Marathon Goal Pace Running

I’ve been doing my long runs on Fridays for most of this training cycle, but I rearranged the days last week because my husband and I had a black tie work function to attend Thursday evening.

It was held at the Waldorf Astoria.

First time I’ve actually ever been inside.  The ballroom was GORGEOUS:

It was SO nice to get dressed up and spend a few hours together away from the kids.  My wonderful mom babysat our two boys for the evening!

I knew that I would want to have a few drinks and would not be able to get up at 4am for a long run after getting home after 11pm.  And, more importantly, I knew my calves would be screaming after wearing these bad boys for 5 hours:

I love heels but I feel like the older I get, the more they disagree with my feet.

So, long run was Thursday morning. Had to be finished by 745 so that my husband could leave for work on time.  Up at 415am. On the treadmill by 515am.  It’s early but truth be told, I like doing it early so that I’m done for the day before 8.

My plan for the run was simple.  Well simple in concept.  Hard (for me) in execution. First 5: slow and easy.  Second 5: at Marathon Goal Pace (MGP) + 15 (which is 7:30).  Third 5: MGP (7:15).  Last 5: as fast as I could go ( I was hoping for times close to 7:00).

Although I wanted to run outside, I was relegated to the treadmill because of some ugly looking thunderstorms in the forecast.

First 5: 8:34, 8:08, 8:01, 8:01, 8:00.  The first mile was much slower than I wanted but my legs felt tight so I kept it slow until I felt like I felt okay. Overall, these miles felt easy and comfortable. Average Pace: 8:08

Second 5: 7:28, 7::28, 7:28, 7:27, 7:27.  I was in the zone during this chunk of miles.  I felt comfortable and the pace felt EASY. Average Pace: 7:28

Third 5: 7:16, 7:15, 7:28, 7:15, 7:15.  I was surprised at how great these miles felt.  Comfortably hard is a good description.  My legs were fatigued from the week of running and biking but I was still able to hit the paces I wanted.  The 3rd mile was 15 seconds slower than the others because I had to get off the treadmill to use the bathroom (and it takes about 15 seconds for the belt to get up to the target speed).  Average Pace: 7:20

Last 5: 7:10, 7:38, 7:27, 7:15, 7:11.  Not anywhere near the times I wanted to run.  After hitting my goal pace for the first mile, I almost called it a day at 16 miles.  I just couldn’t keep up that pace anymore.  I convinced myself to slow it down to what felt comfortable and easy.  I made myself focus on just that ONE mile.  Get through that mile.  My breathing felt okay but my legs were hurting – not sure if it was from the 16+ miles already run, lack of a 20 miler in a month, or the training from the week. I was able to pick up the pace for the third mile to 7:27.  With 2 miles left, I imagined myself at mile 24.2 of the NJ Marathon.  Time was 2:55:30.  I had 14:30 to run the last 2 miles to get under my 3:10 goal.  I shut off the TV and my music and concentrated on my breathing and pace.  It worked. My last 2 miles were my 2nd fastest of the day – 14:26 – faster than MGP.  Average Pace: 7:20

10 miles at 7:20 pace, 15 miles at 7:23 pace. 20 miles at 7:33 pace

This was my first long run that included MGP (and other specific time) miles.  Although it was a LOT tougher than just running 20 miles at a comfortable pace, I loved it.  I liked knowing that after 18 miles, I still had some energy to run marathon goal pace miles.  I’m running my last 20+ miler before NJ Marathon this week and plan to add in some MGP again.


There is an interesting article in Running Times magazine this month about races that hurt most.  RT held a survey to see what readers felt was the toughest race:

I’ve raced all of the distances above (except the 1500m).  In my opinion, the ultra was the hardest – mentally and physically.  I’ve never experienced such complete exhaustion then when I ran the Knickerbocker 60 in Nov 2011.

Toughest race distance?

Do you include MGP miles in your long run? 

GOOD LUCK to everyone racing Boston today!!! 

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    14 thoughts on “Marathon Goal Pace Running

    1. Pingback: Speed tools and hot (running) pants

    2. I’ve never done a 1500m, but I’ve done several 1600m races, and I can honestly say I would rather just run a marathon (as in, not going for a super fast time) than race 1600m.

    3. Love the photos, Miche — “up close and personal” with the Waldorf — what fun — and kudos to you to keep on training! With all your responsibilities and commitments.

    4. Oh my gosh I love the color of the dress- you look gorgeous!!!!
      Toughest distance for me from what I’ve done – 10k. I like to go balls to the wall, or longer (half marathon)… 10k is pushing it since I need to go fast, but not too fast or I’ll tire out around mile 5. I haven’t run a 15k yet or an ultra.
      beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..At Last – A Love StoryMy Profile

    5. Woah, the heels are fabulous. I can’t wear shoes like that anymore, sadly. I find I’m unable to do long runs on the treadmill – I just can’t get there mentally. I’ll have to work on it a bit more, this is inspiring!
      moltovivace recently posted..Mind over matter over milesMy Profile

    6. First let me say you look gorgeous in that dress and those shoes are so cute! I love doing progressive long runs. I can’t really do a slow steady pace on my own I have to have someone running with me or I will end up testing my self some way or another. Of course what is fast for me would be turtle speed for you, your times are awesome. Great job lady!
      Adriana recently posted..My Foot PainMy Profile

    7. Great run! I loved doing a progressive long run like that in my last training cycle…real confidence booster.

      I just got my RT and haven’t dug into it yet, but definitely want to read that article. It’s funny b/c I’d tell you that whatever race I am currently in the middle of is the hardest distance! ; )

      You looked fabulous for the black-tie dinner!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Challenge conventional wisdomMy Profile

    8. Hello gorgeous!! The shoes might not have been comfy, but looked amazing! :) And great TM long run. Mentally, just being on the TM is hard, so hitting those splits is extra impressive – you are tough! And although I find longer races mentally challenging due to their length, I ran the 800m in school and always thought it was SO hard. I normally was a xc/ 2-mile track runner, so the 800 felt like a dead sprint – killer, but looking back, those are some of the times I’m most proud of!
      Ashley recently posted..Brussels Sprouts with BaconMy Profile

    9. Oh my, I love those shoes but I am with you, I’m older now and can’t do shoes like that well anymore. I get so nervous now about my feet since I need them to run long miles! But we women love a pretty heel now and then don’t we :) Love your dress! Your 20 mile training run sounds like it went so well. I haven’t gone beyond 16 on the treadmill myself and really hope I never have to, but I know some schedules are hard to avoid for us moms. Best wishes on the marathon! :)
      Christina recently posted..Why I runMy Profile