My Big Fat Goal Time

[This is a little bit scary to be declaring publicly, but it’s time to say it.]

Sub-4 hours

And now, I’m going to add some caveats take you through my thought process – how I came up with this time, and how I’m going to use it on race day.  Because honestly, determining a goal finishing time caused no small amount of angst in this Coach’s household for a few weeks.  Here are some of the factors I weighed when coming up with a time:

1. It’s been a long time since I trained for and ran a marathon (like, 3 years).  And the last time I trained, I was in great running shape – I spent most of my training time running, I was running 50 mpw, I trained hard with Jack Daniels, and was gunning for a 3:20 finish.  Was, that is, until I busted my ankle and broke some metatarsals, about six weeks before the race.  Needless to say, three years, a few pesky injuries, a lot more cross-training and a lot less running later – and my training paces/finishing times from that point in my life are no longer relevant.

2. I didn’t really have any current race times to use as a gauge.  I ran a few races in Singapore between January and May, but most were for fun.  KMN and I ran the 2XU Half-Marathon, just as I was coming off a month of plantar fasciitis issues – so we took things slowly and ran for fun.  The closest I had to a hard race effort was the Venus Run 5K.  I referenced Daniels’ handy charts, which predicted that someone who ran the 5K time I did (~22:00; I adjusted for a 3.1 miles – the course was ~0.25 miles long) could, with proper training, run a ~3:30 marathon.  But I’ll admit – I’m a little uncomfortable using a 5K time to bet on a marathon time.  I looked for a half-marathon in June/July that could serve as a benchmark, but nothing fit into my travel and training schedule.  (And there still would have been a weather-disconnect.)

3. I didn’t have the base to do a full cycle of Jack Daniels marathon training.  I was coming off IT band issues from late 2012, and a brief and totally unprecedented bout of PF in early 2013.  I knew that my body had neither the distance base nor the intensity base to safely jump into his training plan.

Thus, I generated my own plan, influenced by JD.  I built my mileage, increased the distance of my long runs, and used (approximately) his shorter tempo workouts.  However, I didn’t do as much faster running during long runs as he prescribes, and I only did one workout with tempo-paced running each week (he often has 2).

How did I choose my paces?  I used the JD formula, and my 5K finish time, to choose my tempo pace.  JD prescribes tempo workouts for runners training for all race distances based on a recent time from any distance race, so my 5K time still felt applicable.  I ran my long runs by feel and perceived exertion – in Singapore, this was usually averaged out to slightly below 10 min/mi.  Shorter workouts were closer to 9-9:15 min/mi.  Any training I did on trails was a bit slower.

I knew that I should expect to race a bit faster than I’d trained.  This would be especially true in Perth, where the favorable weather conditions of Perth would give me an extra boost.  My long runs in New Jersey and London (slightly over, and spot on, 9 min/mi, respectively) supported this hypothesis.  I also knew that I had to be careful – my aerobic system would love the cooler weather, but if I aimed too fast, my legs, unaccustomed to the pace, would give out.

Finally, I knew I didn’t want to run myself to the ground in the marathon.  The marathon is a motivation for me to get back in solid running shape, and could be considered a slightly hard training run for my 50K on October 5.  But I know if I push too hard, go too fast, trash my legs too much – I’ll be screwed for the 50K.  I can run a hard race, but not so hard that I need a month to recover.  I’d like to take about 2 weeks, 3 weeks at the max, for marathon recovery – so I can still get in a bit of training before it’s 50K taper time.

After stewing over all these issues for awhile, I decided that running a sub-4 hour marathon seemed like a reasonable goal.  This is an average pace of 8:58 min/mi.  Anticipating that I may need a bathroom stop, and will need to pause to refill my water bottles, my moving pace will have to be slightly faster than this.  If I’m feeling good as the race goes on, I can always pick up the pace.  I’m willing to hurt a bit, but if I feel that I’m pushing too hard, and putting my 50K training in jeopardy, then I’ll back off.  The biggest trick will be making this decision in the middle of the race, and for the right reasons.

So that’s the story.  If you want the more touchy-feely “how are you feeling about the race” post, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow.  We’re gonna be all-Perth, all-the-time around here for the next few days.

Questions/Comments/Thoughts about my rationale?

Fellow bloggers: How do you feel about sharing race goals/times with the entire world wide web?  Does it make you nervous?

Soliciting any final To-Do suggestions for Perth; today, GCA and I hung out in Fremantle.  We’re going to be taking it easy tomorrow, recovering on Sunday, and doing some more intense sight-seeing on Monday.  Anything we can’t miss?

