Goals for the New York Marathon

So on Sunday I will be running the New York Marathon. My 16th marathon and my 5th Marathon Major.

On the note of Marathon Majors… I have entered Chicago and will (all being well) will be running my final Major next October. Words cannot explain just how excited I am about that. I’ve heard Chicago is one of the best of the bunch so I’m pleased I have that to finish on.But first New York…

Now I’m obviously super excited for this marathon but it is very much a flying visit to New York itself. I’ll be leaving midday-ish Friday and then arriving home Tuesday morning. So I won’t be hanging out there that long. And a big part of me is sad that I won’t have my amazing support crew with me. But money doesn’t grow on trees and I decided to do this so do it I must!

I won’t be entirely alone though as I’m staying with a great bunch of girls in a palatial-sounding AirBnb, organised by the lovely Charlie, from The Runner Beans blog. So I know I’ll be in good company. And though initially I was terrified that I somehow had to make it from JFK all the way to East Harlem on public transport ON MY OWN (likely I wouldn’t make it without some sort of Anna mishap or drama, let’s be honest), one of the girls is on the same flight as me. HURRAH. THANK GOD. So that’s a major worry off my (and everyone who knows me) mind.

So the marathon. Sorry to be an absolute boring disappoint to everyone but I actually have no ambitions to race this one. I’ve heard it’s the hardest of the Majors due to all the bridges and the final 5k through Central Park is relatively undulating. I don’t want to smash myself to pieces, I want to take it all in and enjoy myself. I’m thinking 8.30-8 minute miles, though *hopefully* closer to 8 minute miles if I do feel good. But as I always seem to say, I’d like to get under 3:45 as I feel that’s a natural pace for me without busting a gut.

I want to take selfies. I want to smile. I want to wave at the crowds. So far my Majors have been all pretty enjoyable (though I found the first 10 miles of Boston very tough). I don’t want to be disappointed or injured at the end. It’s a big deal – and getting a good time doesn’t make a marathon any more enjoyable or memorable to me.

That said, if I feel good in the race, I might push it and see what happens. WHO KNOWS. It’s a marathon mystery. In general, I never really know how I’m going to run until the day – until I’m literally running. I do know for almost 100% certainty that I’m not in PB shape (in body or mind). I don’t want to go after trying to beat 3:16 as it would be painful and I’d fail – I know where I am with my fitness and I’m realistic. I’m not sandbagging here, I assure you. Unless something crazy crazy happens on the day (who knows what those NY doughnuts will do to me eh) I won’t be pulling a Brighton.

So, to be clear. My goals are:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Smile 100 times
  • Cheer madly at the lovely people of New York
  • Take approximately 759 selfies and photos
  • Get under 3:45, but who the hell really cares!

I’ve hit some solid long runs, I’ve managed to get some good paced runs in, I feel healthy, I feel injury- and niggle-free. I’ve basically fueled the last few months with cake, meals out and sugar. But I’m the strongest I’ve ever felt. I’m loving running. I’m loving the gym. I’m loving how I feel in myself and how my body looks. And in general, life is very good right now. So I’m going to celebrate with a little run round a big city and then eat a lot of food. Sounds good, right?Have you run any of the Marathon Majors?

Have you ever been to New York?

What’s next? My Running Goals

There’s nothing like a good race to get you feeling confident about your running. Though confidence and enthusiasm needs to not fall into getting overly-confident (aka cocky).

My Brighton Marathon PB has given me such a boost. I’m not lying when I say I am genuinely still shocked by my time and how good I felt running. I didn’t actually think I could get a PB let alone a significantly sub 3:20 time. So it’s definitely boosted my confidence in my own running ability.

