Day 19: My Running Goals

I’ve talked about running the last few days in a row and I’m reaching the end of my running fixation–I promise. Or, I should say, I’m reaching the end of blathering on about my running fixation. As I divulged yesterday and the day before, I actually love running, so the fixation shall continue unabated, I’ll just move on to other topics on this blog.

Today’s final running topic? Goals.

I Want to Run a Marathon

There, I said it. Someday, I want to run a marathon.

I don’t know if my body is up to it. It’s taken a lot of work just to get to the point where I feel confident heading out for a 7 mile run.

I ran a half marathon back in July of 2012–nearly 8 years ago.

A much thinner Jon Penland who completed a hilly half-marathon in 2:20 back in July 2012.

I was not remotely prepared to run that half marathon. I attempted it despite the fact that my longest run leading up to it was only 5 miles.

If you’re not aware, a half marathon is 13.1 miles long. So the difference between 5 miles and 13.1 is pretty damn significant. While I did finish the race, my lack of preparation meant I struggled badly and end up pretty severely injuring my right calf muscle. It was weeks before I could walk without a limp and a good 4 to 6 months before I was able to run at all again.

That experience should warn off a reasonable person, but alas, I never claimed to be reasonable. Au contraire, I said I love to run, which should have cleared up any lingering doubt you had about my unreasonableness.

How I Plan Hope to Run a Marathon

In my last post, I laid out my rules for running–the rules I follow to try and avoid injury while still running fairly regularly. If I can navigate the process successfully, it’s my hope to follow those rules right up until the point when I can run a marathon without major risk of injury.

At a very high level, my plans look something like this.

  • 2019: Get really comfortable up to a 5 mile distance (check).
  • 2020: Get really comfortable up to a 10 mile distance (getting there, I’m good up to ~7 miles right now).
  • 2021: Get really comfortable up to a 15 mile distance.
  • 2022: Get really comfortable up to a 20 mile distance.
  • 2023: Turn 40 and run a marathon (26.2 miles).

I know, I know, that can hardly be called a master plan.

I also think the process can probably be accelerated. Going from 0 to 5 miles (an ∞% increase) is a bigger change than going from 5 to 10 miles (a 100% increase). Likewise, going from 5 to 10 miles (a 100% increase) is a bigger change than going from 10 to 15 miles (a 50% increase).

I think that at some point I’ll be able to speed up the process a bit. So maybe I’m running a marathon at the end of 2021 or sometime in 2022. However, I don’t think that I can know when I’ll be able to safely accelerate to longer distances until my body lets me know it can handle more than I’m throwing at it. I’d rather plan for this to take a long time and find that I can get there a little sooner than planned, than get overzealous and increase my chance of injury.

Secondary Goals

I know this is vain as hell, but I’d also love to win a local 5k someday.

I don’t run big 5k’s. I run the little local 5k’s with 25-100 runners.

The last 5k I ran was July 2019. I finished in about 24 minutes and I was about 10th across the finish line out of maybe 30 runners.

24 minutes is not fast. However, local 5k’s are generally won by someone running between 18-21 minutes. That’s also really not very fast and I think it’s within reach for me.

I don’t plan to train with the goal of winning a 5k. My hope is that it will happen as a natural byproduct as I slowly push up my mileage.

I Just Want to be Able to Run

In the end, my biggest goal is just to be able to run.

There was a time, not too long ago, that the idea of being able to run even 3 or 4 miles without some sort of major problem seemed like a pipe dream.

I am incredibly pleased that I’ve gotten to the point that I can go for a 30-60 minute run once or twice a week with relatively minor risk of injury. It’s hard to overstate how hard I’ve worked to get to that point and how satisfying it is to be here.

Yes, I do want to run a marathon one day and it’d be fun to be competitive in local 5k races. However, at the end of the day, if it comes down to it and I need to give those goals up to keep my legs and knees healthy, I will gladly give them up and just remain satisfied to be a guy who can run a 5k.

Featured image by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Day 19: My Running Goals”

  1. The good thing about doing a marathon is that you don’t have to do a second one. 😂
    Seriously though its a big hairy goal and you can do it. This was the training program my wife and I followed to do the 2017 New Orleans Rock and Roll Marathon:

    Its really straight forward and pretty easy to follow. Also I really enjoyed the New Orleans marathon and recommend it. We ran through the city and there were tons of great bands. I bonked hard the last 6 miles but still made my goal time of under 5 hours: 04:52:58

    Half marathons are much more fun to train for I think.

    • Training plans like that scare me to death. 🙂 I feel like I need to get a little further down the road before undertaking something like that. It’s the back-to-back-to-back runs that scare me to death. As someone who used to have cronic IT band issues I can’t tell you how badly I don’t want to repeat that misery.

      There will probably come a time when I finally feel like: ok, I’m 6 mos from being ready. At which point, I’ll do something like this, but I’m still not confident enough in my legs’ ability to handle the mileage and also, coronavirus has screwed everything up for the time being.

Leave a Comment