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The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - New Year Goals

The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - New Year Goals

I’m a firm believer that any runner that has not been consistently training for at least five years should not be setting themselves goal race times for the year ahead.

You see it all the time on social media, runners proudly announcing their goals;

“2023 will be the year I break 25 min for parkrun”

“All I’m interested in next year is getting under 3:30 for the marathon”

My question to these runners would be why are you restricting your potential performance to an arbitrary time goal which you have probably plucked out of thin air!

It’s very important to have target races to focus on and peak for but rather than set time goals now for these races, it is much more important to set training targets as part of your build up instead.

This could be as simple as attempting to run four times a week rather than three, or increasing your average mileage in the ten week build up to a race by 10%.

For more experienced runners who already have a solid training base behind them it could be setting yourself the goal of following a structured training plan with specific weekly sessions rather than just “winging it” which may have been your strategy in the past!

Whatever training element you choose to focus on and improve, make sure you set yourself a realistic goal which will be achievable considering your non-running commitments for the year and remember to track how you are doing.

By not restricting yourself to specific race pace goals you can then focus on training at the correct pace for your current fitness. At the start of your training this may be significantly slower than you were hoping for but stick to those training goals and it won’t be long before your exceeding those early expectations and when it comes time to think about setting yourself a target race pace in the final few weeks you may well surprise yourself.

In my first year of running all I was interested in was a “sub 3” marathon. I have no idea why, I think I found some other runners talking about it on an online forum. Thankfully I also decided to follow a structured training plan that encouraged me to run my sessions at a specific effort rather than a specific pace. As I got closer to race day I realised my fitness was way beyond my initial target thanks to following the 24-week plan religiously and I ended up running a 2:35 marathon. At the time, I was really concerned that I was running too fast because I was so much faster than my original goal but it turned out I was still not running to my full potential as I ended the race without emptying the tank. The lesson to be learned, stick to those training goals and the times will take care of themselves.

Early Season Hill Session

“Kenyan Hills” - A great alternative to a full-on speed session early in a race build up where you can’t get hung up on pace or times due to the elevation changes.

Find a decent size runnable hill and then after a warm-up, perform 2 x 15min continuous efforts maintaining threshold effort (roughly the effort you could sustain for 60min under race conditions) both up and down the hill. Take a 5 min flat jog recovery between the intervals to fully recover.

Tip of the Month


Building mileage and spending a lot of time running those easy miles at the moment? Add in some strides at the end of your easy runs to inject some “free” speed work into your routine.

Nothing complicated, just add in some 20-30 second pick-ups at the end of your run where you focus on form and maintaining control while peaking at around 90% effort levels. 4 to 6 of them is plenty with full recoveries in between. The goal is to get your body used to running fast without putting it under too much strain.

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