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:
AGREED! "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."ReplyDelete
I finally hit that point with 5K running... just by saying, I know I can do this, I shaved almost 2 minutes off my time this year.
I'm hoping once I get more half races under my belt, I'll see similar improvements there as well. I'm just not 100% comfortable with that distance yet. Well, that, and ... I don't want to poop.
That is AWESOME that you shaved 2 minutes off of your 5K time this year! HUGE CONGRATULATIONS! I think it's really difficult to significantly improve 5K times since there is not much margin for error in a distance of only 3.1 miles. You should be so proud of yourself!Delete
For sure, you'll be a half marathon pro in no time! To this day, I still find it a challenging distance - but I still do like it better than the 5K distance, LOL. And yes - from this point forward, I will consider any race that we don't have, uh, digestive issues to be a big win!!! =D
I find those race calculators to be pretty accurate. That said, I think people (myself included) tend to run shorter distances like 5ks more gutsy/all out. But when the distances get long we tend to get more conservative (i.e. less gutsy). We don't want to "hit the wall" during longer distances. The calculators are a really good gauge of lung fitness but maybe not so much of leg fitness. If your legs aren't used to running long, there can be cramps and aches in a longer race that will slow you down. So, no matter how fit your lungs are, you won't hit the predicted pace.ReplyDelete
I think you hit the nail on the head. When it comes to a 5K, I know that barring some true catastrophe, that I will be able to get to the finish line even if I have to crawl. But when it comes to a half marathon, I worry about being at, say, mile 8 with 5.1 miles left to go and already feeling spent (which actually happened to me at the Chicago 13.1 in June).Delete
You bring up a good question regarding lung versus leg fitness. I actually tend to feel that my lungs can't keep up with my legs, instead of the other way around. But either way, those calculators definitely do not consider all the potential factors that could be involved (weather, course, crowdedness, fueling, hydration, etc.). So in short, there are always plenty of other things that can be blamed, LOL!
Good point. Depending on the runner, the calculators work better predicting your leg fitness or lung fitness. Also, weather does play a factor. I wouldn't be beaten down too bad by a 5k in 75 degree temps. But a marathon run in 75 degree temps would be a long, slow torturous run. So the calculator's 5k prediction would be completely useless for a marathon in that case.Delete
Maybe that is why the race predictors are potentially less accurate the longer the race distance? Any overriding factors like weather will just magnify themselves over longer distances!Delete
Interestingly, my pace predictions using my Mad Dash to Madison 5K time (which currently seems to be my "regular" 5K race pace) are all pretty much dead-on except for my marathon time. Those predictions seem to be about 20 minutes faster than my PR.ReplyDelete
Wow! That's very cool that all of your predictions are spot-on! And actually - I know you had a tough marathon this past year, so maybe this year's marathon isn't the best indicator for you of current performance capability? It's definitely more difficult to analyze the marathons, since most of us have a much smaller sample size to work with!Delete
I also find the predictors to be pretty accurate. Typically (when I'm well trained, which is not the case now) I'm able to run faster than the predictions for 5k but up to 10 minutes slower on marathons. I always blamed lack of endurance for a slower than predicted marathon PR.ReplyDelete
That's great that your race predictors are pretty accurate! Lack of endurance (whether mental or physical) is definitely my biggest challenge at half marathons and longer. But I don't hesitate to blame lots of other things, in addition to endurance, for slower-than-predicted race times. Weather, crowds, and hills are my favorite causes of blame, LOL.Delete
Aren't those predictors interesting? My 5K and HM PR all align, but I can't get the marathon down because I always blow up, and have never been in the right shape for it. It's funny, because it kind of presumes you are going to stay in the shape you are in, which I never do. Wait, maybe "normal" people do?! :PReplyDelete
The predictors seem crazy aggressive for the longer distances! Based on the unscientific survey of my running blogger friends, it seems like the marathon is consistently the outlyer in terms of aggressive predictions. I wonder what the predictors are based on? True ability or reasonableness or experience or some combination of all of the above? Marathoning is so different from 5K-ing so it's so hard to imagine building any kind of reliable correlation between the two!Delete
You never know! My first full was 10 minutes slower than yours and my second was 4:24:54. You could do it! They key is that it does take a lot of work and dedication (physical and mental). I have found that getting betters times isn't always worth all the extra work. That's probably why I PRed so much while my husband was deployed; I needed something to focus on. Now that he's home, my consistency has taken a huge hit. But I don't really care.ReplyDelete
I am still truly blown away by how you were able to knock almost an hour and fifteen minutes off of your marathon time in one fell swoop! And thank you for your confidence in my potential! However, I think your running was consistently at a much stronger level going into your second marathon than mine is these days. You definitely had the focus and the motivation and the drive - and big kudos to you for all that you accomplished!Delete
I think I am in the same boat as you now with having other priorities over running. But it's all good. We run first and foremost for enjoyment!
Pain is the best prediction! Every day can be such a different run, it is really hard to predict it. I hate the idea of short races, but feel I really come on stronger in longer runs.ReplyDelete
Just run for your own sanity!
You are so right about how every day can be such a different run. There are days when I struggle to knock out 5K at a snail's pace, but then other days when I feel like I could keep going forever. Now, if we could only isolate those specific factors that result in bad runs and make sure we take care of them at least on race days...!Delete
And yes - running definitely keeps me sane. At a very fundamental level, I think that's the reason why all of us keep doing it!
As a stats-driven uber-competitive nerd, those projection websites are dangerous to my warped little mind. :) So what do you think of your reigning champions since they appear to have few, if any, weaknesses on paper?ReplyDelete
I hear you on the stats-focus and the competitiveness! Seeing my predictions has seriously made me wonder if I've been shortchanging myself this whole time on distance races. So how did your predictors come out compared to your actuals?!?!?Delete
Regarding the Hawks this year, to be honest I think it will be extremely, extremely difficult for them to repeat as champions. The summer was INSANELY short and I really do think there's a lot to be said about mental hunger. It's so competitive at that level, and the tiniest difference in drive from having just won last year can make all the difference in the world. Having another compressed season this year does not help, either. That being said, I think the Hawks will make a respectable run this year (conference semis or conference finals). However, I am a little nervous about the back-up goalie situation (I'm not sure I trust Khabibulin). I also remain ever concerned about the second-line center debacle that the Hawks can never seem to remedy. Will be interesting to see how things play out!
How about you, what do you think of your Sens for this coming year?