A New Goal

This morning I spent some time building a training program for the Sarasota Half Marathon, which takes place on March 11, 2012. In doing so, I set myself a new goal – a target finishing time of 1:50.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I have a love/hate relationship with training programs. Sure, they push me out of my lazy ways, and sometimes get me past my self-imposed limits. But – and it’s a big but – none of the many training programs I’ve tried fit me perfectly, so I always seem to go back to my default “I’ll do what I want to do” preparation for races.

So why did I spent an hour or so building a new program?

Well, first of all, this season I found myself very taken up with racing again. It started in May, with my first race of 2011, the Mississauga Half Marathon, and continued all the way to late September, when I ran the Oakville Half Marathon. Along the way, I also ran a couple of 10K races, set some new PBs, and had much more fun than I’d ever had before at races. I was surprised at what I accomplished, felt a hunger for improvement that was quite new, and gained a whole mess of self-confidence.

The new plan is a very basic one. Its foundation is a generic 18 week program of long runs on Sundays, speed training, hills, and not one, but two, rest days per week. I’ll adapt it as suits me, but want to try to stay with the program as much as I can. What’s ambitious about it is that, whereas in the past I’ve set my race goals at a rather low level, this time I’m going to aim high. My current PB for the half (set at Oakville) is 1:57, which had me running at an average 5:27 min/km pace. My goal for Sarasota is 1:50, which will mean running at a 5:13 pace. That’s a big difference for an old guy with steel in his hip and radaition in his prostate!

But I think it may be doable. Why?

This program will have me doing shorter distances and doing lots of speed work. That’ll be hard for me – I love running long distances slowly, and I tend to avoid speed work like the plague. The upshot of doing my training that way, though, has been that I have lots of endurance, but I don’t race quickly. Now I’m curious about whether doing things “properly” (i.e., according to the plan) will translate to a 1:50 finish (which I must admit seems incredible to me as I write this).

It’s worth a try, I think. The other consideration, of course, is that a 1:50 barefoot finish in Sarasota means that my feet will have to be well-conditioned by mid-March. That won’t be an easy thing to achieve, given the realities of a Canadian winter. Most of my winter running will be done barefoot on the treadmill, and I’ll add to that some regular sessions of gravel bucket training. Maybe even do some upper body work, too.

Oh dear. I can see it coming. Soon I’ll be whining again about The Almighty Program. So be it. If it gets me to a 1:50 in March, I’ll do it.

Training officially starts on Sunday, November 27. Stay tuned for news as it comes.



  1. Alan:

    Awesome goal! I think you can do it. You have an indomitable spirit and an iron will, and you made some excellent improvements this past year.

    I’ll be following your journey as it unfolds!


    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Todd! Whether or not I actually get that 1:50 finish, I think it will be worth trying – especially if I can stick to the program. (I’m never quite as disciplined as I might be.)

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