If you’re looking for some useful tips on how to run a marathon PB, you’ve come to the right article.
Completing a marathon can be a tough task in itself. But when you want to go from completing one to competing against yourself to get a PB, marathon training can seem like a lot of hard work.
If you’ve run a marathon and now you want to run one quicker, this article is for you because I’m going to give you all the tips you need to aim for that marathon PB.
How To Run a Marathon PB
Marathon PB Tips
First things first, a marathon PB is a very personal thing. Two hours, three hours, four hours, whatever it is, it’s your body, your life, your time.
These tips are about maximizing your progress to get there whether that be switching your training techniques, mixing up how you do it, and hopefully getting you to the finish line in the best time possible.
26.2 miles is a distance that requires a lot of respect just to complete it at all let alone run it in your fastest time.
You’ll definitely need time. Allow yourself at least 12 weeks or maybe up to 16 to train properly for a marathon.
That gives you a bit of wiggle room if you go on holiday or you have a small injury or just life gets in the way, you’ll still be able to fit it all in and train well.
Keep because I’m going to be going through a number of different types of runs and techniques including what kinds of runs you should be doing at what paces in order to maximize your training to try and run your fastest marathon yet.
Mixing up your pace for different training runs is key for running a faster marathon because you’re going to need to be doing different runs at different paces in order to get stronger.
We’re talking about marathon pace and that is really key to include into your training because you’re going to need to know what that pace feels like.
You’re also going to be needing to do some runs that are slower than your marathon pace to recover but also faster to get stronger.
You certainly do not want to be doing all of your runs at marathon pace. That’ll actually be counterproductive because you’ll end up being very fatigued and it’ll take more time for you to recover.
But these tempo runs are a really important part of your training but there are some clever ways that you can incorporate them into your routine.
Let’s look at long runs, for example. It’s a good idea to run the last third or even second half of your long run at a marathon pace.
Alternatively, run alternate miles. This is when you run one mile the race pace and one mile at a steady pace.
The reason, well, it’s because you’re picking up the pace when your legs are already fatigued. If you are able to do it, then it’s a good idea and it gives you a good sense of where you’re rat when it comes to the big race itself.
If you’re not able to do it, it might be worth reassessing those goals.
Another way to incorporate marathon pace into your weekly training is to do a weekly tempo run. Run entirely at your marathon pace.
Start off with a warm-up of one to two miles then run five to six miles at your planned marathon pace and finish that off with a cool-down of one to two miles.
Keep this up for around three to four weeks and then up that marathon pace mileage from five to six miles to seven to nine. So that again for a couple of weeks and then up it again and run at ten to twelve miles at planned a marathon pace.
You could also try and challenge yourself by running the second half of it progressively. So, increase that pace to something around what your half marathon race pace feels like.
Again, with half marathons, another idea is to book in a half marathon race during your training and run that entirely at your marathon goal pace.
Long Slow Runs
It might seem backwards that in order to run faster you need to run slower. But stick with me on this.
You shouldn’t do all your training at one pace and expect to get quicker. As runners, we’re probably all guilty of going out, blasting out runs, and expecting it makes us faster.
If you want to know that a marathon PB, running slower can be a benefit and here’s why…
Your body needs to run both at top speed and very slowly in order to achieve your race pace. If you don’t take your easy runs as easy as possible, then you’re not going to be able to recover and that can lead to injuries.
Equally though, when you’re thinking about the pace of those long slow runs during your marathon training, you should be running some of them at a pace that is slower than your goal race pace.
The reason being as the stress alone of the distance puts a lot of pressure on our bodies. But think of them as just the hard workout as a short sharp fast run.
Slow is a relative term. So what might feel slow for one runner might feel really fast for another. I’m not going to go into exact paces here but instead, talk about effort level.
When you’re running your slower runs, it should be a 5 out of 10 for effort. Something that feels really easy and you can still hold a conversation.
To put that into context with numbers, you should be thinking around 45 seconds to 90 seconds per mile slower than your goal marathon pace. Of course, that depends on what your goal marathon pace is.
The idea of these is that it reduces wear and tear on your body and it also means that you can recover quicker from your runs.
You should really be thinking about time rather than distance on these runs. So don’t go into them with a set pace goal. Instead, think about how much time you’re going to be out there running.
In complete contrast to our last tip, you need to be able to run faster to cover 26.2 miles faster.
