Fast Finish Long Runs and PACING.

Last night was a nice and simple (our favorite kind) one.  After dinner we took a walk down by the lake at sunset.  Brooke rocked her tennis shoes and ran up ahead and back to us pretty much the whole time… she is killing it with her training;)

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Not a super pretty picture but we made steaks (trying to get in more iron) and roasted veggies for dinner and it hit the spot.  Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and green beans tossed in olive oil and garlic salt and roasted for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees.  We got ice cream on the way to our walk too which really rounded out the meal for me;)

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We stopped at Gap yesterday too because—>  What happens when your favorite everyday t-shirt is $8 (use the code 2DAYS)?  You get every color because you have issues.  T-shirt and jeans for the next two months straight.  Yes.  

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Pre-school is still the love of Brooke’s life.  

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It puts her in quite a good mood.  We drove over to my parents’ neck of the woods after preschool to have lunch with them today.  

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And I am loving going out for a run a little bit later than usual by myself while she is learning about dinosaurs (what she tells me she learns each day after school when I ask her).  

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I had someone ask me the other day about pacing.  My coach gives me a set pace for each workout.  If I didn’t have a garmin on, I think that I could come within about 20-30 seconds per mile just based on feel.  After years of running you learn how your breathing/legs/heart rate feel when running at different paces and you can just kind of go off of that.  

The real trick to hit my coach’s assigned paces—> a lot of garmin checking.  If I am going too fast, then I slow it down.  Too slow, then I force my legs to pick up the pace until I get to the numbers he told me to do.  It actually turns into a fun little game for me to try to end a second or two (or three or four) per mile faster than what he assigned just to play it safe.   ***There are also days that I just don’t hit the paces but that is to be expected.  Some days are just off days.  

IE today was 5 miles @ an 8:20 pace and I slowed down/sped up a few times throughout the run to get as close as possible to what he assigned.  

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As you know, I have been craving a sub 3 marathon since the finish line of my very first marathon.  There have been injuries, a pregnancy, a divorce, a lot of post-divorce healing that took priority over training hard and lots of running lessons along the way…  but now, I am ready to get it.  I LOVE this article about the 3 Great Marathon Predictor Workouts.  These workouts are killer but they are giving me the confidence and strength I’ll need come race day.

One of these 3 workouts that the article talks about—>  Fast Finish Long Runs.  

Long runs are hard and finishing them fast… that takes them to the next level.  

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How does a fast finish long run work?  

You run the first 8-12 miles (of a 14-18 miler) at your normal long run pace…. and then for the last 3-10 miles you run them fast.  McMillan recommends during those final fast miles to finish the very last 10-30 minutes of your long run like a race… ‘run as hard as you can and sprint at the finish.’  The fast miles (the last 3-10) at the end are the focus of this type of run.   Fast finish long runs are tough workouts so you shouldn’t be doing them for every single long run.  I will probably be doing 4-5 of them total this training cycle.  You don’t taper for these either which means you are really dealing with some leg fatigue for those final miles.

Why try out a fast finish long run?

-It is an awesome way to get in a dress rehearsal for race day.  You can practice your hydration, equipment, nutrition the night before, a similar course to your marathon etc.  Practice makes perfect.

My workout details from last week:

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-Like my coach said in the pre-activity comments—>  this workout is meant to build endurance, leg resistance to fatigue and to practice race pace.  Teaching your legs to be okay with being uncomfortable for those last miles of a long run is going to help you out big time on race day.  

-It is a great workout for your mental game.  It gives you the practice you need for race day to keep pushing until the end no matter how tired you are.  ‘Mentally, you undergo the extreme fatigue that marathon racers inevitable face during the final few miles.’ 

-It prepares you well for a negative split race.  It may help you to avoid flying and dying on race day.  Training your body to not go out at a sprint and to do the second half of your race with everything you’ve got—>  yes please!

-It is a great confidence boosting workout.  Going into your marathon knowing that you have a few long runs under your belt where you did the last 8-10 miles at your marathon goal pace (or faster) will help you to feel confident that you can hit your goal pace on race day too (especially with all of the extra adrenaline and course support that comes along with a race).

