8 weeks to Toledo

Alright. My kids are in bed, my wife is playing soccer, and I’ve got a beer in hand. If I can’t get this posted now, it’s never going to happen!

My training has continued to go well. I’ve lost only three days to injury prevention and maintenance this cycle. I’m still running so that’s what is important with a marathon eight weeks away. Workouts have been going very well and I feel like I’m rolling better than I ever have in the past.

Within a day or two of posting my last blog entry and saying how great training was going, my tibialis anterior tendon flared up and forced me to take a few days of unscheduled rest. The tendon felt pretty bad for a couple days and in the end it took two rest days and three days of reduced mileage to put that issue behind me. A couple weeks later, a quad or sartorius muscle seized up at the end of an easy run and forced me to take another rest day.

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

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It always surprises me how quickly these little injuries can appear. When this type of stuff comes up, it’s really difficult to just set running aside and shift my focus to other things. Maybe it’s like a brief depression as you mourn the disruption to your best laid plans. I should probably know by now that it rarely–if ever–goes to plan and you have to kind of roll with the punches and make the best of your situation. Sometimes ‘real life’ needs to take priority. Sometimes your body needs a break. Sometimes a blizzard makes it impossible to run outdoors. I guess I just need to remind myself that – as much as I’d like to think otherwise – I can’t control how my body reacts or if/when it will break down. I can only listen to the cues it gives me and adjust my training accordingly.

Despite those brief scares, I’ve logged 140 km and 150 km the last two weeks and I’m on track for another 150 km week as I head to Burlington this weekend for the Chilly half marathon. Overall, this training cycle has been going better than all previous marathon build-ups. For the first four weeks (of twelve before the marathon), I’ve averaged 125 km/week compared to 101 for Ottawa 2016, 123 for Ottawa 2015, 105 for Waterloo 2014, 66 for Amherstburg 2013, and 59 for Niagara-on-the-Lake 2013. In the twelve weeks prior to starting a build-up, I averaged 95 km/week this time, 62 last time, 101 before Ottawa 2015, and 95 before Waterloo. Maybe this increased length of consistent running will finally give me that breakthrough I’ve been looking for the last two years. Just gotta keep going steady for another 6 weeks and then it’ll be time to taper and rest up for the race!

Chilly Half preview

The Chilly half marathon is on March 5 and there’s a great looking field of guys that I’m excited to run with/against. Two years ago (the last time I raced a half marathon), I ran 1:09:30 at this race before running 2:31:45 at the Ottawa marathon two months later (splitting the first half in 1:12:11). Since then, I’ve run 2:28:12 last spring in Ottawa (splitting 1:12:28) and just a couple weeks ago I ran a 70′ tempo workout, covering the half distance in about 1:11:30. I’m reasonably confident that I can run better than 1:10 in race conditions and given where my workouts are, I’m hoping to run more like 1:07:50 (3:13/km) to 1:08:30 (3:15/km). Those paces are intimidating but hopefully the legs have it in them on race day. (And hopefully the 30 km/h SW wind that’s forecast for race day calms down or else the last 8 km are going to be a grind!)

There should hopefully be a bunch of guys to work with on Sunday. Some are out of my wheelhouse but I think there will be a few with similar goals as mine. It helps to have people around you, pushing you, keeping those competitive juice flowing. Here are the guys I’m watching for:

  • Blair Morgan (1:05:56 downhill at Hamilton 2016),
  • Tristan Woodfine (1:08:03 at Chilly last year, 1:06:18 in Barcelona 2015),
  • Josh Bolton (1:09:00 at Chilly last year and 1:07:40 in Montreal last April),
  • John Parrott (2:26:10 at the Ottawa marathon last year),
  • Paul Rochus (1:09:41 last year),
  • Lucas McAneney (1:09:34 last year),
  • Dancan Kasia (1:07:53 at Chilly in 2015),
  • Rob Brouillette (1:11:54 last year and 1:10:19 downhill at Mississauga), and
  • Eric Bang (1:12:31 last year en route to 1:11:42 in Ottawa)

My goals are: A. 1:07:xx. B. 1:08:xx. C. Better than 1:09:30 for a PB. I’ll try to write up a quick race recap post sometime next week.

