running blog

Clive Whaley

Run Steady

Day 46 - Marathon Training - 65 mins 'steady'

Today my training plan called for a 65 minute run at 'steady' pace. What does 'steady' mean? Well in the pacing jargon it falls between 'easy' and 'tempo' - or another way of putting it, in effort scores - Easy is classed as 5 out of 10, steady is 6 and tempo is 7. (It carries on upwards to 'threshold' being 8 out of 10 and 'hard' being a 9.)

If there is such a thing, I classify 'steady' as your 'normal' running pace, the one you can sustain for a long time and long distance, whilst genuinely putting in the effort to run. I'm not sure whether it also corresponds with what should be my 'target marathon pace' but I guess it has to be there or thereabouts. Well my target marathon pace is somewhere between 8 minute miles (probably optimistic) and 8:30 minute miles, which I'm pretty sure I'm capable of. That means finishing somewhere between 3 and a half hours and 3 hours 45 minutes. To be sensible I should probably be aiming for the latter or I risk going too hard and really suffering and slowing down in the second half … even dropping out altogether … now we don't want that again do we?

I did this ordinary training run today in almost exactly 8 minute mile pace and it felt fairly comfortable so that's encouraging. At about mile 3, I could see I was running quite a bit faster than this, so I actually consciously slowed down a bit so that I didn't overdo it. In the hour I covered almost exactly 7.5 miles (8 min/mile pace or 5 min/km pace) and then slowed down a little at the end. Of course there's a big difference in doing that for an hour or for about 8 miles, as opposed to doing it for 3 or 4 hours and covering 26 miles, but I'll take it as a good sign for now.

I'm not a very fast runner and I'm not technically brilliant but if there's one thing I'm quite good at, it's pace judgement. I can shift between say 7 minute mile pace and 9 minute mile pace, probably without the aid of a watch, and my actual speed would be within a few seconds of my perceived speed. I guess this is a skill that is important in marathon running. Although technology can now assist pacing to quite a sophisticated level (with GPS watches on most runner's wrists) the best way to do it is still by instinctive feel.

If you can run for miles and miles and miles at the same steady pace and feel comfortable and in control, that's a pretty good feeling. And it's a pretty good way of getting you to the marathon finish line with body and mind still intact.