How do I achieve my goal time when my long run pace seems too slow?

Salete asks:


I am wondering how can I get to my goal time, 1.59, for a half marathon even though my long run pace is about 6.30/km. Will I be be able to increase my pace on race day even though I am not training long run on race pace? I am comfortable doing the long run training with the pace suggested at the moment, I am ignoring it to achieve the time?



Lee's response:

Hi Salete,

Thanks for your email. The objective is to get one long run in every week that is roughly 45 - 60secs slower than race pace and what we are after is the cumulative effect of day after day, week after week and month after month of training with NO injuries and NO setbacks. Your long runs are about giving you the confidence that you can run the distance which is a fear for a lot of runners. Your quality sessions are to be ran faster than race pace and this is a way for us to determine whether you can actually run faster than what you possibly think you can or the goal time you have, may be out of reach for now and you need to focus more on our predicted time which is more realistic. Your tempo runs are at race pace and this is to help give you a gauge as to what that pace feels like so you can be confident come race day what the pace feels like.

Now every session is important in the overall plan. Our goal is to get you to the start line in one piece, healthy and ready to race. We don't want you doing all your racing in your training and by the time your race comes you are tired, injured or run down which is very common amongst runners preparing for a marathon.

Now Rob DeCastella, Steve Moneghetti and myself can run the marathon at 3:02 - 3:05 per km pace for 42km BUT our Sunday runs every week are run at 3:40 - 4:00 min per km which again is 45 - 60secs slower than race pace. Our quality sessions were done much faster than race pace and our tempo runs were all done at race pace but what made us run well in our marathons was we had 16 uninterrupted weeks of training and it was every day of training that counted. All I have done with the Marathon Guru programs is followed a very similar format to our training but adjusted it to suit runners of all abilities.

So in answer to your question, despite not running your long runs at race pace, this is not the only part of the training that helps you achieve your goal time, UNLESS you can't complete the distances.

Your tempo at the prescribed pace and it feels easy, then you should have confidence in knowing that you can start out at the pace and hold it for a good 2/3 of the race BUT if the tempo runs feel way too hard/ fast then your goal time needs to be adjusted to accommodate this.

Everything in our programs are designed for you to focus on endurance, strength and speed but more importantly work on consistency each week and this is where the success in your race comes. No rushing, just patience and time.