First race in 6 months

I’ve now been back to running for a few months and I’ve gotten a bunch of workouts into my legs. My mileage is hovering right around the peak from my Ottawa marathon build last year (about 130 km/week) but I think I’m nearly in the best shape I’ve ever been in. That’s always a good feeling – especially twelve weeks out from a goal race (more on that development below).

This past weekend I ran the Robbie Burns 8K in Burlington. It had been six months since I last raced (St Clair River Run 10K in July) and I was looking to bust some rust and get a good sting in the legs. I figured at my peak last summer, I might have been in sub-25:00 shape so I was hoping to go under that mark. I knew there were a bunch of speedsters on the start list (Blair Morgan with a 65′ half marathon, Sami Jibril with sub-50′ 10 milers, and Paul Rochus with some fast track races) so I expected to have some guys to chase after.

I drove up the morning of the race and ran the course to warmup and familiarize myself. I knew ahead of time that the last two kilometres would be the toughest because of some gentle hills and a bit of a headwind. If I wanted to run under 25, I’d need to average 3:06/km so I made that my target.

Off the line and settling with fourth/fifth with Paul on my left

The first kilometre was quick (as they usually are) and the second was slow battling a headwind and hill. Then over the next 3-4 km I kept the average pace right on 3:06/km with the help of downhills and a tailwind. Then those last two kilometres came and I was working harder only to maintain 3:11 on them, bringing me to the line right around 25:00 flat.

Crossing the line behind Sami, Blair, and Sergio

All in all, I’m alright with this result. I like to think that shorter stuff isn’t my specialty and I haven’t done any training faster than 3:06 pace in the last few months so this was a decent result. I’m happy to come away with a good effort, a fun race, and feeling recovered enough the next day to get right back into the training groove.

Since my last post, the itch to run a marathon got the best of me and I’m looking to run Toledo on April 23. I’ve built my plan to use the Robbie Burns 8K as an early rust-buster, then I’ll run the Chilly Half 7 weeks out. I’ve already signed up for Around the Bay 30K and I’ve always wanted to run it so I’m going to test my self-control and use that event as my marathon simulator 4 weeks out (26.2 km at goal marathon pace… which means jogging the first 3.8 km of the race as warm-up).

Sunshine and a (mostly) snow-free trail

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Building a training plan is one of my favourite parts of marathon running. There are so many different sources to pull inspiration from, including my own past builds, running books, online articles, and other runners. This time, I started with my race template since I had some of those locked in already and found spots for the longer marathon-paced workouts that will build towards that 26.2 km simulator and ultimately the goal race. I took some inspiration from Jack Daniels’ book and some guys that Steve Boyd coached through STWM last fall (Kevin Coffey, Jeff Costen, Eric Bang) with marathon-paced long runs building from 60′ to 70′ to 80′. I also did that kind of progression back in my Ottawa 2015 training (long runs with 60′, 77′, 83′, 87′ at marathon pace) so it is familiar to me. Last year, I didn’t have the luxury of a longer training period, so I worked on shorter intervals and tried putting it together with a single 90′ marathon paced long run a few weeks out.

Look who finally showed up! Snow on the trail and it's nearly February.

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Something new that I’m going to add in this time is a longer-than-usual long run with the last 10 km or 30′ at marathon pace. Reid Coolsaet did this (45 km with last 12 km at MP) before his 2:10:28 in Berlin last year and Steve Boyd had his marathoners do this too (something like 2 hours easy then 30′ MP) — both 8 weeks out.

To figure out my rough mileage targets, I gathered up data from others on Strava to calculate their weekly mileage and weekly percent of peak mileage, averaged those percent-of-peak numbers across all the runners, and then re-adjusted them back into percent-of-peak values. Here’s what the numbers looked like:

peakmileage

So, if my last 6 weeks is 8.75 hours (124 km) at 80% of peak, then my peak will be around 11 hours (155 km). That isn’t too daunting but managing to maintain that near-peak level for five or six weeks in a row could be interesting.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got time for right now. Until next time…

My flexibility coach says I have a long way to go.

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