July 28, 2011

Yasso 800s

Last week I ended up running 94km, a little short of the 100km goal, in five days. I took a rest day to recover from an ART treatment on Tuesday and used the day to research my training a bit more. As mentioned in the previous post, I'm now following a schedule from the book Advanced Marathoning as it holds everything that I had already begun doing in terms of volume and intensity.

Sunday's long run included 19km at marathon race pace. Initially I'd considered adding a 6km run in the afternoon to get to my weekly 100 but I changed my mind once the long morning run was done: it was a solid, solid workout that took a lot of mental energy. Plus, done at the end of three weeks of the biggest weekly running volume I have ever done, I decided that a little 6km (which wasn't on the Advanced Marathoning program anyway) would make little difference to my fitness.

Since I jumped into the Advanced Marathoning program in the middle of week 9, I had to adjust a couple of sessions last week. This week I am swapping the two medium long runs around as well, to accommodate the Squamish 10km race this Sunday. This week is dubbed a Recovery week on the program, totalling 93km.

After a rest day on Monday, standard in this schedule, I ran 14km on Tuesday. My legs could still feel the remnants of Sunday's effort. Wednesday's session called for another 14km, including 6 X 800m at 5km race pace. I used my most recent 10km time (Vancouver Sun Run in April) of 40:09 in Merv's Running Calculator to come up with the 5km time, as I have not raced one since 2008.

(I ran four 5km time trials earlier this year with the Squamish Titans, finishing them between 19:30 and 19:39, well below the sub-19 PB I ran in a 2008 race but based on my 40:09 April 10km time as well as my 3:07 May marathon time,  Merv's calculates my 5km at 19:07, and I didn't want to run the 800s too "slow".)

With Merv's I determined my 800m goal at 3:04, which sounded challenging given my tired legs. I chose to do the repeats on the Don Ross (dirt) running track. I like the routine of churning laps on the track for certain workouts, definitely for 800s, and I also wanted accurate feedback on my times.

First, I ran 7.5km on the beautiful and shaded Ray Peters trail, close to the track. Having done most of the track workouts with the Squamish Titans this year, it felt very lonely to arrive on an empty field. I did a few stretches, mostly to delay the start of the workout, and took a few deep breaths. Marking a start (and finish) point on the track, I got my watch ready and started the first repeat.

Erring on the side of caution, my first lap was 97 seconds - which would give me 3:14, or 10 seconds slower than my goal, if I stayed on the same pace for the second lap, so I picked it up and finished the first 800m in 3:06, so with a second lap of 89 seconds.

The rest was 50 to 90% of the time it takes to run the 800m. I started the second feeling my pace a bit better and finished it in 3:01. Then I ran a 2:59, followed by a 3:01, 3:01 and ... a 3:01. While those 800s took effort, it was what I'd consider a 5km effort feel, definitely not an all-out. I was stoked with my times, and a little surprised since my legs had felt far from fresh.

Earlier this year we did 800m repeats with the Squamish Titans.While I did 10 repeats in that workout, I clearly remember them taking more effort than yesterday's and you can see why I was thrilled with yesterday's times as back then I ran 3:10, 3:11, 3:05, 3:10, 3:06, 3:04, 3:04, 3:04, 3:02 and 2:54.Rest period then was a similar amount of time it took run each repeat, so in my case a little over 3 minutes, more rest than I took yesterday between each.

While Advanced Marathoning doesn't refer to these as Yasso 800s, I couldn't help but think about Bart Yasso who found that the time it takes you in minutes to do 800m repeats often correlates with your marathon time in hours.

Yesterday's session was a great unexpected confidence booster. I hope my legs will save some energy for Sunday's Squamish 10km, which I'll be running for the third time. Today's a recovery day with an easy 10km, while Friday calls for a 24km run at 10 to 20% below marathon goal race pace.

July 21, 2011

Recommended: Advanced Marathoning

After the marathon race pace run on Tuesday morning, I had an ART session at Chief Chiropractic & Sports Injuries Clinic. It was a preventative session and I asked Dr Leah Stadelmann to focus on my lower back and glutes, as those felt very tight. She did a fantastic job of loosening everything (needless to say, I highly recommend her. She's a runner and triathlete, too).

Unfortunately, as I've experienced before, an ART session that targets those areas leaves me feeling shattered for a couple of days. On top of that, Wednesday's alarm rang at 3:30am. I contempated getting my run in but decided against it, and read more of Advanced Marathoning on my Kindle instead.

