On the March to 42.2km in Ottawa

Are you ready for March? It’s one of the most important months in the training program for the Ottawa Marathon. We’re just over 12 weeks away from race day on May 29, 2016.

As March begins, Sunday runs are about to get very serious with a rapid escalation in distance from the 16-19km runs of the past few weekends to 23km, 26km and beyond. Here’s hoping you’ve been keeping up with your weekday runs so you have a solid foundation to run up that ladder to 30km by the end of the month.

This just might be possible!

Assuming you’ve put in the training miles thus far, March is the month where you start to think that this whole marathon thing might be doable after all. The thought of running 29km (or 30km if you are heading to Hamilton for the Around the Bay Road Race) in a single run may scare you now, but by the end of the month you’ll feel ready, willing and able to run that and more.

poplar plains
Hill repeats start in March. Don’t skip them…they are important.

Seasoned veterans are probably looking forward to the super long Sunday runs. First timers are probably dreading them. Having done many 25km or longer runs in my life, I can tell you that as long as you’ve put in the work in training, you’ll likely find these runs more enjoyable than you might have expected.

Pro tips for Rookies

I’ve been through this many times, but I was a first-timer myself back in March of 2010. Here’s my pro tips as an eight-time marathoner on how marathon rookies should approach March:

  • Slow down on Sunday: these are long training runs and there are no medals for racing them. Take it easy, run them at the conversation pace and enjoy. That includes Around the Bay 30km if you’ve incorporated that race into your training. Take it easy, and remember the real goal is the marathon in May.
  • Figure out your nutrition and routines: these fairly long runs are a chance to experiment with carb-loading, breakfast choices and also with what gels or drinks do and don’t work for you. Better to get a good idea now so you’ll have things figured out for the super long runs in April, and for race day too.
  • Don’t skip the hills: repeats aren’t fun to do, but if you skip out on the Wednesday hill repeats, you won’t build the leg strength and cardio that you’ll need on race day. Who knows? Maybe you’ll actually enjoy the challenge.
  • Get any pains checked out: make friends with a physio if you are feeling any pain or dealing with an injury. Long runs put more stress on your legs and body so if you are already dealing with an injury, all this running in March isn’t going to magically make it better. Go get it checked out now.
  • Stay positive and don’t get discouraged: you’re pushing your body and mind this first time up the training ladder to 29km. It’s supposed to be hard and you will likely be asking yourself how you could possibly go another 13km at the end of your first 29km run. Trust me. By the end of April, you’ll know you can do it.

Keep it rolling

The biggest piece of advice for any runner training Ottawa is that the focus in March is the same thing you’ll focus on during the Ottawa Marathon in May. It’s also the same thing you’ve been doing since January: Just keep on running.

Pull out your training schedule every day and run what it says to run. When you are tired and you don’t want to run, go for a run. When you are 25km into your first ever 29km run and your legs feel dead, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and finish it strong.

The 31 days of March are a fantastic part of the marathon training journey. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself this month both as a runner and as a person. Enjoy!