20 thoughts on “My Big Fat Goal Time

  1. Sheila

    Sharing is scary caring. Good news for the extrinsically motivated, bad news for those who fear failure. I like to quasi-share my goals because it provides some accountability but I don’t feel uber pressure. Bloggin is funny!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      “Sharing is scary caring.” True story. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, in my real life – that sharing was one way to gain someone’s trust, and it wasn’t fair to expect OTHERS to share, if I didn’t trust enough to share with them. 🙂

      I’m pretty intrinsically motivated; I’m not sure I fear failure, although I do sorta feel like, as a coach, I’m obligated to put to use every trick/tip/piece of advice I give my runners (and that they’ll be watching to make sure I do!). 🙂

      Reply
  2. Erica G

    I love sharing my goals when I have them since I feel it adds some accountablity to them. Plus I can share my story post race and I do realize there is potential for not running the race I dreamed to run but that is part of running. I don’t want to be just sunshine and rainbows because in running, there are storms here and there. But just like a real thunderstorm, there is beauty in those too!

    Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Also very true – while I believe every person have the option of picking/choosing what to put out for the public to read on a blog, I like to “keep things real”. And it feels a bit like cheating to not tell anyone my goal, then proudly proclaim on Monday, “HEY! I ran my goal time!!” 🙂

      Reply
  3. JoAnne

    Your goal time seems reasonable to me. My 5k PR is 23:08 and my marathon PR is 3:52:43 and I’m shooting for a 3:40 marathon in November, which I know is ambitious!
    I’m not sure how I feel about sharing my time goal. I’d probably feel better about it if I’d chosen a more reasonable goal!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      So much depends on course, weather, your training (for 5K and marathon), etc. etc. I don’t have my charts in front of me at the moment, but I think Jack Daniels (the running guru) would give a thumbs up for that goal time. Put your training in place, and go for it! I definitely know people who have chopped that kind of time off marathons in the past. Just make sure your training, the weather, and the course are all aligned to help make it happen! 🙂

      Reply
  4. greengirlrunning

    You really did your homework on this, so YAY for your sub-4 goal! You’ll do it 🙂
    I decided to share my goal time on the blog so that I couldn’t sneak back to my old ways of giving up when things get tough. By putting it out there, it’s just more motivation for me to keep my own butt in gear when my mind inevitably gives my body permission to back out. My goal is ambitious, but I’ve never gone into a race, or really anything (other than having my kids) feeling so determined. I have another marathon in December, but instead of telling myself it’s my back up, I’m thinking of that one as my fun run 🙂
    And thanks again for the pacing strategy… it’ll definitely be in my noggin on Sunday!!!
    Have a FANTASTIC race!! Can’t wait or the recap :))

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      If by “do your homework”, you mean “agonized over it, realized you had no really reliable data, figured out what seemed like it would make you work but wouldn’t kill you”, then I suppose I did. 😉

      Yep – it’s the “not giving yourself permission to back out” that’s key. Treat it like a track workout when the going gets tough – just make yourself do ONE more mile. Then ONE more. ONE more. I haven’t followed all your training (blog hiatus, *ahem* 😉 ), but it sounds like you did some workouts that were pretty tough, psychologically – think back to those, when the going gets tough. And think of me cheering for you on the whole way (while I compress, refuel, and rest after my race). 😉

      Reply
  5. misszippy

    I think you have set a very achievable, maybe a bit conservative, goal for yourself! I’m with you–a 5k time is hard to translate to marathon times–such a different ethos. But I bet you surprise yourself a bit.

    Oh yes–I hate putting my goals out there. Hate it. But I usually do.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Just a bit of a zinger there, from someone who’s running/coaching opinion I respect quite a lot. 😉 You’re absolutely right – probably a tad conservative. But I didn’t train with tons of faster running, and I didn’t – don’t – want to get hurt, so we’ll see what my body’s ready to run in these very agreeable climatic conditions. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    For the most part, my running goals have changed so much in the last couple of years and since I started blogging. I’m also afraid of jinxing myself, so it might have been difficult for me to post my bigger goals. These days my goals are to run forever, and I’m not afraid to post that, because I didn’t say how fast or slow I plan to run! 🙂

    I was always able to run my Yasso 800’s at around a 3:20 pace which meant that I should have been able to run a 3:20 marathon according to the Yasso 800 theory. I broke 3:30, but I was never able to hit 3:20, so I agree that it’s hard to predict a marathon from an 800 or a 5K or any other shorter race for that matter.

    I’m betting that you rock that race and meet your goall!

    Reply
  7. Stephanie@nowirun.com

    You’re brave to share! It seems like you have given this a lot of thought and that you won’t be devastated if you have to pull back a bit to protect your 50K. That seems smart to me.
    Twice I’ve posted my goal time (but only for a 5K and a 10K). Posting was excellent motivation.

    Reply
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  9. Meagan

    Sounds like solid logic to me, Coach Holly! I don’t mind sharing race goals/times. I don’t know why it doesn’t bother me… maybe it’s because since having my blog I haven’t really been aiming for any scary goals. But I love being able to get other people’s input on whether or not my goals seem reasonable based on training and recent races. Can’t wait to read about your race and see if you hit your sub-4 goal!!

    Reply
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