There are two ways of doing this and they are tempo runs and interval sessions. We’ve already looked at tempo runs, so let’s look at the speed work.
Faster sessions for marathon training can and should be incredibly varied although arguably there’s not much point in doing shorter reps when you’re training for a marathon.
So instead, why not do some longer reps and then the idea behind it is that you’re getting used to running at a pace that’s faster than your planned marathon pace, which means on marathon day, your marathon pace will feel like a casual jog. Maybe not quite, it definitely doesn’t feel like that.
Here are some examples of speed sessions that you can build into your marathon training.
Just remember to always warm up really well beforehand. Maybe a mile and mile and a half of easy running and maybe some drills.
Since you are marathon training, there’s no harm if you’re feeling up to it and building up that warm-up to two perhaps even three miles.
These sessions are short and sharp, short at least compared to your long run that you’ll be doing, but they will get you running faster than at any other time and get your legs used to turning over that bit quicker.
Upping Your Mileage
Upping your mileage in the number of days that you run at per week is another way to get faster over a marathon.
It all depends on what you are doing the last time that you train for a marathon, but running four to five days per week with a good mix of tempo runs, intervals, long slow runs, and some easy runs can provide huge fitness benefits over the course of your training.
Be careful not to over-train, though. Don’t up your mileage by any more than 10% per week, otherwise you can run the risk of getting injured or burnt out from being exhausted.
A number of studies have reported that recreational runners that run more weekly miles have produced better marathon results than runners who run more average distance per run in training.
The most obvious way to up your mileage during marathon training is to run more frequently. So, if in your last marathon cycle training you ran less than six times a week, try and up your game to hit six times a week for this one.
Each additional run you add in a week will add a little bit more fitness. In fact, Strava data from 10,000 runners at the London Marathon suggests the exact amount of runs we need to be doing a week in order to hit our target times.
Another thing that you should think about is the time spent on your feet and the time that you have to recover.
Elite runners can tolerate massive high weekly mileages for a reason and that is because of a number of factors. They spend more time resting, their long runs will take them less time than it takes us mortals to do, they’ll take their recovery runs really slowly, and they might even nap during the day.
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of running a fast marathon, then you’ll need to taper in the two to three weeks before the start of the race.
This will give your legs the best chance of recovery and reduce that intensity on your build-up to the start line.
So, in the week before the race, you’ll want to cut down on the length of all your runs and your last short to sharp track session or interval session should be four or five days before the race itself.
No matter what your time goal is, you are going to be out on the road for a long time. The number one rule is be aware of your pace and do not start too far.
You’re likely to feel great at the beginning, you’re rested, you’re tapered, you’ve got fresh legs, you’re probably well fueled. So, you can see the temptation, but if you overcook it at the beginning even by a small margin, you will really regret it later on.
Using the heart rate monitor or GPS watch to work out your marathon and pace, sticking to your during your training, and then hitting it on race day is the ideal.
But you need to work out an acceptable margin of error. For example, you can’t be saying I’m going to be doing 7 minutes 15 seconds mile in mile out. Work it more towards say I’m going to be doing between 7 minutes and 7 minutes 20 a mile as we need to be taking an account for the weather, the incline, ups and downs, weaving in and out of different runners, and stopping at water stations
Also, don’t think of your GPS watch as getting to the end of the marathon and ‘ding, ding, ding’, I’ve just hit 26.2 miles.
It’s not going to work like that. It very rarely hits it on the head. Use the mile markers for that and use your GPS watch like as more of a stopwatch.
If you’ve got a teammate or a friend who’s running the same race as you and is happy to be enlisted as your pacemaker, that’s a great way to make sure you stay on pace throughout the race. And, they can even encourage you as well.
That’s how lots of runners get their marathon PB by running with someone who is able to keep the pace nice and steady for you.
Most races also have official race pacers too so you could always run with them if that’s what you think will help you.
Rest and Recovery
Don’t forget to get plenty of rest and recovery if you’re going for that PB while you’re training for a marathon.
You’re going to be pushing yourself harder than you ever have before. So, you need to be eating well, sleeping well, resting, stretching…
By doing all these things, it actually prevents the chance of us getting injured. Ideally, when you’re aiming for your marathon PB, you should be getting eight hours perhaps even more a night.
The elites will get ten and they might even have a lovely nap during the day, lucky them, but it is really important.
Hopefully, you’ve found some tips that are useful to help you train towards that marathon PB. If you’ve got one coming up in mind, let us know in the comments below.