All race distances will generally require you to train your body for that specific distance. When I’m half marathon training, the sessions are tailored for running 13.1 miles and not 26.2.
I run at a faster pace during half marathon training than marathon training because the body and legs need to know what it will feel like on race day; if I attempted a marathon at my half marathon pace, I would not last the distance.
This will depend on the runner. Some may prefer even mile or kilometre splits throughout the race; others may want to do a negative split where the second half of the race is quicker than the first half.
If you get to the last few miles in your race and you’re feeling strong and confident, then push yourself; if you push hard too early then you may experience fatigue and heavy legs, which will result in slowing in pace and may force you to adjust your finishing time.
Generally I work on mile splits in all races up to and including half marathons, but in marathons I break it down into the first half and then work on the second half. I start most of my races slightly quicker than predicted, but generally settle into a rhythm and then work at staying at race pace after 3 miles.
How can you Improve your Target Marathon Time Whilst Minimising the Risk of Injuires?
Increasing the pace will generally be seen throughout your training schedule. As you progress through your selected schedule, you stress your body with key sessions to help it get used to running at a faster pace over a longer distance.
Generally, a high cadence (steps per minute) and not over-striding will help with a higher leg turnover and efficiency. Once you reach your taper period, you would ideally not be running many hard sessions and you should by now know what kind of shape you are in for the marathon.
Do not overdo it during the last few weeks as your hard training should have been done by this stage!
Ensure that you have scheduled rest and recovery days after hard or long sessions. Again, everyone is different but every runner will put their body through a lot of stress regardless of your target marathon time. Unfortunately, you can never rule out injuries, but you can be sensible and ensure that you listen to your body and minimise the risk of overtraining.
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