Nine Weeks to Go

It’s just 63 days until the 2018 BMO Vancouver Marathon now and the training continues to go well.

This week was a step-back week in my training program. That means that rather than continuing to build on the mileage for the long Sunday run, this week featured a shorter run than the last few.

With just 19km on the schedule, these step-back weeks provide a chance to rest up and recover a bit before the next push that will take me into the 29km and 32km runs.

I usually work in a full week of easier runs on step-back weeks. I took it a bit slower on Tuesday, still ran the hills on Wednesday and then ran just some real steady pace miles on Thursday and Saturday.

The run today wasn’t easy as the route included Mt. Pleasant which is a bit of a grinder of a hill. With an overall average pace of 5:35/km, this was one of my slowest Sunday runs so far.

Week Six – Here Come the Miles!

I missed the weekly training update last week, but I didn’t miss any of the training. I’ve run back to back Sunday runs over the half marathon distance and we’re heading into the rapid escalation of weekly mileage.

That first in-training half marathon of the year went well, with a nice negative split (mostly due to some nasty weather). The front half was run fairly easy, but after the turn around, the winds were in our face and it was starting to freezing drizzle so I dropped the hammer and ran the back half at race pace.

Tuesday was another indoor run, and the pace was good and fairly easy. I ran the usual 6km at an average pace of 4:26/km. These tempo runs continue to get easier as the training builds in and my fitness comes back.

Hills!

Wednesday marked the start of the hill training portion of the schedule and that meant a bit of a step back in the Wednesday distance from 10km down to about half that. The good news? It was mild and an early finish to work allowed for four times up and down Victoria Park before dinner.

Thursday was back to the treadmill at Variety Village with a steady 8km run. The pace was back around the 5:25/km range which is where I’ve been trying to keep my non-tempo runs.

ebrc-w6Saturday was a family affair with Ginny on the treadmill to my right while Mackenzie put in a few kilometres on the treadmill to my left. In the end, it was another 6km at a fairly easy pace of about 5:20/km.

Another 20+km Sunday

That brings me to Sunday, with a 23km on the schedule. Ray mapped out a nice west-east route that got us a good way out to the west end. It was nice to get out to Keele and St. Clair; it’s cool to run out to what seems like a long way from the start and makes for a pretty nice tour of Toronto.

I ran well, keeping the pace slow again, although the overall pace is starting to creep up a bit. I need to slow it back down to the 5:30 or even 5:40/km as we get into these big distance runs.

200 for February…and sloooow down

Looking at the schedule ahead, I need to put in all the runs and keep my Wednesday mileage up close to 8km for the next two weeks to ensure I top 200km for February. One of my goals in training is to get over that 200km monthly total for four months leading up to race day in May. The math says it’s a done deal, even with a short 28 day month.

Next week features a 26km Sunday run and that brings some new challenges. I feel confident in my ability to run the distance – I could have easily run a few more kilometres on Sunday’s 23.6km run. I need to continue to pay attention to pacing and ensure that I’m running smart with fast runs on Tuesday, good hill training on Wednesday and then easier runs on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Week Four – Slow Down, Here We Go!

One more week with a 16km Sunday run, and then it’s 19km, 23km and 26km through the month of February.

That big-time ramp up at around week six has killed the dreams of many who take on the challenge of training for a marathon. This is the time when the going gets tough. The choice? Either get going, or…not.

I’ve spent the last eight weeks building a very good foundation on which to build in the next phase. Heading into the house building phase that awaits in February is actually not something I dread. Rather, because I know I’ll be building on that solid foundation of fitness and strength, it’s actually exciting to think about the big Sunday runs to come.

But as the mileage ramps up quickly on Sunday, I also need to slow down to ensure that I can avoid injury and build smart. That started this week with a focus on paying attention to running the right pace on my various runs.

Four Good Runs

Tuesday is tempo day, and that’s my chance to run a bit faster and push things a little bit. It’s only a 6km run, so that translates to a little less than 30 minutes total for me. I ran it in 28:18 this week and that was still a fairly conservative tempo pace. I might look at just running 30 minutes on Tuesdays rather than running the usual 6km distance.

Wednesday is also a chance to run faster, but over a longer distance (and therefore, more time). A 47:17 this week showed the progress I’ve made in building strength and fitness. Keeping things reasonable through the non-tempo runs, and not pushing things too hard on Tuesday will make these Wednesday 10km runs better.

On Thursday, I eased the pace back and ran 8km in just over 42 minutes. That’s not slow, but it’s certainly an easier pace for me than the tempo runs. It’s a bit tough mentally to run that slower pace, but I know that the payoff comes on Sunday when I’ll have more strength and endurance, with less fatigue.

