How do you choose a target time for a race? It’s a tricky thing to do. Too ambitious and you set yourself up to crash and burn (and possibly get injured) but too safe and you don’t reach your full potential.
I had a question about this very subject left on one of my blogs the other week that I’d like to answer in more details. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to it…
“I am curious as to how much you need to improve from the beginning of your plan until race day in order to achieve your 99 minute goal — that is, what do you think your half time would have been at the beginning of the plan versus at the end of the plan? I ask because I am training for a marathon in December, but have no idea what my pace will be by then. I realize that your results and ability to increase speed may have little or nothing to do with my own, but I am curious (if you don’t mind sharing).
Thanks and happy running.
I’ll answer specifically about my current goal to run a 99 minute half and more generally about the runners I work with and how we assess what a good goal time might be for them.
My race goals
In February this year I ran Cambridge half marathon in 1:41:48. I’d trained for this race over about 10 weeks and it was the first time in quite a while that I’d trained specifically for a half marathon. I took about 3 minutes off my official half marathon time (I’d run a 1:41 on a 0.5 mile short course) and I was happy with my time.
My goal for the next half marathon is sub 1:40 – anything under 100 minutes would be great because it has a nice ring to it. The number motivates me in a way that’s important to make me push myself.
Achieving my goal means taking more than two minutes off my recent PB. This might not sound like a lot, but I’ve already improved at the half marathon this year and the more recently you’ve trained and improved at a given race distance, the less substantial gains there are to be made.
Once I started training for the Great Eastern Run this summer a few things had changed which affected how much and how I can train. One factor is having to keep my legs working (niggle and injury free) so that I can run with my run groups to keep paying the bills. My own training sits at four runs a week, somewhere between 30 and 40 miles a week.
So I took these points into consideration: how much training can I do right now? how much room is there for improvement (as in how new/old is the PB)? and how motivated am I to train?