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How to Estimate your Marathon Time

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Predicting your marathon race time can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several methods commonly used to help you estimate your marathon race time. However, keep in mind, there are a number of factors that can affect your time on the actual day of the race. 

This guide will cover the two most common methods to help you determine a solid estimate of when you'll finish your race. Having an estimate finish time will help you plan your race nutrition, set your pace goal, and help you run a better race. Not to mention, you'll be able to tell your friends and family when to meet you at the finish line!

Stop watch on track

The T2=T1×(D2÷D1)1.06 Method

This marathon time prediction method was created by Pete Riegel who was a research engineer. His mathematical formula gained popularity because of its simplicity and accuracy. He introduced his formula in a 1977 issue of Runners World Magazine, and further expanded on the theory in an article for American Scientist.

T2=T1×(D2÷D1)1.06  is the formula you'll use to predict the amount of time it'll take you to run a marathon. Here's what you need to know:

  • T1 is the given time
  • D1 is the distance
  • D2 is the distance of the event
  • T2 is the calculated time for D2

This is a common method used to predict marathon times, however, keep in mind, it does have limitations. It tends to be better suited for elite runners because it's more realistic to their running consistency.

However, for people who aren't regular runners it can be more difficult to get an accurate prediction. This is because it doesn't account for things that happen during the race, such as restroom breaks, weather conditions, or needing to attend to a stitch or other physical issue.

Man on track Sprinting

The Yasso 800s Method

The second method is actually a speed workout, as well as a way to predict your race time. The Yasso 800s method was introduced by Bart Yasso and is considered "the mayor of running" because of his accomplishments.

The Running World Magazine has named him their Chief Running Officer, in addition, he's been inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.

The concept for timing your race with the Yasso 800s is if you can do ten 800's in 3 minutes and 50 seconds, you're on pace to complete a marathon in 3 hours and 50 minutes. Or. whatever time you're running your 800's at since the minutes, in theory, correlate to hours for marathon time prediction.

After each 800 meters, you'll do a 400 meter recovery jog.

Many runners will use this method as a speed training program and train over a number of weeks. Each week increasing the number of 800s performed. Such as, week one completing four 800 meters, and week two completing five 800 meters.

However you use the method, expect a workout.

Watch a video of the Yasso 800s in practice:

Preparing for Your Race

When doing this type of training prior to a race, it's important to keep your diet balanced and filled with nutrition to fuel your body.

You'll also want to pay close attention to hydration. Keeping your body properly hydrated throughout your training, as well as the race day, is critically important.

If you're not looking after your body throughout training, you won't be able to get a clear prediction of how long it'll take you to run the race.

Man training for a marathon

Why You Should Calculate Your Time

Calculating the amount of time it'll take you to run a marathon is an important part of running your race. Sure it's nice to tell friends and family where and when they'll see you, but it's far more important so you can pace yourself throughout the race.

Your body will know its limits and you'll know how fast you can run and when your body starts to slow. You also need to factor in other aspects of the race, such as weather conditions and the difficulty of the course.

Your race run will be different to your training runs. There will be a different level of difficulty. This is where experience comes in handy.

People who've been running marathons for a long time get to know their running style and the course. This allows them to learn how to predict their speed and endurance over time.

Timing Considerations

Overall, when you're trying to predict the amount of time it'll take you to run a marathon, there are a lot of factors you should consider. You'll need to factor in weather conditions, your fitness level, your health, as well as your diet and hydration.

You also need to factor in your pace during the race, needing to use the restroom, and what you've eaten on the day. All these things are important information necessary to get as close to your prediction as possible.

Staying consistent with your training and diet will help you make the best prediction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few commonly asked questions when it comes to marathon race timing.

How Do You Calculate Predicted Time?

There are several different methods which we covered above. The T2=T1×(D2÷D1)1.06  method is a mathematical equation that's very popular. Then, there's the Yasso 800s method which is both a race time predictor and a technique for speed training.

But there are also a few others that you can use. Dr John Robinson recommends adding 20 seconds to your mile time each time you double your distance.

Hal Higdon, who's a marathon coach, suggests multiplying your 10k time by 5 for first time marathon runners. If you're an experienced marathoner, then multiply your 10k time by 4.66.

How Do I Determine My Marathon Pace?

There are two methods to determine your pace.

The most common is the Minutes/Mile method, and you simply need to time how long it takes you to run one mile while at a 5 to 6 exertion level. Take your average mile pace if you run multiple miles.

The Heart Rate/Intensity method will require you to use a heart rate monitor and maintain a 60 to 65% aerobic capacity level for 30 minutes.

How Long Does it Take for an Average Person to Run a Marathon?

The overall global average is currently 4 hours and 21 minutes.

For men, the average time is 4 hours and 13 minutes; women's average is 4 hours and 42 minutes.

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