2016 was a year of running for no reason other than I could.
I spent most of the year figuring out this whole new running at altitude with hills and on trails thing! It meant slowing down a great deal to keep my heart rate down for LHR training and honestly a big learning curve to run trails that are steep and rocky.
Fun. Fun. Fun.
I had moments of hating my slowness and fearing I’d lost it all, but mostly I enjoyed each step.
But, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to race again! For the first time in nearly 2 years, I actually want to focus on all aspects of training and not just fun running.
Due to some wonderful #WeRunSocial friends I decided that the Phoenix Half Marathon in February would be my comeback. And David is making a comeback too whether he wants to or not, ha!!! He’s run 2 times since March and yet we all know I’ll probably be struggling to keep up with him.Since I’m back in action, I decided to share the journey through a series over the coming months. Hopefully, it will help in your next PR attempt to find some tips, motivation or just comfort when I crash and burn.
What’s My Race Goal?
While I do believe in racing for fun, this time around I’m focused and motivated. Both of those were lacking in 2016, which is why I didn’t line up.
Mos of us then hedge our bets with an A, B and C goal. We don’t want to get over confident and we don’t want to fail, so we give ourselves an out. It’s no biggie if we don’t hit that A goal because hey, we had 2 others!
I hate that style of goal setting. It leaves too much wiggle room to fudge workouts, skip a hill repeat, indulge a bit to much and neglect our cross training.
“The greater danger for most of us lies
not in setting our aim too high and falling short;
but in setting our aim to low and achieving our mark.”
– Michael Angelo
My goal: A PR of sub 1:45.
Is it realistic? I’m not sure, but it’s the one that is most motivating to me right now! I’ve also learned from years of running and coaching that many who miss their PR on a planned race, find they easily hit it in the coming months.
Even a perfect round of training is no guarantee of a great race day. Nerves, travel, eating fried catfish (yup did that), weather, can all derail our best laid plans.
Unfortunately, I’ve got more than unmanageable race day moments to think about. My body runs the show around here and sometimes it’s ages with my plans other times not so much.
Recent blood work confirmed my estrogen has dropped to 0 and my red blood cell platelets have dropped. (You can read more about my pre-mature ovarian failure here).
What’s that mean for my training?
- LHR training is a must to control my cortisol levels
- I’ll likely have to take unplanned rest days to recover due to slower recovery.
- I don’t process oxygen as well, so simply may not get the speed I want.
- I can work on continuing to improve my diet to help offset these things.
- I will get regular massages, meditate and laugh to reduce overall stress levels.
Choosing Race Goal?
Great so I’ve now said, you can’t control what will happen on race day and your body might not be on board…let’s just toss goals out the window!
Goals give us a focus and purpose. But how do you choose a race pace?
I’ve seen so many people throw out goals to “beat Oprah” or run a sub-2 hour half marathon, when their current training level and time to race day just don’t match up. And even if you plug a past race in to one of those fun calculators, I’ve found them to be around 50/50 on actually predicting the time you could potentially run.
- Talk to a Running Coach – You might not be interested in working with someone long term, but even a consult will help you get a better grasp on your current fitness and what you can reasonably achieve.
- Evaluate Current Fitness – Be honest with yourself about your current running, have you been doing it? Do you have a recent race time to judge your fitness? Plug that data in to a race pace calculator to get an initial idea and then consider how that output compares to what you’ve actually run previously.
- Consider Your Running History – Newer runners can often expect a much bigger jump in improvement levels because they’re learning and adjusting, where long time runners have dialed in much of what works for them already. Additionally, if you have a tendency to get injured that’s going to impact the intensity and duration you can handle to push towards a big PR.
- Repeat Test Runs – Find a route you regularly run from 3-6 miles depending on your goal and every 5 weeks use that run for a speed workout. Push yourself to that race day feeling and record progress. It will help you determine if you’re on track for the big goal you set.
- Race Pace Miles – For some reason very few training plans include race pace miles, but it’s one of the best ways throughout training to find out if you’re on track. Early in training you might be able to hit a few miles, but shouldn’t expect to run a long ways at your goal pace. Instead, these miles are saved for later in training when you have built a solid foundation.
Continue reading the Road to a PR Series:
Picking the right race for your goal >>
Creating your training plan >>
Why you need a base building phase>>
Safely adding speed work >>
Why you need a peak week >>
How to correctly taper >>
Race day etiquette do’s and don’ts >>
How often do you race for a PR?
What was the last scary goal you set?
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