Long marathon pace runs are worked into every marathon training schedule for a very good reason. Those who do not perform these longer runs while training simply do not make it to the end of the race in most cases.
Runners that are determined to make it to the end will get these longer runs in, even if they have to take it slow and enjoy the scenery to make it to the end.
Those training to more than just make it to the end will pick up the pace and use these runs to their advantage, but all runners training for a marathon must go out for long runs on a routine basis.
What do you do while out on these long runs?
Well, you could just simply run and make it through your designated miles.
The other option is to use the following strategies to get more out of your marathon pace runs.
The Practice Marathon
If your goal is simply to get used to running at your preferred marathon pace or you need to keep a certain pace on race day in order to make it to the end on time, this is the technique you need to use.
You perform half or you long run at a casual pace that is comfortable for your body, and then you pick it up to marathon pace for the last half of the run. This gets your body used to running at this pace so you are more likely to maintain that pace comfortably during the race.
Fast Finish Practice Marathon
The great thing about marathon pace runs is that they can prepare you for real race scenarios that commonly occur during a marathon.
For those racing for the medal at the front of the pack, one of those common scenarios is the need to pick up the pace to a very fast run in order to get to that finish line before the runner tagging along just behind.
The fast finish practice marathon technique is a way to prepare for this type of scenario. You perform this technique just like the practice marathon, but you practice picking up the speed right at the end..
The very last quarter mile is performed at an all-out run, as fast as your legs can carry you. Imagine the finish line out in front of you and someone chasing just behind you.
The mile leading up to that final quarter mile should be performed at 10K pace.
This will mimic what many professional runners must do in order to get to the finish line and earn a medal.
Race Pace Intervals
This is a good way for those training for their very first marathon to tackle marathon pace runs. It is a common technique used by those who cannot yet handle the more vigorous training ideas presented above, or who simply want to make it to the end of the marathon without trying to go for the medal.
Rather than just speeding up at the end of your long run, this technique requires you to perform intervals throughout the entire run at your marathon pace. You speed up to marathon pace for a designated amount of time and then slow it back down to a gentler training pace.
This gives your body more time to recover, since you are not going at marathon pace for the entire ending of the race and you never go faster than marathon pace.
This is similar to the race pace intervals just covered, but it is more of a free form. Rather than doing timed intervals at race pace, you simply speed up to race pace when you feel it is right and drop back down to the slower pace when you feel that is right.
You simply do what you want, speed up and slow down at will, and have fun. This is a great way to train on those days that you just don’t feel like getting out there, since you can do what you want and still benefit.
Repeats are timed segments of a run at a given pace, which are repeated in a particular order. This training method requires you to take it up to a given pace (marathon pace) for a length of your run and then drop back to another given pace for a length of the run.
You can break it up into one mile repeats or come up with your own mile divisions for each repeat. This is similar to intervals, but you are going at a given pace for a period of miles rather than for a length of time.
You do not have to select just one of these training methods to enrich your marathon pace runs. You can use different ones on different days, according to how you feel and what your goals are for this upcoming race.
You may start out using one technique and venture into other techniques to keep the challenge and entertainment in your long runs. Listen to your body and pay attention to what is bringing results and your body will tell you what is right for your runs.
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