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 -16ºC 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 -16ºC 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.