The last remnants of winter #lakehuron #seemyrun

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Marathon Fueling

Another thing I’m starting to think about with only 8 weeks until the marathon, is fueling. Last spring before Ottawa, I had a condensed period in which to train and I only had 5 runs with focused fueling. In those 2+ hour training runs, I averaged one gel per hour in liquid carbs (32g/hour). I’ve read more recently that you should target 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour so I’ve been trying to work on that this time around. In my long run last weekend, I got down a gel every half hour for 59 g/hour. I’ll practice that a few more times in the coming weeks.

That’s all the time I’ve got. Thanks for following along!

3 weeks to #TORW2016

Only three weeks left to get ready for the Ottawa marathon. I knew this shorter than usual build was going to fly by but it still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be racing soon. I’m ready to get out there and put all this work to the test. I’m still undecided on a goal race pace but hopefully I’ll be able to nail that down over the next couple weeks as I’ll be running my final workouts next weekend. I’ll plan to post one more time before the race to recap this training cycle at a higher level, compare to last year, and collect my thoughts as I decide on a goal for the Ottawa marathon. I’ll recap my training from the last three weeks below, but first here’s what I’ve been drawing inspiration from…

A couple weeks ago Rob Watson made his attempt for a Rio Olympics qualifier in the London marathon. Unfortunately, he came up short but it was a lot of fun following his training through his podcast over the last year. If you haven’t already, watch this post-race interview with Rob as he reflects on the journey that brought him to this point:

Speaking of the London marathon, how about Eliud Kipchoge! Just seconds off the world record at 2:03:07 and looking smooth over the last couple miles. They were on track for a 2-hour marathon in the early part of the race. Check out the pacing!

In Canadian road running, we had the Canada Running Series’ Montreal 21K. Krista DuChene ran an awesome race, finally completing her Rio proof of fitness requirement! Now we just have to wait for the qualification window to pass before we know for sure whether she’s on her way to the Olympics.

The Montreal 21K also featured a battle between Kip Kangogo (2:15 at STWM last fall) and Sami Jibril (1:04 at the Houston half in January). Kip pulled off the win, running 66:49 to Sami’s 67:02. I was wondering if we’d see either of those guys in Ottawa for the marathon and Run Ottawa just announced that Kip will be there. He should have a lock for the top Canadian spot but I wonder if he’ll take a shot at 2:12:50 for a ticket to Rio. I think he’s got to be one of the closest after his 2:15 last fall.

On the women’s side, Ottawa is looking like an interesting race with Leslie Sexton, Rachel Hannah, Tarah Korir, and Dayna Pidhoresky all slated to toe the line. One has to wonder whether any of them will pull off an Olympic qualifier (2:29:50); it would require a big PB so hopefully the weather is perfect for their sake (and mine!). While I would love to see Canada send a third woman on our marathon squad, it would be heartbreaking if Krista Duchene’s time was bumped out of the top three spots after all she’s been through. Her journey has been a real roller coaster and I can’t wait to watch her race in Rio! Saucony recently put out a short video about Krista and how she juggles motherhood and being a professional athlete. Check it out here:

May 1st weekend had the BMO Vancouver marathon, Mississauga marathon, and GoodLife Toronto marathon so there was a lot of action to follow. Kevin Coffey and Terence Attema ran the half in Vancouver in 1:07. David Freake ran the half in Toronto in 1:09. In Mississauga, Tyler Chacra ran a 2:33 PB in the full, while Dan Way and Rob Brouillette ran the half. It’s great to see guys getting the results after months of logging miles. Hopefully I can do the same in a month’s time!

