Welcome to 2021.
It's still a strange world out there - albeit one that many of us are growing increasingly accustomed to. I spent my day today playing teacher to my daughter, Maggie, because her school is closed. In the next room, my wife was working from home. I had a medical check-up using Microsoft Teams.
And, of course, there was a 12 mile run that needed doing.
So how do we set goals this year? With new mutations of the virus causing a faster spread than seen before, and a vaccination program that we hope stops the disease in its tracks ... will we have races? Will we be able to train how we want to?
To approach goal-setting, I'm taking three key points in mind:
- Long-term goals. My running goals cannot be met in one year - virus or no virus. I want to complete all six World Marathon Majors, and continue to build and complete a bucket list of destination marathons.
- Optimism. If races happen, and I'm not ready, that's going to hurt my progress towards my long term goals. So I'm going to prepare as if all my races will go ahead.
- Realism (Contingency). The optimism needs to be tempered. When the Edinburgh Marathon was postponed last year, it was a real blow. I didn't go out for my runs and (more or less) abandoned my training block. As I need things to shoot for, the lack of a contingency plan for race cancellation really got to me.
So, without further ado:
Goal 1: Register for as many World Major Marathons as possible in 2022.
This means the following:
- Running a BQ-10 (3:10) in a spring marathon. Right now, this is the Edinburgh Marathon, at the end of May, but if it is cancelled and there is an opportunity to run another marathon around the same time, I will take it and smash it. Traditionally, a BQ-5 is fast enough, but I figure that deferrals and new runners will make the entry field for 2022 particularly competitive
- Entering the lottery for the Tokyo Marathon. Unfortunately, the standard to avoid the lottery for Tokyo (2:45) is simply too fast for me this spring. I'll be counting on the luck of the draw to get into Tokyo.
- Running a sub-3 in an autumn marathon. Right now, this is the London Marathon, which is scheduled for October 3 this year. As with Edinburgh, if I both need to and am able to move this to a smaller marathon, I will do so. Good for age time for the New York Marathon is 3:05, so this gives me NY qualification with some room.
Currently I have already run two majors - London and Boston - and have a deferred entry for Chicago, which I am planning to use for the 2022 race if the planet seems headed for recovery by late 2021.
I could potentially find myself racing four marathons in 2022 if I reach the two goals within my control, and get lucky with the Tokyo lottery. I've never done more than two in a year.
Insane? Possibly yes, but definitely exciting.
Goal 2: Set PBs at the 5k & Half Marathon distances
My second goal is really an intermediate goal that should be reachable. My 5k and half marathon PB times are soft for a three hour marathon, and soft compared to my 10k. Goal two is to fix this.
(In fact, I don't even have an official 5k PB - I've never run a 5k with chip timing.)
This is totally a sub-goal, to get ready for the goal marathons, and a contingency goal: if ANY racing is going on, there will be many small local races that are between 5k and half marathon distances. Even with uncertainty, we can train these things.
Contingency Goal: Go long.
In the event that either or both marathons are cancelled, and the world is in a state where even small races aren't taking place, I'll push the distance on my would-be-marathon days.
In particular, I will run the Jubilee Greenway, a 60 km loop of London. If BOTH are cancelled, I will attempt the 120 km Capital Ring.
While these won't necessarily help me to reach my immediate goals, which are marathon related, some future bucket race goals include the Comrades Marathon, the Great Wall Marathon, and the Dopey Challenge. All of these require that I learn to push myself beyond my current flat 26.2-mile limit.
And there we have it. 2021. Bring it on.