That said, as I contemplated what I want to accomplish in the coming year, I struggled a bit to develop goals that I felt would be challenging yet realistic. One of the reasons for that is I don't feel like I've had even one good stretch of training in the past four years. With that being the case, I really don't have much data to go on for what I might be capable of as a Masters runner, although the fact I haven't been able to string together just one block of solid training and racing could be discouraging data in and of itself. At any rate, I know what I ran and how I had to train to do so when I was in my 20's and 30's, but my 40's are basically a blank slate at the moment.
Regardless, you have to start somewhere, so I looked to see what my fastest times are as a Master, and what I found was a 16:55 5k, a 22:06 4-miler, and a 35:17 10k. I also have a 1:22:19 half marathon time to my credit, although that course was short so the real time was probably just under 1:24. Even when age graded, none of those times come anywhere close to my lifetime bests, but they're at least a good starting point when thinking about what's next.
This is where things got a little tricky for me. It's pretty typical to shoot for PR's when setting goals, so the aforementioned Master's times would seem like good targets. However, as I type this, I honestly doubt I could break 19:30 for 5k, and the fact I ran a 39:33 10k six weeks ago when in slightly better shape than I'm in currently pretty much confirms that fact. So, while a 17:30 5k still doesn't sound all that fast to me based on the fact I've run more than two minutes faster than that, thinking about running under 16:55 for 5k and 35:17 for 10k is actually a little daunting. I thought about backing off that some and possibly shooting for 17:15 and 36:00, but, often to my own detriment, backing off has never been my thing when it comes to running. So, below is what I came up with:
- Run 2,600 miles or more during the year. This is a goal designed to promote consistency, one of the things I've lacked in recent times. It works out to be 50 miles per week, which is far less than I used to do but more than I've done in the past several years. For example, I probably won't break 2,000 miles this year and the past two years were 100-200 miles under that mark as well.
- Remain injury free throughout the year. This is a bit of an ambiguous goal, and I know I'll have aches and pains along the way, but it's another consistency-oriented goal to remind me that I can't go crazy at any point in time or I will pay the price and fail to achieve this as well as my other goals. Essentially I want no major setbacks that require more than a day or two off.
- Compete in at least 10 races over the course of the year. I raced twice in 2014, not at all in 2015, once in 2016, and twice in 2017. So, by the time I get to half my 2018 goal, I will have equaled the number of races I've run in the previous 4 years combined. Seems reasonable - ha.
- Master's PR in the 5k (sub-16:55). I'll be happy if I come close to this, but at the same time don't want to limit the possibility of running faster because I don't think that's out of the question.
- Master's PR in the 10k (sub-35:17). Again, I'll be pleased if I come close but would love to run even faster. I just don't know what's reasonable at this point in time.
- Run a sub-5:00 mile. This one is probably a stretch goal for me and I was hesitant to put it down. Honestly it's not even that much of a priority, but it would be nice to say I went under 5 min as a Master, and I think it's possible, so after a good bit of debate and even a little discussion with my training partners, I decided to go for it.
Well, there they are for anyone to see and therefore the accountability that comes along with that (part of my reason for posting this). I'm honestly not sure if I'm selling myself short or shooting for pie-in-the-sky with these goals. Time will tell. I have a few other things I'd like to do, such as compete in a couple of the USATF Masters National Championship events, but those will complement the above. I might also take a shot at a sub-1:20 half marathon, but since I feel like learning to run fast again is a big priority for me, I plan to gear my training towards 5k/10k and therefore may or may not run any longer races. I'll just have to see how the training plays out and how my fitness comes along. I may do a post in the coming weeks about some of the ideas I have when it comes to how to structure my training, but it's going to be a "less is more" philosophy unlike anything I've done in the past. Ok, that's all for now. Wish me luck! I'll need it.