Don’t save too much for the final marathon miles, says study

·1-min read
Photo credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - Getty Images
Photo credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - Getty Images

The received wisdom when it comes to the marathon is to start gently and save a little for the final miles. While this is undoubtedly true, it’s equally possible to keep too much in the tank – resulting in a glorious sprint finish but not, it would seem, a faster finishing time.

Quite the opposite, in fact, according to a study by University College Dublin of more than 200,000 London Marathon runners. Runners who finished significantly faster than their average pace tended to have slower overall marathon times compared with those whose finishing pace was close to their average pace.

The study revealed that a runner who finished the final 1.5 miles at their average race pace had an average finishing time of 4:25. But runners who finished a race 10 per cent faster than their average pace are on average 25 minutes slower overall, with an average time of 4:50. And runners who finished even faster, with an average finish pace 20 per cent faster than their average overall pace, had an even slower finish time of 5:20.

The lesson here is to distribute your effort evenly across a race. Sprint finishes might look impressive, but the stats tell a different story.

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