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I have started the process of training for a marathon.I am using Hal Higdon's Novice training program as this is my first attempt at a marathon. My goal ultimately is just to finish....however....I would ideally like to finish under 4 hours.

I currently just finished my second week of training. I did 6 miles the first saturday and today finished my 7 mile run as the training program dictates. I ran the six miles at a comfortable pace of 8:14 and felt real good. Today I ran the 7 miles with a friend who pushed me a bit and ran a 7:32 pace. I still felt pretty comfortable.

Here is my dilemna. How should I manage my long runs?? Because on one hand I have heard that I really need to force myself to run slower and run long to build up endurance. Yet, I also have read that if I consistently run my long runs at a 9:00-9:30 minute pace--I should not expect to be able to run the marathon at an 8 minute pace. Seems to me like it is kind of a Catch 22.

So far I am comfortable running around an 8 minute pace....yet is this the proper training regime on my long runs?? Should I be forcing myself to run slower?? Or if I can continue to run comfortably at that pace...do I continue to do it on all of my long run days??

Please help a newbie to marathon training....I want to succeed!! I know there are alot of experienced marathoners out there who have helped me in the past.....please bring your comments again. Thanks!!!

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:wavey: I have never run a marathon yet either but would also like to train for one in the next year. But I expect those who can offer up advice may want to know your running history. How long have you been running, what distances you have done in the past?
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I have run off and on over the years mostly doing 5k's. I would say the longest I have ever run in any single training session was about 8 miles. If I am running comfortably it is usually at a 7:30-8:00 pace. Most of my 5k times are at about a 7:00-7:30 minute pace.

Not sure what other information would be helpful....but again...any comments would be appreciated.
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Given that you run 5ks at 7-7:30 pace, 8min/mile sounds fast for a long run. 4 hours for a marathon is a little slower than 9 min/mile pace. I don't know what your endurance is like, but given your 5k pace I think a sub-4 is do-able.

My guess is that you are running too fast for a long run, but 6 and 7 miles isn't really into the long run stage yet, so you still feel comfortable. When you get to a 16 mile run, you're probably going to need to run at the recommended long run pace of 9min/mile or slower... your long runs should be slower than your marathon pace (otherwise when you get to a 16+ mile long run, it will be just as taxing on your body as running 2/3rds of a marathon). In summary, I think you will be okay with that pace until your long runs get stretched to above 10 milers. Then you SHOULD run the slower pace.

Disclaimer: I have never run a marathon, and my longest run has been 16 miles. So you may want to see whether the experienced marathoners agree with me, or if they don't... listen to them. :o
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Seems weird that your 5k times are not that much faster than your normal training pace...I would have vouched that your 5k race pace should be at least 1-1 1/2 mins faster than easy pace. Are you running your easy days too hard or are you not racing hard enough on your 5ks?

Cuz if you can handle 8 min pace fairly well, then, you should be aiming higher for the marathon, assuming that you've trained for it, perhaps sub 3:30, even down to 3:20.
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well....to be honest....my 5k times probably havent been that different because i never really trained on a strict training regime during the times when i ran them. this is the most serious running commitment i have trained for. and i am now following the program religiously. in the past, the 5k races would be coming up and a couple weeks before i would run maybe once or twice a week. i guess i really dont have a great idea what i am capable of because i never really ran consistently every week for a purpose.

but like i typed i am currently running comfortably on my long runs at an 8 minute pace. thanks for the feedback....i appreciate any more comments you guys have.
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I have ran several marathons and train at about 1 1/2 minutes slower than my goal and that works pretty well. My fastest marathon has been a 3:52 which is just short of a 9:00 pace. My long runs over 10 miles are at a 10 - 10:30 pace. When training for my shorter races I use a 9:30-10:00 training speed. Tempo runs I do at an 8:00 minute pace.

