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I have a genuine question.
I'm seeing lots of people talking about doing intervals where they alternate between easy long run pace and a slightly faster pace, at which they plan to run a marathon.

I'm genuinely surprised at this because the whole point of interval training is to run for shorter distances than you race at, with a higher intensity than you can maintain for a whole race, with slower recovery paces in between. Which applies whether that is training for 800metres or a marathon.

Surely if you do intervals, you need to go faster than marathon pace to stress your system and then recover using slower than marathon pace ( or maybe marathon paced recoveries possibly) so that your body adapts and you can run further, more comfortably, in a marathon race.

I'd be very keen to know if there is some research to back up the idea of 'marathon pace' intervals.

Certainly, the late Frank Horwill used to advocate a marathon runners interval session of 12x400m at 3k, 5k or 10k pace ( depending on current fitness ), with 400m recovery between those efforts, at goal marathon pace. Which uses the normal 'run faster, recover slower' interval training method.

Very interested to understand how the marathon pace then slower recovery intervals idea came about.
Cheers
 

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I agree. Running stretches of MP and calling them intervals makes no sense to me, nor anyone who advocates polarized training or the 80/20 principle.
 

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I agree. If I do anything at marathon pace it tends to be as a continuous part of a much longer run. For example, early on in training I may do a 16 mile run where I do 7 miles easy, followed by 9 miles at marathon pace. Later on in training I try to build up to an 18 mile run with 14 or 15 of that at marathon pace.

But I certainly do not do any intervals or alternating.

I do quite a bit of what Daniels call 'cruise intervals', which is run at threshold pace rather than interval pace. But these are still way quicker than marathon pace and tend to be quite long intervals (at least 1 mile), with pretty short recoveries. For example, on Tuesday evening I did 6 lots of one mile cruise intervals, with 75 second rests between them.
 
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