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Pacing/Goal Question (Read 190 times)


Mostly Harmless

    I have a question about pacing.  First a little background info on me.  I'm male, 46 (for a couple more weeks) and I have been running regularly for about four years.  I ran my first HM in May of 2010.  I have run a total of 5 HM's and two marathons. The first marathon was in March of 2012 and the second was in March of 2013.  I am about to begin training for my third marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

    For my first two races I chose a goal time and then figured out what my pace needed to be to acheive that goal.  I decided on 4:30 for the first one and finished in 4:29:52.  For the second race I wanted to go sub 4:00.  Because my training was going well I eventually decided that 3:55 was my goal time and finished 3:54:51.  My most recent race was a HM in May.  I set my goal as 1:45 and finished in 1:44:18.  In all of three of these races, I ran with a pace group.

    I'm trying to set a realistic goal for the next Marathon.  My long term goal is to BQ before I turn 50, but being entirely honest there is a small (but growing) part of me that wants to shoot for BQ (3:25) this time.  I know that it is highly unlikely for me to cut 30 minutes off of my marathon time again.  My training plan is based on Pfitz 18/55 but I will add some miles and will probably replace a lot of the speed work with MP runs because I have a history of Achilles tendonitis that tends to show up when I run fast.

    My "easy run" pace has gotten steadily faster over the last couple years.  At one point most of my easy runs were in the 10:00 area.  Currently easy pace is in the mid 8:00's.

    So going into training, how should I go about deciding on my "marathon pace"?  Should I do what I've done in the past and choose a time goal and then run my MP runs to match that?  Should I hire a coach and let him or her evaluate me and help me choose a goal this time?

    I'm sorry for such a long winded question, I just want to provide as much information as possible.  My log is open so feel free to have a look if you want.  Thanks in advance for any responses.

     "Address the process rather than the outcome.
    Then, the outcome becomes more likely." - Robert Fripp


    Chair Warmer

      I'm certainly not an expert but I think your goal is realistic.  In the course of a year I went from a 3:55 marathon (first marathon) to a 3:28.  The 3:28 was on a very flat course so take that into consideration, but I would certainly go for it if you can put in the training miles.  My easy training pace leading up to the 3:28 was in the 8:30/mile range.  I was traveling quite a bit at this time so I did a lot of treadmill work and my training was a bit hit or miss.   I was 38 at the time.

        Marathon pace should be based on your current fitness not your goal fitness 6 months from now.  There are a couple ways you can get an approximate idea of your marathon pace.

         

        Race a 10K - half marathon and use a pace predictor (like mcmillan) to predict your pace.

         

        Judge it by effort - marathon pace should be comfortably hard, easier than half marathon pace but harder than an easy run.

         

        They say marathon pace ranges anywhere between 30-90 seconds under your easy run pace.  The range is so big because a lot of people run their easy runs too fast.  If you are running your easy runs slow enough, it is probably around 1 minute slower than your easy pace.  So if you are running 8:30s for easy runs, 7:30 would be your marathon pace.  This is highly dependent on you running your easy runs at a comfortably slow pace.  I occasionally run with a running group for my long runs where we average 7:30 pace but they spend 5 minutes at each water stop with about 5 of them over 20 miles.  Out of the ten people that run that 7:30 pace for their easy run, only 6 have ran faster than 7:15 pace for a marathon.  You get the point....

         

        My opinion based on your log is that you are running your easy runs way to fast.  Some of your easy runs are faster than your tempo runs.  First get that under control, so you can be more productive with your speed training, then worry about marathon pace.  Pick up a book on marathon training (like Pfitz) and make sure your pace zones are dialed in, not just for racing but easy and speedwork.


        Closed for repairs

          At least in the last few months, your log is confusing.  You have "easy" , "MP", and "tempo" and maybe some other stuff, but when I look at the paces, they don't seem that different.  I can see how the pace sort of drops down, but even with that it's inconsistent.  You talk about easy pace, and I do think that's an indicator of overall fitness improving.

