on... Running By Numbers

An outline of race time predictionsI read so many articles and bits of advice saying that you should “run by feel” and “pace yourself with how you are feeling on the day”. This doesn’t work too well for me – as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m more of a “run by numbers” sort.

I like to set a pace prior to the race, and keep an eye on the progress as I go along. This helps me to restrain myself at the start, and know that I’m on target. Question is though, how should I set the pace?
There are two tools that I like to use – the McMillan Running Calculator on the Web, and a Running Calculator app on my phone.
The McMillan Running Calculator is amazing. You feed in the times of two recent races at different distances and it’ll estimate how long it should take for you to complete races of different distances. There’s a big proviso here – you need to have trained for those distances – don’t just rack up for a Marathon based on only running 5K, because your McMillan time isn’t going to work. Equally, if there’s an inordinate amount of hills or a completely flat course, you’re going to need to take that into account too.
Today’s example was based on the excellent Reverse 10 race that I ran last Sunday. Based upon sound recommendation from that voice in my head (Howard) – “you get a really good T-shirt”, I thought I’d give it a go. Preparation was slightly off – I had just run parkrun, so 1 day – though I’d got up to 16K on my Sunday long runs, distance wasn’t a problem, but this was a race, not a long slow run. All I needed was a pace to go out at. 
I went onto the McMillan Running Calculator and tapped in my last 5K – 21:46, my last 10K – 46:16. This gave me an expected time of between 1:15 and 1:17 over 10 miles (between 7:33 and 7:44 per mile). I then used the Running Calculator on my phone to convert into time per km, set my Garmin Virtual Partner (4:45 per km) and off we go. My result was 1:19 (including barking at a fellow runner) - I’m taking that as a success.
Taking another example, an anonymous “non-Lliswerry” friend ran – here are his stats:
18:56 over 5k, 40:19 over 10k. Expected time between 1:03 and 1:07. Adam ran it in 1:07.
So, the point of this week’s Random Thoughts – take a look at what you can do, try a few examples and see how spookily accurate this calculator is. Lodge the information at the back of your mind and use it – you can hit those times! Keep updating the calculator with your progress too, and don’t be afraid to “run by feel” – you may just surprise yourself!
Note: All numbers here are meant to prove a point regarding the Running Calculator, not to try to make out how quick or slow that some people run at. Plenty of Lliswerry co-horts do far quicker times, and I’m fully aware of it. Just need to “keep it real”. While I cannot claim to be as modest as our Miles (he is just so good), I was proud of myself and the whippet on Saturday. We were approached by a lady who asked if we ever completed the run without complete exhaustion. When we said that sometimes we have a little left over, she said “but you guys, you probably run it in under 30 minutes”. We kept quiet and (as we often do) recommended that she joins Lliswerry Runners.