Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pacing and Goal Setting

The FIRST training program places a high value on pacing to ensure that workouts are done with the proper intensity to see performance gains. I am a fan of intensity, not least because it is a more efficient way to get results than running lots of miles.

I've been using an estimated 5k time of 22:30 as my pacing benchmark. This is a 7:15/mi pace. Here's a pacing calculator so you can check for yourself.

My planned marathon pace (PMP) according to the FIRST formula is 8:15/mi for an estimated marathon finish time of 3h 36min 18 sec. In truth, I'd be happy to come in under four hours. I ran 6 miles in 47:13 or 7:52/mi on what was supposed to be a slow, easy day. I was going slow and easy too. Not even checking my watch, in fact, because I was trying to concentrate on warming up and going a steady pace. I did the first 3 miles in 21:43 or 7:15/mi, despite this. So now you see my dilemma. On my slow day, I ran roughly the same pace per mile as my 5k race pace time. That's not right.

So, I am thinking I need to adjust my pacing a bit. I still haven't raced a 5k recently, but I feel like I could go at least 30 seconds per mile faster than I did today for 5k. That would be 7:00/mi (the .1 extra makes little difference in pacing, especially for marathon distance). That would make my PMP 8:00/mi for a 3:29:45. I have to say, that seems pretty darn impossible in the abstract. But maybe it's something to shoot for.

In any case, though, I want to keep my goals modest. They are: 1) to finish and 2) to come in under 4:00. Anything else is just icing on the cake!

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