Question about different training runs and how to calculate pace

Richard's Question

Hello Lee,

Thankyou for reading my email.
I'm 47 and did my first marathon earlier this year in Tokyo. (3hr 48).
I'm running Tokyo again in feb 2012, and my goal is 3hr 30.

My question relates to the different paces for training that I should run, and how to calculate them.

Am I correct in seeing the different training runs in order of speed, from fastest to slowest as;

1. Intervals ( 400, 800, 1600m)
2. Tempo ( eg 4x 3k)
3. steady ( eg 3x 6k)
4. race pace
5. long run
6. easy/recovery run

If my race pace is to be 5minutes per km, what should the paces for the other sessions be?
And what paces sessions would you consider the most important to do...I assume that the weekly long run is mandatory, but is it preferable to do intervals/hills rather than a tempo or steady run for example?

I hope my questions make sense.
Thankyou for your time.


p.s. i hope your training is going well.

Lee's Response

Hi Richard,
Thank you for your email. You are correct in noting that each session requires you to run at a certain speed.
You have stated that your race pace is 5min per km (roughly 3hrs 30mins for your marathon).
Your long runs and easy runs should be run roughly 45 - 60secs per km slower. Your long runs are TIME on legs and your easy runs are just that EASY.
Your tempo sessions are at race pace which is 5min per km and this is to help you become adjusted to what race pace feels like.
Your quality sessions will vary significantly. Your 1km efforts for example with have you running up to 10sec per km faster (4.50 km pace) and your 400's would be even faster. You are wanting your body to do the faster sessions quicker than race pace, your longer runs slower than race pace and they should balance out each week to strengthen you for your race.
Your long run and medium run are the most important as you need to get the miles in your legs and the quality sessions (All of them) are next as you need to specifically condition yourself to be able to run your desired race pace and all sessions are balanced out well over the 16 week program. The easy runs are important to help accumulate miles and also recover you from the quality sessions.
There is 13 weeks today until Tokyo so I hope all is on track and I look forward to possibly seeing you there.