Category Archives: Training

Saturday Stories 


It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.
Here are this week’s stories…
Regardless what you think about the Breaking2 project you might find some of the funny. 

A study about what makes a running stride efficient. 

What one runner learned by watching others train for a half-marathon. 

Why the Marathon?

After running the Boston Marathon last month I had an opportunity to give some thought to why I enjoy training for and running marathons while I took time off from running to recover.

For me the answer to that question is twofold. The first reason is the challenge involved with training for and running a marathon. The process will push you to the limit both mentally and physically.

It takes a lot of discipline to properly train for a run a marathon. By this I am referring to the need to ensure you are eating the right foods to fuel and recover from your workouts, don’t cheat on your training and get a decent amount of sleep to help you recover from your workouts.

The second reason I enjoy running marathons applies more to out of town races. Believe it or not running a marathon is a great way to see a city. In my case I’ve run through neighbourhoods of large cities that I would never have visited if I had not been running a marathon.

When I think of this the first thing that comes to mind are  neighbourhoods in Boston and Philadelphia I ran through that were filled with families enjoying breakfast or a bbq as they encouraged the runners going by.

Runners who are not from Ottawa also likely have a similar appreciation for the opportuniy to run by the Parliament Buildings and the residences of the Governor General and Prime Minister during the Ottawa Marathon.

For me the biggest reward from training for and running a marathon comes when I cross the finish line . Following 3-4 months of dedicated training involving several hundred miles in multiple pairs of running shoes I get to celebrate. In my case this involves going out for beer and food I would not normally eat ( ie. cheesesteaks in Philadelphia) once I have showered and changed.

Unfortunately the high  from completing a marathon is often followed by a bit of an empty feeling when it is over. I went through this phase after I got home from Boston. Fortunately this time I already have a half-marathon coming up in 3 weeks to help get me over it.

I am not sure when or where my next marathon will be yet.  I just know that I will run another one for the reasons mentioned above.

Ottawa Race Weekend

Now that I have recovered from Boston it is time to get ready for my next race. In one month from today I am scheduled to run the Ottawa Race Weekend half-marathon.

Ottawa Race Weekend is, in my opinion, the best race weekend in Canada with races spread out over 2 days and a variety of distances to appeal to as many runners as possible. It offers the only IAAF Gold Label 10 km race in Canada to go along with a Gold Label marathon.

Runners can also expect great crowd support along the courses. In particular, the final stretch down Queen Elizabeth drive draws large crowds for all of the races.

In my case it has become an event for the whole family to enjoy. My oldest daughters will be running the 2 km with their grandparents on Saturday afternoon again this year and I will be running Sunday morning.

I have participated in it 11 times and will be participating again this year. This year will mark a bit of a change of pace for me as I will be running the half-marathon instead of the marathon as I have done for the past 8 years.

I initially planned to do the marathon but since I was not sure how my long it would take for my legs to recover after Boston I decided to downgrade the the half to be on the safe side. Currently I am slowly ramping my mileage up again to get ready for the half.

In terms of my goals for race weekend while I don’t think I can expect to be in pb (1:26:27) shape for a half 6 weeks after Boston I would still like to come in under 1:30. Barring any setbacks as I ramp up my training over the next few weeks I think that is a realistic goal.

If you are running the marathon this year and are not familiar with the course have a look at this overview and strategy guide I posted a few years ago. There have been a few minor changes to the course since I posted this guide but it could be of interest to you.

Alternatively, you can also follow the Ottawa Marathon social media accounts on Thursday May 4th as Jayme from The Pacing Life runs the course to give runners a full preview. You can watch for that starting at 8:00.

Week 18 of Training for the Boston Marathon

Race day is now only a week away. This will be my last training update before I run the Boston Marathon next Monday. By this time next week I will be recovering from another marathon.

Being two weeks away from race day last week was my first week of tapering for the marathon. Feeling run down and really tired I ended up running less mileage than I have at that point in other training cycles. To make up for it I tried to focus on quality over quantity.