This book by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, recommended to me by a Sydney-based friend who's a 3:02 marathoner and who I've shared more running miles with than anyone else except Tim, was exactly what I needed. After the past two 100km-plus weeks, the volume felt good to me, as did my key sessions but I was wondering a little about the other sessions, the easy and recovery runs.

The question constantly on my mind is: Am I training and living as well as I can to get the best out of myself? Especially now that I am 41, I feel an urgency to get it right. I don't believe my age puts me on the slippery road to slower times, not yet. But if I want to get faster, I have to do it now.

Don't mistake this sense of urgency for impatience, I am more than willing to put in the time and effort to train. In fact, when I say that I am training for a sub-3:00 marathon, I do not expect to run it this year—the past three years have taught me patience.

I have all the patience in the world to get ready for the sub-3:00—but I don't have the time to waste on training that isn't as good as it should be. And therein lies the key, there are no ironclad guarantees that my training is perfect, you cannot lock in that sub-3:00 performance. You can only gain confidence that you are doing the best training possible for the runner you are today.

I know I am a different runner now than, say, three years ago. It's one of the many points made in Advanced Marathoning that strongly resonate with me and recent decisions I made about my training. They include boosting the volume, as the book says, "[M]any of the beneficial adaptations that improve endurance are related to the total volume of your training."

Another point is the pace and intensity of a marathoner's speed work. "In the long run, so to speak, it's your long runs and tempo runs that have the most relevance to your performance on marathon day, not now often you've churned out a sterling set of half-mile repeats," according to Advanced Marathoning.

After looking at the training schedule offered in the book that suits my weekly mileage, I noticed that the easy and recovery runs are both longer and shorter than I'd tried in the past couple of weeks. The authors also note that at this volume, with this particular schedule peaking at 113km (70 miles) a week, there's no need for splitting runs (at least not often) to reach that mileage.

The plan includes marathon race pace workouts (a key change I decided to make in preparing for the Bellingham Bay Marathon, as I've not done them before any of my other 13 marathons) as well as VO2 max workouts at a pace no faster than 5km race pace (which I like), and has an overall volume that I am already running and would like to stick with. I like it a lot, and am going to follow it.

While you may argue that this throws my run by feel approach out the window, I think it's an extension of the shift I've made in my training in the past months, even the past year. This schedule feels right to me.

This morning I did the medium-long run, 24km, at a pace between 10% and 20% below marathon goal race pace. The first half where I, as advised in the book, stuck closer to the slower pace - in my case 5:15/km - felt very, very comfortable. The second half, closer to 4:50/km, was still comfortable, though naturally less so. Overall, it was an awesome run.

July 20, 2011

Finishing what you start

The last few weeks I've been trying to start on my next book. It's been a hard process, and I cannot seem to decide which one to write. The longer my indecision the more I beat myself up over my seeming lack of productivity.

I believe that one of the problems is that there are several first drafts hanging out on my hard drive. And I wonder if my struggle has something to do with leaving too many projects unfinished, so I have begun working on two of them, while also trying to start a new one. But I'm still in doubt.

Trying to relax, I find myself getting more stressed and second-guessing myself. Or wondering if it is a sign that I need to focus on another one. The most complete, though no less Shitty First Draft (as Anne Lamott calls them in Bird by Bird), is my first attempt at a novel with the working title From My Mother.

A friend I met at the Book Editing and Publishing course I took in 2005 at Macleay College in Sydney read this draft a few months ago and gave me feedback that was both kind and helpful. In the past week Tim also read it, and has encouraged me to spend the time to revise and finish it.

The truth is that I am scared of doing so. I want, no need, to finish it but also worry that tackling the revision will not make it "good enough". I have not done it before, and fear the struggle, a potential failure. Keeping this manuscript as-is is safer, allows me to say that I have written a first draft for a novel that one day will get done.

Today I looked for courage from other writers, reading a large chunck of Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write. She writes, "Self-consciousness comes from an anxiety that you will not impress people." Whether I admit it or not, the bottomline of my reluctance to work at this novel, or any of the other drafts taunting me with their unfinishedness, is concern that the end result won't be good enough.

Ueland, though, reminds us to think about the reasons we're writing by citing from a letter by Vincent van Gogh, explaining "...the moment I read van Gogh's letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love, and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it."

