>> Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This is not a rant. Repeat: this is NOT a rant. I don't get "fired up" about this, but it's just worth noting. And none of this is "ground-breaking" info - just my take on the topic.
Before the half marathon on Saturday, I was told by 2 people that I SHOULD be able to run a sub-1:20 half marathon based on my recent Meet of the Miles 1-mile time. And that's part of why Chad called me a sandbagger with my DREAM GOAL of a 1:25 finish. I hoped I could go 1:25, but sub-1:20 would have been impossible. But the numbers SAY I should be able to do that.
Here's what they're talking about: here are my equivalent race times from the McMillan Running Calculator that many of you are familiar with:
My 13.1 equivalent performance based on my 4:53 mile
Just because I'm stupid, let's really test the McMillan Running Calculator. There are plenty of people on this planet right now that can run a 10-second 100 meters. According to McMillan, they'd SHATTER world records at the marathon distance if they "trained" for it:
A 1:54 MARATHON time for those that can do a 10 sec 100. Yeah, no prob.
And this highlights my issue.
Ryan Hall is "distance" trained, and he couldn't pull that speed out of his legs on his distance training.
I have a bit more "speed," but I don't have the endurance, so I can't run the longer races as fast as this calculator says I "should" be able to. I simply don't put in the miles. (Oh, and I'm NOT saying I have more speed than Hall... I just might have more "speed vs endurance" whereas Hall has more "endurance vs speed" based on our own abilities.)
I started this post by saying "this is not a rant" (even though I'm using the "rant" label at the bottom of this post), and what I mean is that I'm never really annoyed when people think I can run something at a certain pace because this calculator says I should be able to. It IS a good thing to look at when comparing the difference in some races. I use it quite often.
But the more miles between the comparison, the farther off it can be. You could get a good sense of your 5K time based on a 1 mile race (that's over 3x the distance, but it's only about 2 miles more). Same with comparing a 5K to get an anticipated 10K finish (2x the distance, and only 3.1 miles more). But a half marathon to a marathon is quite a jump - that's SUBSTANTIALLY different training that McMillan is asking you to do in order to hit their predicted time.
That's not all bad. And it's kinda obvious. But if you're just comparing possible race outcomes without MAJORLY changing your training, then it won't give you 100% accurate answers. And that's kinda where I fall. I didn't change many workouts going into the 1 mile race, and I just made sure to get in some long runs before my half marathon. All the "middle stuff" was about the same.
I talk to Coach Jen about some of these issues in this post from Sept of 2010. Here's just part of that post:
Here are some other numbers to back up my points. Below are 3 screenshots from the McMillan Running Calculator. They show my estimated times based on my back-to-back-to-back races this past spring: a 5K, a 4 mile, and a half marathon:Notice: My 5K time says that I could do a half marathon in 1:19:26, but that’s WAY FASTER than I could do.
Estimates based on my 17:11 5K
Estimates based on my 22:42 4 mile
Estimates based on my 1:22:52 half marathon
On the flip-side, my half marathon time says that I should do a 5K in 17:56, but that’s WAY SLOWER than I just did.
I can go shorter and harder, but when I go longer, I end up easing back a little. (And I know, the McMillan Running Calculator is NOT an exact science. I HAVE heard things about needing to run a ton of miles to be able to hit your predicted McMillan times.)
BUT, for what it's worth, notice that the difference in a predicted marathon time between those 3 screenshots is just over 7 minutes... 7 minutes isn't THAT big of a difference in a marathon. At least I don't think so. I'd LOVE to have any of those times in a marathon!
And to make one more point in DEFENSE of the pace calculator: note the different 10-mile times it gave me above based on my 3 races: 59:49, 1:00:24, and 1:02:24. Those 3 races were in the spring of 2010, and I ran my best TC 10 Mile in the fall of 2010. I've been saying that I'm faster at the shorter races, so my 10-mile time SHOULD be somewhere between my 4-mile prediction of 1:00:24 and my half marathon prediction of 1:02:24. But being I worked with Coach Jen for 2 months leading up to the 2010 TC 10 Mile, she actually got me to put in the "distance specific" training where I was able to do a 59:05. So... I guess if you train for it like McMillan says... you CAN hit their predictions.
It's just that I so rarely train so specifically for 1 race. I guess that's my problem. :)
Any thoughts on working with a pace calculator?