Thursday, August 5, 2010

Setting Goals

Your goal for your first marathon should be to merely finish and you should not attempt to impose a time goal . . .blah blah blah, dribble, piffle and flummery!

We all know that’s BS or we wouldn’t have invested in fancy watches, gps gadgets or smart phone aps. We wouldn’t be meticulously logging and mapping every stride and analyzing stats to the point of obsession.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. If you are training for a race you have a time in mind. It’s human nature. So instead of engaging in self deception, I think it’s more useful to examine that goal to determine if it is reasonable or if it needs a reality check. Once you have a reasonable goal in mind, the next step is to analyze your training to increase your chances of achieving that goal.

I have spent the past few days engaged in this self analysis. The goal that I have had floating around my head lately is 4 hours. Earlier this year I would have said 4:30, but I have improved so much this summer that breaking 4:00 doesn’t strain credulity. After crunching numbers, looking at pace calculations, reviewing my training log and race performances, and finally consulting resources like the McMillan Calculator I am thinking that a more reasonable and attainable goal would be 4:10. 10 minutes may not sound like a big difference but it means averaging a 9:33 pace instead of 9:00, which is significant.

I compared the optimal training paces spit out by the McMillan Calculator to the times in my training log and I seem to be right on target, usually even on the faster side of range. So far, so good. It will be useful to have these specific goals for each workout over the coming weeks.

Here are my targets for the rest of the week:
Friday:  3 miles, recovery pace (11:00+ min/mile)
Saturday:  5 miles, race pace (9:00-9:30 min/mile)
Sunday:  10 miles, long slow pace (10:00-11:00 min/mile)

114 days and counting.


  1. Ooh good point! As I prepare to really start my 1/2 marathon training I keep thinking "I just want to finish!" -- but then I look at myself with my Garmin AND a Nike Plus sensor. So perhaps you are right - I do care! Less than 2 and a half hours, this is my goal! Well right now, I suppose maybe I will have to modify as the date gets closer, but we'll see!
    Oh gosh - I just did the calculation. I better be lower than 2/5 hours or I will NOT be all too satisfied!

  2. Ugh - 2.5 hours, not 2/5 of an hour. If I could do 13.1 miles in 12 minutes I would be AMAZING!

  3. Too funny! I made the opposite mistake and entered my 5k time in hours instead of minutes at the McMillan site. That got me some confusing results. Good luck with your 1/2, I'm sure you will beat your goal.