One of the main characters in my first fiction manuscript is based on my grandmother. Her life, her struggle, her survival is what first made want to write a book "one day" more than 15 years ago. I still haven't found, or perhaps not looked hard enough to discover, the best way to show (her) the feeling of love and enthusiasm I have for what she has accomplished against the odds.

I truly hope I have the courage now to tackle the revision of that first draft of my first novel, but perhaps I need more time. It's hard to know sometimes when to be patient and when to give ourselves a kick up our writer's butt.

Author Holly Lisle writes in this post on her website: "Writing fiction is a fire that burns inside of you, and burns you from the inside out. It sears away the lies you tell yourself, it sears away the masks you hide behind, and in the end it refines you the way fire refines gold. What you put into your writing you get back a hundred-fold. Your characters teach you how to live, how to love, sometimes how to say goodbye."

Marathon race pace workout

The dreaded marathon race pace workout of yesterday turned out fine, though (or perhaps because) my Garmin's battery stopped working during the warm-up. Tim wasn't wearing a watch either. We didn't have time to go back home so had the choice of adjusting the workout, or run it by feel.

Given that I'd skipped my marathon race pace workout the previous week, was mentally ready to do it and had Tim for company, I voted to set our pace by feel, and also guesstimate the distance. Tim was happy to oblige. We did a flat-ish out and back course. Without knowing what time we started, we have no idea how long it took.

I did, however, check the distance afterward on the Gmap Pedometer website, as I'd made sure to note the start and turnaround points. We ended up running about 13.3km at what we both believed to be about 4:25/km pace.

Having dreaded this session, which was mostly because I'd done the first one two weeks earlier on a hot day at midday toward the end of a big week of training without giving the session the mental respect it deserved, today I was so much better prepared and felt good in that comfortably uncomfortable way.

Of course I have no way of knowing for sure we ran the correct pace. But we both agreed it felt like we did, so I'll trust our bodies' experience with finding the right speed.

"Though the toil was arduous, they rarely spoke of the discomfort of training or racing in terms of pain; they knew that what gave pain its truly fearful dimension was a certain lack of familiarity. And these were sensations they knew very well." -- from the novel Once A Runner

July 19, 2011

NEW book: Reconnect with Food

Reconnect With Food: Eat Your Way to Triathlon Success is a great new book by nutritionist and elite-amateur triathlete Teresa Rider.

The 76-page paperback offers Rider's educated and no-nonsense approach to nutrition, with plenty of recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are not only easy to prepare but also relatively simple to shop for.

The recipes are aimed at the time-crunched triathlete, so there's no spending hours in the kitchen. Rider is a believer in wholesome and organic foods, and that eating well is crucial to our health and wellbeing.

While geared toward the endurance athlete, this book will benefit anyone interested in broadening their dietary repertoire with new and delicious suggestions. Rider prepares these meals for the athletes attending IMJ Coaching camps in Boulder, Colorado.

Tim and I were part of one in May, and I can assure you that every athlete there would come back for the food and drinks alone. Incidentally the training - guided by Rider, husband and IMJ head coach Scott Jones, as well as IMJ coach Ben Lane - was superb too. 

You can check out Reconnect With Food's table of contents here 

About the book: Passion is a powerful emotion. We all have passions. One of mine happens to be food; where it comes from, how it is grown, the science behind the creation of thousands of different foods, and the health and lifestyle benefits from eating natural wholesome food. This book's aim is to help you develop a better relationship with food and your own diet. Reconnect With Food makes you think about what you eat and how you eat. A nutrient-dense, natural diet will improve your athletic performance and recovery, and quality of life.

About the author: Teresa Rider is an age group world champion at the Ironman and Olympic distances. She holds an Advanced Certificate of Nutritional Sciences and is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Holistic Nutrition. With husband Scott Jones, Teresa owns Boulder-based IMJ Coaching.

(Disclosure: I edited the manuscript and helped Teresa publish it - my decision to do so reflects my belief in the book's value to athletes and anyone interested in improving their nutrition with new tasty habits and ideas.)

Facing tough workouts

It's 7am and I am at my desk drinking my regular morning coffee. Today I'm running 8 to 10 miles at marathon race pace and though I'm reluctant to admit it, the truth is is that I am dreading the effort. My goal pace is 4:22 - 4:25 per kilometer. On paper that's not too hard, as the distance is well short of a half marathon and the pace is a good 7 seconds slower than what I run the 21.1km distance in.

