It's official - the Indy Monumental Marathon is less than a month away. I have a few key workouts left, including one that I'll be doing on the Detroit Free Press Marathon course next weekend that I'm really excited about (yes, I paid for registration, I'm not banditing!), so I'm hoping after that I'll be able to better assess where I stand, because right now I truly have no idea.
Choosing a time goal for a race is complicated. You want to realistically assess your current fitness and how much fitness you think you can gain between now and race day. During the training cycle, you want to periodically evaluate your progress toward that goal and make adjustments if necessary. If you are aiming too high, you risk injury and burn out. With the athletes I coach, I take these things into consideration but I also want to make sure I am setting goals that challenge them as well. I want to set their goal within their grasp but make sure they have to really give their best effort to achieve it. A fine line to walk, right?
I had hoped the half marathon I ran two weeks ago would give me a clearer picture of how my training is progressing. Races or time trials are an excellent method of assessing your fitness. Extremely warm and humid conditions threw a wrench in my plans and I ended up scaling back my pace and finishing in 1:33:30. This is definitely a warm weather PR. Last year I ran half marathon in similar conditions on a similar course and finished just over a minute slower. So there's that. And then this week I had a workout on my schedule, 4 x 2 miles at 6:40 pace, that I knew would be challenging but it ended up feeling a lot harder than I anticipated. I am fairly certain I was fighting a virus of some sort but it really left me discouraged. The silver lining in this experience is I did not go into my usual negative self-talk - instead, I actually stayed positive. So I'm definitely making mental progress, if not physical.
If you're still reading this, the short version is I am still not sure what my goal for Indy should be. Running a sub 3:00 marathon is an aggressive goal on a good day, and while I do believe it's in my future, perhaps splitting the difference between my PR of 3:04 and 3:00 would be a more realistic target, and I should aim for 3:02. Thankfully I still have a few weeks of training left to make that decision, and I will of course consult my coach for her input.
I am so excited fall marathon season is here! Over the next two weekends, four of the athletes I coach are running marathons and I cannot wait to see how they do. They have all worked so hard and are ready to go!