Test to determine the marathon pace?

Is there any test to determine at what pace I should run the marathon?

Answer by Luis Tavares

Yes there is. Using a treadmill test, which the athlete runs with a tube in his mouth in order to determine his Vo2 Max, anaerobic threshold and other useful information. This test is done by gradually increasing the running pace until the runner is exhausted. 

The most important information we get with this test is the anaerobic threshold, which can be used to determine the marathon pace. Usually the anaerobic threshold is between 70-80% of the Max. Heart Rate and it is very important that the runner respects this limit or there will be lactic acid accumulation resulting in problems after the 30 km during the marathon. 

It would be a good idea to do this test near the the time of the marathon; one week before would be the best time. This test can be done in specialized clinics or even in clubs, but the athlete must make sure that the test uses the direct method, using the tube, since the indirect method isn't accurate. With the test's results, it is possible to accurately detect at what % of the Max. Heart Rate, if you use a Heart Rate Monitor, or at what pace you should run the marathon.

Luis Tavares
Phone: (11)3159-8456
e-mail: e.c.tavares@uol.com.br
site: https://www.ectavares.com.br

Answer by Marco Alburquerque

Yes. There are tests that can help you to find the best pace for the marathon, like the tests done in laboratories that can give the Vo2 Max as well as the anaerobic threshold.

Besides the tests in laboratories, there are the tests on the track where the evaluator uses many tools to predict the best pace for the athlete. The most useful tools are the Portable Lactic Acid Analyzer and the Heart Rate Monitor. It is also important to have an idea of your race time to plan your marathon. 

There are so many runners, mainly the ones that run a marathon for the first or second time, that make a mistake regarding the marathon's predicted time. Research in the USA showed that 65% of the runners said that they would run the marathon faster than they really did, and worse, 15% of the first time marathoners and 8% of the second time marathoners made a mistake of more than one hour. On the other hand, experienced runners can predict their marathon time to within a few minutes. 

The best test is the performance during the trainings, mainly the performance during the long run, and the results in shorter races that the athlete took part in during the marathon training period. 

A test, in the laboratory or on the track, will not show anything much different than what the runner and his coach can notice from information from training sessions.

Marco Alburquerque
Phone: (12) 97038870
e-mail: marcomrt@directnet.com.br

Further information:
Noakes, T. 1991. The Lore of Running. Human Kinetics;
Fohrenbach, R., Mader, A. & Hollmann, W. 1987. Determination of endurance capacity and prediction of exercise intensities for training and competition in marathon runners. Int J Sports Med 1987 Feb;8(1):11-8, Erratum in Int J Sports Med; 1987 Apr 8(2):172;
Yeung, S. S., Yeung, E. W. & Wong, T. W. 2001. Marathon finishers and non-finishers characteristics. A preamble to success. J Sports Med Phys Fitness Jun 41(2):170-6.

Answer by Joaquim Ferrari

There are many ways to estimate the marathon predicted time. One of the most trustworthy is the lactate test. The sports bibliography shows, for a long time, that marathons are ran at an intensity very near 2.5 mmol of lactate. To find this point, it is necessary to measure the lactate concentration during a progressive intensity test. There are some good groups working with race performance prediction, but if you don't have time or money for this test, there is a formula, by German marathoner Steffny, in which the marathon time would be the 10 km time x 4.666. There is another formula, by Ricardo Santiago, that is 7.6 x 10 km time - 86.4, all the times are in seconds. However we shouldn't forget to consider the weather and psychological factors that also have an influence on the marathon.
Joaquim Ferrari
Phone: (21)2241-2581 - e-mail: jferrari@alternex.com.br - Website: www.joaquimferrari.com.br

Answer by Marco Antônio Pardal Delgado 

To finish the marathon training, you can take part, as a test, in shorter races like 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters to verify your performance and estimate the marathon time. This is an accurate method if you add to your marathon predicted pace more time due to the longer distance.
Marco Antônio Pardal Delgado 
Phone: (11)91077402 - e-mail: marcopardal@bol.com.br


You can also use these tools to predict your marathon time and pace:

1. Time prediction for any distance :  

Actual :  Distance : miles.  Time : hrminsec
Predicted :  Distance : miles.  Time : hrminsec
Prediction by the Runner's World Magazine table with the following formula :
predicted time= actual time x (prediction's distance / actual distance) elevated to 1.07
Presumes that you did the appropriate endurance training.

2. Pace calculator :  

Distance :  miles.     Time: hrminsec 
Pace for covering the distance in this time is: 
pace : minsec per mile. 
Time for covering the distance with this pace is : 

Related articles:
Anaerobic threshold, heart Rate,
long run

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.


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