I made that up in the hopes that it makes me sound super smart.
I have decided that realism is a spectrum rather than a point.
I have always asked myself, "What is realistic?" in terms of how fast I can run a particular distance.
If you are running a 12 min pace for a 5k, it's probably not realistic that you are magically going to pump out a 7 minute pace at your next 5k.
I have my paces. I know how fast I can run a long run. It's been a few years since I've run a standalone 5k. (Not exactly, but the 5ks I run in the winter are usually through snow and ice, not really conducive to a fast 5k).
I've always been stuck in this mode of "So what's realistic now? Can I run an 8:00 pace 5k? Is that too fast?" Because....as much as I'd love to believe I can do something, there are some paces that are just not realistic.
EVEN with a favorite quote of mine, in mind, "When you believe it, you can achieve it," there's a line between being realistic or unrealistic.
And of course, I've heard stories of people blasting through a to a PR.
HOW do they do that? HOW? I've been running for over 30 years now. HOW do these PRs happen? You go into a race, particularly a 5k where there isn't a whole lot of time to go too slowly. There's still an aspect of pacing. Pacing at much higher output but still pacing.
And yes, I tend to over-analyze.
And no, I haven't told any of this to Coach. I would prefer that she remains my Coach. On second thought, if I haven't scared her off yet....
Let me step back and 'splain this way.
I had a pre-race prep run today. My goal was to run intervals at my 5k pace. This is ridiculously hard for someone like me who:
1.) Over analyzes everything
2.) Hasn't run a standalone 5k with clear roads since Nov 2012. (That just happens to be the last time I PRd the 5k).
As I was running, I started thinking that there is a lot of space between what is clearly realistic (like me running a 10:00 pace for a 5k) and what is on the very edge of realistic (like me running a sub 8 minute pace for a 5k)--still I consider it realistic, even if it's on the furthest boundaries. (With my most recent PR being in the middle).
Maybe, just maybe the boundaries of the spectrum aren't really boundaries. Maybe they're more like a rainbow, you can see it, but they always seem to be just out of reach.
I realized that in order for me to make sense of this, realistic goals cannot be points on a line. I need to work within a spectrum.
From a 10:00 pace to a sub 8 pace, any one of those paces are realistic for me. This gives me a feeling of success as well. In the past I'd say, "I'll run a 7:00 pace" and if I miss the 7 pace but hit an 8:00 pace, I would have been disappointed only because I didn't hit some randomly selected point on a line.
If I view it as a spectrum, anything within my spectrum is a WIN.
For me, the best part is that I don't have to face my race with a time goal. I know I simply need to put together my best race. My time and pace will fall somewhere in my spectrum.
I guess the easiest way for me to say it is that my goal for my 5k is to chase rainbows.