Determining Marathon Goal Time

Determining Marathon Goal Time

Marathon season is fast approaching. Spring races will be upon us before you know it. You’ve done a bit of easy running to stay in shape over the winter. And now you’ve signed up for a 26.2 mile race… What happens next?predict marathon pace (1)

If you’ve run a marathon before, you have some prior knowledge about what it takes to successfully complete the full distance. But if this is your first one, you might have little clue about what to expect.

Finding Goal Pace via Past Performances

It’s best to gauge your upcoming performance off of prior experience. Look at the training you did when you set your last PR. Are you in, or will you be, close to that type of shape again? If yes, plan on being able to realistically reach for a PR over 26.2 miles. Again, it’s not guaranteed, but if you are in PR shape over a shorter distance and you do the work required of a marathon, it’s possible.

newport half marathon

newport half marathon start

Finding Marathon Training Pace via Racing

Taking the marathon distance serious, you’ll need to incorporate workouts into your running routine. Both threshold, tempo and long runs are integral to running a good marathon. But how does one know what pace they should do these runs at?

Use your race performances to guide your workouts during the marathon build up. There are many calculators and pacing guides on the internet, some of which I strongly suggest you look up and figure out how to use.

Jack Daniels created Vdot charts – they are fairly accurate over the longer distances. Find your race performance and its associated vdot number. Use that vdot number to guide your paces for various workouts.


Dr. Jack Daniels

McMillan calculator – very popular and accurate for various race distances (including “odd” distances).


Coach Greg McMillan

Cool Running – will give you a basic calculator for finding (400 and mile) splits of popular race distances.

Finding Goal Pace via Racing

Racing/running in a longer race (ie: 10k, 10 miler, or half marathon) prior to the race (6+ weeks prior to goal race) will give you a good indication of what your marathon goal pace will be. Use this non-peak race a dress rehearsal for the big day. It is suggested that your non-peak race be at your goal marathon pace. This pace should feel easy as you aren’t going the full distance, plus the type of effort(/pace) a marathon requires isn’t all that difficult – the distance is what makes it difficult.

Pacing at the Start of a Race

Pacing at the Start of a Race

Finding Goal Pace via Confidence

If your training progresses the way you expect it to, your confidence should automatically grow with each passing workout. The more you are able to “stack” (ie: put in consistent running over time) workouts and long runs over weeks and months, the better your peak race will be. There is no secret to running, except it takes a lot of running to see results.

Good, quality long runs, with some of it at goal marathon pace will help you reach your marathon goal time. Adding in strength training to your routine, including core work and body weight routines, will allow you to “carry” your body efficiently over the 26.2 mile course.


Long runs will improve your ability to run 26.2 miles

Proper nutrition will play a key role in how you do on race day. Not just your intake on marathon morning, but the better you eat throughout the months preceding the race will play a factor.

Getting enough rest (marathon training requires even more sleep than a “normal” adult). 8+ hours a night is adequate if you plan on performing well.

So there you have it. Some of what it takes to run a successful and productive marathon. There are quite a few links throughout the post, so click through to read more about the 26.2 race distance. If you have questions about something I wrote, let me know!

Here’s our podcast episode about the marathon topic as well!

Appropriate & Smart Running Practices

Appropriate & Smart Running Practices

Shalane Flanagan recently said, “You can’t take a Ferrari off roading”… as she announces that she’s injured and pulling out of the Boston Marathon this April.

This Ferrari analogy is so true as so many distance runners find themselves taking their race car bodies into uncharted and unfamiliar territories without pause or hesitation. smart-running-strategies 

Jump back into training with a hard 12 miler? Sure!  

Track workout in spikes after years of no spikes?  Why not!

Major injury in April. June marathon?  Yes please!

All of this leads to heart ache, head ache, and unworn running clothes.  We constantly make these decisions.. And yet, we’re not quite sure why we always get these repetitive injuries… Maybe we’ll learn..

Injury prevention is one of my “schticks” as I’m often on the receiving end of long stretches of zero running – and not from the above mentioned reasons…  Running injuries suck.  Any injuries suck, but being a runner and injured is the worst.  