I ended up doing 4 runs for a total of 46.4 km. Of those 4 runs Tuesday’s run was done at my tempo pace, Thursday’s run included strides and last night’s 16 km run was done at my usual goal marathon pace.

Overall I am pleased with how my training has gone. It has not been a text book training cycle but I can look to a few of my long runs for positive signs.

In early march I set out for a 30-32 km on a Sunday night after the kids had gone to bed. Unfortunately my Garmin would not pick up a GPS signal so I ended up leaving with a plan to run based on overall time and a rough idea of my mileage in my head based on my knowledge of running routes around the city. What I ended up with was a 32 km run with 30 km done at close to my goal marathon pace followed by an easy 2 km to finish.

A couple weeks later I planned to complete another 32 km run after my kids were in bed. Unfortunately my Garmin would not turn on at all on this occasion. In a rush I plotted out a 10 km out and back route from my house that I would do 3 times before adding additional mileage in my neighbourhood to the last lap. It might not have been the most exciting run but I got it done.

Finally, last night my plan was to do a 16 km run. Since I had done  less mileage than planned up until that point, I decided to do my run at my goal marathon pace. I also decided to plan my route to include as many hills as possible to simulate the rolling nature of the Boston course as best I could.

What does this all mean for next Monday? The best answer is that I am not sure and I am ok with that. It may come as a surprise to some who know me but I decided long ago not to set a goal time for Boston. I am just planning to run based on how I feel next Monday.

That said, I am still competitive and I have no intention of going there to run a 4.5 hour marathon. I have done some research and have come up with a plan, or more like a series of key messages for myself since I work in communications.

I did not set a time goal for two reasons. The first is that I worked hard to qualify for Boston so I did not want to go through this training cycle stressing myself out about whether I thought I was ready to run a specific time.

The second reason is that I have 3 kids, including a soon to be 10 month old. That has meant adjusting my training at times either because my wife needed a break or I felt like rest was more important than adding more mileage to my training cycles. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining here. I would not trade my family situation. At the end of the day I am fortunate to still be in shape to run another marathon.

So that is it for my training. I will get in a few more easy runs this week before I head south of the border at the end of the week but those will just be maintenance runs. The only run left that matters now is the one I will do next Monday.

Week 17 of Training for the Boston Marathon

Race day is now 15 days away. This week was the start of my taper for the marathon. At this point I am more worried about getting sick or injured than I am about the rest of my training.

The biggest news this week was that my passport for the marathon arrived in the mail..

In terms of training I finished with 74 km for the week. That involved my usual routine of easy runs mixed in with a tempo run on Tuesday and speed work on Thursday.

Tuesday’s tempo run was a 10 km run with 7 km done at my tempo pace. Thursday’s speed work involved a run along the same route with a series of strides mixed in.

This morning I did my last run over 20 km before the marathon. I ended up doing a 22 km run. Next Sunday I will probably aim for 15-16 km for my longest run.

The best part about this week is it finally seems like winter is coming to an end. This morning was a perfect spring morning for a long run. If the weather in Boston on race day is anything like that it will be a good day to run a marathon.

How was your week?

Week 16 of Training for the Boston Marathon

It is still hard to believe that in three weeks from tomorrow I will get to run the Boston Marathon. First it took me several trying to get my qualifying time then since I ran my qualifying time in the fall of 2015 it seems like a long time since I ran my qualifying time.

Since it is down to three weeks before race day this was meant to be my last busy week of training before tapering. Overall I think I managed a decent week of training with a final tally of just under 82 km for the week.

Monday I planned to run home from work. However, a lack of sleep over the weekend caught up with me. By the time 3:00 rolled around I knew it would be better if I headed straight home from work and planned to get to bed early that night.

Tuesday I opted for a tempo run home after work. My run ended up being a 10.5 km run with 7 km done at my tempo pace. Generally I try to do at least 6-8 km of these runs at my tempo pace so I was pleased with the result.

Following an easy run home from work Wednesday night Thursday ended up being a two run day. I got my speed work in during my lunch hour with a 6.3 km run that included several strides. My second effort of the day was an easy 8 km on the treadmill while I watched hockey.

