Goals Setting Towards 2012

To get the most out of my running I need a plan. Working rotational shift work (8 day cycle) and not living off a typical 7 day week forces a different line of thinking. It isn't as simple as writing a repeatable week that covers 8 days. I have to take into account the commitments that are related to the Monday to Sunday world. For example, day 2 of my training week may be a Wednesday or Sunday. The competing interests of the rest of my life will be very different depending on which day it is. Over the years I have tried a few approaches. Many mistakes have been made. There have also been a few successes. What follows, is the starting point of my next major stint of training.


Currently I do not have an exact race in mind. That doesn't preclude me from setting some strong goals. I've been tossing around the concept of running a couple of trail ultramarathons next year. I'm looking around the 50km-ish mark. Exactly which ones and at what level I'll compete in has yet to be determined. With that in mind I also want to make another attempt at running a marathon PB.

With the above in mind, I will spend the rest of this year developing a base of fitness and performance from which I can launch into the more specific goals as the timeline gets better established. To get there, I will develop my short term training plan with the following aims in mind:

  • Prepare the body to handle 50km+ of trail running
  • Be ready to run a marathon after a short focus
  • Improve racing abilities at 5-21km
  • Increase strength (work capacity, racing, injury prevention, my job)
  • Keep in touch with cycling and swimming

The above list is good to use for overriding concepts. It does the lack important element of being measurable. For goals to work well, they need to quantifiable. To be able to measure goals makes it much easier to define whether they have been reached, define a failure point or exactly how far away I am from them. Just getting better at something isn't good enough. I need to know how much better I need to be.

Taking the list above, adding some previous knowledge, sifting through some performance tables, folding in a little common sense and letting simmer over some science the measurable goals will be as follows.

Working off an initial target marathon time of 2:55:00 will provide a lot of the initial targets. The McMillan Running Calculator has been an invaluable tool to me over the years. I have found it to be surprisingly accurate or race performance (training paces is a different story). If I find I am hitting enough of the initial targets, then my sights will look further towards the 2:50:00 marathon mark. This give me the following times to hit at various race distances (time (pace/km) - time (pace/km) 2:55 time first).

  • 5km 17:57 (3:35) - 17:26 (3:29)
  • 10km 37:17 (3:43) - 36:13 (3:37)
  • 21.1km 1:22:59 (3:56) - 1:20:36 (3:50)
  • 30km 2:01:30 (4:03) - 1:58:01 (3:56)
  • 42.2km 2:55:00 (4:09) - 2:50:00 (4:02)
If I can achieve race times in the above ranges, then I am definitely a good way on track. As a guide in training, aiming for a MAF HR (151bpm) pace of 15sec/km slower than marathon race pace will give:
  • MAF pace 4:24-4:17/km
This needs to be held for a minimum of 8km. Holding it for 12km would be ideal.

To be happy with being able to run a marathon after only a short focus, then I would need to be achieving some of the above times plus would have to be comfortable with running a long run in my Aerobic Conditioning HR range (70-80%HRmax, 132-151bpm) for a minimum of 30km without sustaining a noticeable slow down in the latter stages. The second step would be to do the same for 35km or more.

All of the above will go a reasonable distance to covering being prepared to run a 50km trail ultramarathon. There does need to be a bit more. Specifically I will need to be comfortable at running some tough, steep, technical and varied terrain. To be measurable I need to be able to cover a minimum of 35km (preferably 40km) of continuous running over rough terrain. The pace isn't important, just the ability to always keep moving forward. The long run training for ultras and the marathon will go hand in hand.

Another important element for trail running will be to develop the ability to run long on moderately steep ascents below my anaerobic threshold and not sustain a significant increase in heart rate over the climbs. Long will begin at 4km, and may include 7-8km continuous climbs.

Strength training is about being supportive of my other goals. Since my work involves a good degree of manual handling (Worksafe classes lifting live people as high risk), getting injured at work would greatly impact on my training and the rest of life. Therefore I need to minimise that risk. From a training perspective that includes developing a high capacity in core and back strength, plus the ability to squat, push, pull, deadlift above work requirements. Since the strength component often reduces leading into a race and is often further compromised as a result of the big races, my goal here is just to keep increasing my strength in all the main lifts. A post on this topic alone will be needed to explain properly.

Keeping in touch with swimming and cycling will be as simple as getting in one session every training week in each discipline. Time permitting two sessions on the bike will be preferred. These sessions should complement the run training and will usually be about an hour's worth of aerobic conditioning training. Nothing spectacular. At times I might push the cycling a little either with a bit more intensity or just extend the duration. Each session will go in the training log, and I would expect to see some moderate improvement on about a monthly basis.

Next I need to work out exactly what training will get me there. Then, more importantly I need to execute that training.


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