I have a confession to make. A run confession. I think I’m selling myself short with my training for Marine Corps.
Let me explain. In the year and a half that I’ve been running, I’ve never once set a time goal for a race, and I’ve especially never set a time goal for a marathon. I mean with a marathon, there are 26.2 miles of opportunities to make a mistake that could completely sabotage any time goal you had at the starting line. Not only that, there are 16 to 18 weeks of training to make mistakes that could prevent you from even getting to that starting line. So yes, the marathon is an intimidating distance and honestly, setting a time goal has me freaking out a bit. Ok, a lot.
I ran my first marathon at Big Sur this past April, just over a year after I ran my first mile. I ran a very conservative (i.e. slow) 4:33. I went out very slow because I knew the hills that were ahead of me were going to be tough but thanks to my by-the-book training I was more than prepared for Highway 1’s hardest inclines.
When it came time to pick a training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon I wanted to set a time goal. I knew I would be able to beat my Big Sur time but I wasn’t sure by how much. Based on some advice from coworkers, I thought breaking 4:15 would be reasonable- that’s a 9:44/mile marathon pace.
I’m five weeks into the training plan and have been running all of my training runs much faster than the prescribed pace. I know this is generally a major no-no in marathon training but it isn’t feeling hard. When my plan tells me to run 4 miles easy at 10:34/mile pace and I go out and run 4 miles at 8:45/mile pace and it feels easy I don’t think I should have to scale it back.
According to my training plan I should be running my long runs at 10:40-12:10/mile pace, which to me feels more than painfully slow. I tend to average between 9:20-9:30/mile pace for long runs and that feels good.
So what does this mean? Do I need to readjust my race goals? Should I stick to following the paces on my plan? Or should I stick to my faster paces that feel comfortable and hope I don’t hit the wall on race day?
The reason I didn’t set a harder goal in the first place is because I was scared. I considered setting a goal of breaking or going just over 4 hours but then I came to the realization that would be a 33-minute PR, which is huge. I’m very new to marathoning and I still consider myself a beginner runner, but when I look down at the paces on my Garmin I realize, I am getting better. I’m getting faster.
I’ve decided to continue with this plan by following the mileage and most of the workouts but going with the paces that feel comfortable to me. If that means I’m running my easy runs at 8:45/mile instead of 10:32/mile so be it.
As far as any new time goals, I may just keep that one to myself for now!
What do you think I should do? Re-adjust my time goal or stick to this one and see what happens race day?