Dealing with injuries

Dealing with injuries

Variation is Component to Injury Prevention

Pacing Variation

There are lots of paces on the spectrum of running… Hitting all of them may make us a more well-rounded runner.  Focusing most days on easy/recovery runs is one way.  Then touching on each of the “major” running paces (ie: tempo, threshold, interval, & race pace) will ensure we stay fresh, motivated, and healthy.  Mixing in cross training days and off days will also play a huge roll.

“Train smarter: If you run your easy runs harder than necessary, you won’t be able to run your hard runs as hard as necessary.”

Race Distance Variation

Can’t always be a marathoner.  There comes a time when speed work (ie: 5k work and lower) plays an important role in the success of a runner.  Too often, we get in the mindset that what we are is what we always have to be.  Here to tell you that you don’t have to be confined to a certain mold.

Training Location Variation

Running on 1 surface for every run is oftentimes equal parts boring and risky.  By varying your terrain – roads, trails, packed dirt, hills, grass, track, etc – you can work different muscles and put less strain on the bones and joints that get used to running on a specific surface all the time.IMG_0096_2

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different “styles” of running.  You might find something out there that captivates you and forces you to be an active runner rather than a passive one.

Workout Distance Variation

Changing what workouts you run will prevent getting stale, will help you boost your performance, and keep your mind and body engaged in the workout.

Example: Always running 4-5 x 800 at the same pace with the same recovery.

Make a change and try 1000s or mile repeats. Try them at 5k pace or half marathon pace. Adjust the recoveries to match the type of workout you are running.

Figure out what works for you by experimenting far away from peak races.  Don’t shy away from change because change is scary.  Be smart and go slow.  Make small changes at a time when you can focus on easy running, rather than in high or heavy (6)

Want similar articles on Smart Training? Check these out:

What pace is best for my intervals?

Incorporating speed work into a running plan

Having a plans for consistent running

Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Planning a Racing Season

Planning a Racing Season

Winter time is here.  I hate running in the winter.  I don’t enjoy being cold. Ever.  Luckily, planning a racing calendar is something that motivates me to get out the door when it’s really cold, windy and truthfully, I’d rather be doing anything besides running outside.

Planning a Racing Season

Planning a Racing Season

When I’m building a race calendar, a lot of factors go into my decision.  I often ask myself if the race is “worth” my time. Let’s break that down, as that phrase “worth it” is not intended to be elitist in any sense.

  • Is the race helping me reach a goal?
  • Does it fit into my life calendar?
  • Is the price fair for the race distance/experience I’ll have?

After thinking about those questions, I look at whether the pros outweigh the cons.  Even if a race passes the above tests, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll race it.  Then I ask myself these questions:

  • Am I in shape or out of shape?  
  • Do I feel like racing?
  • Do I need to race for motivation or for another reason?

As you can see, I don’t just race to race.  There are a lot of factors that go into deciding to race… Sometimes, I’ll go 4-5 months without racing.  Why? There isn’t a need to or a race that satisfies all of my above qualifications!

Ok, so let’s say I’ve chosen a racing calendar.  It has 4-5 races spread out throughout 3-4+ months.  I’ve adjusted my training to focus specifically on the goal race and I work backwards.  What do I need to do in training to be at my best for the goal race?  I focus on just the goal race as the other races are less important.  They are crucial for me to do them, but not in the sense that I am looking to run a PR or a perfect race.  In these non-peak races, I’m purely looking to work on strategies such as pacing, nutrition, and getting rid of nerves.  That’s all they are there for!

When to back off even if I have a scheduled race on the calendar.

Numerous times to “skip” (ie. NOT RACE) even though a race is on my calendar:

  • If an injury occurs during training
  • If I don’t feel recovered from training or a race
  • If my goal race has changed
  • If something in my non-running life has come up

So many reasons to NOT race… Be picky.  Be choosey.  Figure out what’s important to you and why you’re always racing.  Just know that you’re not going to get everything out of yourself if you race week in and week out over the course of 5 months.  There’s little time to train effectively when each weekend there is a race.  Good blocks of uninterrupted training will ultimately be the most rewarding and the best strategy to performing well in a select few race.

Reasons Not to Race

Reasons Not to Race

Interested in more that’s similar to this?

Distance runners should keep a training log

Having a race-day checklist 

Using a coach to guide your training

Setting goals for a racing season


Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Strength Training and Base Mileage

Over the last month, I’ve done more strength training than I had previously done in the last 6 months.  

True story.  

