Pace Predictions

13 Mar

Consider this taper crazies, part two.

There are a whole bunch of pace calculators, pace predictors, and other types of tools out there to figure out your training paces and potential race times.  McMillan is a favorite of mine, although I feel it important to mention it gives you race time equivalents – NOT predictions.  There’s a subtle difference there.

I like to check in with my buddy McMillan from time to time as a sanity check.  I stopped paying attention to the race time equivalents because I’m not doing anywhere near the mileage per week necessary to make them relevant.  But checking out the suggested tempo paces and interval times based on a recent race is interesting to me, and a good benchmark.

There are a lot of other places on the internet where hoards of strangers with quite likely no coaching credentials to their name will tell you how you might fare in the marathon depending on a variety of factors.  More personalized advice, if you will.  (And I’ll take a moment here to say I’ve never seen anyone on a forum who isn’t a coach indicating that their advice should be followed, or trying to pass off their own advice of being credentialed.  I’m simply trying to illustrate that it could very well be me sitting behind a computer telling you how fast to run a marathon.  You wouldn’t want to follow my advice.)

I love reading these forums – some sort of math-y, numbers thing that my brain just kind of sickeningly enjoys – but I absolutely can’t take it in the week leading up to my own marathon.

Overall, I find the advice fairly sound.  But sometimes there’s advice along the lines of …

If you’re not following a pfitz plan, your leg might actually just fall right off at mile 21 of your marathon!

You’re only running 30mpw? You’re NEVER breaking 4 hours with that mileage!

You’re only running 30mpw?  Give it up NOW, you won’t even FINISH a marathon on that mileage.

Look, it's me, sleep-running a marathon on low mileage!

Look, it’s me, sleep-running a marathon on low mileage!

The thing is, running is beautiful because it is SO DIFFERENT for EVERYONE.  What I can achieve in the marathon on X mpw is different than what you can achieve.  And while nobody is going to deny that more miles = better, it just isn’t universally true that you need to run a very particular number of miles a week to reach a certain goal.  I ran a 3:57 averaging 17 miles per week over the 16 weeks leading up to the race.  (I don’t recommend this as a strategy.  I’m not bragging.  I was fighting ITBS and was doing too much, too soon as a beginner.  Don’t be me.)  What I am saying is that we can’t all just start busting out 50, 60, 70+ mile weeks – you build to that slowly, over time, to not get injured.

I don’t think there’s any magic formula for pace predictions.  There are too many intangibles, too many unquantifiable variables at play.

So here I sit with a marathon on Sunday and a 32mpw average over the past 16 weeks and a hip that’s making me nervous and a million internet strangers who would probably tell me I can’t even go sub-4.  And it’s messing. with. my. head.

I’m not sure what I’ll do on Sunday.  I think realistically, I could pull off a 3:45-3:50 without bugging my legs too much.  I’d be willing to go out more aggressively and face a potential bonk and a worse finishing time.  It will depend on weather and how I’m feeling that morning.  After all, this is supposed to be fun, right?

This post had little to no point, other than to beef about people who have unwittingly shaken my confidence.  Kind of like looking at pictures of supermodels, then getting the sads when you look in the mirror.  Quality blogging, right here.  Also to admit that I’m scared to death of actually having to run this thing in, oh, 4 days.


6 Responses to “Pace Predictions”

  1. HollieisFueledByLOLZ March 14, 2013 at 5:41 am #

    I really enjoy this post a lot and it is so true. Miles and pace depend on you and you only. That is why I like running so much, what works for one person almost never works for another. The weather is all but perfect right now for Shamrock 40-50 degrees and going to be minimum wind. I can’t wait!

    • upstaterunner March 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

      Let’s hope it stays that way! Might be the only time I say I’m glad we’re not having the heat wave we did last year. I’m nervous but it’s nervous excitement – only a couple more days!

  2. Dan March 14, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I don’t know about you, but I too have been four days shy of a marathon with lingering aches and doubts plaguing my otherwise confident and steadfast determination. Maybe it’s just me, but on race day, all those aches vanish. It’s borderline miraculous, but every time I toe the line, my legs, back, hips — you name it — all rally to get me to the finish. Afterward, they all scream in protest. But during the race they all come together, my trusty, stalwart allies, and escort me to the finish.

    So that’s one thing. Adrenaline and the thrill of the moment might flood your muscles with liquid courage and you’ll rock it. The other thing is running on feel. I made my own Pace Calculator on Excel (though it’s 95% based on McMillan) and though I’m almost exactly on the mark with all my paces, the marathon continues to evade me. It says I should run a 3:12, but I’m about eleven minutes shy of that, which at this point seems like an insurmountable difference. So I don’t worry about that and simply run according to how good I feel.

    I guess what I’m attempting to communicate is: don’t worry about it. Marathon running is the best and you should enjoy it for what it is. If at mile 10 you feel awesome, dial it up a tiny bit. If at mile 18 you’re not dying, then push it a tiny bit. Your average miles per week, previous PR and all those other silly numbers won’t matter — just get it done and enjoy yourself.

    Good luck!

    • upstaterunner March 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      I love this comment – this is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m letting my mind get carried away with every little detail and I need to just relax, go with the flow, and enjoy it. Thanks for taking the time to share because it really did help! At least for right now 🙂

  3. Roserunner March 15, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    You recently ran a 1:37 half marathon!? Oooooo! I think you migh BQ. I don’t care whether it’s 40mpw or 80, you clearly have the speed and base. Get ready for a big PR!

    • upstaterunner March 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      This comment both excites and terrifies me. In a good way. Thanks RR!

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