Marathon Training Basics:
Part 3: How Specific is Your Race Preparation?
by Kevin Beck
This is part 3 of a four-part series about the basic needs of serious marathoners.
If you’re a modestly experienced competitor and getting ready to run a 5K or a 10K, it doesn’t take a great deal of creativity to come up with a plan that, if nothing else, has you confident of having covered all of the bases. If you’re hoping to run, say, 50:00 for 10K, you understand that 1) this is 8:00 per mile, so 2) you need to run 8:00 pace and slightly faster fairly often, but that this is really only feasible on days set aside for unusually hard work, because 3) when you’re moving at 10K pace or faster, it rarely happens by accident; that is, you’re not going to look at your watch and discover that you’ve been cranking along for a mile and a half at PR pace for either of these distances. Alas, the length of your long run really isn’t critical.
The marathon isn’t like this. Because it’s such a long race, the sharp line between everyday training pace and specific race pace doesn’t exist. How can that be?