A tale of 3 runners…

Sooo, three people arrive at the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon. One girl flew in on Friday, hit the expo and an NBA basketball game downtown, then shopping and a Coyotes game Saturday. Her goal was to have fun with little expectation of a finish time. She beat her expectations and was only a few minutes off of her September PR, so it was a great day and weekend (back home Monday). Another girl wanted to PR by a minute and set her training goal accordingly. During training, she hit all her training marks on most every workout and was at the starting line confident. She was worried that she didn’t work hard enough during the workouts, but I had said “Trust the Plan”. During the race, she stayed on-pace for the first 9 miles and had a finishing kick for the downhill section to the finish. She bettered her expectation and PR’d by two and a half minutes (performed better than training paces). She was very excited about her results and was not too beat-up for the next few days (happiness minimizes the pain…).

The guy arrived at the start line with a lofty goal of PR’ing by 3 minutes from a September race (which was a PR). Training was just ok with him struggling to hit the faster training paces on the tempo runs (those are near planned race pace, but shorter durations). Most of those workouts did not go well… On race day, he still was going with the pace plan for that lofty PR and was fairly confident he could hold it (disregarding the failed tempo runs and the advice of his wife…). The gun goes and everyone is flying out of the gate on a downhill section. First mile was on-pace, miles 2 through 5 started a slight uphill so the pace slipped by 10 seconds and the effort/breathing was a bit pushed. Miles 6 through 9 was a struggle to even hold that pace of 10 seconds off goal and slipped to 15 to 30 seconds off per mile. Then there was a short steep hill and then a long downhill section – if he can just push that hill and fly down the backside, he might be able to be close to his PR.  He labored up the hill and was not able to fly down the backside at all… Today would not be a PR day nor close to a PR. The hip flexor started to flare up and it was now just a slog to the finish. It ended being two minutes slower than September’s PR. The beer after did not taste quite as good.

Take-aways from the day: Even a coach needs a coach, or just enough smarts to heed the advice of his wife (has that ever been said before? Well, maybe never written… by a guy). J   So if you are self-coached, talk about your plan to someone that knows you and will give you some honest feedback. Set a realistic goal that won’t be easy, but achievable on a good day. Plan your training based on your current fitness with test points to ensure you are on-track towards the goal. Remember that training is not racing and it should never be full-out. Expect to make adjustments during the training because life happens. Finally, a bad race-plan is most always followed by a bad day racing and a bunch of time to stew about it. Don’t be “That Guy” (or girl).