The closer we get to April 17th, the more I am getting asked about my goal time for the Boston Marathon. I am also getting a lot of (unsolicited) advice, on what others think my goal time should be. Especially, after recent races. Some people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them I don’t know, or that I haven’t decided. Some people just seem to think I am lying because I don’t want to share my goals.
It’s not that I don’t have goals, overall. I just don’t put a time limit on my goals. My body will adapt and improve at its own rate. Picking an arbitrary goal time and date, trying to reach some self-imposed expectation just adds more stress and sets me up for disappointment. I want to be able to enjoy the journey, as much as the destination. I have enough anxiety leading up to this race, without adding more to it.
I have been asked about training, without a goal. I have written about this before. I don’t train based on where I want to be, I train based on my current fitness level. (read more) Luckily, I also work with a really smart coach. (Read more about my choice to work with a coach here). When a plan is calling for marathon pace, the plan is usually trying develop your aerobic threshold. That is the purpose of the workout. Understanding that every workout has a purpose and training at a level based on goal time and not current fitness levels negates the purpose of the workout. That doesn’t mean that you won’t improve. It does mean, you may not be training as efficiently as possible. Balancing the risk/reward scales is a key component to smart training. Training above your current fitness level increases your risk for injury and doesn’t necessarily increase how quickly your body adapts to training.
It’s okay to have an idea of where you are going, but you definitely need to be willing to assess and adjust your goals throughout your training cycle. As I get closer and closer to race day, I am starting to get a clearer picture of my current training and fitness levels. With 6 weeks left, and a few short distance races along the way, things are beginning to fall into place. There is still time for things to improve, and unfortunately things can go wrong. Life happens. Weather can be a huge factor come race day, and I may be teetering on what my actual goal pace will be all the way up to the starting line. Having only run one prior marathon, I am not exactly an expert. I know I can use some calculators to get some general ideas. Although, I feel like these calculators can be a bit overly optimistic for most runners. There are many limiting factors that the calculators don’t take into consideration. I still always put my times in for fun, though. I will definitely look for, and respect, the opinion of my coach that I have worked with through this training cycle. I am a big fan of developing A, B and C goals and adjusting as the race progresses.
No matter what, I will feel accomplished because I will have tried my best. I have pushed my limits many times already through this training cycle. I feel like I have grown a lot, as a runner between my first marathon and this current training cycle. Every race and training cycle is an opportunity to grow and improve, no matter the clock time. I already have a new 10k PR to add to my list, and I am pretty excited about that. That was a huge confidence booster, I hope that positive momentum will help move me through the rest of my training cycle. I am very optimistic about this race, I can’t wait to line up at the starting line. This will not be a race that I plan to jog, or run for completion. I plan to lay it all out there come race day.
Maybe I do have one goal….NOT to have an ugly cry at the finish line. Like I did after my first, HA!