With that in mind I have two main goals. I’d love to get my half marathon time a bit quicker. It’s currently 1:34:30. I’d loved to be closer to 1:32. I have the Jersey Half in June which is supposed to be quite flat and fast so I’ll be aiming for that. During this time as well I’d LOVE to get a sub 20 at parkrun. In terms of time goals, that’s all I have. I’m generally not hugely bothered about times but it would be nice to “give it a go” again… who knows. And it’ll be nice to have a proper focus for my training.So going forward I want to do to put a bit more thought into my running. I do just tend to run all the miles at one pace and occasionally blast a parkrun out. This isn’t a great way to train, so I’ve heard… I also want to get to running five times a week, rather than my four times.

OK this all sounds like me heading towards doing too much and over-training and getting an injury but I’m going to be cautious, listen to my body, recover adequately (sleep and eat well) and CRUCIALLY make sure I run the fast stuff fast and the slow stuff slow. Ideally I’ll have a Tuesday run where I’ll put the effort in and do an actual speed session, then have two other runs I keep SLOW and gentle, then Saturday parkrun (which I won’t blast out every week but plan when I want to) and then a Sunday long run, sensibly paced.

Again, this is all very much “in theory”. I can get fairly negative about my running and believe I’m injury-prone so I’m always expecting the fun times to stop at any point when my next niggle crops up. Watch this space I guess 😉 But I am going to try so hard to be sensible and not just run all the miles at my usual pace. Basically I’m hoping to think more strategically about how I should be running. Let’s be honest, I don’t usually do this so this is all very much new territory for me.

Alongside my time goals, I obviously wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my fluffy goals too. I’d love to tick off some more parkruns from the alphabet challenge (Jersey will be done in June) and tick off a few more tourist locations.

I also have a bit of an itch to do the Cheddar Gorge Marathon to celebrate turning 30 in June. I really loved that marathon. Yes it’s tough and super hilly, but it’s so chilled and scenic. And what would be more fitting than running a marathon as a way to celebrate my birthday? But it’s all very much just thoughts at the moment…What are your current running goals?

How do you like to celebrate big milestone birthdays?

Do you have structured training or do you just run how you fancy?

Goals for the Brighton Marathon

It’s that time again… my next marathon is almost here. My fourteenth marathon.

So normally when I write these things I’m quite vague and fluffy about my goals. I’d have several soft goals of remaining uninjured, having a bit of fun and probably aiming for a ballpark time of 3:45 or there abouts.

The “remain uninjured” will always be my first and foremost goal. No marathon is worth getting injured for in my opinion. I’ve been there and done that with my first Bournemouth Marathon and if I’m honest I fully regret pushing through. I don’t get warm fuzzy feelings from that one. But you live and learn (or at least I try to).

So this marathon, asides from my unchanged “remain uninjured” main goal, I do have fairly ambitious time goals this time. I had a moment of, “why not?” the other week as I found my training was going well and I’d clocked up some solid long runs (17 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles… the stuff that dreams are made of as far as I’m concerned when it comes to my marathon training).

I mean, I could run this marathon like I’ve run most of the others… take a few selfies, wave and smile at the supporters and take my time on the first 20 miles before thinking “OK maybe time to give it a blast”. And I’d manage to have gas left in the tank because I’d ran fairly comfortably.

But what would happen if I did actually go for it? Like set out with a ‘not-so-comfortable selfie-taking’ pace? I’m not talking about a ridiculous pace but something around 7:50s. Comfortable enough in theory, but for 26.2 miles…? Not as cushty as say 8.30s or 8.20s would be. And then if I have gas left, to push that further to 7.40s and maybe even 7.30s.

This is all very much blue sky thinking dreamworld scenario of course but I do want to put it out there that I’m considering going for it. My final decision will very much depend on how I feel on the day of course and then, if I do appear to feel good, how the first 8-10 miles feel. If it feels like it’s just too hard to maintain for the rest then I can accept defeat and either crawl miserably to the end of bring the pace back down and resume selfie-taking mode.