Saturday is another 6km run on my training schedule and it’s super tempting to run this one fast as well. But I worked in some hills and kept the pace easy, averaging 5:20/km for 32:05.

Sunday Runday with EBRC

That brings me to Sunday. It was another run with the Eastbound Run Crew (EBRC). Things are really coming together at EBRC with the Sunday runs from The Lab. We have a good group with a lot of experienced runners, many of them long time friends. I stepped back to the 5:30/km pace group today and we did really well.

I ran up front, setting the pace for much of the run. I used page two of my Garmin which omits the time screen in favour of a realtime pace as the main metric. Keeping the pace around 5:30-5:40/km was a bit of a challenge at times, but the overall average pace for the run was right on the money: 5:30/km.

The great news was that 18.5km felt pretty easy. It’s been a long time since I’ve run that far, and while the schedule called for 16km again this week, we’re adding on a bit since most of the group has been to 42.2km multiple times.

200km Month

January comes to an end on Wednesday and I’ll finish up the month at around 205km. Running 200km a month is a pretty big deal for me. I’ve written about this before, but not too many years ago, I wouldn’t hit 200km in a month until March. Thanks to running a higher mileage program, and mostly thanks to running five times a week, these 200km months come earlier in the year for me now.

Onwards to the next phase. 98 days to go.

Week Three – Better Weather, Longer Runs

Another week in the books and this one didn’t involve running with every bit of cold weather gear I own just to stay warm.

Things improved nicely in the weather department over the last couple of days. I hit the treadmill again for the majority of the runs thanks to some school meetings and other life things that prevented any outdoor weekday runs.

Tuesday’s tempo was tough. I had to get up and run this one at 6am and the shorter rest meant my legs were still fatigued from Sunday. I had a bit of a harder time holding the pace compared to usual. But I did manage a good, fairly fast 6km.

It was back to the usual evening run on Wednesday with a reasonably quick 10km on the treadmill. This one was tough to start, but I used some visualization techniques and pulled it together for a strong finish.

Thursday’s 8km was your standard 5 mile run with a hockey game on the TV to help pass the time. Saturday was another early run so we could head to the Rogers Centre and meet Josh Donaldson and George Bell at Winterfest. Suffice to say, it was worth it to get up early and put in a 6km.

Sunday Long Run Day!

That brings me to Sunday. Miguel was out running the MEC 10km race, so it was Heather and me with special guest Michael Liberzon who runs X3 where the EBRC runs on Sunday. Despite his plan to “run a little slower” and our plan to “run a little slower”, we ran the usual pace and finished with some really fast kilometres at the end.

The route was lovely, with a trip out to Dufferin and King, then up to College, over to Ossington and back to the east end via Harbord, Wellesley and Sumach. Running from the east end is nice. Less downtown to run through and fewer lights to chop up the rhythm.

Ahead of Schedule

In theory, I should still be running 13km long runs on Sundays so the fact I’m running more like 17km means I am nicely ahead of pace. If I keep things up here and run the schedule through the end of the month, I’ll finish up over 200km for January. I haven’t run a 200km month since April, 2017.

My Fitness Score on Strava is now at 51, which is a few points ahead of where I was at last year at this point. I’m feeling like things are going well, although it’s early in training with 15 weeks to go until race day!

Week Two – A Ride on the Weather Rollercoaster

Another week of not great weather for running in Toronto, including a return to the frigid cold after a couple of days of warmer weather.

This was an odd one, even by Toronto winter standards. We had freezing cold, snow, freezing rain and almost spring-like temperatures. And that was just one one day!

More Indoor Running

I didn’t get outside to run during the week, although it was warmer than usual. Friends were out in shorts on Thursday, but by the time I had a chance to run the conditions weren’t safe. It was dark and rainy which is deadly for pedestrian vs. car collisions. There were over a dozen people struck over the course of the evening, which is why I stuck to the treadmill.

Schedule-wise, I got all my runs done again this week, including a really fast tempo effort on Tuesday. I paid the price for that run throughout the rest of the week as my legs were feeling tired even today. Lesson learned (again).

Eastbound Run Crew Again

Sunday’s long run was in the cold again with temperatures around -16ΒΊC at the beginning. It was way less windy compared to last week, and with the sun out it was actually quite pleasant. The 16.4kms clicked off fairly quickly.

The training plan only calls for 13km runs at this point, but I’m happy to run a bit ahead here as the crew at Eastbound is running a slightly higher mileage option in their training.