Here’s what the last three weeks of training looked like for me:

Week of 2016-04-18

Another solid week back around 130 km. The midweek 3’s workout was pretty good. It was warm (18-20°C) and a little windy along Lake Huron but I am happy to have averaged 3:05/km for the intervals with 45 km accumulated in the two days prior (a little more than in previous weeks). I have only been sprinkling in these quicker-paced workouts sparingly, instead putting the priority on longer intervals and threshold work. That’s not the fastest I’ve run a 10×3’/2′ workout but it’s pretty good considering my focus has been on longer intervals and I haven’t spent a whole lot of time close to 3:00/km.

The weekend long run went very well. This was an extension of the 4×10’/2′ workout I did a few weeks back. I again brought along bottles with Gatorade to practice fueling. I mixed my own this time with double the powder for 120 grams of carbs per litre. I drank one 250 ml bottle during warmup and another between in intervals. The carb concentration seemed fine but my stomach didn’t seem to want more than 500 ml of liquid. My target should be roughly 500 ml per hour and this run was 2 hours long so I should have consumed more. I think the issue was the two cups of coffee I had shortly before the workout so I’ll have to keep that in mind for race day. Anyway, it was a beautiful, cool, and breezy morning, and I’m happy with the effort and paces. Somehow I found a bit of an extra gear on the last two 12′ intervals and it turned out to be one of my better workouts so far.

  • M: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 60′ run
  • T: [AM] 40′ run [PM] 60′ run
  • W: Workout: 100′ run with 10 x 3’/2′ + 2 x 2’/2′ (averaging 3:05/km)
  • Th: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 50′ run
  • F: 60′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • S: Workout: 120′ run with 4 x 12’/3′ (averaging 3:18/km)
  • Su: Rest
  • Total: 9 hours of running for 133 km

Week of 2016-04-25

I’m glad that my body seems to be handling the mileage well enough. Last year before Ottawa I averaged somewhere around 100 km per week so to be averaging over 120 km per week this cycle is a step in the right direction.

Both workouts went well this week. The 10’s were a little quicker than last time and it felt good to find an extra gear for the 5’s. On the weekend, instead of the 2×40′ workout I had planned, I decided to bridge the gap between the 2×30′ workout I ran a couple weeks ago and the 26.2km race simulation I’ll run a few weeks from now (roughly 90 minutes of running at goal pace) and run some shorter intervals that added up to 75′ of running. I was able to get down 96 grams of carbs in about 800 ml over the course of two hours. That’s pretty close to target but I’ll probably have to supplement with solid carbs (sour jujubes, most likely).

  • M: [AM] 40′ run [PM] 60′ run
  • T: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 50′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • W: Workout: 90′ run with 2 x 10’/2′ + 4 x 5’/1′ (averaging 3:17/km for the 10’s and 3:14/km for the 5’s)
  • Th: 60′ run
  • F: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 60′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • S: Workout: 140′ run with (30′ + 25′ + 20′)/5′  (averaging 3:25-3:23/km)
  • Su: 100′ bike
  • Total: 9 hours of running for 135 km.

Week of 2016-05-02

Finally some nice weather for running!

This will likely end up being the biggest week of my training cycle in terms of mileage and featured two solid workouts. The midweek intervals was inspired by the 6×4’/90″ workout that I had done a couple times over the past year. I ran it the quickest I’ve done yet, despite running two extra intervals. The weekend long run was a further progression of previous workouts from this cycle where I’ve built up from 4×10′ to 4×12′ and now 4×15′. The paces for these have usually been between 3:17/km and 3:20/km. I ran a similar 3×15’/3′ workout last cycle and faded hard so I take some confidence from maintaining the pace this time around with an extra interval too.

  • M: [AM] 40′ run [PM] 60′ run
  • T: Workout: 85′ run with 8 x 4’/90″ (averaging 3:06/km for the 4’s)
  • W: 60′ run
  • Th: [AM] 40′ run [PM] 60′ run
  • F: [AM] 40′ run [PM] 60′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • S: Workout: 150′ run with 4 x 15’/3′ (averaging 3:20/km for the 15’s)
  • Su: Rest
  • Total: 10 hours of running for 146 km.

