Finding Answers on the Long Run

No matter the question, running has the answer.

I often underestimate myself. It’s probably related to the fact that I’m a pessimist (or maybe it’s the root cause?).

When I get in certain situations, self doubt floods in and I start to question my abilities.

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Early morning runs

Since I started running in 2008, I’ve noticed that the simple act of running has an uncanny ability to offer up the answers to life’s many questions.

I embarked on a journey of craziness over the summer. I took a new job that I wasn’t sure I could do. Around the same time I hatched a secret plan to run a marathon in the fall that I wasn’t sure I could run.

The marathon plan was there to remind me that I could do far more than I thought I was capable of. Turns out that I could go from almost no running to a full marathon training schedule in two months. And I could ramp up to a 32km long run by Thanksgiving.

I know now that I am able to run a marathon near my usual race pace on November 3.

At work, I realized that I could learn the role of the product manager. I discovered that I could understand the needs of the customer and direct the development process.

I know now that I am able to make decisions and drive the business forward.

As usual, I looked to running for help. And as usual, I found it on the long run.

Two Weeks to Hamilton

Go watch a marathon and you’ll want to run one.

I love standing at the side of the road, watching runners stream by on their way to a marathon finish. Some are smiling and having the time of their lives, others are struggling and battling to keep going. Most are somewhere in between.

But even more than standing on the side of the road, I love being out on the road running 42.2km myself. The crowds cheering me on, the mind games I’m playing with myself to keep moving. And the feeling I get in the last couple of kilometres when I know I’ll make it to the finish and claim my medal.

I ran my own personal half marathon early this morning so I could go down and cheer my friends in their race. It was dark when I left the house for 21.1km. Really dark.

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Early morning run

It was just me and the run—just the way I like it sometimes. I didn’t look at the watch, and I didn’t worry about pace. I just ran comfortably.

Along Lakeshore Boulevard, crews were putting up the last few barricades and volunteers were setting up the tables for the water stations.

I ran the marathon route from kilometre 25 through 29 and just enjoyed the memories of last year when I ran my best ever marathon on that same course.

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As I later watched the stream of runners pass by, I thought about how glad I was to be running the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon in two weeks. It’s going to be a tough run thanks to a rough summer with not enough training.

But regardless of the expression on my face at the end of the race, I know I’ll be smiling inside.

368 Days and Counting

It’s been 368 days since I last ran a marathon.

I haven’t laced up my running shoes for a marathon in 2013 yet. Time and opportunities are quickly running out and my 3-year-long streak of running at least one marathon a year is in jeopardy.

A year of struggle

This year has been a struggle in the running department to say the least. Between elbow surgery, and a nagging ankle injury, it hasn’t been easy. At this point last year I’d run three marathons and a 50km ultra and logged well over 1,500km.

This year I’ve run under 700km and raced just once—the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon in May.

In July I began to rebuild my running base. The initial goal was to be able to run about 15km in Shawnigan Lake, BC when we visited in August.

After that I continued to slowly add mileage through the week, and I also slowly increased my Sunday long run distance.

By mid-September I was running 16km on Sunday. I did 19km the following week and 28km the week after that (with a 42km weekend). I was back!

Staving off injury

With a mileage increase like that, shin splints and leg soreness were inevitable. Fortunately, regular stretching, deep massage and weekly acupuncture has kept things in check. Things are not great from the knees down, but things are not horrible either.

Last weekend marked the final test—could I run 32km and how bad would it be?

I ended up running just under 33km at my usual marathon race pace and felt pretty good. I ran continuous and the route was far from easy with a lot of hill especially in the first half.

My legs paid a price for that effort, but acupuncture and recovery runs again kept things in a reasonable place.

To be totally honest, I’m really surprised that I was able to build up to a 33km continuous run in that short a period of time without injury. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I would say that it’s quite possible assuming you have a good few years of distance running under your belt.

A 42.2km secret

A few people (Kenny, Jess and others) caught on and noticed that I was running my usual marathon training schedule leading up to the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon on November 3, 2013.

I figured I should probably let the cat out of the bag now: if you were to look at the confirmed entry list for the race, you’ll find my name on the list.

It won’t be any easy race, nor will it be a PB. But getting out there and running 42.2km again has me really excited.

Running Long Again

I ran just under 33km today.

Running farther than 30km is something I haven’t done in nearly a year. In fact, it was a year ago tomorrow that I last did it (in the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon).

It’s been a rough year trying to get back to being able to run that kind of distance. Between an ankle injury back in February, elbow surgery in March, and then some general shin and ankle troubles that I just couldn’t shake through spring and into the summer, it’s been a pretty cruddy year in the running department.

But in July I started slowly climbing back into it. I was running three times a week to be ready for our trip to Vancouver Island where I wanted to be able to run the 14km out to Kinsol Trestle and back from Shawnigan Lake.

After that things really started to come together again. Some acupuncture and stretching helped as I built the mileage back. I ticked off a few 20+km runs and got into a great groove recently. Today it was 33km in the rain and it was awesome.