Training

Marathon Pacing Advice

Set yourself up for a strong performance with coach Martin Yelling’s Race Day pacing tips

Marathons are never easy, but if you tackle the 26.2 miles at your target pace and stick to your Race Day plan, you’ll set yourself up for success on Sunday 26 April. Follow this guide on how to nail your pacing – and deal with the inevitable lows you’ll experience as the race unfolds – and you’ll experience marathon glory when you cross the Finish Line on The Mall.

Race morning

Everything always takes longer than you think it will so allow extra time. Get up 30 minutes earlier than you think you should. Have breakfast but don’t go crazy. Include carbohydrate – but nothing new – and drink enough fluid to start the race adequately hydrated. There is no need to over drink. And don’t forget your race kit: race number, timing chip, socks, shorts, vest, running shoes and your race nutrition are a priority. It’s also a good idea to take some warm disposable kit to wear when you’re waiting for the race to start.

The Start

You are likely to feel very nervous here. Take a few minutes to calm yourself and reflect on all your positive moments in training and racing. It’s natural to feel nervous on the Start Line. You’ll be toeing it with thousands of other runners, all as apprehensive as you. Stand confidently in the assembly pens and reflect on how far you’ve come on your marathon journey.

The first few miles

Once the gun actually goes off and the race starts it may take 15 minutes or more for you to cross the Start Line if you’ve lined up in the rear start pens. Once the race is underway, and you start moving forwards, use this time to stay calm and relaxed and try not to worry about anything. Your timing chip will not be activated until you cross the Start Line.
Start your own watch when you cross the Start Line and not when the gun goes – that way you’ll be able to keep a track of your actual run time throughout the race. This is vital to control your pace as the race unfolds. Be patient. Perhaps the most common mistake made by novice runners (and even some experienced marathoners) is starting too fast. Your first few miles should feel easy.  

Give yourself the best chance to run the second half strongly by starting off at your planned pace. Runners around you might be moving faster than you but stick to your pace plan. Just relax.

Know your mile one and mile three splits and have a personal pace checkpoint at both of these points. Allow your pace, breathing and stride pattern to settle down. Just tick the first few miles of the race off in a consistent, metronomic style. Use as little energy as you can as the race unfolds.

Reach halfway cruising

Break the course up into landmarks, mile markers, points of interest, or where you can expect to see your family and friends cheering. Once you go through mile eight celebrate the fact that you have covered the first third of the race – this can really set you up for the all-important final third of the event. At this point you should still be feeling comfortable and in control. One of your key marker points for your finish is the halfway point.

Your goal is to reach half way (13.1 miles) feeling as fresh as you can and really ready to tackle the second half. Your marathon really begins here. This is also a good time to pay extra attention to relaxing as you progress from miles 13 to 16. Focus on how you’re feeling; tune in to your body. Take time to relax, run smoothly and enjoy the moment and what you are achieving. Compose yourself and get yourself ready for the final third of the race – without doubt the toughest part.  

Positive thinking

Everyone experiences tough moments in a marathon. It’s how you respond and react to them that make or break your day. From mile 19 onwards there’s no room for negative thoughts. Remember, your training will give you the strength you’ll need on Race Day. The choices you make when it hurts to focus and keep moving will help you believe you can achieve anything. Boost your confidence to achieve by thinking back to some of your best training runs and remember how well they went. Lock into that feeling of success and keep running.

Celebrate in style

Before you know it the Finish Line will be in sight. Compose yourself. This is it. Run tall. Run strong. Smile. Lift your spirits for the final push across the line. Raise your arms and celebrate your marathon success. 

Pace Perfect

Find out your MILE pace with this handy guide

The Runner’s World website ( www.RunnersWorld.co.uk) offers a free pace band generator, which calculates your mile splits on a wristband for you to print out and refer to during the marathon. You can also join a Runner’s World pace team at the race. Visit www.RunnersWorld.co.uk/pacing to find out more, or head to the Runner’s World stand at the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo for pacing advice.