Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Picking a Race Day Time Goal

Considering that runner(d)s can talk and write about our races, paces, work-outs and training plans ad nauseam, I'm surprised by the paucity of talk on choosing a goal race pace. Yes, there are all kinds of calculators one can use to predict half marathon or full marathon goal times (my favorite is McMillan) based on races at shorter distances, but I've never seen a calculator that helps you make a goal for shorter race distances or that helps you decide what your NEXT goal should be once you've reached your previous goal. For example, what is a reasonable new marathon goal after you've made that sub 4:15 marathon? Sub 4? 4:10?

Yes, common sense can dictate this to a great extent. For example, the slower runner you are, the more dramatic your initial gains will be. A first time marathoner who runs 4:50 can likely pull off 4:30 next time if they train long and hard enough whereas going from a 3:10 to a 3:00 is substantially more difficult. Since runners tend to like to calculate things TO DEATH, I'm suprised I haven't come across a calculator in which you input:

Best Marathon Time

Weeks you have to train until next marathon

Number of horus a week you will train

And in which pops out:

New Goal Marathon Time!

I doubt this would be super accurate, but it would be kinda fun, wouldn't it?

I started thinking about this today because I haven't yet decided on a race goal time for the Santa's Hustle 5K I'm running on December 4th. Maybe I don't need a goal time- maybe I should just run all out and see what the heck happens. But it may be nice to have a goal to help me kick it into even higher gear for the last 0.5 mile or so.

A good place to start would be a recent 5K race time. Hmmm, I have not raced a 5K as an adult, so that won't help. On the upside, this will be an instant PR!

How about using the McMillan calculator in reverse? Since I've committed to shooting for a 4:15 marathon next spring, I could shoot for what McMillan says should be my 5K race pace: 8:24 min/miles or a 26:06 5K.

Or, I could look at a pace race PR in which I felt I ran my best, see what the best 5K within that race was and try to beat it by some amount- maybe 10 s/mile or so? My best race ever was the Rockford 1/2 Marathon in May 2010. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet learned how to use the 'lap' feature on my Garmin at that time so don't have splits (bad Val!), but looking at my Garmin graph feature it looks like my best 3 (consecutive) miles (miles 4-7) were done in 8:40 min/miles.

What to do, what to do. To be honest, I'd be pretty happy if each mile starts w/ an 8 rather than a 9. I've never had a race with an average pace in the 8's. I think I'll make that my 'C' goal:

C goal: A-okay with me, but I know I can do better
27:54, 8:59 pace

B goal: I really should be able to do this if I work hard, and I'll be quite proud:
26:06, 8:24 pace

A goal: Only possible on my best day under ideal race conditions (does wearing a Santa hat and mustache qualify as 'ideal conditions'?)
25:39, 8:15 pace

A+ goal: This is my super secret goal that is pretty much unattainable. But I always have one of these in my head that I don't share with anyone, because, well, ya'll would probably laugh at me:)

3 days until race day!

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