It’s that time of year again when we start making an exhaustive list of races that we want to do, or at least that is true for me. My list is usually starts about 10 races long, and most are unrealistic in at least one aspect (hundreds of miles away, child’s birthday, an ultra. You get the idea). So this year I have decided to set a couple of targets. While out training I was listening to a Marathon Talk podcast and the topic of setting targets was discussed – and also how to commit to them. The easiest way to get yourself to commit to something is to tell people about it, but I don’t to be banging on about how I am going to be doing this, that and the other to anyone that will listen, I don’t want to be that guy (because nobody likes that guy!). In an effort to prevent me being the person everyone avoids in the pub, I have decided to keep my list of sporting confidants to just a few people (the lucky bastards) – and also the faceless masses of the internet.
The first target is a yearlong one, mileage. Last year was my biggest running year, totalling 829km – up on the 655km I ran in 2016. So this year I am going to aim high (for me) and hit out for 1600km. I know that’s quite a jump from last year, but why set a target you can reach by October? In my head the maths works, I am looking to enter a couple of marathons this year, along with some half marathons and one or two in-between – see first paragraph for race list caveat. So with the increased training that marathons require a thousand miles could be possible. Maybe.
The second target is more difficult to commit to. Predominantly this is due to not being entirely sure if I can achieve it. I have entered Boston Marathon (Lincolnshire, not Massachusetts), which was my race of choice for a couple of reasons. One being I can tell people I have done the Boston Marathon; and the second, its flat and living in Devon I don’t race – or even train – flat. The South West is a lot of things, including beautiful, but flat it most certainly is not. With the topography of the Boston marathon being what it is – flatter than a witch’s tit – the question of time comes up; are you going after a quick time?
So, what is a quick time? To qualify for a good for age place at the London Marathon I would need to run a sub 3 hour 05 minute marathon and that is not going to happen, even if the race was entirely downhill. With ‘good for age’ out the window, what would make a good time for me? What time would I be happy with? Obviously, as with any race, my first concern is getting around in one piece. Putting this to one side for a moment, what time would I be proud of? My current marathon personal best (and only marathon) is 4 hours and 16 seconds, set at the not so flat Eden Project Marathon, in Cornwall.
I am going to lay my cards on the table. I would love to run a 3 hour 30 marathon, but only time will tell if this is possible. I don’t know if I can knock 30 minutes off my marathon time. To put it into perspective my half marathon best is 1 hour 36 minutes, which only leaves me 18 minutes of ‘fade time’. I feel like I’m talking myself out of it as I write, but I’ll be dammed if I’m writing this again.
I entered my half marathon best time into the Runner’s World Race Time Predictor, and low and behold it predicted a 03:21:26. I aslo took a look through my Eden Marathon training log; I did a Yasso800 session, which uses a series of 800 times to estimate a potential marathon time. That time was 3 hours 25 minutes. So project THREE:30 it is.
To quote the great Bill Nicholson “It’s better to fail aiming high, than to succeed aiming low”, he does go on to say “And we at Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory” and as much as I love that quote (being a Tottenham Hotspur fan), it feels a bit rich for a blog about trying to run a three and a half hour marathon.