How often do you sign up for a race and set yourself a two, three, four month training plan? You turn up to race day having followed the weekly tempo, speed, long runs (or not), race then recover.
You then pick another race, and start all over again.
Perhaps you gave yourself some time off during your recovery period. Maybe, like me after my first marathon, you stopped running completely for a while (OK, 8 months).
I typically run a marathon a year, although I would probably run more if finances, and Tom, allowed it. I think in training cycles, counting down until I allow myself to begin my four month marathon plan, race, and recover.
Although I desperately want to run a BQ, and that is my ultimate running goal, I never think about my running long term. But that’s changing now that I’m working with a coach on a year long commitment (although I see this as a long term relationship).
I’m not a professional athlete, but if I’m willing to put so much time and money into my sport, then I need to start thinking like an athlete. They have ‘on seasons’ and ‘off seasons’, with a couple of goal races each year, however they spend the ‘off season’ recovering, building strength and fitness, year on year.
Running is not an instant gratification sport.
Few sports are. If we want to improve then we need to put the work in, and having a long term vision as well as short term goals, will help you achieve your potential. Steady training, hard work and patience will produce results.
I had a comment on my blog recently telling me that I should stop obsessing over the marathon, and aim to run faster 5Ks, 10Ks, and halfs, to improve my speed – and although I dismissed the comment at the time, they are right. I have only ever raced 3 half marathons, and have never trained specifically for one, and I want a new PB/PR (my current one is 1.52 from October 2013).
By changing your training, you can develop your body and running efficiency. Focusing on a 5K will help build your VO2 max, efficiency and speed endurance which will in turn help your longer distance running.
So this January, instead of just thinking about your running goals for a Spring race or even just for 2017, think about what your ONE DAY goals are for your running career.
My long LONG term goals are;
- Run a BQ (a Boston Qualifier, which means running a sub 3.35 for my age group)
- Run a sub 1.45 half marathon
- Run a sub 22 min 5K (I fear this one will hurt the most)
For now, my April London marathon goal is to run a PB (sub 3.49) although I’m not going to give a specific time. In all honesty, I don’t want to sell myself short if training goes really well over the next 100 days, or to announce a huge lofty goal only to fall spectacularly short. My London goal needs to be scary but achievable – and so for that I will trust my coach.
Try sitting down and planning out your year, not just the next marathon training cycle. Pinpointing goal races of varying distances to fit with your life (for me September is a write off with wedding and honeymoon – I think Tom would divorce me if I tried training properly on our honeymoon). There are plenty of training plans out there that are specifically for marathon training, but there are also affordable plans you can sign up to on a monthly basis, group coaching, and one-to-one coaching that will help you achieve these goals.
What are your long term running goals? Do you have any races that you’d love to run? Or distances you want to try to PR in? Perhaps giving an ultra a go is on your list?