I realistically have nothing to lose (asides from some painful hours of my life in a living nightmare of a marathon). The Brighton Marathon isn’t a particularly special marathon. I’d never attempt something like this for a marathon like New York (later this year) because I want to actually enjoy New York (if possible) and see the sights and have a good time. Brighton? Well it’s relatively flat and realistically if it goes wrong I won’t cry about it because it’s, well, Brighton (no offence Brighton. I love you dearly as you know).

Now this is scary, throwing your goals down on paper for the world Internet to see and judge (OK, yeah no one cares but me…). My PB is 3:24:06 from the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon back in 2016. So to beat this I need to run roughly a 7.45min/mile pace. So my intention (very much intention I stress) is to head out at 7.50s and see what I can bring to the table later on. I won’t be upset if I don’t beat my PB. I’m very proud of it and if it remains my PB forever than that’s fine by me. But to beat it would be nice of course.

So my goals:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Gold Standard (if everything goes right on the day, angels sing, unicorns prance, cake drops from the heavens etc.): sub 3:24
  • Silver Standard: sub 3:30
  • Bronze Standard: sub 3:35
  • Everything’s gone to poo: all the selfies and make it to the finish

There we have it. Laid out bare. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, who cares? My self-esteem and happiness do not rest on this. It does however rest on the size of the cake I’ll be eating afterwards. Just saying.

Do you set yourself hard or soft goals?

Do you like to beat your PB’s regularly? Are they important to you?

Why do you run?

Collecting things

When I grew up I loved collecting things.

I would be the girl with 10 Tamagotchis. I had more pogs than I knew what to do with. I loved those rubber wrist bands (especially the ones filled with sparkly liquid). I had the Pokemon cards. Spice Girl photos. Gel pens. You name it, I collected it.

As I grew up (have I grown up? I don’t think so…), I stopped collecting things as much in that kind of childhood sense, but I still did things that allowed me to get my kick as a teenager. I played on game consoles and the computer, leveling up and collecting special items. Oh man I was a cool kid.

But then since going to university and then starting a Big Person Job though you just don’t do that sort of thing anymore really. No time, no space, no money. Oh hey adult life.

Then I started running. And my passion for collecting began once again. Races…medals…experiences. I’m not a race fanatic but I do enjoy doing different races about the place – enjoying new areas, seeing different places, meeting new people, getting a nice medal. It’s all good fun. I tend to dislike doing the same races over and over (though some are clearly worth it, hello Romsey Beer and Cake Race) because I like doing different ones. Collecting new ones, if you like.And marathons. Ahh marathons. Doing the Marathon Majors is collecting game for me. It’s a long game, don’t get me wrong, but ticking each one of the list is just something that I love to do. I don’t necessarily care about the times I get or if I break my PB. Nope. I just want to collect each medal and earn my bigger Six Star Medal at the end.And alongside that I’ve been trying to complete different parkrun challenges… get to 50, get to 100, get to 150, now get 20 different ones, now get all the letters of the alphabet, get to 200…250… tick off all the local ones, the Brighton ones, the Bristol ones, the Birmingham ones. Ahh call me a loser, call me a weirdo, but I so enjoy this kind of thing.

Most importantly, it keeps me motivated to run – and with that to be healthy and uninjured, work hard at the gym, take rest seriously, eat a balanced diet. It keeps me mentally healthy as well to not focus on smashing myself at every parkrun or race. It’s been a long while since I’ve felt disappointed about a parkun time. I remember when I first started running and every race I had to beat my last time, every parkrun had to be faster  – and if not, why not? Could I justify why I’d run so slowly? It really ground me down.

But now I’m happy to plod along, get my barcode scanned and add another one to my list. I see progress in a different way. Yes of course I want PB’s and fast times (damnit I want that sub-20 parkrun!) but it’s not everything for me. It’s not why I put my trainers on. Yes maybe this has been somewhat to my detriment when I’m not making “omg amazing” gains in my speed and I’m still no faster than I was when I started but I’m 100% happier with where I am, both body and mind.

