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This is a request for any experienced runners to point me in the right direction to establish a realistic and achievable running goal in five years.
I'm fifty years old and have been running between 600 and 1000 miles per year since 1997, but haven't really pushed the boundaries of what I can achieve in terms of speed. A mistake I repeatedly make is to achieve a running goal, then slacken off (or get ill/injured) and have to repeat earlier training to get back to previous fitness levels. I seem to be targeting the same distance/times that I have already achieved up to five years ago. A mega-plateau!
The Inspiration – number 1
In 2010, Tom Williams took part in Ironman Lanzarote in an attempt to qualify for the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Although he didn't quite achieve this goal, what particularly struck me was that he had been planning his assault on the world championships for five years. It has made me think that even my longest running goals (e.g. running a marathon) are never really very long. I complete a goal (or crash and burn), then slip back while deciding what to do next.
I'm completely convinced that I will perform better if I plan ahead much further, so that each goal becomes another step towards something much loftier. Also, problems such as illness and injury will (hopefully) feel less disastrous over a five year span.
A possible goal?
Somehow I seem to keep gravitating back towards the marathon as a goal. I completed one in 2009 in 4:38, and will run another in April with a current target of 4:20-4:30. So I would like to make my “big” goal marathon related. I looked at the London Marathon “Good for Age” categories and found that my target to achieve would be an eye-watering 3:15. This, right now, sounds impossible for me. I had put my idea to the back of my mind, because suddenly it sounded a bit crazy.
The Inspiration – number 2
This week I listened to a marathon talk interview with Bob Groves. He's not an elite. He's pushing fifty years old and has a fair bit in common with me (I ditched alcohol five years ago and lost more than four stone in weight). His target is to achieve a “good for age” qualifying time. I was intrigued to know how he was doing and checked his progress. His marathon times progressed: 2009 = 4:26; 2010 = 3:49; 2011 = 3:30. This suggests that it is indeed possible to knock lumps off the marathon time with the right training and dedication towards the goal.
Help and advice needed
I've never considered making a five year fitness plan before, though I do make plans for up to five or six months at a time for running. I'm finding it very difficult to find any information on the subject of making a real long-term running/fitness plan. Everything I search for turns up the usual four month marathon plans at best.
I know this goal is very hard, but there's no point in setting a five year goal that is achievable within a year. On the other hand, there's no point in setting a goal that is truly impossible for all apart from the very gifted. I'm sure some of you guys will have a heap of experience and can offer some advice, or point me in the right direction for further information.
I would like to know what kind of progress is achievable for an average person year-on-year? The progress made by Bob Groves gives me hope, but is this typical, or is he naturally gifted? Is my goal realistic/achievable?
Thanks in advance.