Friday and Saturday ended up being two more easy paced efforts. Saturday’s run was also done on the treadmill while I watched hockey. This winter I have probably done more of my runs on a treadmill than in previous years.

I am still not big fan of treadmill but since I have access to one it is convenient to be close by if my wife needs help with the kids or if I have to wait and run later at night. Being able to do it while a hockey game is on is a bonus that helps keep me distracted from the monotony of running on a treadmill, particularly if the Oilers are playing.

I ended the week with my long run this morning. I was fortunate to be able to head out early because we had freezing rain in the forecast for the afternoon. My goal was to do around 25 km and I ended up with just over 24 km.

Now I get to dial back on the mileage for my final three weeks of training. This training cycle has different than my other marathon training cycles. It has been the first time that I have trained with a time goal in mind and without the use of a formal training plan.

Instead my training has been based more on what I had time for more than it has in the past. With three kids now, including a nine month old, it has been tougher at times to fit in the mileage I have in the past. At the same time, I consider myself very fortunate that I have been able fit in a training cycle that has me in shape to run another marathon.

How was your week?

Saturday Stories

It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

5 essential strength exercises for runners.

A post about finding the perfect running shoe.

If you are also running the Boston Marathon in a few weeks here is a great read to get you more excited about race day.

Ottawa St. Patrick’s Day 10 km

Saturday morning I ran my first race of the year. It is a race that I have run since 2011. It has become a bit of a tradition for my family due to the fact that the start and finish line is just down the street from my house. As a result, my family always comes to meet me at the finish and we go out for hot chocolate and coffee afterward.

The course involves an out and back along the Rideau Canal.  It is a mainly flat course with a couple of small inclines. It is a course I am very familiar with since it is close to my house and I run along parts of it regularly.

Due to the time of year it occurs the weather is often a factor for this race. I am pretty sure I ran it in shorts one year but it often seems to happen around the time of what turns out to be our last bit of winter here as was the case this year with the temperature around -8C (17.6F) at the start.

My goal this year was just to give my excuse to run at a hard pace. I wasn’t looking for a 10 km PB but I was hoping to finish in around 40-41 minutes which would be similar to my times from the past few years.

Despite the fact that the GPS on my Garmin did not kick in before the start of the race and I do not have my splits to look at I think I ran a pretty consistent race. As with some of my previous 10 km results I think I lost time between 5-7 km but otherwise ran at a consistent pace with a strong finish. I do not run many 10 km races and still have not mastered my pacing for them.

I finished in 41:03, my second fastest time in this race since I started running it in 2011. The time was good enough for 23rd overall and 5th in my age category.

Week 15 of Training for the Boston Marathon

Last week I mentioned I mentioned that my goal was to make this week my heaviest week of training so far in this training cycle. I wanted to get in a bigger week of training before I start to taper.

Fortunately I was able to manage just that with a 97.4 km week. I have to admit, and maybe this is not surprising to those who know me, but I was tempted to head back out for a short run tonight to make it an even 100 km for the week. I eventually talked myself out of it because it would not have added anything to my training.

The week week started off in a different manner than any other week of training I have done before. Since I did not have time for my long run last week I did a 32 km run Monday night. If you read Friday night’s post about my recent long runs you will also know I completed the run by doing 3 laps of a a 10 kmout and back route from my house.

Tuesday night I had a tough run home because it was snowing and it was windy out..

Wednesday night I opted for a treadmill run while watching hockey on tv because the conditions outside were similar to the previous night.

Saturday I ran my first run of the year, the St Patrick’s Day 10 km. Doing this race has become a bit of a tradition for me in part due to the fact that it starts and finishes down the street from my house and my family comes to meet to go for coffee and hot chocolate afterward.

I will write more about the race tomorrow but for now I will say it went well…

That brings me to today. I headed out looking to get in around 25 km and came home with just under 23 km on my Garmin. It was cold when I started my run but had warmed up to the point that I had removed my hat and gloves by the time I was finishing my run. Hopefully that is a sign spring is about to start.

How did your week go?