But today is not a race setting, and a good reminder how much better we tend to perform in a competitive environment. It's not only today's effort that scares me but also the possibility that I will not be able to hold the pace, the speed that I am aiming to hold for 42.2km on September 25. I worry that I may not be able to stick with the marathon goal pace for only a third of that distance. I should be able to, based on recent times in training and racing.

Training for a marathon, at any level, is as much about mental strength as it is about physical effort. I need to be strong and aim to do this key session as well as I possibly can today. My body should be rested, after yesterday's day off running. Tim has agreed to run the session with me; it's always helpful if you can do a tough workout with someone else who runs at a similar pace. Don't, of course, if your fitness levels are completely different.

I know this session will be just as hard for Tim, and having him face up to the challenge right there with me will hopefully allow me to tap into the extra energy that most runners feel when sharing a tough session or a race. In the end, though, it will be up to me to find the courage within to do the workout at the pace I choose. 

July 17, 2011

Another record week of mileage

Final mile in Scotiabank Half Marathon
This week I stuck mostly to the training plan I mapped out at the start of the week. The main change I made was to what I had planned to be a key session, the 10-mile run at marathon race pace on Thursday. My body felt tight and tired on Wednesday evening, and I didn't feel ready, mentally or physically, to tackle this tough workout.

Overall, it was an awesome week, most importantly because I'm enjoying getting the mileage up to a volume I have not run before. On Tuesday I did a session of five 1-mile repeats, at 2 minutes rest, and averaged 6:38/km. That session felt comfortable, and I was pleased with it. In the evening I did a trail run with the Squamish Titans, at a very easy pace, covering about 8.5km according to my Garmin.

Wednesday I did had a 17km run that included a big hill in the afternoon. Thursday had a 15km run, including 5km at 4:30/km. Friday was a 10km run in the morning, with six striders at the end. Initially I'd planned to do a 6km run on Friday afternoon as well, but adding up the mileage I saw there was no need so decided to rest my legs for the long run the next day.

I woke to steady rain on Saturday morning, which turned out be nice for running as it was warm. Tim joined me on the session and we did an out-and-back course that is mostly flat. The goal was to stick between 5:00 and 5:30/km pace, with the first half closer to the latter and the second half closer to the former.

With the thick cloud cover, my Garmin needed time to get a signal. By the time it found one we'd been running for six minutes, so I think it is safe to say we missed a kilometre there. We did a course that allowed Tim to bow out about 5km early, as he hasn't been running as much as I have.

Running at a similar pace, it was great to settle into a comfortable rhythm and my legs felt great. On the way home, after turning around at the halfway mark, we lifted the pace slightly and found we stayed reasonably comfortably around 5:00/km. As Tim wisely decided to stop at 25km, I maintained the pace for the final 5km. A solid session.

In the afternoon, Tim, doggy Luka and I went for an easy 7km recovery jog. That brought my mileage for six days to 100km (including Monday as the rest day). Today I am meeting a friend for an easy 45-minute trail run around beautful Alice Lake, and I'll probably be keen to round up the volume for the week to 110km.

Next week I'll aim to run a similar volume, before then taking a rest week, both keeping in mind three consecutive weeks of more mileage than ever, as well as a mini-taper for the Squamish 10km on July 31.

July 15, 2011

Six minutes to become a runner

If you're looking for a book that will help you start running in a sustainable way, look no further than Alberto Salazar's Guide to Running. Don't expect any shortcuts on the road to developing yourself into a runner.

Salazar, one of the world's most famous marathoners, advocates a year-long process that will help you run 20 minutes. No, that's not a typo; in Chapter 2, Salazar discusses his one-year training program for building up to 20-minute workouts.

While that may seem funny coming from Salazar, who ran 2:08:13 in the New York marathon in 1981 and was known for his high mileage, he writes, "Not that I'm the poster child for practicing what I am now preaching. In my racing days, I measured 'fitness' by the number of miles I logged a week, and I felt 'unfit' if it was less than 100 to 110. To some degree, that's necessary to perform at the elite level. But my career, as long as it was, might have lasted longer if I had been less driven about logging mileage for the sake of mileage."  