The plan for this week is to rest a bit and ease back on the pace on Tuesday and Wednesday. Next week’s Sunday run is 17km, so we’re starting to creep that mileage up closer to 50km for the week.

Week One is Done

The first week of training is done, and things are going well. Seventeen weeks today, I should have a fifth BMO Vancouver Marathon medal in my collection.

Today the schedule called for a 13km long run, but I ended up running just over 16.5km with the gang from the Eastbound Run Crew (EBRC). They usually only run on Monday, but they’re starting up a new Sunday long run routine that works well with my schedule.

The Crew is made up of a bunch of people who used to run out of Commerce Court Running Room, so it’s a lot of familiar faces. It was a running reunion for me, really. My long-time running buddy Nicole was there as well, and while she’s not quite as fast as she used to be, it was nice to chat and see her face both pre- and post-run.

I’m planning to run with them on Sunday morning through until race day and here’s hoping I can get out on a few Monday evenings too.

Week One Stats

Training-wise, I managed 47km this week and got all five of my runs in. The vast majority were indoors on the treadmill, with the 10km Wednesday run on the indoor track. Tuesday and Wednesday’s pace and effort were both great. Thursday was decent enough, but I could definitely feel some tiredness.

As for today, it was about -16ΒΊC at 9am this morning when we set out on our long run. I dressed well for the cold, but it was still cold on the face. Handwarmers in the gloves really helped out with the cold hands.

The good news is that the weather is finally warming up and we’re getting out of the frigid arctic pattern that has gripped Toronto for about three weeks now. Maybe I’ll be able to get outside a couple of days this week.

My Strava fitness score is up to 47 now and climbing steadily. I’m feeling good about where I’m at and looking forward to the long runs ahead.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

2017 is almost a memory, and that means many runners (myself included) are taking a look back at the year in running. It’s always interesting to write up one of these, and to look back at last year’s post.

I had high hopes for this year in terms of mileage. My usual goal of running the year number in kilometres was set and I was on pace to make that number again…until March.

Mild Winter

The winter was a mild one and that made training a bit easier than usual. I had a good thing going in the first couple of months of the year, including the start of hill training. With 184km and 187km in January and February respectively, the miles were stacking up nicely heading into the meat of the marathon training program in March and April.

We extended our usual March Break vacation with a few days in Florida in addition to the usual week in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHI). I was looking forward to getting a couple of long runs done in the warmth of the US south.

My first long run on HHI featured a bad fall at 14km while running 29km. I finished the run with things getting tighter and tighter around my ribcage. The next morning it was clear I’d done some damage and running was out of the question for the rest of the week at least.

When we got back to Toronto, I headed to the doctor and was told I probably had a couple of broken ribs.

Sore Ribs, Don’t Care

Call me stubborn…I wasn’t about to let this get in the way of my Vancouver plans. Thanks to some great work by Adriana at Athlete’s Care in Liberty Village, I was back running again just 16 days later.

It hurt like heck and it was slow going, but I was running again. The BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 7, 2017 would be a tough one, but I was determined to be standing on the start line ready to run.

I gradually, but fairly quickly ramped things back up and got in a couple of 30km runs that were confidence boosters before I made the trek out west.

Race day in Vancouver was perfect, and my training was adequate…for about a 30km. When I hit the Seawall, the legs said they were done and while I did a fair bit of walking over the last 10km, I still came in with a decent 4:04:13 time for my eleventh marathon.

Easy Summer

After that, it was time to rest a bit and take it easy over the summer. I tried to keep up some amount of regular running, but without a fall race on the schedule, it was tough to stay motivated. In 2016 I coached the marathon clinic at the Canary District Running Room and ran two marathons that year (spring and fall). I resolved to not to that anymore so I didn’t have a fall marathon on the schedule.

A Fall Half

To stay in the game, I signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in October and got to work again in September with some more regular training. Race day was hot (again) and I ran sub-1:50 which was good enough for me on that day.

It wasn’t long after that Ginny decided we should both do the trip to Vancouver in 2018 to run the spring races. Nothing gets me back into a regular routine better than having a RUNVAN countdown on my Garmin.

Mid-November was the start of pre-season training and I rolled back into running five days a week heading to the official start of the 18 week BMO Vancouver Marathon training schedule on December 31st.

Assuming I run the schedule in the next couple of days, here’s how 2017 will end up:

Stats:

  • Runs: 196
  • Mileage: 1,683km
  • Hours: 145

Races:

  • BMO Vancouver Marathon: 4:04:00 (Strava)
  • Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon: 1:49:53 (Strava)