Find your marathon race pace How to set a finishing time and reach it

London Marathon runner"What time are you aiming for?"

It's the question every first-time marathon runner dreads. After all, you've never run 26.2 miles before. So how can you answer it properly?

Finding your marathon race pace takes practice (we talked about threshold running in a previous blog) and discipline. At Full Potential, we've got three golden rules to help you stick to it.

3 golden rules to running your race pace

 1. The 20-minute rule

The easiest way to work out your ideal marathon pace is to base it on your half-marathon performance. If you double your most recent time and then add 20 minutes to the final total that gives you an indication of a likely finishing time.

Using that figure, you can now decide your strategy for the last few weeks of training. If you want to speed up, then you can focus on speed endurance sessions between now and race day.

2. Keep an eye on the clock

It may sound simple, but if you're running to achieve a set time, it's vital you get in the habit of checking the clock.

One of the many enjoyable aspects of distance running is that it allows your brain the opportunity to switch off. Your mind wanders, you lose yourself in music or the horizon and you start to run on auto-pilot. That's fine - but set an alarm or a reminder to make sure you're keeping an eye on your pace. You might lose valuable time otherwise and have to find an unlikely burst of speed right at the end of the race.

3. Don't panic

Sporting performance, whether you're an elite professional or an amateur, is about staying in control of your emotions. If you're stressed, your heart rate will rise and you'll expend unnecessary energy.

The downside to checking the clock is that you can become worried if you're not on schedule. In that scenario the worst thing you can do is to dramatically increase your speed. Make a gradual transition to a faster pace. Trust in your training and the accumulation of miles that got you to this point.

Quick tip: squats for runners

Squats are a great exercise for any aspiring or experienced runner. They build power and endurance in the quads and glutes, allowing you to become a stronger runner.