The turn of the year is a time to reflect. Having already looked at what I did in 2018, it is time to turn shift focus from the past to the future. What do I want to achieve in the year that lays ahead? And what am I willing to do what it takes to become a runner breaking 2:40 in the marathon?
Goal setting should not be an isolated event. As 2018 unfolded, with periods of great training and progress, as well as the opposite, I have continually thought about my long term goals. Even now, I am not just thinking about 2019. Instead, I take the long view and think about where my running will take me if everything goes according to plan.
But the future is unpredictable and always shifting, and so are my long term goals. The idea here, at the beginning of the year, is to pluck those vague dreams down. To transform them into firm goals that I will spend the next weeks and months chasing. Goals that get me out of bed on a cold and dark morning, when every fibre of my body is trying to convince me to just sleep in. These are the goals that will serve that purpose for me in 2019.
Break 2:40 in The Marathon
This is the big one. The goal that will be etched into the ceiling above my bed. Figuratively speaking, of course. My current PR is 2:58:29, and a close to 20-minute improvement in 15 months is ambitious. But if my body can handle the training I have planned, and I am able to nail down my nutrition, I believe it is possible. On a day where everything goes right.
My plan is to run 2:39:59 in the Berlin Marathon on September 29. As of the time of writing, that leaves me with 264 days to do the job, and find the necessary fitness to do it. To get there, I will naturally be doing a full eighteen weeks marathon training cycle in the weeks leading up. But, equally important is the job I do between now and the last eighteen weeks before the Berlin Marathon.
That is why I am also doing a spring marathon. On April 6, I will run Holmestrand Maraton. This will be, for all intents and purposes, a practice race. Having only run a single marathon before, I think running another one before having a crack at breaking 2:40 will be beneficial. It will help me nail down my race day routine. I will learn more about my nutrition strategy for the race should look like. And, doing another relatively high volume marathon cycle should get my body ready to really go at it in the cycle leading up to Berlin. Finishing time will be secondary, but it will obviously speak to the realism of my goal for the year. If I can crack 2:48 without going too deep into the well, I will be happy enough.
Crack 1:16 in the Half Marathon
Observant readers will remember that I failed to break 1:20 in the half marathon in 2018. Aiming for that in 2019, however, seems like sandbagging. Instead, I want to utilise all that marathon fitness I will hopefully be gaining throughout the year to truly smash that 80-minute barrier out of the way by running 75-something!
Currently, I don’t have any specific plans for when and where I want to have a crack at this. But most likely, it will be a local race as a tune-up race towards the tail end of my Berlin training cycle.
Run 33-Something for the 10k
Looking at the equivalency tables, this is the most ambitious goal I have set for 2019. Truth be told, I am quite uncertain as to how realistic it is for me to actually achieve it. I ran 35:38 in 2018 in a race where everything went right, and I would be lucky to get the same excellent conditions in the same race for the third year in a row. And even with perfect conditions yet again, shaving a minute and thirty-nine seconds off my 10k time in a year is a big ask.
But heck, I am going to give it a go! I have always been a sucker for round numbers. Aiming to go below 34 minutes, as opposed to going below 34:30, is just that much more exciting to me. And if I fail, I fail. The race where I am planning to try for it is only three weeks after the Berlin Marathon. Depending on how I recover, ot could well be a good few weeks too early.
Run 5000 Kilometres (3107 Miles)
All I can do to reach my time goals is to put in the work I believe my body can handle. There is no telling in advance whether or not that will be enough to realise the goals. Because of this, I think it is important to have a goal that reflects the amount of work I put in.
Obviously, I have to be smart about my training. If something doesn’t work, I have to adjust. Should my body protest against the planned load, I have to reduce it. It is, therefore, important to remember that this is not a “must achieve” type of goal. Rather, it is the best approximation of what I at the moment believe I will be able to handle in the year ahead. And, of course, a nice round number to strive for.
500 Hours of Training
Cross-training and supplemental work is my biggest weakness as a runner. I am convinced that I can make extra gains as a runner by incorporating more cross-training and supplemental work such as strategic strength training. My target running mileage for the year will put me at around 400 hours of running, give or take. I am, in other words, aiming for around 100 hours of alternative training, or about two hours every week.
That’s not a lot. Yet, it is work that I strongly believe will increase my chances of realising my other goals. Not just by benefiting my running, but by reducing my risk of injury as well. Still, it will probably be one of my most challenging goals this year, because as a runner all I really want to do is run!
Stay Healthy and Enjoy the Process!
When I first started running, I didn’t really see myself doing it beyond reaching a certain goal. As the months and years of running passed, however, it became less about the goals and more about the process. Running has become part of my life and my identity. I think of myself as a runner, and I like it. Running helps me in so many ways I had never imagined, from physical and mental well-being to identity and self-realisation.
As a result, all the other goals are really secondary to this one. I want to keep running because I enjoy it. That means erring on the side of caution, and making sure I don’t injure myself or worse, burn out.
Those are my goals for 2019. In a year’s time, I will do a recap and see how the year unfolded. The only certainty is that it probably will not go according to plan. And that’s fine because I’m prepared to wing it once it derails from what I had envisioned.