An important factor in training for a marathon is tempo running. Tempo running is defined as +10 seconds per mile from what you project as your marathon pace. So if you want to run 26.2 miles at 7 minutes per mile you will need to do tempo training at approx. 7:10 per mile.
This tempo run is a major difference between those training for the event and the elite runners’ training.
Most people who run a marathon just want to finish the event in a condition that is “decent”. Elite runners on the other hand are “racing” the marathon. This means they want to run 26.2 miles at a pace faster than running an everyday pace. Most people running a marathon are running slower than what they do every day. The marathon pace for the elite runner is one that is interesting. Some terms used to describe this would be threshold and capacity, but they describe the same thing.
A marathon pace will use more aerobic energy than anaerobic energy. Road race and track training doesn’t usually utilise the marathon pace. Most of the training done is well above, or below, this. Marathons are a unique event and one that has limiting factors related to the performance in fuel economy. Training at a projected tempo trains the body to burn fuel, especially carbohydrates, efficiently.
The idea behind the tempo run is to help your body prepare for the desired marathon speed. They are done in long intervals at the marathon pace and best if done on a hard surface. The recovery between the tempo runs should be akin to an easy jog.