I tell my runners to keep up with their strength training (bodyweight exercises, ie: pushups, squats, lunges, etc, core and ab work, hip and mobility, etc, etc… Yet, hardly ever “found time” to do it myself.  There is a disconnect between my runner-self (doing strength work) and the coach (telling myself to do strength work).  I know how valuable it is for me to do it, yet couldn’t pull myself together to actually do it with any kind of regularity.  I choose an easy run over 20 minutes of strength.  Blah! That needs to change.

Base Mileage & Strength Training

Base Mileage & Strength Training

Strength training is something I’ve needed to incorporate into my weekly routine, but never really had any desires to figure out how and when I’d make it work.  Not only does strength work improve my running form, my running economy, and my overall ability to run faster, but it is also something I need to continue doing as I get into my mid-30’s.  

This lack of effort, or, better put, lack of stringing together days and weeks of strength training has recently changed.  I’ve been able to do my strength training with a group – and that has helped tremendously.  I get my 3-4 mile run in, then head indoors to work out with the kids I’m coaching.  

all-i-needed-was-some-accountability-and-a-reason-to-stay-consistentIt doesn’t matter one bit who I’m doing my strength with.  What matters is that I’m actually getting it done.  

Prone Stabilizer - Core Exercise # 2

Prone Stabilizer – Core Exercise # 2

As it stands now, it looks like all I needed was some accountability and a reason to stay consistent.  Maybe that’s all it takes for anything to get done?

Here are some of the routines I’ve done. If you do any, snap a pic and tag it with #TrainwithMarc.

UK Workout

8 Min Abs 

Shoe Workout

Deck of Cards Workout

Body Weight Strength Routine

Power & Explosive moves

Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Question about any of the exercises? Google is your best friend.

Keys to a Successful Long Run

The long run is considered one of the most important aspects of distance running training.  A long run has a similar intensity to an easy or moderate day of running with the main difference being time spent on your feet.  Long runs fit neatly into our training schedule and have numerous physiological, physical, and mental benefits that make this type of run one of the most important runs we do on a weekly basis.

Reasons for Doing Long Runs

The most important reason for a long run is to condition the muscles to delay the onset of fatigue.  By doing this, the body must learn to physiologically tap into and utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food sources) have been depleted.  Through long run training, the capacity to store more glycogen within the muscles increases.  An increase in glycogen stores translates into the ability to maintain one’s pace during the marathon and delay the onset of fatigue.

Run long; don’t bonk.

Besides delaying the onset of fatigue, long runs also work on strengthening the heart (increasing stroke volume) and open the capillaries, both sending energy to working muscles and flushing waste products from fatigued muscles.  We can also see benefits physiologically in the increased number and size of mitochondria and increased myoglobin concentration in muscle fibers.

Finally, a distance runner should realize that not all long runs will be easy to complete.  Bad patches will arise, and when they do, the better one can persevere through these stretches will develop the necessary mental toughness needed for racing.

Benefits of Long Runs

As a distance runner, there are numerous benefits that we can gain from doing our long runs.  Most of these benefits are physiological benefits, such as cardiovascular adaptation, increased size and quantity of mitochondria, and increased use of fat as a fuel source.  While others, like mental toughness, experience, and added mileage are both mental and physical benefits.  Let’s go through each and see how they benefit us.

Cardiovascular adaptation: By running more miles, we strengthen our heart and improve its ability to get oxygen rich blood to our working muscles. While this happens during all running, it especially happens during the long run.
Adaption of fast-twitch fibers: After roughly 90 minutes of continuous running, the slow twitch fibers that become depleted and our bodies switch to using fast twitch fibers. So in essence, long runs over 90 minutes also become a form of speed work.

LR fuel

Increased size and quantity of mitochondria: Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cellular respiration – the ability to turn food into energy. Therefore, the bigger and more mitochondria we have, the better our engine will run.
Increased number of capillaries and capillary density: Bigger capillaries mean we can carry more oxygen to our working muscles. More capillaries equals more oxygen, which means you can run faster and longer in an aerobic state.
Increased glycogen storage: Muscle glycogen is the body’s primary source of fuel during exercise. Long runs teach your muscles to store more glycogen.
Increased use of fat as a fuel source: Although fat is a less efficient source of fuel, the more your muscles can use it early in a race, the less likely they are to become depleted of muscle glycogen.
Experience with long runs and glycogen depletion: You can gain a lot of experience from running for an extended period of time. The more you run log and to depletion, the more confident you’ll be that you can handle the discomfort in a race.

