Training for my first marathon. I bonked a few times on long runs and had to slow down.
I'll have about 3 runs of 20 miles under my belt before the race at a pace that is 45-60 seconds per mile sloer than I'd like to run the race.
Every training program suggests runing these long runs slower than race pace.
On race day I am supposed to be trained and ready to run faster than I have been running these long runs?
I'm feeling that I'm going to bonk if I do that. What is the magic that allows you to run faster on race day without disaster?
That is the question everybody asks, and there are several answers. The taper is one part. A proper taper gives your body the time to recover from all those long runs and high mileage weeks. Pacing on marathon day is another important factor. I would suggest starting the race slightly slower than your planned pace, and run that slower pace for a minimum of 10 miles, perhaps 15. You could pick up the pace a little between 10 and 15. When you hit 15, adjust your pace according to how you feel, and hope you can continue at that pace for another 10 miles or so. Fueling and hydration, of course, will play some part. So will weather conditions: hope for a cool/cold day, with light wind, full cloud cover and no rain. Last is the race-day enthusiasm factor. Unfortunately, this can also lead you to going too fast in those first miles, so exercise caution Good luck.
This is an old thread, but I'll add my twee cents for anyone's benefit:
Everything Len said was true.., maybe especially under-rated is the stressful effect of full sun vs/cloud cover. If you have the conditions Len described, the race will be a dream. A couple other things I do to run faster on marathon day: 1.) Carry plenty of water with me on my long runs. Not just to stay hydrated, but to make the run more difficult. When race day comes, it will be a great liberation not to be carrying a half gallon of water with you. You'll be able to run faster. 2.) Make sure your marathon program includes tempo runs. These are 5-10-mile runs done at about 75% of your aerobic threshold. You can find the formula for identifying your aerobic threshold online. 3.) Speedwork. This enables your fast-twitch muscles to know what it's like to go fast.
If you train in summer for a fall marathon, the cool weather, alone, is enough to help you run a faster race.
Like Len says, the taper time will allow your muscles to heal while keeping the memory of the training in them.
(I go from 21 miles to 13 to 7 to race). Those are my three weeks (two taper weeks) before the marathon. The excitement of the day will also propel you.
This is anathema to some, but I feel a monthly 5K helps to keep me honest during my training period, too.