again today. I wanted to run about a 9:05 mile pace, so that meant I’d have to maintain an 8:40 pace while running to achieve an overall 9:05. The 1 minute walk adds about 25 seconds to your pace for that mile. I drank a bottle of water in the first 4 miles then ate my peanut butter saltines. After 8 more miles I drank some water and after 11 miles I drank a bottle of low cal gatorade and grabbed the bag of goldfish to eat while I run. By mile 12 I was still feeling really good and started thinking about throwing out the playbook and running more than the last 4 at marathon pace. I decided to make it 5 instead of 4. I figured if it did not work out I could always just turn the last mile in to a cool down.

The Last 5

Did I say my marathon target pace is 7:45 to 8:00? Mile 15 was 7:22! I felt strong, I was laboring a bit and it was hilly, but I had that feeling like I could be going even faster so I knew there was still headroom to play with. I did dial the pace back a bit for the next 3 miles, planning on a fast final mile. When it was all said and done the last 5 averaged 7:22, 27 seconds faster than my fastest planned marathon target pace. I may pay for it during the speedwork I have planned for this Tuesday, but I’m happy with the way things turned out on this run.

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