Let’s talk about numbers:

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And how often can you try these out:

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 If you are looking to pr in your next marathon (or half-marathon.. you could just shorten the distances prescribed for the marathon), this may be a great workout for you to try out!


Do you check your garmin/gps often during your run?  How do you pace yourself?

What is the hardest type of run/workout for you?  What type of run do you think brings you the biggest improvements in your training?

What has been the best part of your Tuesday?

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Yes, fast finish long runs are the magic that will get us where we want to go but WOW do they ever hurt. I love those Gap shirts but Callum always yanks on my collar and then before I know it, I’ve got a baby on my hip and a boob hanging out. SO WRONG.


hahaha yeah… I would definitely stray from the v-necks then;) Hope you are having a great day Suzy!


I try not to check my Garmin too much, and I usually don’t even wear one on my recovery/easier days. I don’t want to stress about it at all, and I’ve gotten to the point where I know what my easy pace feels like without pushing the pace too much.

The hardest workout for me is definitely track workouts. I LOVE tempos, but track workouts always give me anxiety for some reason. I’m always glad when they are finished! :)

That dinner you had looks delicious, by the way! And love the evening walk pic–those special moments truly matter so much.


I hear ya. The track scares me big time. I don’t know what it is about that oval. Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday Natalie!


Yes, I love fast finish long runs! Knowing that I have to finish fast helps me keep an easy pace for the first several miles rather than going out too fast. Sometimes I plan to do a fast finish, other times I am ready for breakfast and naturally pick up my pace :)
I love basic Gap and Banana Republic shirts! Definitely my year-round staples!


I plan 2 or 3 fast finish long runs leading up to a marathon and my first is in 2 weeks! They always intimidate me but feel amazing of course afterwards, even if the pace felt ridiculously hard. I also check my watch often when I wear it, which is why I limit that to 3 runs per week.

So glad Brooke is loving school, that’s a great feeling for a mom!!


I love being able to finish runs strong, it always makes me feel more prepared for races.

If I am doing tempo/speedwork then I will check my garmin alot. If I’m doing a long run, I don’t pay much attention to it.


The hardest workouts for me are my swims. I think because swimming engages every bit of your body. Everything has to work together efficiently. I would love to find a swim coach to help me improve. I think it’s awesome that you have a running coach to guide and push you to meet your goals.


You are so right Megan… swimming hits every muscle group. It kills me. YES, get a swimming coach! Gotta love having an expert outsider’s opinion that can help with form/technique/efficiency!


The best part of my Tuesday is going to PT, RUNNING on the treadmill, working hard on my exercises and then going to the track afterwards and RUNNING another mile. Run 1 lap, power walk a lap. I’m finally, finally running!!! Yay!! :)
I use my Garmin a lot. A lot. I would like to get to the point where I am running by feel in my next marathon cycle.
Fast finish and tempo runs definitely get me faster and ready for a marathon.
I have to get to the Gap and pick up some t-shirts – such a great deal!


AHHHHHHHHH YAY!!! I am seriously so so happy that you are finally running again. You enjoy every step of that mile tonight! You are rocking it girl!


I am so happy. Like cloud 1001 happy!!! Thank you so much for your kind words Janae and for being such an inspiration!!


Dinosaurs haha love it.

That’s one thing I’ve really loved about running is that I can get to a point that I can feel what pace I’m going and I can tell how far I’ve gone. I can also tell by mapping out a new run about how long it will be.

Right now my favorite runs are hills, interestingly enough. I feel like they really push me and help me strengthen my endurance and my leg strength.

I’m going to check out that gap thing now.


oh man how cute is she at school!! Adorable.

I check it somewhat often, esp towards the end. Track work outs are the hardest for me, I love long slow hilly workouts.


I’m pretty good at pacing “by feel” – so I only glance at my watch every once and awhile. Sometimes just when it beeps when I’ve run another KM. However, during a race situation, I have to be careful with that first KM or two since I tend to go out way too fast if I’m not paying attention. When I’ve “paced myself” at the beginning, everyone is zooming past me….then I pass them later, lol.

