Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Marathon Time Goals

37 days until race weekend!

I still have a little less than 6 weeks of training left to go, but am starting to think about goals for the marathon.  Or should I say, re-think goals...

My initial goal for this marathon was to do what I did not do at Boston last year:  Run 3:15.
The per mile pace for a 3:15 finish time is 7:26.  When I picked 3:15 last year, it was based on nothing.  I had run a 3:25:50 (my PR) to qualify for Boston and even though I was thrilled to qualify by a big margin, I was disappointed in that performance.  My training was very haphazard.

3:15 was my A Goal.  My B Goal was going to be to PR in the marathon.  (sub 3:25:50)

Realizing none of these goals last year, I was just recycling them for this year's attempt.  (For newer readers, I have only attempted one marathon/year for the last 3 years.)

I came to the realization last week that I messed up my pacing for the marathon training plan I am using.  I have been training with 7:15 as my marathon pace, not 7:26.  Hansons Marathon Method is very specific on paces.  The book is full of pace charts for all the different workouts.  The overall pace chart below is what I based all of my pacing on.  (This photo is from the book, which I found on the Cowgirl Runs Blog.)


That is where my paces of 7:15 for tempo runs and  7:05 goal for strength workouts is from.  These, according to the chart, lead to a 3:10 marathon, not a 3:15 marathon.

This is where I suffer from delusions of grandeur.  I have thought that I had been under-performing in the marathon for a while. I made gains in the 5K and half-marathon last year.  I have really felt good during this training cycle and nailing all my paces, and in some cases, running a bit faster than prescribed pace.  Is 3:10 really crazy to think about?

I did what any normal person would do.  I went to Google. (cue laughing) The Internet is FULL of various calculators to see what you should be able to run based on recent performances.  I know these can be flawed.  But I looked anyways.  Curiosity killed the cat.

To use these calculators, you are encouraged to use a recent race time.  The most recent "race" time I have is from the 5K fun run I did in the Bahamas in early March (week 7 of marathon training).  My time was 19:25 (6:15 pace), and truly was not an all out effort, but it is the most recent race I have done.  Before that, I did a half marathon in early November where I PRed with 1:29:14 (6:48 pace).

First, I consulted the race equivalency chart on Hanson's website.  Interestingly, this indicates that I should be doing my marathon tempos at 7:06 and my strength workouts at 6:56 (which is along the lines of what I have been doing in practice, even though my targets are 7:15 and 7:05).  This corresponds to a marathon of 3:06:09.  I would shit my pants if I ran a 3:06.  Oh wait.  I already did that.  ha ha ha.  A 3:06 is about a 9% improvement based on the Hanson's improvement chart which, by their caption, seems a little delusional to expect:  "The faster your times are, the more difficult it is to shave an additional 5 minutes off your time. Sometimes using a percentage to plan improvement is more useful. Highly trained athletes should look for improvements in the 2-4% range, while newer runners can often expect slightly higher rates of initial improvements."  
Of note, a 2-4% improvement for me would be in the 3:20-3:16 range.

Then I went to the Runner's World Race Time Predictor with my 19:25 5K.  This calculator also allows you to put in a second race result, so I entered my half marathon time from November.  It also has you enter average weekly miles.  The result?  A 3:15:05.

Then, I went to the McMillan Running Calculator with my 19:25 5K.  Their result was a marathon time of 3:09:12.

The Internet gave me a range of 3:20 - 3:06.  That is quite a range!!!

Right now, I am not changing anything about my goals or my training.  But a little bit of crazy, hairy scary may have entered my brain.

Do any of you have experience with these calculators?


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. I like to use the McMillan calculator as a data point but I usually just try and run what I think I can do based on training runs. I think your plan will have enough marathon pace stuff to get you comfortable with where MP should fall. I like to be conservative in the marathon, so if you are unsure, it can't hurt to go out a little slow and pick it up in the second half.

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