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.

Week Seven…done

One more week behind me – this one featured 47km of running, including three runs in Florida, and five runs total.

We’re up to 23km on Sunday with more to come next week. Hills started this week signalling the beginning of the middle phase of the marathon program.

Things get tough now with pretty much every Sunday in the high 20’s or low 30’s for distance. On the bright side, the weather should start getting warmer and the days getting longer.

Long Sundays, Lots of Hills

Just 12 weeks to go until BMO Vancouver Marathon day. That means just 11 more Sunday runs, all of them 19km or more.

After tomorrow’s 19km LSD, it’s at least a half marathon every Sunday until race day, with the exception of one step back week in early March when I have a mere 19km run scheduled (and the taper the weekend before).

I’m also now done with the 10km tempo runs I’ve been doing on Thursdays. The transition to hill repeats is here and that means I’ll switch to 6km on Tuesday, then hills on Wednesday or Thursday (depending on what’s going on in my life).

Hill Repeats…Ughhh

I haven’t been that committed to hill training in past years. I really don’t like doing them and I always figured that they wouldn’t make much difference. But last year in Vancouver I could have used the extra strength – it was a hilly route from start to finish. That’s the Burrard Bridge picture above and it was a killer, coming at the 39km point in the race.

This year I’m going to do them all, every week. I’m hoping that pays off with an improved performance this May.

On the schedule this week is a mere four repeats, and then I add one a week until I’m at ten by the end of March. Weeks where I’m travelling and I can do it, I’ll add in the fifth day of running during the week and do Tempo Tuesday, hills on Wednesday, a steady run on Thursday and Saturday and the LSD on Sunday. If I’m lucky that will happen maybe three or four times.

I’m off to Orlando on business this week so I should be able to get in more running, although it’ll will all be treadmill at the hotel. I’ve been to this hotel before and there’s no good roads or sidewalks around to run outdoors. It really sucks.

A Good Time vs. A Good Time

I was talking with Ginny today about running, and about the focus that a lot of runners have on racing and achieving personal bests.

Eventually the conversation turned to running for fun – having a good time. The Running Room training programs always end with a goal race. That’s great in terms of motivation, but after a while, the focus on racing can often take away from the fun of running.

This year I’ve been really thinking about just enjoying each run and not worrying too much about times and personal bests. I’ve chosen one goal race – the BMO Vancouver Marathon – and that’s it for races for me in the first half of the year.

That means no Around the Bay 30k, and no Chilly Half Marathon for me. Instead it’s just some fun Sunday training runs with friends and a bunch of enjoyable runs during the week. That’s my approach in 2012.

We also came to the conclusion that focussing on having a good time running was a great way to end up with a good time on the results sheet. My best runs time-wise are often on the days where I’m just enjoying running a lot. The same goes for racing. When I’m having a blast out there on the course, it usually means I’ll come across the line with a nice result.

Personal Awesome

Personal bests are great. Personal awesomes are even better (my running buddy Nicole coined that term and I love it). Despite the fact that it was my slowest time by a few minutes, I still point to Vancouver in 2011 as my “best marathon” of the three I’ve run. A personal awesome every way you slice it.

You can’t run a PB every race…it’s just not realistic to think you’ll improve every time you race. But you can run a personal awesome if you remember that racing and running is fun and put having a great time at the top of your list of goals.

Don’t Panic

I was chatting back and forth with another runner last night on Twitter and she said something that immediately made me think, “that’s a blog post.”

@JamesKoole thank you. It’s so hard not to go panic mode.
— jess howard (@jess_howard) February 1, 2012

She, like I am, is training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. Like most runners aiming for that race, she’s in the midst of the mileage ramp up that comes at the beginning of almost all marathon programs.

That increase in mileage usually brings along with it some aches and pains as the body adapts to the new normal of running 35 kilometres a week (or more).

When those aches and pains come, it’s so easy to go into panic mode. What if these shin splints get worse? Will this IT band prevent me from doing my long run this weekend? My knees are angry but I can’t skip this tempo run.

I’ll put here what I told her on Twitter:

@hopebombs No need to panic. Goal #1 is to get to the start line in good shape. The race will take care of itself – it always does.
— James Koole (@jameskoole) February 1, 2012

As mentioned in the priorities post a few days back, missing a run or cutting back on the miles a little bit will not cause you to miss your race. On the other hand, left untreated, an injury very well could.

So if you are worried about your shins, or struggling with some sore hips or knees, the very best thing you can do is to slow down, and back off on the training for a bit.

This is your body telling you that you’ve gone too far, or too fast, or both. Listen to what it is telling you know so it doesn’t really start yelling at you later in your training program.

Most of all, don’t panic. You spring marathon is probably still 3 months away and that’s plenty of time to build up the strength and fitness that you’ll need to complete it. Job one right now is to get to the start line uninjured and ready to give it your best.

The race will worry about itself.

Speed Kills

Everyone likes to run fast. It’s all kids do – they blast around at full speed, running until they drop. Go watch a kids cross-country race – almost all of the competitors will invariably go out too fast (just like us big kids in the marathon often do).

On race day, going out too fast makes for an unpleasant second half to the race. In training, going out too fast is often the ticket to injury.

When planning out your training schedule, remember to also plan out a reasonable pace for each run. Kicking up the pace to much on your tempo runs is a surefire way to bring on shin splints or IT band trouble. That’s especially true early on in the program as you ramp up your mileage.

Don’t forget to slow down on your long Sunday runs too. The “S” in LSD stands for slow and it applies to you too, speedy.

We all want to be fast. But like running far, you can’t get there in a day. You wouldn’t do at 32km run two weeks into your training program. So why would you think that you could run your expected marathon race pace three weeks into your schedule?

Build speed along with strength over the course of your training program and you’ll avoid injury, and have a better result come race day.

Running Priorities

We’re all busy people and running often just adds to the todo list. That’s especially true when there’s a race goal or other training program in place.

Making time to run is key in ensuring that you reach your goals. That’s true whether it’s simple fitness you are after, or if you have a big race goal like running a marathon.

It’s easy to say, I know. But everything in life has a priority that provides guidance on the order in which you do things, and helps you decide what to let drop off the todo list for now.

It’s Okay!

The best way to get your runs in is to put them where they belong on the priority list. Sometimes that will mean that running takes priority over sleep, or over doing the laundry, or cleaning the house. And that’s more than okay. Sometimes running will win over spending time with the kids, or your job. You know what? Depending on circumstances that’s also okay.

Conversely, sometimes other things will trump your run. Newsflash – that’s okay too. If you miss one long Sunday run in your 18 week training program and can only do 12km on Monday evening instead, it won’t kill you or cause you to DNF. If work requires you to stay late on a Tuesday making it impossible to do that tempo run, it’s not the end of the world.

You run what you can, based on where, when and how you can fit it in with all the rest of the things that you have going on.

If getting to Boston is all that matters to you, then running is your number one priority and make it so. Don’t let anything get in the way. The people in your life should understand this.

If staying fit and maybe putting in a personal best at a marathon in May is your goal, then running is probably down the priority list a bit. Some days it will trump everything else, and other days it will be dropped off the bottom.

Do yourself a favour and make sure you know where running sits on your priority list right now.