Those preparing for an upcoming marathon should aim to run regular long race-pace intervals in the final weeks of training.
With marathon season now just a few weeks and months away, those training to run 42.2K should now be starting the all-important endurance phase of training.
After developing speed through shorter repeats and strength through hills, runners focus on the phase which brings overall higher mileage. Specific workouts often include longer intervals at or around marathon race pace.
Running the marathon is about feeling comfortable at the pace you want to maintain for three to four hours. It’s therefore a pretty good idea to practice running at that pace for lengthy periods of time and build your confidence that it can be done.
Running at marathon pace is an almost entirely aerobic activity. As such, you can theoretically maintain that pace for the time it takes to cover the entire 42.2K of the marathon. This does however assume you are well fueled (and stay that way) and have built up a sufficient amount of muscular resilience (the more mileage completed in training, the better). Mental fatigue that begins in the final 10-15K also plays a significant role in slowing you down which is another reason why practicing goal race pace is good for the mind as much as the body.
The following are a series of sample workouts that gradually and progressively increase in volume. Aim to complete these workouts starting approximately six weeks out from your goal marathon. In all cases, aim to run the intervals at goal marathon race pace (MP), speeding up and finishing the final interval(s) slightly faster if possible. Be sure to warm up and cool down before and after any workout.
6 weeks: 6-10 x 1K at MP with 500m easy between
5 weeks: 4-6 x 2K at MP with 500m easy between
4 weeks: 3-4 x 3K at MP with 500m easy between
3 weeks: 2-3 x 5K at MP with 500m easy between
2 weeks: 10K at MP
1 week: 3-5 x 1K at MP with 500m easy between