Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You Gotta Run!

Hello all!

Sorry for not posting for some time. Post season recovery is lazy time for me, then I just fell into the habit when the new season started.

In any case, I've started training again (targeting the ScotiaBank Waterfront Marathon - Toronto), so hope to bring tales of my running journeys to you more frequently.

Where Shall We Run?

OK, my quick topic today is where to run. And more specifically, if kind of know where but want to know how far (and don't have a GPS) then what do you do?

The answer my friends, is Gmap. It's an awesome website that lets you zoom in to pretty much any city in the world and mark a course for you to run, and will tell you the exact distance (metric or imperial) of the route.

Give it a try. It will help you find out the distance of your local route, or perhaps help you plan one when you are traveling.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mississauga 2008 - Photographic Evidence

Some pictures from the race.

My, oh my. I'm running to hard. I should take it easy. Why strain myself so much... :)

The finish line and a big smile. Who doesn't love it when you finally stop running.

Do I look out of shape here? Either way, I needed some food. Mmm, tasty Milestones brunch and a sweet, sweet beer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Results Are In - Mississauga Half Marathon

Today I completed my 9th half marathon and I was pleased with the results. The weather started off great (at 7:30am) with temperatures a bit above 10 degrees, sun shining on us, and very low to no wind.

My coach had given me what I thought could be an aggressive goal - 1:36:30 I saw this a pushing it a bit since I was injured and not training for 5 weeks at the beginning of the season. But, I was able to stay focused, push hard, and beat his expectations with a 1:35:41.

While a decent run in itself, it is more impressive when you compound my silliness. I had played my first practice beach volleyball game of the season the day before (on Saturday), against the recommendation of my coach. His advice was good, as I did strain my right quad which was sore the entire race. I stop to wonder what my time could have been had I not played the day before.

As always, a lesson is learned (again). Don't engage in new activities so close to race day. Take it from me - it makes sense!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Target

A season of some ups and downs, and I have arrived to the edge of race day. My final group training run was good yesterday (except for the cool rain). I felt strong, was able to maintain pace, and didn't feel tired. A good sign.

My coach (Kevin Smith - Marathon Dynamics) gave me the grave news - an aggressive target for my race. :) Not so back down from a challenge, I will approach that line with confidence and meet the challenge head on. Wish me luck...

Target: 21.1km in 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Race Day Approaches

As the race day approaches we can all get butterflies in our bellies and our nerves can be on edge. However, there is no reason for that. There are some simple things to keep in mind a few days before the race that will help you perform at your best.

Pre-Race Day Strategies
  • Carb-loading: Most runners have heard of the need for carb loading. It helps our body stock up on some extra energy that will be ready for us on race day.
    • Eat more carbs 2-3 days before the race. However, this does not mean eat every meal as carbs. A slight increase each day will be good. And don't overdo it at any meal.
  • Hydration: One that most people miss is the hydration. Much like how we need more carbs, a bit more water each day before the race will help us feel good on race day. I would also recommend cutting out pop and lowering caffeine intake a few days before.
  • Sleep: Often time new runners will be really nervous the night before the run and will have trouble sleeping. Don't panic! While rest is important, the sleep you get 2 and 3 nights before the race will be more important that the night before. So for a Sunday race, rest well on Thursday and Friday night for sure. If you sleep well on Saturday night, all the better. But not critical.
  • Alcohol: No, I'm not saying drink DURING a race. Ha ha (wouldn't that be great). I enjoy my beer, but to maintain peak fitness I abstain from any alcohol two weeks before a race. This may be a bit hardcore so one week before may be sufficient.
  • Race Day Rush: OK, technically this happens at the race. But it is important, so pay attention! New runners will often feel the energy at the race line (and believe me, it is intense). The gun will go off and the crowd is off. You will feel a rush of energy and people push forward, and you will feel the power to push hard. STOP. You trained hard and you had (I hope) a race day plan. If your goal was 5:30/km, then ensure you stick with that pace (or slower) for the first few km. If you join the crowd and move that their pace, you will likely be pushing to hard and you will most certainly hit the wall early in the run. Stick with you plan, control the energy, and if you feel strong later in the race, then push harder and most people are slowing down. You will enjoy that feeling more.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mississauga 2008 - The Clock is Ticking

The Mississauga Marathon is almost here (May 11). The final count down is approaching for the half marathon I signed up for. Normally I'm more exuberant about my races, but this time I'm not (at least, not yet).

