How To Calculate Marathon Pace

Calculating your marathon pace is an essential aspect of training for a marathon. It helps you set realistic goals and ensures that you can maintain a steady and comfortable pace throughout the race. As a seasoned marathon runner, I have learned the importance of understanding my pace and how it impacts my performance. In this article, I will guide you through the process of calculating your marathon pace, taking into account your fitness level, race distance, and time goals.

Step 1: Determine Your Current Fitness Level

Before calculating your marathon pace, it’s important to assess your current fitness level. This will help you set realistic goals and establish a starting point for your training.

One way to gauge your fitness level is by completing a recent race or time trial. Ideally, this should be a race that is close in distance to your marathon goal. For example, if you are training for a marathon, a recent half marathon or a 10K race can provide a good indication of your current fitness.

Once you have your race result, you can use it to calculate your current pace per mile or kilometer. This will serve as the basis for determining your marathon pace.

Step 2: Decide on Your Time Goal

Setting a time goal for your marathon is crucial as it shapes your training plan and overall strategy. Your time goal should be realistic yet challenging, taking into account your fitness level and experience.

When setting your time goal, consider factors such as your previous race performances, training consistency, and any time-specific goals you may have. It’s important to be honest with yourself and choose a goal that is attainable with proper training.

Step 3: Use the Race Time Prediction Formula

Now that you have your current pace per mile or kilometer and a time goal in mind, you can use a race time prediction formula to calculate your marathon pace.

One commonly used formula is the Jack Daniels’ VDOT formula. It incorporates your current fitness level, race distance, and time goal to estimate your marathon pace. You can find online calculators or use the formula directly to determine your marathon pace.

The formula uses the VDOT value, a measure of your overall fitness, and adjusts it based on the race distance and time goal. It then calculates the equivalent marathon pace from this adjusted VDOT value.

Marathon Pace (min/mile) = (VDOT / VDOT Conversion Factor) x Race Distance Factor

VDOT Conversion Factor and Race Distance Factor can be found in Jack Daniels’ book “Daniels’ Running Formula” or through online resources.

Step 4: Experiment and Adjust

Calculating your marathon pace is not a one-time process. It’s important to remember that your fitness and goals may change throughout your training. Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly assess and adjust your marathon pace as needed.

During your training, you may find that your pace improves or that you need to adjust your time goal. These adjustments should be based on your progress, performance in training runs, and feedback from your body.


Calculating your marathon pace is an essential part of marathon training. It helps you set realistic goals, ensure a comfortable race pace, and tailor your training to achieve your desired time goal. By assessing your current fitness level, setting a realistic time goal, and using a race time prediction formula, you can calculate your marathon pace and make adjustments throughout your training journey. Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments when needed to optimize your performance and enjoyment of the marathon experience.