Ditching My Time Goal for My First Half Marathon

I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile but I realized it would be the perfect topic for my 100th blog post.

Happy 100th Post to Me!

I am so excited to run my first half marathon on September 4th in Virginia Beach.  I’ve been obsessively following a training plan for the last few months in hopes I’d have a great race.  I have bee pretty diligent in following the plan – doing all of my speed work and long runs – but I have found myself totally worried my expected finish time over the last few weeks.

According to Runners World Smart Coach, I should be able to finish this race in just under 2:20. I actually tweaked my training plan quite a bit when I set it up to make sure the finish time would be under 2:20. I’m pretty sure I can finish in that time but I’m not sure if I want to finish in that time.

I’ve been running all of my long runs really slowly and comfortably, as prescribed by Smart Coach. And I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles that say doing your long runs slowly to build endurance and speed work to build speed is the way to go.  But I’m really hesitant to go into the race and try to run 13.1 miles so much faster than I’ve run any of my training runs.

Sweaty post SLOW 8 mile picture. Ignore the fact that my hand is still moving. I was excited!

Maybe I’ll be able to, but I think I want my first half marathon to be about the excitement of a the race (that happens to have a view of the ocean for a good part of the race. Yay!) vs. pushing myself to my limit just to run a few minutes faster.

At first I was worried that if my time was really “slow” for this race, people wouldn’t understand why I spend so much time running (not that my “fast” time is particularly fast).  But you know what, forget what other people think.  I’m not running this race to win – Ryan Hall will be there and I’m pretty sure he has this race in the bag 😉  I’ve come across so many other awesome runners who run right at the same pace as me – including my awesome HLS roomie Allison who just wrote an amazing post about how she wards off injury by not focusing on times and running at a pace that she likes. Maybe I’m not as slow as I think.

So you know what… I’m ditching my time goal. I am going to have so much fun at this race with Suze and I’m going to enjoy my first half marathon.

How did you set time goals for your first race?

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Ditching My Time Goal for My First Half Marathon

  1. Good for you! That’s the first thing my clinic leader said! Basically if it’s your first half marathon you’re running to finish it. Full stop. Finish, finish strong, finish injury free and then you have a time that you can beat next time if you’re so inclined. Set a time goal and you’re opening the door for all sorts of disapointment that you have no business having after finishing your first half marathon.

    Plus, you’re still way faster than me 🙂

  2. I’m really happy I found your blog (from Team Giles). I am running my first half marathon in November and understand exactly what you’re going through. I’m using smart coach as well and I have been wondering for a long time how I was supposed to run all of my long runs at an easy pace and then all of a sudden run 13.1 miles so fast. I’m sure I’ll be taking your advice and choosing to just run for fun.

  3. Good for you Carly! I think you’ll enjoy your first half marathon SO much more by just going out there & running the miles without having to stress over your time. So many of us (me included) get caught up in pace & time goals, which is fine in many cases, but for your first big race like this I say go out & have FUN! Worry about a goal time in the next one!

  4. I think you are definitely making the right choice. For your first half you should go out and have fun. You never know what to expect before running the full distance, so enjoy yourself and don’t stress over timing.
    My first half was a disaster. I wanted to run it in under 2:30, but I didn’t think I needed to eat before or during. Don’t make that mistake! I didn’t hit my goal for my first, fortunately on my fourth I knocked off quite a bit of time and PRed.
    But, seriously, you are going to do awesome. Can’t wait to meet you this week!

  5. Happy 100th post!!

    I try not to have time goals the first time I run a new distance. That said, I always have a number in the back of my head. I usually rectify this by having “tiered” goals for each race. (i.e. for the cherry blossom 10-miler my goals were: 1) finish without dying 2) run the whole thing 3) come in under 2:00… i hit all three, but would have been happy with just 1 & 2!)

  6. My first half marathon? Back in 1999? Finished in 3:05. My last one, in June was 2:31. Back then all I wanted was to finish. And remember, you only have ONE first half mary. Enjoy it, have run, and whatever your time is will be an automatic PR!

  7. Vanessa

    I think you have the right idea. My first half was not fast at all but I had the most fun!!! I was able to really enjoy the scenery and the excitement of the local crowd. Best of all, I didnt feel like I was going to pass out at the end so I felt like I totally wanted to do it again. Good luck!

  8. For my first couple races my goal was to run my own race, have fun and finish. You are going to have so much fun doing this race and you will be surprised at how easy it is to run with so many people around motivating you!

  9. That’s a great way to go into your first half! Run your own race, enjoy it, and if you feel good in the second half you can still pick it up if you decide that you do want to meet a particular time.

    Happy 100th post!

  10. Yes yes and YESSS!!! That’s the spirit, girl!!!! I completely applaud you in your decision. Running the race this way will essential eliminate all room for dissappointment (ie not meeting your goal time, or INJURING YOURSELF bc you were *trying* to meet your goal time…eek!). You;re taking the pressure off of yourself, and that’s SO important in enjoying the experience!!! I just KNOW you are going to love it! And who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself?! Maybe you’ll finish the race w/ extra energy and a desire to do a full??!? Who knows, but I do know that you’ll much less likely be injured 🙂 And THAT, to me, is a big win in my book 🙂

    PS, thanks for the shoutout in your post… i was SO surprised to see that. MADE MY DAY!

  11. I think this is a great idea for so many reasons–but I also think you will suprise yourself with how well you do! 🙂 My goal lately has been to cross the finish line smiling–that surely is a good goal for your first Half!

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