Contributed by Jeff Henderson - MIT Head Coach
At the beginning of an training season you likely set goals for yourself. Hopefully your goals are meaningful, attainable and measurable. If not, chances are you haven't stuck to them. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that if you are reading this you have probably stuck towards reaching your resolutions and are still pushing on towards your goals for your races.
Whenever you set goals of any type it is important that you follow up and evaluate your progress. For long term goals, it can be beneficial to check your progress quarterly. When looking at training goals it is helpful to assess your progress a couple times throughout your training. Evaluating your goals not only helps to keep you focused, but can be extremely valuable towards adjusting your plans to get you to your goal.
The midpoint of your training season is the perfect time to look at how far you've come and make any necessary adjustments in time for your race. Ask yourself a few questions:
Now take your answers to these questions and ask yourself if you are on track for your goals. If yes, great! Are you right on schedule? Or, are you way ahead. Perhaps your goal was not quite enough of a challenge for you. Take what you've learned about yourself thus far so you can continue to make new challenges for yourself for the next season of training.
If you feel as though you may be a bit behind your goals. Take a look at your entire season of training. How many workouts have you missed? If you don't know the best thing you can do for the future is to start a training log. What pace are you working out at? Are you going too fast for your long runs? This is probably the most common occurrence in marathon training. Long workouts should be done roughly a minute or so slower than your goal pace. If you're doing race pace every weekend you may be feeling run down, or you may have skipped a lot of your weekday workouts as a result of overtraining.
Still worried that you're not ready?! This is an extremely common feeling. Trust that your training has prepared you. Even if you have missed several workouts along the way it is very likely that your fitness level is head and shoulders above where you were at the beginning of the season. Consistency and positive thinking goes a long way. Keep logging your miles. Trust that you body is capable of doing much more that you could ever imagine possible.
If you haven't yet gotten out to do a simulation race I highly recommend doing so. After all, we have several coming up in the next few weeks! This can help reduce the anxiety you may encounter on race day. It also serves as a great opportunity to test out your race day routine, apparel and recovery plans.
Whether you are on track for your goals or slightly off pace think about your strengths and weaknesses to determine what you can do to improve next season. Remember, when making new goals they should be meaningful, measurable and attainable.