Marathon Expert: Dr Simon Yeung - Associate Professor of Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
It is important for runners to begin their preparation for the marathon race with accumulated running mileage so as to build the foundation for long-term, progressive training. However, if you want to perform your best on race day, the key to success is pre-race deployment. Firstly, runners need to know how to distribute their running strength in different phases of the race, to avoid exhaustion and retirement at the latter stage. Thus, speed distribution is the first thing that runners need to learn.
Speed distribution refers to the approximate running speed per kilometer. Amateur runners or those who are joining the marathon for the first time should start with a speed of 5% slower than that of the first 3 to 5 km of your normal training. For example, if your predicted speed is 6 min/km, it is most likely that you will finish a full marathon race in about 4 hours 13 minutes, so the actual speed for the 3 to 5 km should be 6 minutes 18 seconds. The speed will rapidly burn fat and retain carbohydrates for consumption at later stages. If you are comfortable after the first 3 to 5 km, then you can gradually increase the speed to your original or expected speed. The emphasis is to run at a relaxed speed for the first 10 or more km.