How do you go into a race without planning to run for a PR? When it comes to training for a race don’t you just pick up the mileage every week, and try to lower your average pace? Why run if you know you’re not going to get your best time?
The above are all common questions from non-runners, and those who are just starting their first marathon or half marathon training. Yes, from the outside it can be difficult to understand a runner’s mind, but once inside its simple – every single run has a purpose.
No matter if you run one race per year or 100, every time you lace up your shoes you need to be running with a goal in mind. And, this doesn’t just mean the goal of hitting the finish line of the race. It’s a goal during every training run, every cross training, every meal, every day.
Coaches from any sport will attest that goals are not reached – championships not won – on the final game of the season. It starts with training. Whether you are putting in a three mile tempo run, doing speed work, or working on the strength of your core – there needs to be a goal and purpose. And yes, it is perfectly fine to go out with the goal of finishing upright or just getting mileage in.
On weekend long runs, for example, you are training for endurance not time. You should run well under your race pace, and work to get the mileage complete. You should have at least one speed work training per week, where you push yourself to around 90% of your limits for short periods during the run.
If you are training for a marathon or half marathon, you should register and run a race before your goal race. During that race, you goal should not be to PR. It should be to get the feel for a race, plan your goal race experience, test race gear, learn how to grab hydration from the great volunteers, and have fun. After the race, you can gauge your recovery and learn how you bounce back from the run. You go right back into training with the race experience under your belt and the knowledge of where you are in the training cycle.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand why runners don’t go 100% every mile of every run. But, when training ever mile is important and every effort is calculated so when you get to the starting line of your goal race, you can go all in at 100%.
That’s exactly why every runner lives by the saying – TRUST YOUR TRAINING.