           

          But if I'm you, I'm more disciplined with these runs.  Easy is easy, tempo is tempo, MP is MP.  Make the workout count a few times a week and run your other runs easy.   Easy pace finds itself.  The other paces you have to work for a bit and try to figure out.

           

          As for what MP should be, you're far enough away from October to let that figure itself out too.  Others may disagree, but with a 4 year history I don't think it would hurt to try to just set initial MP miles at 8:00 (3:30).  See how you respond.  See if you can recover from this pace in subsequent runs, and whether over time you can extend mileage at this pace and still recover the next day.  If so, you are on to something and you can probably drop MP down a little further as you are confident in your recovery.

           

          My $.02.

           

          mta: flatfooter types faster.

           

            I think if you actually run 55 miles a week all summer a 3:25 is more than realistic. The exact pace you do your MP runs at is not that important at this point, just go by effort.

            Runners run.

            ilanarama


            Hi, Mom!

              You should be basing your goals on your fitness, as flatfooter suggests; and it's way too early to think about goals for an October race. I would say that based on your recent half marathon, your current (not October) marathon time ought to be around 3:45, but because of your choose goal -> run to that pace method, I'm not convinced you're racing to your actual ability (for either the half or the full).  This is especially evident looking at your 5K, which is just a few seconds per mile faster than your half.  I think in order to improve, you're going to have to learn how to race by effort.

               

              Run another 5K or a 10K, and just GO FOR IT.  (Blowing up in a short distance is not as awful as a long one!)  Then use an equivalency calculator to obtain a half marathon goal, and run the half to that goal.  You might make it, you might not. Use that time to come up with a reasonable marathon goal.

              Ilana is awesome. She lives in a cool place, drinks good beer, and runs hard. She should start a fucking lifestyle blog for chicks. - NC Runner

               

              PRs: 5K 21:03 (4/2012) 10K 43:06 (12/2011) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

              Next up: Steamworks Half 6/7 | bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org


              Mostly Harmless

                Thanks for the replies! You've all certainly given me a lot to think about!

                 

                 because of your choose goal -> run to that pace method, I'm not convinced you're racing to your actual ability (for either the half or the full).

                 

                I guess this really gets to the meat of my question because I'm not sure if I am racing to my ability either.  I like your suggestion of finding a shorter race to test myself with.  I will do that.

                 

                  This is especially evident looking at your 5K, which is just a few seconds per mile faster than your half.

                 

                I shouldn't have listed this as a race in my log.  The 5K is held at my workplace and I'm almost obligated to run it.  Because it was just a couple of days before my HM, I chose to run it at my goal HM pace.  I didn't want to kill my legs by going all out.

                 "Address the process rather than the outcome.
                Then, the outcome becomes more likely." - Robert Fripp

                hectortrojan


                  I am not an expert do not have enough running experience compare to you, but this is what I did. I ran my first HM earlier this year and somehow I wanted to run sub 2:00. I did not include MP run in my training. Along with other speed workouts, I included tempo run and decided pace for tempo run based on my last tempo run. My tempo runs were for 60 minutes. If I was able to run for 60 minutes at certain pace in last tempo run, I would increase the pace in next tempo run and I kept doing this until I was not able to run for the entire 60 minutes. Then I kept running at that pace till I was able to run for 60 minutes and so on. I considered the pace of my last 6.2 mile long tempo run to be the pace of my 10k and figured out the race pace based on pace calculator and felt like it was the optimal pace for me. I felt like I gave everything I had in the race.

                  Julia1971


                    I'm trying to set a realistic goal for the next Marathon.  My long term goal is to BQ before I turn 50, but being entirely honest there is a small (but growing) part of me that wants to shoot for BQ (3:25) this time.  I know that it is highly unlikely for me to cut 30 minutes off of my marathon time again.  My training plan is based on Pfitz 18/55 but I will add some miles and will probably replace a lot of the speed work with MP runs because I have a history of Achilles tendonitis that tends to show up when I run fast.

