For the last 6 months, my running schedule has been loose – I’ve stuck to running three times a week, but I’ve been choosing my distance and pace almost at random. Truthfully, I’ve missed the sense of purpose that comes with a training plan.
But happily, today was Day 1 of my latest half-marathon training program. The run was nothing special – just a 30-minute neighborhood run. But it was part of a schedule, and that made a difference.
We are now 15 weeks from my next big race, which will be the Rock N’ Roll 1/2 Marathon here in November. I ran it last year as my first 1/2 marathon, and it was such a great experience I knew I’d want to run it again.
As I’ve continued to log miles these last few months, the question that has been bouncing around in my head is this: What should be my goal?
I know what I’d like to do. I ran my previous 2 half-marathons in 2:43:50 and 2:43:08. I’d like to run this one in less than 2:30. At first glance it doesn’t seem that ambitious – what’s 13 minutes in the span of an almost three-hour-run?
It’s one minute faster every single mile. That’s what it is. And that’s actually quite a bit.
Earlier this year I set a 5K time goal for myself and it didn’t go well. I found that I didn’t really enjoy running hard, and missing my goal in a race was a real downer. It took something I felt so good about (running), and made me feel like a failure. Even now I sometimes wince when I look at my pace mid-run. That’s not been good for my psyche, so I dropped that plan. Instead of feeling like a quitter, I’m glad I shrugged off that goal in order to preserve my love of the sport.
So should I set a time goal for this next half-marathon?
I’m a die-hard believer in Jeff Galloway’s training programs, and he has a program for a sub-2:30 time goal. A couple of weeks ago, I even used his formula for predicting my current finish-time capability, and according to Galloway I should be able to finish in under 2:30 if race-day conditions are perfect.
Having a new goal would be exciting, but I’ve hesitated to commit for fear of ruining my own fun.
Fortunately, one of the things I love about this sport is that it is so individualized. For me, that means I can start this training with one goal in mind, but shift gears if things go downhill. So today I began the sub-2:30 training program, which has me doing a long run this week of 8 miles (eek!). It’ll take me up to 17 miles prior to the race, which is a long, long way to run.
But I’m ready to get started. 15 weeks and counting!