Various training approaches will give you comparisons of the times you can run at different race distances based on a recent finishing time in another race. For example, each method may take your 5K time and, from that, estimate how fast you would run a marathon.
They also provide estimates of your pace in easy runs as well as during recovery intervals between speedwork reps.
Of course, these approaches don’t estimate times the same way. Out of curiosity I decide to compare these different time estimates on a spreadsheet. I didn’t have any sort of scientific hypothesis or goal behind this, other than mere curiosity.
- (Jack T.) Daniels Running Formula
- Jean Francois Harvey’s charts from Run Better
- Hanson Marathon Method
- Don and Meredith Fink’s IronFit Marathons After 40
- The book Build Your Running Body by Pete Magill et al
- Greg McMillan’s running calculator
- Sasha Pachev‘s calculator on his Ask Sasha website
- The FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) Marathon Plan
As a baseline I used a hypothetical flat 4-hour marathon performance, and projected the other times from that.
As you can see, not every plan had a corresponding time for certain distances.
FIRST only uses a 10K time as a comparison point, pivoting other training paces off marathon pace and 10K pace.
Harvey and IronFit don’t offer a mile time trial projection. Hanson and IronFit don’t project a 3K time.
Pachev’s calculator doesn’t provide a regular training pace, only projecting times for races.
Some of the times I entered are even themselves amalgamations of either a range of paces or other factors:
– Daniels offers a range of regular run paces from recovery to moderate aerobic pace, based on a percentage of max heart rate. The pace I provided is a calculation based on an average 75% max heart rate.
– Hanson cites a slower and faster aerobic pace, plus a faster, more moderate pace to be used in long runs. I cited the faster regular aerobic pace.
– IronFit doesn’t specify a regular pace… only that it should be a goal to finish long aerobic runs at 30-60 seconds faster than marathon mile pace. I listed a pace 45 seconds faster than the pace needed for a 4 hour marathon, splitting the difference.
– All of the Magill Build Your Running Body (BYRB) paces are calculations and averages. The training paces are listed in wide ranges, and based on 5K times. The 5K times are only listed in 30 second increments, so I had to calculate an estimate of the 5K time based on a 4 hour marathon, then calculate an estimate for the others based on that!
– All of Pachev’s estimates are based on his calculated observations from a career of running in high-altitude Utah. His calculator does provide an estimate for a sea-level marathon but not for sea-level races at other distances. So consider that estimates may vary from a performance at closer to sea level.
Obviously, this is not a highly scientific survey. But it does show interesting contrasts in the estimates.
Harvey’s estimates in particular seem a lot faster. Or, in turn, his projections for your marathon time would probably be a lot slower (and, in my view, more reasonable) than other methods and calculations.
In turn, Daniels, Hanson and Magill offer slower estimates of shorter times, which conversely indicates a generously fast estimate of your potential marathon time based on shorter races.
Meanwhile, those three also recommend much slower training paces than other methods. A 4 hour marathoner in their view should be running regular workouts at slower than 10 minutes per mile. On the other end, Harvey, IronFit and McMillan expect such runners to go within the faster 9 minute range.
If anything of potential value can be immediately gained from this, it’s that inexperienced marathon runners could get from this a gauge of what training methods might work better for them based on the recommended training paces.
A fast 5K or 10K runner seeking to run their 1st marathon might find it easier to train under Harvey’s or McMillan’s methods, as they expect slower marathon times than the others would for the same 5K/10K performance level.
On the other end, a long distance runner who wants to focus more on shorter races they lack experience with… might find Daniels or Harvey a more accessible approach than McMillan, as the former expect slower comparative 5K times.
That’s conjecture, though. They’re just ideas based on a general observational picture. But this wsa an interesting look at how different training programs and minds project paces across multiple distances.