Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Little About PMP

I have a lot of time to think on the treadmill these days. Yesterday, I thought about PMP, or Planned Marathon Pace. The term, as I have been using it here, comes from the folks at the Furman Institute for Running Science and Training. I've been mostly following the FIRST "FIRST marathon" training plan (PDF).

But the concept of PMP is interesting in and of itself. As a runner, I didn't really understand it. As a cyclist, it makes perfect sense. Here's why. PMP is a race pace goal designed to be sustainable over a long period, long enough for your body to be fatigued, like a marathon. Think of PMP as max sustainable effort for the given distance.

Ok, let's get this out of the way..."it's hard out here for a PMP..." (I have to give a shout out to Mike for thinking that one up, though I shudder to think how often that phrase is uttered by folks attending this event since 2005).

Before, I had only competed in short races: 10k was the longest I had ever really trained for, and I mostly did 5k. At this distance, you can sustain an effort that is at or above your lactate threshold. Not so for a marathon. Also not so for bike efforts. It's far easier to empty the tank on a bike, and so going into the red zone too early and/or too far is simply not an option if your ride is of any appreciable length. This goes for the weekly club ride, the weekend century fundraiser, or the local criterium.

My PMP is 8:05/mi, which corresponds to a 3:32 marathon. To break 3:30, the PMP has to be less than 8:00/mi. Here are some other interesting numbers to consider:

To qualify for Boston Marathon, age 37: PMP 7:26/mi for a 3:14:59.
2007 Bayshore Marathon Winner: PMP 5:24/mi for a 2:22:16
World Record Marathon: PMP 4:45/mi for a 2:04:26

As I mentioned when I began, I will be happy to finish my first marathon. I'll be thrilled to do it under 4:00 hours. That would mean that I could avoid getting lapped by the current world record holder, as it would take him at least 4:09 to get around the course twice...

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