The hardest and most rewarding workout is the long run. I get bored and tired and hungry – but really, it has helped my running


My 2yo is infatuated with dinosaurs. So much that she “ROARS” me and tells me she’s a dinosaur. It’s particularly funny (though I try not to laugh) when she does this as I’m trying to wrangle her back into her diaper after she’s torn it off for the 5th time at night.

Our running group likes to use the McMillan method. It was the only time I ran a negative split race and qualified for Boston.


I only pay attention to my Garmin on my long runs and speed workouts. I do my best to finish strong in the important runs!
Tougher run: tempos!
Most beneficial: long runs
Tuesday highlight: the gorgeous cool weather!!!


I check the watch about every half mile, but I try to go mostly on feel. (Except for yesterday…planned on an easy 4 miles on the trail because a random part of my leg is bothering me, and 3 miles in there was MASSIVE thunder. Definitely all but sprinted the last mile to make it to the car before the storm.) :)


I don’t have a Garmin but it’s on my Christmas list! Pacing is always hard. Treadmill helps and using fitbit app.

Tempo runs are the hardest for me to hit. Oddly enough (haha) tempo an speed work outs help me improve! Go figure!

Best part of today: hitting my 3 x 1 mile workout today! Part of speed work outs that I struggle with is the mental part – knowing that I’m running a whole mile at a fast for me pace but I’m thrilled I stuck to the paces and nailed it :D


If I’m running by myself I tend to stare at my Nike watch like I’m willing the miles to increase or the speed to decrease. If I’m running with people it’s easier to just let it do it’s thing because I can chit chat to pass the time. For my long runs I run with a 2/1 run/walk pace group and I’m on the slower end of things and know that I’ll usually end up at about 13 min/mi. Right now it boggles my mind that you can run twice as fast as this. Some day…

I love a good track workout but my current training group doesn’t do organized track workouts. I am craving one. We recently got an office gym so I’m looking forward to doing some sprints on that during lunch.


Hill training – so hard for me!! But long runs are my absolute favourite. I just relax and enjoy as this is my first marathon and I run with a wonderful group of people. I am probably running a bit too slow during these runs but it is a great start to the day :).

At the bottom of the article you linked to, McMillan mentioned running in a glycogen/carb depleted state for some training runs. Is this something you have experimented with?

I have tried and I feel as though I have hit the “wall” in the first mile. I guess it is something to get used to.


I’ve been a reader a long time (pre Brooke so at least 3 years wow!) And I really can’t wait for you to hit sub 3! I know you can do it based on your 18 miler!

You are so talented. My friend ran D1 in college and runs slower marathons than you….I’m kind of shocked you didn’t run in college.


I have this problem with long runs. I see that if I go at my slower long run pace it will feel like forever to cover the distance so I tend to run the first 4-6 miles way too fast. Almost more of a tempo. Then I die and my law 10 miles are slow torture. I need to get better at holding back the pace and trying to push for the fast finish.
Maybe someday. But right now I’m happy to just shuffle through. No pr plans. Not this year :(


Hardest workout …definitely tempos outside. I m a horrible pacer but, naturally a negative splitter.


Haaa….. I am happy I am not the only one that buys same stuff in different colors!!!That makes me feel better!
Best parts of today: My fiancé took me to the pool, and now he is cooking dinner for me :)


I run with Nike+ running app so I get updates every mile. I used to run with a Tom Tom but I do less now. I check my watch at points of my run. I run the same routes often so I will check at some familiar landmark to gauge if I am faster or slower than a typical day.
Speed workouts kill me. I generally run for pure enjoyment but I want to qualify for Boston next year. That means I have to incorporate speed. For years as a football player I did nothing but speed and I hated to run more than 100 yards. Now it’s the opposite. I hate running anything less than 3 miles.


Ohh I love that tee! What a great deal!!


