MARCO Marathon Calculator

Don't take chances when going for a marathon. Rely on MARCO!

MARCO on YouTube

Calculate your target marathon finish time and optimum running pace according to the MARCO strategy and achieve your personal record.

Remain calm after the starting gun and begin to run slowly.

How it works

During the end of your extensive marathon training, you should run 10 km, or ideally a half-marathon about 6 weeks before your marathon under competition conditions. You then enter the time determined in this performance check into the MARCO Marathon Calculator.

I have already run: (or wish to run)

in a time of:

: :

In general, my maximum heart rate is: (formula: 220 - years of age)

Show me:

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MARCO Strategy

MARCO: "Start slowly, pass later, and you will be rewarded with your best finish time."

A wide-spread competition strategy of many hobby runners is:

"I would rather run a little faster at the beginning, so that I have a little extra time later on. This puts me on the safe side and my target finish time is practically guaranteed."

But this simple strategy hardly ever works. Instead, it is better to use the MARCO strategy and to begin your marathon with "controlled ease" in the first few kilometers or miles, because a slow start and budgeting your own resources are important for achieving your target finish time or your personal record.

The MARCO strategy is a pacing strategy with "negative splits". It takes the following into consideration:

Used correctly, the MARCO strategy will ensure that you do not suffer any setbacks over the entire course of the marathon. For most runners, this is an unachievable dream, because many have long ago accepted that the last kilometers (or miles) are always extremely difficult. This is puzzling, because a marathon without setbacks is a fast marathon.

The knowledge of many sports scientists has been used in the MARCO strategy, including that of Wildor Hollmann, Jacob Loke, Donald Mahler, David Martin, Peter Riegel, etc.

Achieve your personal record with this pacing strategy.

What do others think about MARCO?

The MARCO Marathon Calculator is absolutely fantastic. When I participated in the Berlin Marathon, I precisely followed the MARCO schedule all the way through and it worked out accordingly. Also, the predicted target time based on the runs during my preparations, 10 km and half marathon, was confirmed. With 2:59:32 in Berlin, I am very happy.
Klaus Reimering, Bielefeld, Germany
For me, the MARCO strategy is a useful advice, not only because of the race schedule, but particularly because of the - as far as I know - unique presentation of the heart rate development during the course. Indeed, it makes you think. To be precise, during my first marathon I unfortunately only followed an average heart rate which I tried to match right from the beginning. This caused me to start with a too high initial speed forcing me to unplanned walking interruptions towards the end of the race.
Klaus-Peter Thierer, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
My marathon, last year in Berlin, worked out exactly as depicted in the MARCO schedule. I am deeply convinced that it is the right tactic to start reasonably slow on the first few kilometers according to MARCO. It has been my experience - also during my preparations - that when I start too fast, that I get exhausted before the run really starts to get going.
B. Krapp, Dusseldorf, Germany
Just consider the large number of runners who (independent of their personal performance) walk more than they run after the 30th kilometer. Leaving aside inadequate preparation, a widespread reason is a too high initial speed, as I know from own experience. Also from own experience I know that my races with negative splits were the best races.
Just to verify, I drew a few comparisons from my races of the past 10 years. Interestingly, the marathon target times calculated by MARCO remarkably matched the achieved times exactly in those cases when I did not suffer a setback in the second half. And this, regardless of the finish time of 3:30 or up to 4:30.
Werner Kiepfer, Lichtenwald, Germany
On the basis of the tremendous feedback, there is no doubt that the MARCO calculator can be considered to be well proven. With its help along with adequate preparation, it seems to be quite certain that you will reach the finishing line with a good or very good personal time. [...] The result for me is: The MARCO calculator is a reliable instrument to achieve a good finish time.
Steffen Jacob, Backnang, Germany
Well, especially because of the comments, I think the MARCO calculator is really great.
Nils Lange, Bordesholm, Germany · Finisher of 15 marathons
I like to thank you very much for your MARCO method. I ran my 5th marathon according to your strategy in Eindhoven. Result: My best marathon (time and feeling)! It was perfect! Many, many, many... thanks.
Robin Pay, Leiden, The Netherlands · Finisher of 5 marathons
In Zurich, Switzerland, I ran my very first Marathon. Before the race, I consulted the MARCO Marathon Calculator which indicated the appropriate schedule and calculated the heart rate as well as the time splits per kilometer. Even though I deviated from these splits by only a few seconds (the Swiss runner is not quite comparable with the Swiss watch...), I missed the MARCO target time by just 10 seconds. MARCO gave me 3:55:28, I finished at 3:55:18, so I was even faster! Can you ask for more accuracy? And, believe it or not, I was not at all exhausted after the race. Great this MARCO Calculator. I will use it again for my next race when I go for 3:29:00.
Adrian Schaffner, Zurich, Switzerland
Yesterday, I participated in the Dusseldorf Marathon in Germany. I strictly followed the MARCO guidelines, and at long last, I finally made it below 3 hours. During the second half of the race, nobody passed me anymore. I strongly recommend MARCO!
Michael Claesges, Hilden, Germany
Yesterday, I finished my first marathon in Berlin. I memorized your MARCO plan to be fairly slow in the first half of the race. Thereafter - and relatively relaxed - I increased my pace according to your plan all the way through till the finishing line. A quick glance to your target time revealed that my race time of 3:44:37 deviated by only 17 seconds from your calculations. Just now, after loading my heart rate protocol from my watch into the computer, I realized that also my pulse followed exactly your prognosis. I was truly amazed. Fantastic! Many thanks for your great support.
Berta Schiller, Weichs, Germany
So far, I finished my 5th marathon following the MARCO Strategy. It worked out great. On every run, I happily crossed the finish line within the minute of the calculated time. I never experienced severe drops in performance. As I discovered, the MARCO strategy also works for mountain marathons. In this case, simply stay with the pulse rate given by MARCO.
Daniel Thoerig, Zurich, Switzerland
In the age of almost 49, I ran my first marathon. I had the MARCO calculator determine a target time of 4:51:00 according to my former achievements. At the finish line it was then 4:50:19 and I can say that especially passing the others starting at kilometer 25 was really fun. For me the MARCO strategy worked really well.
Reinhardt Bojanowski, Koblenz, Germany

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MARCO, original since 2002.