Ways to make a long run “easier”

Run long, run happy! via

Run long, run happy!

• Hydrate before, during and after races.
• Eat a meal high in carbohydrates within an hour of finishing running.


3rd TrainwithMarc logo

• Do a dynamic warm up of stretches and drills before your runs and a static stretching routine after your run.
• Massage or “put your legs up” after a race or long run.
• Wear compression gear to alleviate swelling.


Carly and Marc having fun on a run

• Consider running for time rather than distance. Going for time will enable you to be flexible and open minded about your route.

When you design your next training plan (or get a coach like Marc at TrainWithMarc to do that for you), remember the importance of the long run and be sure that you’re scheduling one every week to 10 days during your training cycle.

For details on how you can train, run, and race with TrainWithMarc, find us on the web:


7 ways to go from a good runner to a great one

I have been getting brand new runners lately and I thought that even us seasoned vets could use some reminding about what it takes to go from a good runner to a great runner.


7 ways to go from a good runner to a great one


1.  When in doubt, something is better than nothing. Go get a mile in.  Chances are, it won’t be as bad as you think it is and you’ll continue on for a few miles.

2.  Slow down – it’s better to move (by move I mean run, cross train, basically sweat) for 40 minutes at a slower pace than 25 minutes at a faster pace.  When you work out slower, you’re able to recover for your next workout.  When you’re recovered and not sore from a hard workout, you’re more likely to get out there for that next run.
3.  If you don’t run every day, move around days only if you have to.  There is a pattern and a flow to how your workouts should be arranged.  Become a planner.  Know you have a run/workout scheduled and plan to get it in.  Try not to stack hard days next to each other without some planned rest before and after.  As you become more seasoned, you can get away with this, but as a new runner, you’ll want to go in an easy-hard-easy pattern.
4.  If you’ve taken a complete off day and should have worked out, then you should attempt to make it up.  Know that stacking back to back (to back) days is what gets you injured, and so we try to avoid this scenario.  Don’t save your off days for early or late in the week.

5. As runners, we have to be flexible with our training.  That means that if Tuesday looks better than Wednesday (weather, scheduling, life-wise), we should probably try and do our hard workout that day.  It doesn’t mean let’s put off our workouts to Friday and Saturday because we didn’t have time.

thurs @ armory 1.20 (27)

Going from good to GREAT!

6. Distance runners aim to build a big base (run as much as possible without getting hurt) so that when you start doing workouts and faster paced runs, you have the foundation to build upon.  Think of building a skyscraper with a weak foundation…what is likely to happen?  It will tip over or crumble (you’ll be more susceptible to injury).  So we aim to have a good foundation of easy runs and long runs to help support the faster workouts that are to come later in the training cycle.
7. Our bodies can adapt to a great amount of stress if we let it.  We should aim to only increase one of three training variables at a time.  When we stress more than one factor, we are more susceptible to injuries.  However, we can trick our bodies into thinking we are just playing with one variable, when we can be altering two.  The important key is to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and eat healthily.  The 3 variables are intensity, density and volume.
Intensity – how fast our percieved effort is for a given run
Density – how soon you allow yourself to recover between your workouts.
Volume – how much mileage are you running per day? per week? per month?

Be sure to share this with new runners – it’s great advice that I’ve picked up on over the years!


3rd TrainwithMarc logo

For details on how you can train, run, and race with TrainWithMarc, find us on the web:


Track Intervals: On Pace or Faster?

Many runners have questions about how to run intervals – should they be run as fast as possible or run within yourself at a prescribed pace/effort?
Specifically, this is written for a runner I coach who is unsure about how to run intervals the most effective way to seek the maximum amount of bang for his buck.
Coach Marc in 4th of July Race

Coach Marc in 4th of July Race

Read below and let’s discuss how you run intervals during your training.

Send me a tweet or message me below!