Salazar explains that it's important for beginners to slowly build up to running "because you need to train two different bodily systems; cardiovascular and musculoskeletal. The two systems progress at different rates, with different training needs. Your cardiovascular system (and your muscles) progress rapidly, but bones, tendons, and ligaments need time to adjust to the jarring impact of sustained running and shouldn't be subjected to lenghty outings until you're ready - a process that takes several months."  

He recommends that you begin with six-minute workouts, of which you can spend a total of three minutes running by alternating minutes of walking and slow running. "That will probably feel so easy you'll almost think it's a waste of time, and you'll be tempted to leap ahead to running 10, 12, or even 15 minutes an outing. Remember, that's the fast track to injury. Remind yourself that even if your heart, lungs, and muscles can handle the sterss, your bones and tendons probably can't; if you keep it up, something will eventually break down."

Salazar recommends a couple of weeks of these six-minute outings (on at least 3 but no more than 5 days per week). Then you can try adding 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking, for a total of 8 minutes a workout - "an increment that should still feel absurdly easy."

Alberto Salazar's Guide to Running : The Revolutionary Program That Revitalized a ChampionSalazar's book provides full schedules and is easy to read. If you're thinking of taking up running to make it a manageable, fun and sustainably healthy part of your lifestyle, please pick up a copy of this book.

July 12, 2011

Mile repeats: a great way to start the day

After enjoying a day off yesterday, Tim and I teamed up for a set of five 1-mile repeats this morning. We jogged about 2km from our house to a mostly-flat dirt road. Here we took a mark and used my Garmin to measure a mile, alternating striders and walking until we got there.

Tim did the Squamish Triathlon, an Olympic distance event, on Sunday, the same race in which I did the 10km run in a relay team. My legs felt rested following a day off running, more so than Tim's I think after his 2hr 19 effort.

My plan was to aim for mile repeats at 20 seconds faster than my target marathon race pace, targetting 6:40 to 6:45 per mile today. It was great to share the workout with Tim, especially as we run a similar pace.

Finding the right pace on the first repeat of any speed session is always interesting. Today, I felt good and relaxed from the start and was happy to see 6:39 for the first mile. We took 2 minutes rest, and began the next.

This pace, certainly in the first three repeats, allows for a comfortable focused mindset that made me think of the 'pleasant half conscious neutral state' John L. Parker Jr. refers to in his novel Once A Runner, a book I finished last night.

("That morning Denton was not talkative so Cassidy locked into a steady pace, allowing his mind to slip into the pleasant half conscious neutral state that all runners develop; he was soon lost in the cool gray isolation of the fog." - Once A Runner)

I absolutely love these types of workouts, quality efforts that are challenging near the end but in which you feel in complete control. With my goal marathon not until the third week of September, there's plenty of time left for the hard intervals that leave you gasping for air, wondering how you will do the next one without slowing down to ease the discomfort, the ones that hurt plain and simple - mentally almost more than physically - from the start until the end.

It's taken me years of training, guided by expert coaches, to trust that I now know what type of training works best for me, and I'm willing to make adjustments along the way. It's a more relaxed approach to training as I am more serious about it than ever. Enjoyment is key, even though that may sound like a contradiction too as you try to push your body into a place it hasn't been before.

The more you learn, the less you know.

As James Fixx writes in The Complete Book of Running (1977), "Which training scheme is best for you? The only sure way to find out is by experimenting. If you're a highly disciplined person and always accomplish what you set out to do, interval training may work for you. If you like to hang loose, fartlek or LSD [long, slow distance] may suit you best. Some people do one kind of training during part of the year, another kind during the rest. After a while as you learn to read your body, and as you come to trust your readings, you'll come to know what's best for it."

The average pace for my mile repeats this morning was 6:38/mile (4:07/km), which made me happy especially since the workout felt relatively easy. Including warmup, cooldown and the striders, the first 12km of my week are done. Tonight I'll meet up with the local tri group for a trail run of between 60 and 90 minutes.

July 11, 2011

One 100km done, on to the next

Sunday's 10km effort as part of a relay team in the superbly organized Squamish Triathlon brought my volume for last week to a solid 100km. It's the most I've run in any week ever and part of my experiment to see if running more can help me run faster.

This past week was low on speed work. Monday I did 18km in the am and 11km pm, both at about 5:00/km pace. Tuesday evening I covered 12km; warm-up, drills, pickups, then a 5 x 2min at 70% w/3min rest, followed by a 5km easy.