Love Mcmillan running. I have my fast finish long run scheduled for Friday and nervous about it! EEEEKKKK


I check my Polar M400 pretty frequently. Probably on the quarter or half mile increments. I tend to go too fast so watching the clock tempers my enthusiasm. (Is it bad that almost all my runs end up being tempo runs? ; ) )

I will see if I can pull a fast finish on Saturday morning. I have to do 16 miles, which will be my first time ever at that distance.

Track intervals are probably the thing that does the most for my overall running, but I can’t underestimate the value of that long, slow run.


WOW they sound like great but tough workouts. I’m really struggling at the moment with my pacing, and with my confidence within myself & my ability to run a BQ in Chicago. Some runs are great and I feel like I can do it, but some are truly awful and I wonder if I’ll be able to run anywhere close!


I try not to look at my Garmin on my long runs, but have to for speedwork.

I think hill training runs are the toughest.

And the best thing from my Tuesday was having not one, but two great runs!


This post has convinced me more than ever of how much I NEED a Garmin! ;) Thank you!!

I am curious which running coach you use? Do you use the same one each marathon training cycle or do you change it up? I am only a few weeks into my marathon training for #3 and am wondering what a difference a coach would make.


Hey Ashley! I use a guy in Florida that I have used in the past! He is currently not taking on any new athletes but as soon as he does I will let you know:) I notice a HUGE difference in my training with a coach. Having an expert’s outsider opinion is night and day for me. I am faster and injured less often which is key for my marathon training. Good luck and let me know if you end up getting one. YAY of marathon #3!!!


I have just started doing the long run fast finish this training cycle – it’s tough! I finally nailed it last week though and it was such a good feeling.


WAY TO GO MARGARET!!! So so so exciting!


Good morning! I’ve been reading for a couple months now, but this is my first comment. I’ve been running for about two years and just got my first Garmin (the basic Forerunner 10) this summer. I look at it a LOT. It has helped me so much with pacing and learning to be consistent. I’ve been working on pacing by feel, which is much easier to do when you can verify yourself on the garmin instead of fumbling with a phone. I am a very slow runner, but I really think the Garmin is helping me speed up, because I CAN pace myself now and I don’t just burn myself out.

I’m training to run my first half marathon on Oct 4. I have a couple goals (most of which are not much shorter than your sub-3 full marathon!) but I’m having a hard time figuring out where to pace for it. See, the first three miles are mostly uphill, then the remainder is a combination of flat and downhill. I need to figure out how to pace them differently with a definite finish time in mind. Any suggestions? Is there a calculator for that?

The best part of my Tuesday was the quiet hour after all the kids were asleep and before I crashed out too.


Hey LISA!! Yay for your first half-marathon. That is so exciting. I think the goal would be to keep the same effort level for the ups and the downs. There may not be a set pace but focus on using the same amount of effort and energy on the ups as the downs and the flats. Does that make sense? The pace will be slower going up but the effort the same. I hope that helps a little bit and email me if you have more questions! YAY for quiet hour!


Ok, I love GAP but am finding their shirts are getting thinner and thinner, so I always have to wear a cami with their t-shirts. Do you have this issue too?! Or is it just me?! :)


I check my watch All. The. Time. I suck at pacing myself. I’ve been running for almost two years and still haven’t gotten the hang of it. Usually I end up going out too fast and then the last few miles suck. Since it’s Florida in the middle of summer and I’m dying (literally) every time I go to train, some of my favorite workouts so far have been the short speed workouts. 2-4 miles, nothing too intense. It’s really all I have to give right now when the real feel temp is 109 degrees.


I’m 7 weeks away from my VERY FIRST MARATHON! I try to only check my garmin (620) for mile splits. When I’m aiming for a certain pace I look at it more often. For me the hardest type of workout is the long run fast finish. Regular long runs are pretty enjoyable though. For me tempo runs have brought some huge improvements, especially longer tempos. And the best part of my tuesday has been my TEMPO this morning :)


I know that this has nothing to do with your post but Brooke’s hair is gorgeous!! haha

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