Training and racing habits at the London Marathon

A huge congratulations to everyone that took part in the London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April. Hopefully you’re still feel smug, even if you can’t quite tackle the stairs without a bum slide. What does it take to train for such an event?

Just before the London Marathon took place, Strava released a few stats from last years (2016) event, supplying data of the training and racing habits of Strava runners from the 2016 London Marathon.

Image credit: @sarahrajabalee

Key takeaways

  • 35-44 age group are fastest overall, whilst millennials are only marginally faster than the baby boomers of the 55-64 age group.
  • Mile 4 was the fastest for men and women as early crowds thin out and runners speed up to chase their personal targets.
  • Runners of London Marathon reduce their average weekly distance by 35% and 69% respectively in their last 2 weeks of training, and complete those taper runs at a faster pace than usual.

The figures in a bit more detail

The race day data taken from 6,464 Strava runners shows that on average runners in the 35-44 age group posted the fastest finishing time, this was followed by the 45-54 age group who finished in 3 hours 56 mins with the youngest age group (under 25s) in third, with an average finish time of 3 hours 59 mins.

London Marathon – Race Day 2016

Perhaps surprisingly, the 25-34 age group (the same age group as the majority of the elite field) was one of the slowest, with the 55-64 age group only marginally slower by 15 seconds – potentially illustrating differences in lifestyle, level of experience and pacing strategy between millennials and baby boomers.

Across all age groups the average finish time for female runners was 4 hours 23 mins, with the average finish time for men being 3 hours 48 mins.

The data reveals that the fastest mile was mile 4 across male and female runners whilst women had their slowest at mile at 22 and men at mile 25. Running quickly at mile 4 is possibly an indicator of new-found freedom from the crowded early miles allowing runners to ramp back up to their planned target pace. Female runners recording their slowest mile earlier than men might show different pacing or nutrition strategies.

London Marathon Community Training (Strava)

Goal Setting

The percentage of runners that achieved their target race time was similar across all groups ranging from 62 – 67%, with the 45-54 age group the most satisfied.

London Marathon – Goal Achieved Race Day (Strava)


Across all runners the average longest run was 34.3 km (21.3 miles) with the majority choosing to train in the late morning (between 8am-12pm).

London Marathon Time of Day Training (Strava)

Compared to the weeks prior to their taper, runners reduced their average weekly distance by 35% two weeks before the marathon and 69% in the final week.
In contrast, the shorter distances covered during the taper were run at a quicker average pace – 7s per km two weeks out, and 9s per km in the final week – with the reduction in mileage leading to fresher legs.


London runners showed themselves to be very chatty, and engaged widely with the Strava community. In training, they took 23k photos, received over 1.75million Kudos and commented 181k times.
Strava has a million new members signing up every 45 days, and around 8 million activity uploads put on the platform each week globally. In 2016, globally, Strava runners uploaded 86.7 million runs, with the UK contributing 16.9 million of the runs covering 132 million km. For more information on Strava, click here. To join the Strava London Marathon Club, click here.


Featured image credit to Sarah Rajabalee Photography

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