My season was supposed to be preparing for the Mississauga full, but a snowboarding injury in January sidelined me for five weeks. Besides ruling out a full, it also impacted my level of fitness when I did get back to training. That being said, in the past six weeks I've had great progress and some really good runs.

Taking all of this into account, I am mulling over my target time. My best half is about 1:35, and I don't think I can crack that this time. But I need to set a target, so I have some more pondering to do.

I will let you know how the week goes and I will update you on my results!

Faster than a Speeding Runner - Intervals

So you've run for several months now, doing a light jog 3-4 times a week. Perhaps you've also run a few races and had a lot of fun. Sounds good to most. But I think you may be more like me. You want more. It may be a faster race time. Perhaps really intense workouts. And maybe you just want to look cool. All very good reasons to start Speed Workouts!

Speed workouts are generally designed to make you faster and to improve your running efficiency. There are many forms of speed training. This post will cover one (I'll post some others as time permits).


An interval is where you do a fast, intense run followed by rest. Then repeated many times. Thus the term intervals. Makes sense.

They are a great way to build up your speed over time and can be incorporated into your workout routine. Take note, however, that you should probably only do one speed workout a week. Plus, you want to give yourself a few days rest afterwards to recover (perhaps you can cross train with a low impact sport like swimming or cycling).

Ideally, I like to do my speed work on a track. You can find many schools and universities that have tracks that you can use for free after hours. A typical track is 400 meters in length.

Here is a typical interval session:
  • Warm-up: with any speed workout, you want to do some warm-up running to loosen the muscles. I normally do 4-6 laps around the track.
  • Run: after you are done with the warm-up, get yourself to the starting line (i.e any starting point) and run a fast run for your desired distance. Note that you are not running to exhaustion! You want to run your distance at a fast pace that pushes you, but remembering you will have more repeats to do shortly.
  • Rest: when you complete the first interval, you need to rest. You will likely be tired at this point and will look forward to this. Rest for 2-3 minutes. However, keep walking around to prevent your legs from getting tense.
  • Repeat: Like shampoo instructions, repeat is your next step. The question is how many times do you perform the run/rest interval? That is hard to say, but I do less sets when each run in longer, and more sets when they are shorter. More below.
  • Cool-down: After you've completed all your sets, you want to do an easy job to cool-down your body. I suggest you run as much as you did for your warm-up.
What Distance?

There are various distances you you can run, but here are some typical that I do.
  • 200 meter (half track)
  • 400 meter (full track)
  • 800 meter (2x full track)
  • 1200 meter (3x full track)
  • 1600 meter/1 mile (4x full track)
As the distance increases, you average speed will decrease. Remember to start off the at the right speed as you want a constant speed throughout the run and for each interval.

How Many Intervals?

At the beginning of your training season, you want to start off with fewer repeats, build up over the weeks, and then taper them before your race. Usually I would only do 6-8 weeks of intervals during an 18 week training cycle. I often rotate my weekly intervals as follows: 1600, 1200, 800, 400, then repeat ( 8 weeks total). The number you do can vary, but here is a suggested level for various distances:
  • 1600 meters - 2 - 5 repeats
  • 1200 meters - 3 - 6 repeats
  • 800 meters - 4 - 8 repeats
  • 400 meters - 5 - 9 repeats
Hope this helps you on your road to being a faster runner.

Note: Before you start an exercise program please consult your doctor.