Pete has discussed using the McMillan Pace calculator to predict his marathon times and his results seem to be fairly accurate. Therefore, I decided today to take a more serious look at my race predictors. I used my 26:47 finishing time from the Mad Dash to Madison this past Monday.
First off, my results from the McMillan Pace calculator:
Next, my results from Runners World's Race Times Predictor:
And finally, my results from Marathon Guide:
The predictions from all three sources are surprisingly consistent.
I know that race predictors have varying degrees of accuracy and that every runner is unique. However, based on all three predictors, my 5K time seems to be an outlying result compared to my other race times. To illustrate:
- 10K - I ran the Home Team Charity 10K this past July in 1:02:49 (albeit in hot, humid conditions), compared to predictors of about 55-56 minutes.
- 10M - I ran the CARA Lakefront 10-Miler this past April in 1:46:32, compared to predictors of about 1:32 to 1:33.
- Half Marathon - The time I am currently trying to beat is from the 2012 Chicago Half Marathon, which I ran in 2:22:52. Compare this to the predictors of 2:03 to 2:04.
- Marathon - My single marathon time of 5:27:33 is not a great sample size, but it's hard for me to fathom running my next one anywhere near the predicted times of 4:16 - 4:20.
I'm not sure what to make of this analysis. It does tell me something when all three of these race predictors indicate such similar results. Plus, the variances in my ranges of predicted times versus my actual times are pretty significant. It would definitely seem to indicate that I am leaving something on the table. This looks to be more and more true as the race distances get longer.
Admittedly I don't enjoy pushing myself to the max (hence why I don't do much speedwork). But it does make me think about the mental aspect and what I believe I can do versus what I actually can do.
This reminds me of the sub-4:00 mile and how for centuries it was considered unattainable. Then, one day someone finally ran a sub-4 mile... and shortly after, more and more folks began doing it. Basically, the 4-minute mile was a mental barrier, not a physical barrier. (Here is a nice write-up about it.)
I hesitate to say that I am going to go for broke at my next half marathon. But, given the idea that there could be much more upside potential than I've been realizing, I am ready to give it my best shot.
Really, though, there's probably only one truly reliable prediction when it comes to any PR-attempt: