Setting realistic running goals

Kari Elliott easily won the women’s race with a three hour and change time at Woody’s marathon in May. It should have been me.

Kari Elliott easily won the women’s race with a three hour and change time at Woody’s marathon in May.

It should have been me.

Okay, okay I didn’t actually run the marathon but I know if I did, I would have been the first woman to cross the line.

Forget that my best marathon time is four hours, which I ran in 2013.

It’s a reasonable goal, right?

All jokes aside, I called Elliott to chat about the mistakes that runners often make when setting goals.

Elliott is Red Deer College’s new cross-country coach. She recently took over the reins from long-time coach Brian Stackhouse who retired this year.

The 36-year-old competitive athlete ran cross country two years for Belhaven University in the in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in Jackson, Miss. In her senior year, she competed at the nationals before setting her sights on marathon racing.

It was a good move. She’s won a handful of marathons and reached the podium in the last 16 years while racing in North America, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Elliott’s PB for the marathon is 2:57. She is shooting to run a sub-2:55 in the next year.

Realistic goal.

Saying you are going to shave an hour off a marathon time that you ran three years ago is an example of an unrealistic goal.

Often runners make a goal that is too big of a jump from where they are in their fitness and training, said Elliott.

“Say you want to run a 3:30 marathon and your present time is 4:40, well you have to start with something in between,” she said. “And say maybe my five-year goal is to run sub-3:30 and my next year goal is to take five or 10 minutes off my marathon PB. You break it down like that.”

It is extremely important to build from year to year.

Giving an example, Elliott says one of her college runners is relatively new but he is fast.

“He wants to be the fastest 8K man out there but right now he is the fastest one miler,” she said. “I told him we need to think about where you are going to be three years from now. That’s not going to the same place this year and this season. Patience for runners is key. You have to keep chipping away at your time and adding mileage.”

Not balancing training blocks with enough recovery is another mistake Elliott sees quite frequently.

“They push, push, push,” she said. “They think, ‘If I train harder, harder, I will achieve my goal.’ But what happens is your body gets fatigued and you plateau and potentially injured yourself.”

Footwear is also a common area that new runners tend to err on the side of wrong. One new runner recently told Elliott that she runs in Crocs on a treadmill.

(That’s just wrong.)

“Beyond that it is so important to change your shoes,” laughed Elliott.

“That’s a big deal. I think people underestimate the importance of a good running shoe and regularly changing them.”

Rotating different pairs of shoes to relieve the pressure points is also a good idea.

She offered some final advice for setting goals like sharing your goals with others for the accountability factor and setting different kinds of goals that are not achievement based — like having a destination marathon goal — and training with like-minded athletes.

Getting back to Elliott, I had to ask, how is she going to train for her sub-2:55 marathon goal?

“My 2:57 that I ran was on a hard hilly course in Jackson, Miss.,” she said. “I feel like I could take my current fitness and find a flat course at sea level and do it. But between now and then it’s about running a little bit more, raising my mileage and getting in two good quality workouts (each week). It is just building as much mileage as my body can handle. Usually it translates into a better race.”

******

Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com.

Just Posted

Report finds many birds in decline but co-operation works to rebuild populations

The bad news is that the populations of more than one-quarter of… Continue reading

Raptors coach Nick Nurse says meeting in the works with Prime Minister Trudeau

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse says a meeting is in the… Continue reading

Trade, China sure to surface as Trudeau meets Trump, congressional leaders

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau is headed back to the White House today… Continue reading

Oil shippers boost security after mysterious attacks in Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A series of attacks on oil tankers… Continue reading

RCMP officer accused of sexual assault could take stand Thursday

Crown prosecutor expected to finish her case in morning

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Quebec’s biggest French school board postpones applying religious symbols law

MONTREAL — Quebec’s largest school board has voted to delay application of… Continue reading

B.C. Conservative MP Mark Warawa dies after cancer diagnosis

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Mark Warawa has died after being diagnosed with… Continue reading

Trump promises help with Canadian detainees in China as Trudeau visits D.C.

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump says he will raise the issue… Continue reading

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

‘He gets it’: Bowen Byram set to hear name called early at NHL draft

VANCOUVER — Bowen Byram’s bantam coach knew almost immediately the defenceman would… Continue reading

Guardado scores 2 as Mexico beats Canada 3-1

DENVER — Andres Guardado had two goals in the second half, Roberto… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews on cover of “NHL 20” video game

Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews will be on the cover… Continue reading

Opinion: Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds should be invested in Alberta

By David Marsden There’s a much-expected sigh of relief now that the… Continue reading

Most Read