6 weeks to #TORW2016

It’s now less than 6 weeks to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend where I’ll be running my fifth marathon. Training has been going well and I’m hopeful that over the next 4 to 5 weeks fitness will continue to progress so that I’ll be ready to go on race day.

I almost jumped into a half marathon as a tune-up next weekend but decided with the limited time I had to get in this build-up, that it would be more beneficial to get in two more workouts instead. This way, I won’t have to worry about how I ran in the tune-up when deciding on my marathon goal pace; I’ll just have to base it on how my workouts have been going and, fortunately, how this cycle compares to last year (since I’ll be running the same course as last year).

I was pretty disappointed with how things went in Ottawa last year but I did come away with some things I want to improve this time around:

  • Make my first km my slowest. No sprinting off the line in order to stay with a pack. I need to let them go, run easy, and use them as motivation on the second half. A way-too-fast first km last year didn’t do me any favours.
  • Don’t sprint to catch a pack (unless there’s less than 10 km left). Last year I worked really hard up a hill to catch a pack ahead of me. I thought it would be worth it to be tucked in behind them once we turned into a headwind but the effort required to catch that pack probably cost more than the mild headwind would have (especially since they barely blocked the wind anyway). Save the surges for after the 30 km mark. Don’t be afraid to run solo–it is how I do almost all my training runs!
  • Figure out fueling. The details are fuzzy now, but I remember thinking that my stomach didn’t want any more of my sports drink and I might have only had one gel of the two I taped to my bottles. This was a huge mistake and was likely one of the main reasons I ran out of gas. Over the remaining weeks of training, I’ll be fueling during my long, marathon-pace tempos to see how much fluid and carbs I can comfortably consume.

That’s all the in-race stuff I’m thinking of.

As far as training preparations, I’m trying to get more warmer runs in to be ready for the temperatures one should expect at the end of May. I’m also working on increasing my weekly mileage as best I can, while adding in a bit of supplemental cycling.

Still not a lot of news on who else will be running in Ottawa yet. It sounds like Rob Brouillette and Nic Browne will be running. I wonder if possibly Kip Kangogo or Sami Jibril will run Ottawa after they race the Montreal Half this coming weekend.

There’s been lots of road running to follow the last few weekends. Around the Bay ended up being on a cold, windy day and unfortunately Krista Duchene was due to demonstrate fitness for her spot on the Canadian Olympic marathon team after posting a qualifying time last spring in Rotterdam. She missed her target by 1 minute and there’s been lots of drama about that on Trackie and in response to a CBC article where Team Canada’s head coach essentially said the athletes are shit-out-of-luck if they are hindered by poor weather and fail to achieve their ‘proof of fitness’ target. The attitude displayed by the head coach, Peter Eriksson, I found to be very unsupportive, defensive, and unreasonable. He apparently has a speed skating background and clearly doesn’t understand long distance running where the temperature or wind can have a significant impact on performance. Just ask everyone who ran the Boston marathon this morning when temperatures soared above 20°C! Anyway, Reid Coolsaet wrote a great blog from his perspective as he has to figure out how to prove fitness to make the Rio team and how that goal seems to be at odds with wanting to run well in Rio. Check out the link here:

Let’s hope Athletics Canada’s head coach comes to his senses and can work something out with these fantastic athletes!

Anyway, back to ATB… Lots of good performances despite the weather. Trevor Zimak (31:12 at Yonge St 10K last April and 2:26:46 at Grandma’s Marathon last summer) managed to take down Sami Jibril (1:35:47 at ATB last year and 1:04:30 at the Houston Half in January), both running low 1:40. Rob Brouillette, Eric Bang, and Tyler Chacra all had solid races. Looks like Lucas McAneney had a tough day but avoided a DNF. I’ve wanted to run ATB for a few years now but it’s such a strange distance and is a long race in the lead-up to a marathon. Maybe one day.