Running Intervals

Intervals that I provide to you are designed for you at your current fitness level.  I have no doubt that if I gave you repeat 800s at threshold with 40 seconds rest that you could run each effort 10-20 seconds faster with the same recovery.  In fact, I know you could.  The issue then becomes that you’re not running threshold effort.  So then instead of running threshold (which you can do in your sleep, practically), you run something faster (which is still attainable) than that and it taxes your body differently and now you are slightly more run down, depleted, and the effort intended was not met.
Track Intervals

Track Intervals

So let’s say I give you this workout: (1 mile warm up, 2.5 miles @ tempo pace (8:15 pace), 1 mile recovery mile, 2.5 miles @ tempo pace (8:15 pace), 1 mile cool down).
Can you run 8:15s yes, could you even run 8s or 7:50s, yes!  But the body responds when you run within a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate ability.  With your current fitness (based on your race results and your training paces) you can be expected to hit 8:15s at your true threshold pace.  Now, here’s the “if”…
Let’s say you’re used to 8:15s at tempo pace and they feel like you’re going 80% hard (which is roughly what they are supposed to feel)… And now you get a day like today where it’s 60 degrees, no humidity and you feel AWESOME.  Well yes, 8:15s is either going to feel stupidly slow or you’re going to run a faster pace (while still maintaining that 80% effort)*  <– This is the key.  The effort.  This is why I say summer (and winter running) is all about getting in mileage and going off of effort.  The effort will stay the same when you get a nice day, but the pace will exceed your current ideals about what you can run.  
OK, to sum up… Yes, you can run faster on your intervals, but it doesn’t always benefit you to do so.  The paces I prescribe are ranges (give or  take 5 seconds higher or lower) so you can account for weather, terrain, sleep, nutrition, etc.

What do you think? Do you adjust your summer running to account for weather and humidity? 
Send a comment on twitter or facebook and let’s keep the conversation going!
Need a VDOT chart to help with your own pacing? Check ours out here.

9 Tips A Coach Gives His Runners

As a virtual or online running coach, you won’t find me with a stopwatch in hand overseeing my runners during their workouts.  It’s not possible, even if I wanted it to be.  I have runners in all corners of the country, and so, as you can imagine, a lot has to be said and then implied when we do interact.  An online coach is there in spirit and, if I’m doing my job correctly, the athletes I coach become, in effect, my assistant coaches.  They ultimately make the call on whether they do that last repetition, or how fast they run their recovery runs…  

9 tips from coach marc for runners

9 tips from coach marc for runners

Within the coach/athlete relationship, a lot of communication happens.  Some of it is explicit within the daily training (run this pace, with this much recovery) and some of it is general advice (hydrate, stretch, be flexible and be open minded).  Regardless of what type of information I’m passing on, my goal is to make the runners I coach smarter runners who race faster.

That being said, here are some of the key pieces of information I’ve shared with them throughout the summer as we’ve built, tinkered, and fine-tuned our approaches to their peak races.  (These are in no particular order).

Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Don’t neglect foam rolling, massage, icing, and stretching. All of these will make marathon training possible.

    Massaging on a foam roller

    Massaging on a foam roller

  2. Let’s not be running at the hottest part of the day…
  3. Be careful of the heat. Hydrate often and run when the sun is not as strong – early in the morning or late at night.

Training (and Racing) Philosophy

  1. “Comfortably hard” is a range of effort that is roughly 10k to half marathon pace. Roughly a 6 out of 10 in terms of effort.

    Tempo running explained

    Tempo running explained

  2. Run days – or days that you run the day after a workout should feel hard only because of fatigue. Don’t make them harder by running them too fast.
  3. Cross training can be done as swimming, biking, or on the elliptical.  Anything that gets your heart rate up, but doesn’t bother your injured area are all GREAT forms of XT.

    Carly and Marc biking

    Carly and Marc biking

  4. Most runs should start slower than they finish. When you finish a run, you should feel “fast” and not slogging through the run.  And, the pace on an easy run should be comfortable and finishing like you could go out and run for another 2 miles if asked.

    Carly and Marc running

    Carly and Marc running

  5. Remember that “easy” pace varies based on weather, course/loop, current fatigue, etc
  6. Always adjust your pace to reflect the conditions (heat, sun, lack of sleep, hills, etc).

Having an online running coach is great for runners who don’t need their hand holding and can get their training done because they want to get it done.  The coach/athlete relationship works well when both communicate, ask questions, and are flexible.  If runners, whether coached or not, take the 9 tips above and put them to good use, they will ultimately be a better runner and athlete.

Contact Marc to get coached.

Find Marc on social media:

Twitter: @marcpelerin


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