Some runners do train 30 seconds slower than their goal pace but the risk of injury increases the longer your long runs become if your body isn't adjusted to that speed and distance. I stay on the side of caution on my long runs, but if you're willing to push yourself and take some risks, 30 to 45 seconds slower than marathon pace may work for you. You have to experiment somewhat to find a training pace that suits you.
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PHAR LAP'S 1ST. LAW OF RUNNING STATES:-
LONG SLOW DISTANCE* OR LSD = LOSING SPEED DRAMATICALLY
(*relative)
I don't know how the program you are following is structured. I imagine that the 7 miler is your long run at this stage and you will build progressively on it, but if you ran 7 mile at 7.32 pace and still felt comfortable, for heavens sake continue on.
As you move up in distance (your 18 and 20 milers) you may have to back off the pace a little to remain comfortable (not TOO comfortable) and only you know what comfortable is.
Ask yourself, if you wanted to run a 4 minute mile, would you train at 6min. mile pace. I hope you wouldn't because you would have Buckley's hope. I've said it here before you have to practice marathon pace so that you know how to run on the day and the best place to do that is on your long run.
9min. pace will get you under 4hours with a couple of minutes to spare.
Not much margin for error.
8min. pace will give you a 3hr.29m.
7min.32sec. will give you around 3hr.19min.
Putting it as simply as I can, I always felt the key to running marathons was to practice marathon pace on my long runs (18 to 23 miles) and anything short of that to be run at faster than marathon pace. The only other thing I would add to that is the IMPORTANCE of REST.
DON'T train if you OVER tired.
Again only you know this and when you should take a day off.
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Incidently I am following Hal Higdons marathon program for Novices. I really appreciate the comments and hope I can pull this thing off. I would definitely say a real comfortable pace for me thus far is 8-8:30 minute pace. So I guess I will have a better answer as my training progresses into longer distances. Perhaps I will be forced to slow down then. Maybe when I am running 10+ miles it will be more towards the 8:30-9 minute pace. Thanks for the comments and any other thoughts are most certainly welcome out there!!
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I have just completed my first marathon and I am about your speed.

My PR for 5K is 21:25 and I finished a tough marathon in 4:13, my goal was to finish under 4:00 but it was a tough race. See my post in "Training Tales and Race Reflections" titled "My First Marathon: (Mayor's Marathon, Anchorage, AK)" or my blog listed below.

I would advice you to not worry about speed. Your goal should be #1 to finish, and #2 Have a positive experience. Your focus needs to be on completing VERY long runs; if you toss in speed workouts you run the risk of getting injured and being set back. Your initial runs may be deceptive because you are training your body to run for hours at a time. These little maintenance runs can deceive you.

Oh yeah, don't forget to hydrate on those long runs!!!!!

Best of Luck.
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If we were to gather together a half a dozen coaches and ask them to define "speed workouts' I dare say we would get half a dozen different answers.
If we are talking the same language, there's a huge difference between speed work and running at a sustained pace., in cooker's case around 7.30/8.00min pace which he stated he was comfortable over 6 then 7 miles.
I would never advise any first time marathoner to run speed work but I always maintain, practice your projected marathon pace on the long run for the week.
If you train at 9.00min.pace, a 4 hour marathon if you're lucky is pretty much all you'll get.
Who mentioned speed work anyway?
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to be clear....i am currently in my third week of training. my long runs have been a 6 and 7 miler. the 6 miler i ran at a 8 minute pace....the 7 miler i ran at a 7:30 minute pace. i would say the 8 minute pace i was very comfortable. the 7:30 minute pace was still comfortable....but any faster and i would have felt like i was starting to push it.

i havent really done any speedwork at all...and the Hal Higdon Novice program doesnt really call for any. i just really want to be smart about my training to set myself up for success. i just really dont want to make a mistake of running my long runs too fast. yet logic tells me that if i continue to run an 8 minute pace comfortably on all of my long runs....shouldnt that equate to being able to do that pace or close to it on race day????

that is what i am not sure of....i dont feel i have the experience under my belt to make that assumption yet. i am just looking for people who have marathon experience under their belt who may be able to share some of their knowledge with a newbie to marathon training. thanks.
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I think I mentioned speedwork because of my kneejerk reaction to the slam on LSD. It looks to me that Cooker should be able to run a marathon at 8:15-30 pace. Phar Lap--you really think LSD runs are detrimental, that is, you should press the pace a bit?
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Here are my facts from my marathon training this spring:
runs <10 miles, 8:30 pace
runs 10-14 miles, 9:00 pace
runs >14 miles, 9:30 pace
My marathon time was 4:13:32, 9:36 pace and it was a very tough course.
So maybe Phar Lap was right, you run at your training pace. I consider these runs LSD, my heart rate was probably in the 150's.
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Cooker and tdassow, perhaps I have had too much to say.

I've just re-read Cookers original post when he was new to the forums and first mooted running a marathon. I'm still of a mind that if you want to run a decent marathon time(relative)you have to an serve an apprenticeship of a series of 5, 10, 1/2 half marathons.
You also have to have faith it the training that has been set for you, if your following the Higdon program well stick to it (within reason) it can become confusing if you take bits of advice from here and there.

tdassow, makes a good point, "your goal should be #1 to finish" As a first time marathon runner perhaps that's all you should do to make it a "positive experience" for yourself, then 6 months down the track follow up with another marathon. Just the experience of running a follow up marathon using much the same training I have found worth at least 10 minutes to novice runners.

Incidentally, tdassow and Cooker taking a line (rough though it may be) through your 5km. time you are both capable of running a 3hr.40min.
marathon given a reasonable course and conditions.
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