I’ll make my progress in the ways that I enjoy. Alongside that I’ll pepper it with the occasional “hard goal” of a certain time but it won’t break my spirit if it doesn’t happen right away (or at all!), because along the way I’ll have other fun goals to tick off as I go that really only mean something to me.

And I’ve found as an adult you can still collect things. Don’t even get me started on my new found love of geocaching… ;-PDo you collect anything?

Why do you run?

Have you ever done geocaching? I’ve just gotten into it and I quite enjoy hunting around and trying to find different ones – the app is great!

Post Dubai Marathon and what’s next

As is probably patently clear, my Dubai Marathon experience wasn’t the best. It felt very tough, mentally and physically.Despite this, I’m actually really happy with my time (3:39:58). It was faster than expected. What was nice was that my body fell into a very natural rhythm and pace which I thankfully didn’t have to think too much about while I ran.

I’ve just realised I didn’t actually put my time in my race recap (I’ve updated it since). I had all the splits ready to insert through the text but clearly was too busy putting the selfies in! Whoops. But I guess this shows that times weren’t something that was weighing me down. In fact, I felt like I could probably have run without my watch and maintained that speed. I literally didn’t need to think about slowing down or running faster. My feet just found their perfect speed.Looking at my splits I was quite consistent, though you can tell where I went to the loo twice!I went at mile six (the beach bum saga) and then again at mile 13 (thankfully a proper loo this time).
I’m really happy with how I ran and that I could step it up at the end. I think I’ve just gotten myself into a really good place where I can judge my body and it’s capabilities. Like going out at 8 minute miles was not going to end well, but 8.30s felt good and left enough in the tank to step it up a bit at the end.

Interestingly I found this graph in Garmin that showed the rise in temperature (Fahrenheit annoyingly).Basically the marathon started around 13-15C and then increased to a high of 29 degrees towards the end! Blimey. But thankfully it was lower than that for the majority of the race.

So anyway. Number 13 ticked off the list! I had a lot of worries going into this one, mainly due to my calf. It had felt a bit rubbish leading up the race and I’d reduced back my running substantially so that the longest run I ran was a week after the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon (10.6 miles). I did do some lengthy sessions on the elliptical machine (up to 75 minutes) so that helped. But my actual running was really inconsistent and no further than six miles. Not ideal. And probably why after the marathon my legs felt VERY tired and achy, like they did when I ran my first marathon. Walking down steps was comical. Walking in general was tough!

Surprisingly though my calf felt fine during and after. I mean, I haven’t run yet so who knows what it’ll feel like in reality but at the moment I’m quietly hopeful.

What’s next then? 

Well, the next marathon is the Brighton Marathon and I would love to have a solid training run for that and give it a good stab. I love running marathons at whatever speed but I’d quite like one where I don’t have any issues leading up to it so I can give it a bit of welly and aim to be under 3.30 again. But we’ll see!

Between now and then I have the Reading Half Marathon (entries are still open!) which I’d quite like to use as a tuning-up race to see where my speed is. My best time there (I’ve run it twice) is 1:39:35, so getting a course PB would be nice and maybe nearing my PB (1:34:30) would be AWESOME. Again, depends on how my training goes and how it feels post Dubai. Also, I don’t like pressure as it’s a fun sucker so I’m quite relaxed about these goals.

Reading is 18th March so I have a solid seven weeks ahead of me. It’s a relatively flat course with great crowd support so I’m excited about giving it a bash again. I do only have 11 weeks now until my next marathon but I don’t want to rush jumping back into training. Mentally that’s quite tough and I want to get back to running without issue before any structured training gets started. I desperately want to do this one right! I don’t want to get injured.

If all goes well, when I am back into marathon training I’d like to get some solid long run training going and a bit of speed work (but not be silly about it – aim for once a week only). So if I do a speed session on Tuesday I don’t then blast out a parkrun. No rookie errors…

What races are you training for?

Have you ever done Reading?

Do you like having time goals?