The Right Race Goal
Why It’s Important To Set The Right Race Goal and How To Do It:
You’ve finally selected your next big race and got everything planned out. All that’s left to do is set a goal and begin the training. Seems pretty straight forward. Selecting a time goal for most runners is actually a difficult process. Most of the time runners select a goal to bust through a barrier, like sub 2 for the half marathon for example. While it’s always nice chasing a big goal, setting a goal that is too ambitious is the most common reason runners get injured, overtrain, or race badly. So, how do you determine what the right goal would be for yourself? In this article I’m going to go through why setting the right goal is important and tell you how to set the right goal.
What It’s Important:
• You’ll end up running the wrong paces in training. Most training schedules are usually created based on your goal time. That’s where training paces come from most of the time. The workouts and paces you do all assume you’re targeting a specific physiological effort. But, if you’re not at that fitness level, then the workout is pretty much a waste because you didn’t run the paces you were supposed to hit. When your goal time in incorrect, all of your training paces are going to be incorrect. That means you’ll be running all the wrong effort levels and ignoring the most important benefit of your harder workouts. You’ll just be wasting your time and setting yourself back.
• Risk of Injury Increases. Most of the time, when a runner chooses are goal time, it’s usually too fast. When this happens, the balance of training and recovery is thrown off, which can lead to overtraining. Here’s an example: A threshold run is a type of pace that’s supposed to be run at a moderate effort. Your training therefore assumes that you’ll be recovered and ready to go again in a couple days later. But, if the the pace is too fast, then the effort level will be increased. This means you won’t be recovering for your next session. The fatigue will build throughout the training cycle and eventually you’ll overwork your muscles, bones, and tendons and set yourself up for an injury.
• You End Up Ruining Your Goal Race With Poor Pacing. The time has finally come to race. The most important element to having a successful race is your pacing. Running too fast early on in the race is the biggest mistake you can make in a race. It doesn’t matter how bad you want it, you’re going to race poorly.
How do you find the right goal pace? Let’s break it down.
1. Know Your Current Fitness.
If you’ve run a race recently then you can use this performance to figure out what you could run for this peak race, even if it’s a different distance. If you haven’t raced recently then you can race or time trial a shorter race distance a couple months out from your peak race. You just need a true race effort. Nothing more. Once you do this you can enter your performance into a calculator and figure out where you should be pace wise.
2. Incorporate How Much You’ll Improve.
Now that you have your fitness level you can figure out you can use your training history to determine how much you’ll improve during the training cycle. If you’re new to running, and have been setting PR’s at most races you do, then you can expect to see big improvements in training. If you’ve been running for a good amount of time, and still setting PR’s every so often, then you can expect a smaller improvement. Whichever type of runner you are, this needs to be factored into your training and race.
3. Adaption and Knowing When to Adjust.
As runners our performances are something that equal compared to other runners. Every runner is different. If after a few weeks you think you’ve made some big improvements and want to measure your rate of improvement to determine if you’re making progress towards your goal, then do a race or time trial. If this is something you do end up doing then don’t adjust your training too much. As coaches would say, “train through this race or time trial”. You don’t want to negatively effect your training with this race or time trial. With this performance, you can enter your time into a calculator and figure out how much you’ve improved and figure out your new paces for training, which will also help you figure out a goal for your peak race.