                     

                    I like the idea of being aggressive with your time goal.  I worry about a couple things, though.  First, I have a really hard time hitting MP training in the summer.  I wouldn't want you over-exerting yourself in the heat and humidity trying to hit a pace that you already know is probably too hard.  Second, I'm not sure MCM is the course for that level of race day magic.  I haven't run it yet, (Grrr!), but there are some sections that seem pretty hard.

                     

                    So going into training, how should I go about deciding on my "marathon pace"?  Should I do what I've done in the past and choose a time goal and then run my MP runs to match that?  Should I hire a coach and let him or her evaluate me and help me choose a goal this time?

                     

                    I would run the first one by effort and go from there.  I really struggled to hit goal marathon pace last summer.  It was just so hot and humid that I was afraid to push myself.  (Believe it or not, I have reasons to live. Smile )

                    Run the mile you are in.

                    Longboat


                    Letting off steam

                      You're setting a marathon goal for October that is 8 seconds per mile faster than your recent half marathon pace.  From your May half as a best effort, if you had  run 55 mpw (average, not peak) for a marathon cycle ending, say, at Grandma's Marathon this morning, I'd guess a marathon time in the low to mid 3:40's.  In short, you need to be about 10 minutes faster in the half to take a shot at 3:25. That's an aggressive goal for 4 months from now.   However, as noted above, you may not have raced all out -- just to the goal pace.  That might get you several minutes faster... maybe.

                       

                      With a Pfitz plan, some improvement will come from increased miles, some from speedwork, and maybe some from racing at your limit rather than a preset pace.

                      At this point, a 10K race with no preset goal, starting at a pace you might barely be able to sustain, would help both as a reality check and in setting training paces.  If you attempt to train based on an unrealistic marathon goal pace, you'll burn yourself out before the race and/or get injured.

                      At this stage in your running, I do think hiring a coach would be useful, to:

                      • assess present fitness,
                      • understand goals and what time frame is realistic to reach them, with a long-term outline 
                      • agree on how much time you have to dedicate to running,
                      • set up a schedule with a sensible ramp-up from present mileage, and  with appropriate paces, and
                      • adjust the plan along the way.  

                      There's little doubt that with your progress so far, you'll have a good shot at a BQ before 50.  It's a matter of how aggressive you want to be.  IMO, taking the shot this time, with training to match, carries some risk of injury and slowing the longer-term progress.

                      Neil

                      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      Nearly back to 100% 6 months after Achilles surgery. Now at 35 50 mpw.

                      Base building time!


                      Mostly Harmless

                        At this point, a 10K race with no preset goal, starting at a pace you might barely be able to sustain, would help both as a reality check and in setting training paces.

                         

                        I have a week off of work coming up and will therefore have a lot of free time that week.  Do you think running a 10K time trial would be a viable substitute?

                         "Address the process rather than the outcome.
                        Then, the outcome becomes more likely." - Robert Fripp

                           

                          I have a week off of work coming up and will therefore have a lot of free time that week.  Do you think running a 10K time trial would be a viable substitute?

                           

                          You'll get different opinions but I say no chance. I can never come anywhere close in a solo time trial to what I can do in a race.There's no rush. Find a 8k-10k race in the next month or so.

                          Runners run.

                          Longboat


                          Letting off steam

                            Time trials are a lot harder to hit your best possible time.  In addition to the boost that competition brings, you lack the reference point of having runners around you -- passing you if you start to slow down, or you passing them and selecting a new target to catch.

                             

                            If a time trial is your only option, the best way would be to get a faster running friend to pace you. Agree on an aggressive target pace, and tell him/her not to let you slow down and challenge you to speed up late in the run.

                             

                            If there's a shorter distance available, 5 mile or 5k, race that as hard as you can.  If  nothing else, the 5k PR will go down!

                            Neil

                            ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            Nearly back to 100% 6 months after Achilles surgery. Now at 35 50 mpw.

                            Base building time!


                            Mostly Harmless

                              Thanks to all who took time to reply. I will find a local race and report back.

                               "Address the process rather than the outcome.
                              Then, the outcome becomes more likely." - Robert Fripp