I have my first race of the season on Saturday, April 7th. My previous races all being 5km distances, this will be the furthest timed run that I have done, at 8km. Despite having run the distance (and longer) before, I am still pretty nervous. With longer races coming up in the next few months, I’m treating this race as a way of forming goals for those longer races, and reminding myself why I’ve signed up for so many. This will also (hopefully) be a reminder that my race-pace is a lot faster than my training pace because I’ve felt far too slow lately.
I’m writing this post for one reason – if I list my goals, I will be more mentally prepared to achieve them. I worried that if I did not share my goals elsewhere, I will change them mid-run and pretend on my race report that I hit my preset goals (despite forming them halfway through a race ). I’ve read in other race reports that the best way to set goals for race times is to make three different ones:
- A time that reflects a pace that you know you can achieve. This is an “easy” pace, where even if something goes wrong or you don’t feel 100% on race day, it should still be fairly obtainable. Thus, the realistic goal.
- A time that reflects a pace that you can achieve should everything go right. So, if I wake up on race day, have a great breakfast, do proper warm-ups, and feel optimistic going into the race, I should hit my goal. This is the optimistic but do-able goal, only requiring a bit more effort than goal 1.
- The stretch goal. A goal that is faster/harder/whatever compared to your training pace, and you aren’t too confident that you can reach it. This is hoping that the adrenaline and excitement of the race kick me into full gear. This is a little overly optimistic, but still a “best case scenario”.
And so, my goals are as follows:
- My realistic, easy pace goal: A time of 50 minutes, or 6:15 min/km. This reflects what most of my training runs have looked like. Because this race has a lot of hills, I am crossing my fingers that my minimal hill prep doesn’t have too much of an effect on my ability to reach this.
- My optimistic, effort-driven pace goal: A time of 48 minutes, or 6:00 min/km. This should be doable, and my optimistic goal for any other race, especially were it a 5km, would be faster than this. But again, hills. Going into a 5km race that I have next month, this will be my realistic goal, and my optimistic goal will be closer to 27 minutes, or 5:24 min/km.
- My stretch goal: A time of 45 minutes, or 5:38 min/km. Some of my training paces have hit speeds of up to 5:05 min/km, so this isn’t completely unobtainable, but I have never gone this pace for longer than a few kilometers at a time.
So when you read my race report on Saturday, at least now there is no room for me to hide if I do not achieve my goals. I will have to face them head-on.
My training for this race had been going great up until about 2 weeks ago. I have been following Hal Higdon’s 10km Novice Plan and finished that two weeks ago. The ending of this plan is really where my training got confused. I was supposed to run 5.5 miles at the end of week 7 and hit the 10km at the end of week 8. Well, during my planned 5.5 mile run, I felt great, and hit 10km for the first time, surpassing the plan. I figured I’d just run the 5.5 miles run in place of the 10km the next week, but ended up missing that run. After that, I just started doing random runs at un-planned distances, not going above 5km (though I did hit a 5km PR during this time!). My kilometers per week dropped by almost 10 last week, and this week is not as high as I had hoped for a taper week. Regardless, I am happy with the progress I made over the 8-week plan, and feel comfortable going into this race. Today was my last pre-race run, and I did a pretty easy 2km. My main goal today wasn’t so much any distance/speed, but to take my new leggings out for a test run. I was planning on wearing shorts and compression socks on Saturday, but the weather is calling for 0 degrees, so I had to buy something a little warmer. I went with a pretty cheap pair of Old Navy compression leggings, as I only really plan on wearing them for the race and for some of the last few colder runs this season before the nice weather finally hits. (They also match the pavement!)
The only things that I would have changed would be adding in more cross training. I tried to commit one day a week to cross-training, with a warm-up of a 1km sprint, then strength and some non-running cardio for an hour, and a 1km cool down jog. This day was the training day that I’d allow myself to miss if I needed an extra rest day or if life got in the way. I maybe did half of my cross training days, so going into the next plan, I am going to devote more time and effort into this.
After the race on Saturday, I am going to take a week of relative rest, with no strict plan. Hopefully, I can just go on 3 easy runs and spend a day working on stretches and minor strength training, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. Following that “rest” week, I’m jumping into the intermediate 10km plan to get ready for my 10km in late May. The timing is perfect and on the scheduled “5km” race day, I will actually have a 5km race to compete in, where I plan on crushing my race 5km PR from last fall.
Stay tuned for a race report on Saturday!