Wednesday I ran 10km in the morning and 6km in the afternoon, while Thursday held another 10km in the morning. Friday afternoon I did 16km, followed by 8km including 12x30sec fast/30 sec easy on Saturday morning.

Squamish Tri - Photo: Jeannine Bradshaw
This brought the six-day total to 90km, so I was pleased to run Sunday's 10km in 44:23 or 4:21/km. This is not a fast course, and I covered it 69 seconds faster than the previous year.

(Incidentally, the tri was a superb day with so many great efforts and results by friends from the Squamish Titans. My team, sponsored by AARM Dental for the second year in a row, had a good day too, with a solid swim by sponsor Nancy and a great bike by Toby).

It was not that hard to get to a 100km last week, and I'm planning to do it again this week, perhaps take it to 110-ish. The challenge is in sustaining high volume training, as I remember well from my Ironman triathlon days.

The hardest part was to stick with the program in the final six to four weeks before the goal race, when the mind and body were tired from the months of training already completed and screaming for a break.

As John L. Parker Jr. writes in his novel Once A Runner, "Denton called it 'breaking down,' although Cassidy preferred the nomenclature of certain Caribbean quasi-religious groups; walking death was much closer to it. Quite a bit more, really, than the simple exhaustion of a single difficult workout, breaking down was a cumulative physical morbidity that usually built up over several weeks and left the runner struggling to recover from one session to the next."

"The toll on the runner--and those around him--was high, psychologically as well as physically... He was a thoroughly unpleasant person. But then his life was most certainly focused on The Task. And hadn't he decided at one time that he would do whatever was necessary to become ... whatever he would become?"

"From the crucible of such inner turmoil come the various metals, soft and brittle, flawed or pure, precious or common, that determine the good runners, the great runners, and perhaps the former runners. For those who cannot deal with (or evade) the consequences of their singular objective will simply fade away from it all and go on to less arduous pursuits."

Now, a 100km week is hardly the volume that brought on the breakdown of Once A Runner's protagonist, miler Quenton Cassidy, so I should be OK with a second 100km this week. I'm starting it with an easy day, either a 6km recovery jog in the afternoon, or--gulp-- day off.

Tomorrow morning will bring 5 x 1-mile repeats at 6:40-6:45/mile pace and a trail run with the Squamish Titans in the evening. Wednesday I'm planning a 15km easy, followed by a 10-miler at marathon race pace on Thursday morning. Friday has 10km in the morning, with a 6km in the afternoon.

Saturday has 2hrs 40 in the morning, hopefully good for about 30km, followed by an easy 6km in the afternoon. Sunday I'll probably do a 10km recovery run, which should add up to about 116km for the week.

July 06, 2011


It seems to be an annual occurrence for me, and I sure hope my fall on the trail last night means that there won't be another one until next summer. It was the final Tuesday Runs session of a three-month training block geared towards the Squamish Triathlon held this Sunday.

After a 2.2km warm-up run and a few stretches, we did drills, followed by pick-ups. Then we headed out on the Squamish Tri course, a reasonably flat trail though you have to pay attention to your footing in certain parts, for five 2-minute efforts, followed by 3-minute recover jogs.

It was a short pre-race session, perfect for those getting ready to tri. I must have accidentally stopped the Garmin during our stretching, so I didn't get the exact distance but knew it was well short of the 12km I had planned for today since one loop is about 5km. I wanted to run a little more. Three others were keen on another lap, and we headed out.

As we chatted, I suddenly tripped and hit the dirt. Grrr, how annoying. Luckily there were only minor scratches except for a larger wound on the palm of my right hand (inconvenient since I am painting the exterior of our house).

Last year I had what seems to be my annual faceplant after about three hours of running in the 50-mile STORMY. Like last night, there was nothing in particular to trip over but I did. Two years ago I fell during a speed session - that was a nasty spill in the dirt of Loggers Lane before it was resurfaced. Both knees and palm of my hands were a dirty bloody mess.

So, I consider myself lucky after last night. I think I'll be able to run the 15km as planned today. And I'm looking forward to the Active Release Technique treatment this afternoon - it's been a few months since the previous one, so there's plenty to work on.

July 05, 2011

Aiming for the 100km week

Spending Sunday morning at the Vancouver half Ironman to cheer on Tim (see his race report here), I opted to do my long run the next day, split over two sessions. After the first four hours of the day were taken up by the struggle involved in starting my next book, I headed out for the first part and, mentioned in the previous post, ran a little over 18km at a comfortable 5:05/km average pace.