This past weekend had the Rotterdam marathon where big things were expected of London, Ontario’s Leslie Sexton. Not sure what happened but she unfortunately didn’t finish after coming through 10K in just under 36 minutes. Rough to travel all the way to Europe for a race and then have an off-day. I’m sure she’ll take this in stride and we’ll see another perfectly-paced marathon from her this fall. (Or maybe sooner?)

Last weekend we had the Vancouver Sun Run 10K to look forward to. It’s one of the biggest races in Canada with 40,000+ entrants. They put together a great field at the front with guys like Eric Gillis (who took the win in 28:52), Geoff Martinson, Trevor Hofbauer, Kevin Coffey, and Terence Attema. Lots of guys dipped under 30 or 31 minutes so the national championship race in Ottawa should be amazing.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Here’s a look at the last three weeks of my training leading up to the Ottawa Marathon:

Week of 2016-03-28

I over-shot my mileage target a little this week (was aiming for ~125 km) but came away still feeling good. Both workouts this week were on windy days but I’m not yet at the point where I’m overly concerned about paces so long as the effort is there, I’m happy.

Looking back on my training for Ottawa last year, I ran a 30 km long run on March 28 at 3:30/km with two marathon-pace segments (9 miles @ 3:25/km, 6 miles @ 3:26/km). That was a big workout but perhaps it came too early in the build-up as I think I started succumbing to over-training by mid-April. So, I’m maybe a little behind compared to last year but hopefully that means I’ll be peaking right before the marathon this year!

  • M: 70′ run
  • T: [AM] 50′ run with 10 x 20″ strides [PM] 30′ run
  • W: Workout: 90′ run with 10 x (2’/1′, 1’/1′), averaging 3:08/km for the 2’s and 3:01/km for the 1’s
  • Th: 45′ run
  • F: 80′ run
  • S: 60′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • Su: Workout: 33 km run with 4 x 10’/2′, averaging 3:21/km for the 10’s
  • Total: 9 hours of running (135 km)

Week of 2016-04-04

Things got a little off-track near the end of this week. The day after my midweek workout, I kind of felt my tendon (the same one…) becoming irritated during my afternoon run. I decided to cut the run short and get on the lacrosse ball to massage it. I took Saturday as a rest day and started contemplating what in the world I could do to beat this issue. The rest day must’ve been just what the doctor ordered as I was able to get back out for a run on Sunday. I shuffled the remainder of my plan around to ensure I had a day off running each week (with cycling or full rest instead).

  • M: 30′ run
  • T: 80′ run
  • W: [AM] 60′ run with 10 x 20″ strides [PM] 45′ bike
  • Th: Workout: 90′ run with 4 x 5’/1′ + 6 x 3’/2′, averaging 3:17/km for the 5’s and 3:09/km for the 3’s
  • F: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 20′ run
  • S: Rest
  • Su: 45′ run + 15′ weights
  • Total: 5.75 hours of running (83 km)

Week of 2016-04-11

Thankfully, the tendon remained under control as there were no further flare-ups. After missing a few hours of running and a workout last week, I had five days of easy running leading into my mid-week workout. I managed to run a good one, which was a real confidence booster and a reminder to trust that the fitness will eventually come around.

My long run on Saturday went well. I bumped up the length of the tempo segments and worked on drinking fluids while at race pace. I got in about 900 mL of Gatorade for 57 g of carbs over 2 hours. That was close to my stomach’s limit for fluids so I’ll have to try increasing the carb density or supplementing with jujubes next time to get closer to 1-1.5 g/minute.

  • M: [AM] 60′ run [PM] 20′ run
  • T: [AM] 70′ run with 10 x 20″ strides [PM] 30′ bike
  • W: Workout: 90′ run with 20’/3′, 15’/3′, 10′ (working down from 3:20/km in the 20′ to 3:18/km in the 10′)
  • Th: [AM] 50′ run [PM] 60′ bike
  • F: [AM] 30′ run [PM] 70′ run with 10 x 20″ strides
  • S: Workout: 128′ run with 2 x 30’/6′ @ 3:26/km
  • Su: 83′ bike ride
  • Total: 8.66 hours of running (128.7 km)

Thanks for following along!