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.

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.

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.

Getting My Running Mojo Back

It’s been a bit of a slog since my elbow surgery in March, but I think I finally have my shin issues beat and I’m ready to start re-building my running base.

Last year I ran 2012km, or just under 170km/month. I had some bigger months of over 200km, and a few that had a little less. But it was a great year of running for me that included a 50km Ultra, three full marathons, and a half marathon.

I expected 2013 to be a bit of a step back for a variety of reasons, but I did not expect to be 23km shy of 500km for the year halfway through September. I had run that by mid-March in 2012 to give you a sense of how much less I’ve run.

But things are really looking up. I’ve got my mojo back and I’m injury-free. I can still run 15km on Sunday without too much difficulty and I’m getting back to a three runs a week routine.

How do I know I’m back? I’m already thinking about my next run even while I’m still out there running. This is good!

Don Valley Run

Saturday’s effort was with my friend Miguel. We ran up the Don Valley Trail to Eglinton and back, starting at Riverdale. The pace was a bit quick at the start and I paid for it in the last few kilometres. But I enjoyed every single minute of it.

I’m Back and Still Running for Fun

It’s been 168 days since I last laced up my shoes and ran a race. That was the Road2Hope Half Marathon in Hamilton, Ontario back on November 4, 2012.

Lots has happened since then, but I’ve kept up my running pretty well despite not having a race on my schedule and that little elbow surgery thing last month that put me out of action for a couple of weeks.

A few months back I ran 27km on February 24th. I came out of that run with a pretty sore ankle thanks to a near fall and some very icy streets. Since then I’ve run only eight times as I nursed the foot back to health with some rest, and went through the surgery.

Last Sunday I ran 12km and felt pretty good. I’ve been trying to get back on a regular schedule since then and it’s been going well with a half dozen runs under my belt. I’m feeling stronger and loving the running again as my fitness returns quickly.

Today I went out with the marathon group from the Running Room at the TD Centre. They had a 24km route mapped out and I figured running the first 15km (at least) should be doable. I got to 12km and was feeling good so I kept running. At 14.5km I had to commit to a trail section with no TTC escape until 18km. I felt good so I bombed down the Beltline Trail. It was great to be back, and I felt super.

I decided then to push through to the finish and run the whole route. We ran across the Bloor Viaduct, down Broadview, and then along Queen back downtown. The legs started giving out a bit, but 24.75km was done in 2:33:15.

Awesome amazing.

When I got home I signed up for the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon in two weeks. I can’t wait to run another race. It won’t be my fastest ever, but that’s okay. Run for fun is my motto this winter and spring and this race will be the culmination of that effort.

Missing Training Runs

I was sick for a couple of days this week. I thought it was allergies, but during Sunday’s 13km run, it became clear that it was the flu, or a really bad cold. I had to abort what was going to be a 16km effort and take the streetcar back to the Running Room.

With a marathon to run on Sunday, I was sitting here today thinking I had missed a ton of training. Until I looked at the schedule and realized I had missed a total of…one run.

I’m going to get a few kilometres in tonight and maybe a couple of more on Saturday before Sunday’s little fun run.

Week Ten, Nothing Rhymes

We that was fun. 29km today (great run, felt awesome) and 30km the rest of the week. 59km total including a very good 14km hill workout earlier in the week.

Travel will get in the way of running this week – I’m flying out to Amsterdam on Tuesday night. That means I’ll probably have to squeeze something in Monday evening, then wait until Thursday morning (or maybe Wednesday night) before I can get another workout in.

I think hill training might suffer this week, but I’m feeling good about where I’m at, so if life is getting in the way, then so be it.

My long run is planned for either Saturday or Sunday in Amsterdam. I need to look into a route and figure out which day will work the best. Whatever the case, I need to make sure I can get in my runs this week and next week. Next Monday we’re driving from Amsterdam to southern Germany for a few days and another trade show.

Then when I get back it’s a quick turnaround and an overnight trip to Orlando that will again mess up my running schedule.

On the bright side, April looks pretty quiet.

Week Nice, Doing Fine

Another week, another four workouts, another 48km run. And happily, I’m still feeling great.

This was supposed to be the step-back week – when we dropped back in our mileage on Sunday for the first time since the program started on January 1st. I did step back, but not all the way to 19km as the schedule suggested. Instead it was a 23.5km long run this week with some friends on what was the windiest day in a long, long time here in Toronto.

I added another 5km recovery run today to give me 48km for the week. That’s my biggest week so far, and probably the most I’ve run in a week since the ultra back in June, 2011.

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is just nine weeks away. Between now and then I’ll be in Amsterdam and Germany, plus a couple of days back in Florida. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to work in the required runs, but there will be some adapting of the schedule required.

Week Eight, Feeling Great

26km on Sunday (and a hilly route it was). Battled a cold and still put in 42km for the week. Nothing major in terms of aches and pains, just a bit of soreness in the shins – normal for me at this point in the training program.

This Sunday features a step back run – just 19km. Is that all? It’s come to that…19km is an easy Sunday run.