I ran on the road, out and back, enjoyed the tunes on my iPod following the playlist for last year's Haney to Harrison 100km, and felt simply fantastic. In the past few days I've thought a lot about the need to be more focused if I want to get closer to the 3:00 marathon mark, especially by paying attention to the details.

Among those details will be training volume, as I am experimenting with the running mileage my body can handle after more than a decade of training very consistently. Having focused on running for the past six years, and the marathon distance in particular, I've been experienced, careful and fortunate enough to remain injury-free, in large part because of the excellent guidance of a coach.

Now, as I've gathered the confidence to set my own training schedule, with a renewed drive to break the three-year marathon PB drought, I'm keen to push the boundaries. Recently reading the books of volume-focused runners such as Joan Benoit's Running Tide who says that mileage is her safety blanket, I sense a welcome return of obsession, one that allows for great focus in pursuing a goal.

Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr., which I'm reading now, will no doubt add fuel to my Trial of Miles: Miles Trials fire. (Incidentally, at page 61 now, I've noticed that the thought, "Hmm the mile sounds interesting" has already crossed my mind more than once. Perhaps something to try in 2012?)

Training as a triathlete with a coach who believed (and still does) in high mileage from 2001 until 2005, I remember the physical and mental excitement that comes with aiming for volume - tempered only by the fatigue that follows.

Triathlete Tim, who trained with the same coach then, described those training days in his race report, "The crazy weekend sessions which would include a 100km/120km easy spin on a Saturday and then a 150km or longer spin followed immediately by a 20-30km run with tempo sets on both the bike and run."

Now that I'm embarking on the Trial of Miles as a runner for the first time, I'm relishing the excitement and exhilaration I feel about my training, and am bracing myself for the resulting tiredness, too.

On Sunday evening I mapped out this week: It started with yesterday's 2 1/2 hour session, split in a morning and evening workout, taking care of 29km.

Today I'm doing the Tuesday Runs session with the Squamish Titans, which should take care of 12km. (If not, I'll make sure I do).

For Wednesday, I'm planning a 15km. On Thursday, I'll do 10km in the morning, followed by a 6km in the afternoon, and repeat the same on Friday. That makes for 90km, allow for rest on Saturday, before rounding it up to 100km for the week by racing the run leg of the Squamish Triathlon in AARM Dental's Team Clean on Sunday.

If the week goes as planned, it will be my biggest running week ever. Bring on those miles.

July 04, 2011


A week ago I got to pick up my birthday present: a Garmin 305. A key reason I wanted a GPS watch was for the race pace workouts I'm planning to do in preparation for the Bellingham Bay Marathon.

Upping the weekly volume is another key change I'm making to my training, so it's very helpful to be able to track distance. So far I'd focused on running for time, rather than distance (except in some speed workouts on the track or on a 'measured' stretch) and checked approximate distance using gmap-pedometer.com/ if I was curious.

Also, Boulder-based IMJ Coaching's Scott Jones recently recommended I should start aiming for distance, instead of time, in my training, advice that I was ready to hear and follow.

The Garmin 305 appealed to me particularly because of:
- positive feedback and reviews
- the price point.

I bought mine at the MEC - $155 plus tax. This includes the heart rate strap, charger etc.

The battery life of 10 hours is plenty for a marathon runner. (The salesperson who helped me at the MEC checked, saying "I see that you are an ultrarunner, pointing to my T-shirt with A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km,  as the 310 models have up to 20 hours of juice.)

While the 305 model looks, OK is, bulky, it fits my wrist well and is a lot lighter than it looks. Having worn it five times in training now, I find it just as comfortable as my Polor watch which I wear all the time.

I am slowly getting to know the Garmin. So far so good. I love knowing that I ran a total of 18.3km today at an average pace of 5:05/km.

On Saturday, my main workout was 11.2km (7 miles) at race pace. It's fantastic have a guide on the pace you're running (I ended up with an average 4:28/km). Having said that, focused on keeping to a narrow range of pace, I checked my watch often and found the pace updates change far more than I considered possible, jumping from, say, 4:07/km to 5:05/km, back to 4:17/km, etc.

No doubt, I have plenty to get used to and learn. For now, it's a great tool that is already re-inspiring my training!