Looking Ahead to 2014

It’s the time of year where many look back over the last 365 days as we chuck the old calendar and hang up a new one.

2013 was such a wretched year in terms of running that I’ve decided not to dwell on the negatives at all. Instead, I’ll leave all that crap behind and focus on the highlights of the year and look forward to a great 2014.

Races

I ran a half marathon in May, just five-and-a-half weeks after major elbow surgery. It wasn’t a great race for me, but I finished it in under two hours – decent all things considered.

IMG_4893-225x300In November I ran the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon. Like the half marathon in May, this was all about proving to myself that I was stronger than I thought. I didn’t really start training until September and despite the lack of mileage, I finished the 42.2km in 4:13. Moving around for the next few days wasn’t easy.

That was it for racing in 2013. My lightest season since I started running in 2008 and representative of the struggles with injury, recovery from elbow surgery and a general lack of running mojo I experienced throughout the year.

Trails

In BC, I finally got to run with Jon Suk, who I first met in the lead up to the 2011 BMO Vancouver Marathon. He was running the social media for the race and we conversed a fair amount leading up to that race.

IMG_3928-300x300When I came out to Vancouver to run the race on my 40th birthday, he invited me out to a pre-race dinner with a few of his running buddies from Vancouver Island.

Our trip to Shawnigan Lake was a chance to get together with those people for a BBQ and a run out to the Kinsol Trestle. That trip in August inspired me to explore trail running. I found some great paths at Rouge Park in Pickering and was fortunate to share the mileage with some great running friends. There will be more of this type of running in 2014.

2014 Goals and Plans

I’ve already added a race to my schedule for 2014 – the Around the Bay Road Race on March 30, 2014. I’m thinking about a spring marathon as well, but I haven’t figured out which one just yet. I’ve run Toronto, Ottawa, Whitby and Vancouver in the spring, but there’s always the Mississauga Marathon, I suppose. The other option is to try to convince Ginny to let me head west again in 2014.

I had also looked at the Ragnar Relay as an ultra (as part of a six person team), but unfortunately the even has been cancelled in 2014. Running the Niagara Ultra 50km for the third time is an option. We’ll see.

In the fall, Ginny and I both hope to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. That would be her first 42.2km race, and my first major.

Mileage

My yearly mileage record is 2,012km which I did (unsurprisingly) in 2012. In 2013 I didn’t even break 1,000km. I’d like to at least hit the 2,014km mark in 2014, and with any luck maybe 2,500km or more is possible.

I Need More Hours in the Day

After a week or two of trying to run more, and failing, I’ve come to realize that this high mileage training plan isn’t likely to be possible over the winter.

I’m okay with that, to be honest.

One of the biggest challenges with running for me is fitting it into life. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many days in the week. Between work, kids, sleep and everything else, there. Just isn’t an hour a day to run 10km or more.

Part of the he problem is short winter days. In the summer I could go out at 9pm and run 10km at dusk without having to worry too much. Or I could get up at 5:30am and get out in the morning before work.

But in the winter, it’s cold and dark by 5:30pm and the sun isn’t up until after 7am. He desire to run in huge dark and the cold is low.

I’ll probably run the usual Running Room program starting in January and maybe somehow take a run at the higher mileage program over the summer.

Making Time for More Mileage

My current marathon personal best is the 3:53:59 that I ran that in 2012 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Since then, I’ve had elbow surgery and a summer of ankle issues that pretty much killed any shot at beating that time in 2013.

Heading into 2014, I’m looking at how to take a big chunk out of my marathon time. I generally run well, but I have a tendancy to fade in the last 10km. I know that if I can run more consistently from start to finish that my time will come down.

The $64,000 question is how to acheive that?

I’ve always trained with the Running Room program. Mostly that’s because it’s moderately challenging and leaves time to have a life outside of running.

I’m thinking about stepping things up heading into a spring marathon and I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer lies in running more mileage. A fair amount more.

Up until now, a 200km+ month was the upper end of my training. I’d break 200km towards the end of the training cycle – usually in the month or two before the race. Outside of that, an average month was somewhere around 160km on four runs a week.

The new program I’m looking at starts with 200km months on six runs a week and builds from there, peaking at about 360km towards the end of the program.

The problem with this program is how to get runs in six days a week and not end up divorced. Going out every night for an hour or more isn’t going to work, and with an 8am start to my work day, going out in the mornings for 8 miles isn’t all that appealing either (especially in the winter).

The one way I could get the miles in would be to run either to work, or home from work a few times a week. It’s a 13km trip each way, and while I’ve run it a few times, it’s always been a bit of a logistical challenge around clothing and computer.

I’m going to give this a go starting in January. It won’t be easy, and I have my doubts as to whether it’s even possible, but we’ll see.