800 repeats for Marathon Success
This workout has been in several books and my cousin turned me on to it several years ago.
**Update: For those who are unfamiliar with repeats, the idea is to run the distance listed at the desired pace and then either walk or jog until you are energized enough to run that pace again. These are also known as intervals.
The numbers are very simple to follow. Go to the track and run 800 meter repeats in the minute and seconds you plan to run your marathon goal time in hours and minutes. Example if you plan on running your marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes, run your 800 repeats in 3 minutes 30 seconds. Start with 4 repeats and increase by 1 or 2 repeats a week until you are up to 16 repeats by 3 weeks to a month out from your marathon. This pace will be faster than your true marathon pace and make the actual pace for your marathon feel relatively easier.
The key come race day is to not be fooled by the ease of a pace faster than expected, but to conserve energy in the first half marathon and have enough left in the tank to finish strong.
This is an area where I have failed in every marathon I have ever run. I continue to run my first half split too fast and always have a slower 2nd half. I say this because it takes discipline and mental focus that when race day comes often goes out the window if you don’t own it completely.
Take this workout as a great way to plan for marathon success and remember that it is designed to make your true marathon pace feel easy. Do not be fooled into thinking that magically you can run the entire race faster than expected. If weather conditions allow, you should expect to beat your goal time. Just don’t expect to knock off 10 minutes off your goal time when those 7:30 miles feel like 8 flat.