I'm 26 years old and have been running since March of 2000. I'd like to run my first marathon (the California International in Sacramento, CA) this December.
During May and the first half of June, I ran "long runs" of five miles on saturdays. This generally took me about 35 minutes, give or take a few seconds, to run.
In the past few weeks, I have started to increase my long runs. This past saturday I ran a long run of 8 miles in 58:54. The previous saturday, I ran 7 miles in 51:21. The saturday before that, I ran 6 miles in 44:01. I've been tired at the end of each of these runs, but felt that I still had gas left in the tank. I also did not feel that I was breathing particularly hard during the runs.
I have read that the pace of my long runs should be about 15-30 seconds per mile slower than my goal marathon pace. But, having never run a marathon, I really don't know what my goal pace is. I can't imagine that I will run my first marathon at a pace of 7:35 per mile, let alone 15-30 seconds faster than that. In fact, when I first started thinking about a marathon, my hoped-for finish time was, 3:45 or less, which translates into an 8:35 minute mile or less.
So, should I begin to force myself to slow down? Or, can I continue to do long runs at a "comfortable" pace and just not worry about time? My guess is that as the distance of my long runs increases, I will begin to slow at the end of these runs and get a better idea of the pace I should start out with. Any advice?
Thanks in advance for your help,
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