LSR Pace Query

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Hello all,

I am looking for a little advice.

Just started training for my second marathon, I'm not fast so just aiming to finish quicker than last years time which was a rather long 4:58. I have switched plans this year and am folloing Hal Higdon's Novice 2 plan. My question is concerning the pace of the LSR, the plan suggests this run should be run 30-90 seconds slower than intended race pace, however, I don't understand how this will prepare me for the race on the day? I know my mid-week runs at a faster pace will help, but to me it seems that it's very different maintaining a pace for about 8 miles to maintaining it for 26.2, surely taht needs to be regularly practiced?

I know these plans are very tried and tested, I just don't get it. I have a half in mid-Feb that would be a good race-pace practice but still obviosuly only half the distance. What do others do?

An easy run at the moment is about 9:40 min/mile to 10 min/mile (depending on the day), should I just aim for this as race pace on the day? It's not that much difference to my faster runs that are about 9:15 min/miles.

Any advice and guidance much appreciated.

Posted 09.01.13, 1:24pm


Hi - well done on teh sub 5 last year.

Its my view that most people do most of their training too fast :-).

There is a huge amount of theory behind the Hal Higdons programs and they do work! The basic idea is that different parts of the program are designedd to do different things and to build you to a point where by you CAN run all 26.2 miles at race pace.

The LSR is there largely to give you time on your feet and to get your body used to efficiently using limited energy supplies. Running slower than target race pace actually helps this process and will help the body adapt more quickly. The key benefit of long runs anyway is a time (rather than a distance one) in that most of the physiological benefits kick in at around the 2:30 mark, running much beyond 3 hours actually has diminishing returns when it comes to marathon preparation.

The runs in the week - particularly any tempo runs and or intervals are there to variously boost your lactic threshold and/or VO2 max (there is a lot more to it that this). These will ultimately enable you to run your marathon faster. 

This is why its quite important to develop different running paces if you can, some faster than marathon pace and some slower. Over an entire program both your endurance (from long runs) and speed (from shorter stuff) builds up and alongside the taper enable you to run your best race on race day.

This is also a bit why following a program is often a good idea as it will build you up and also tune you up at right point.

Best of luck


Posted 09.01.13, 1:58pm

Hi Keith,

Thank you so much for your reply, what you are saying makes perfect sense, I should really trust the training plan as I have no knowledge, I don't really know why I'm questioning it.

I will follow the plan and up the speed in my shorter runs (where directed) and slow down the LSR. I must admit, it will be a bit of a relief to slow down the LSR as I was wondering how I would manage to keep it going for 16 weeks when last year I just ran at a leisurely (aka snail) pace.

Training to improve seems to need a lot more thought than training to finish, I would love to run it at 10 min/miles, although still slow would be a big improvement on my steady 11:30 min/miles last year.

Posted 09.01.13, 2:47pm

I've often wondered about this too.  I've done quite a few half marathons but London this year will be my first ever marathon.

Sounds like my pace is similar to yours Jane27.  My comfortable pace is around 9.30 min miles and I average just over 9 min miles on tempo runs.  It does feel very strange having to slow right down for long runs and I've not been very good at forcing myself to so far.

I too hope to run in 10 min miles on the day too.  I'd love to get in under 4 1/2 hours.  I have no idea what I'm capable of though as anything over 13 miles is still unknown territory!



Posted 11.01.13, 9:52am

Out of interest with your range of paces is your best half time 1h57m, 2h05m, 2h 11m or something completely different?

Welcome to the site BTW

Posted 11.01.13, 10:27am

Hi. My quickest half was 2:04.

I've been training once per week with a local running club though for the past 6 months where I average much faster than 9 min miles doing speed work.  So I'd like to think I could finally break 2 hours for a half! 

Thanks for welcome.

Posted 11.01.13, 6:02pm

Fingers crossed for the two hours!

Posted 11.01.13, 7:42pm

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