I have to admit it: I’m beginning to feel really confident. I’ve finished 5th and gone sub 1h20m at a hilly half marathon, (winning £20 in vouchers and a small trophy as first in my age category), finished 4th and gone sub 37m at a hilly 10K (winning £65 for 4th and 3rd team), I’ve felt strong on my long runs, and fast on my speedwork, and not overly fatigued by my mileage.
Well, I lie a bit. I’ve had a little grumble in my left ankle, a bit of tightness in my right calf, and a bit of a sore throat necessitating working from home at the end of the week…
All of that said though I am confident. Friends from running club have commented on my races and runs, starting to say that I should be aiming for sub 2h50m at Manchester (six weeks today at the time of posting). So why is this a bad thing? At the start of this training block I was aiming to go under three hours for the first time. I have, with varying degrees of realism, been trying to do this for three years. This will however only be the second time I’ve seriously tried to go for it.
At Milton Keynes overconfidence was a big issue, for different reasons. My training hadn’t gone as well as I hoped. My schedule, looking back, was too heavy on mileage and with too many early starts. I picked up a relatively serious niggle and ran through it, but I was overconfident about my ability to perform, stuck to an incredibly aggressive plan to negitive split, and finished up over seven minutes outside the three hour mark.
It is about this time in the training schedule, for marathons around April, that many people might be starting to rethink their targets. If training has gone very well – a strong, gradual build up in mileage and speedwork, you could have got to a higher peak of form than you have acheived previously. A more ambitious time for you could be more realistic. For me I am going to be very cautious. I would have bitten your hand off to go even one second under three hours at Manchester when I started back in December. I’m going to stick to that, even if it means I arrive at the end fresh and knowing I could *possibly* have pushed harder. For me, that would be better than getting to the end slightly overcooked, knowing I could have gone faster by not pushing as hard as early.
Whether you respond to confidence in form by altering targets is ultimately a matter of personal preference. When your goal time is a set integer or one that you have an attachment to, like mine is, it is easy to not want too much more. Over the marathon as well, a race that requires more build up and strategy than a shorter race, even a half, and one that takes more time to recover from, there is a greater chance that it can blow up in your face. There are more disbenefits than benefits that come from being overconfident, compared to not being confident enough in your own form. Whether you adjust your marathon targets or stick to your original target, I hope it all goes well for you on the day!
This week: 72.2 miles running
76.1 miles cycling
Happy running, Goose