OK, time for some tough love regarding your training today…
I hate to tell you this, but you might be setting yourself up for failure + disappointment if you are planning on PRing this spring. It has nothing to do with your training plan or your ability. Actually, scratch that, it has everything to do with your ability. I say that because right now, many of you are only a few weeks into your training plan, but you are training as if you can ALREADY run that PR. Guess what? I can tell you right now that if you would go out and run that race tomorrow, you would be totally disappointed, even if you already had your endurance base built up.
Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because you might be making one HUGE error in your training right now…
You are training TOO FAST.
There. I said it. You can hate me now, but just hear me out for a minute. I’ve been there. Just last year, I had a goal of running a sub-1:35 half marathon. I knew that I absolutely could do it if I trained correctly. I wrote my training plan, I ran every single workout, I found the paces I needed to run for that sub-1:35 half and I trained with the diligently. And those training runs were HARD. I struggled to hit the splits I needed to run a 1:35. By the end of my 12 weeks of training, I was burnt out and frustrated. And guess what? I was no where close to running that 1:35.
While there were probably many other factors that played into why I didn’t run my PR last spring, I know one BIG error in my training is that I was running paces that my body wasn’t prepared for. At that time, my body + previous training were ready for around a 1:40 half marathon. But, I didn’t do the leg work ahead of my training to determine exactly what paces my body was prepared for.
So, how can you avoid making this same mistake in your training?
First, you need to know what you are capable of running RIGHT NOW. If you have a recent race time, you can easily use that time. If you don’t have a recent race time, sign up for a local 5K in the coming weeks or go out and do a 2 to 3 mile time trial. Once you have your current race pace, plug your time into this calculator to see you current training paces. Then, 4 to 6 weeks later (about 1 month prior to your race), do another shorter race or time trial to see if you have made any improvements. Rinse + repeat.
While I can’t guarantee you will run a PR, you will be much more prepared for your race going in, knowing exactly what your body is capable of doing. As you get closer to that race, you will start seeing those training paces drop and those workouts starting to get easier and easier.
Learn from my mistakes. Avoid burnout, injury, and disappointment while training for your goal race. You might just be surprised by how much BETTER you are training when you are training CORRECTLY!