Staying Motivated

Are you having trouble keeping yourself motivated to stick with your training plan? These tips may help.. maintaining your mind motor

Personally I find changing my running route every day to be beneficial. I try not to do the same route two days in a row. It doesn’t even have to be a big change. Even doing one of my usual routes from home in reverse order makes it seem like a new route.

Like the article mentions, a trail run can also be a nice change if you are used to running on roads. I did a 16 km trail run about a week before my last marathon and I also ran an 12 trail race last month. I enjoyed both of these experiences because they were a complete change from my usual training routine.

Stretching

I know there is some debate over the benefits of stretching for running. I thought I would write about how I have incorporated stretching into my training routine.

As mentioned in my previous post, I injured my knee while training for my first half-marathon. While the injury was partially due to using worn-out shoes, a trip to a sports medicine doctor and a physiotherapist identified suggested that the injury was also due to tight leg muscles. In addition to the exercises they recommended for me, I also purchased a foam roller which although painful and uncomfortable to use at first was useful in stretching my leg muscles.

My current post-run stretching routine involves going through the ”10 best yoga poses for runners”. I found these exercises online earlier this year and have been using them for several months now. The exercises have certainly improved the flexibility in my legs which I figure can’t be a bad thing for my running.

The final series of exercises I use for stretching involves this series of pilates moves for runners which my wife found for me in an article on the Runners World website. I try to go through this series of moves when I have a chance on my rest days.

Building the Perfect Week

I found the following article that gives tips on how you can set up your perfect week of training in order to meet your goals http://bit.ly/9PsqMH

Currently my training plan involves me running 6 days a week. I take Sunday for long, slow runs while Monday is my day of rest. The rest of the week I try to schedule easy or recovery runs after more intense workouts like speed intervals, hill training, tempo runs or fartleks.

In terms of distance per week, at the peak of this training program I topped out at approximately 110-115 km during my three busiest weeks of training. Now that my goal marathon is less than to weeks away I am back down to about 60-65 km this week and then next week I will be doing substantially less mileage as I continue to taper before the marathon on October 3rd.

Running Shoes

I enjoy the challenge that comes with preparing for being able to run a marathon to the best of my abilities. I find it to be truely rewarding experience when I am able to cross the finish line on race day after all the training and preparation that goes into being able to run marathon. As mentioned in previous posts, I have run two marathons already and will be running another one in less than two weeks.

If there is one thing that does that gets me about preparing for a marathon it is the speed at which I go through a pair of shoes. Since most shoes are good for roughly 700 km of running, when training for a marathon and you are completing anywhere from 200-400 + km in a month you can expect your shoes to last about three months before they need replacing.

I have lost count of how many pairs I have been through so far this year. I think I am probably on my third pair so far. My current pair of shoes was purchased in August and already has around 350 km of use so far! As an aside, I started keeping track of the mileage on my shoes after I experienced a knee injury while I was training for my first half-marathon. Although not the only factor, continuing to use a pair of worn out shoes contributed to that injury.

At $130-140 it does get a little expensive if you decide to run multiple half-marathons or marathons in a year. However, I think it is a small price to pay for the health benefits that I get  from running along with the rewarding feeling that comes from crossing the finish line on race day after the months of training it takes to prepare for a marathon or even a half-marathon.

Pace Bunny, Army Run

As mentioned last night, today I participated in the Army Run as one of the pace bunnies. In case you are not familiar with the idea, pace bunnies are assigned a time that they commit to running during the race. They wear a hat with bunny ears and hold up a sign as they run so all the runners can see intended pace. My assigned time for the race was 27:30.

Since I am training for a marathon I had planned to do more than 5 km this morning. The race started at 8:00 so I headed out at 6:30 with my daughter in her Chariot. I ran about 6.5 km with my daughter and dropped her off at home and grabbed my hat and sign. Once ready, I ran to the start line of the race which gave me a total of 9.5 km before the race.

The weather was perfect for running today. It was still cool when the race started but the sun was shining. The race itself was pretty uneventful. After a bit of congestion at the start of the race I was able to hit my intended pace for the run according to my Garmin. I had a few runners following me at various points throughout the race.

Unfortunately my Garmin stopped a bit short of the finish line, indicating that I had completed 5 km. This slowed me down a little as I checked to see what happened but I continued and hit the finish line with a chip time of 28:00 which was still within 30 seconds of my assigned time. I guess that will teach me not to rely on my Garmin so much the next time and to watch my splits instead!

It was a good experience and I would do it again if the opportunity presents itself.

Army Run

Tomorrow I will be participating in the Army Run for the second year in a row. In its 3rd year, the Army Run is an icreasingly popular event in Ottawa that offers both a 5km and a half-marathon. Both of these race use similar courses to the National Capital races that take place in May, although this year the half-marathon will be using a new route due to a scheduling conflict with the Terry Fox run.

Since I am training for a marathon that takes place in two weeks I was not planning on participating in this event this year. However I decided to volunteer to act as a pace bunny and will be participating in the 5 km tomorrow since it will allow me give something back to the running community and participate in an event in support of a good cause. I will post a report about the race tomorrow.

Tempo Running

If you are trying to get faster tempo running is an important part of your training schedule. I have completed about 1 per week throughout my training for the Prince Edward County marathon. Most of them have been in the 10-13 km range and I plan to do a few, and hopefully at least one longer than I have gone so far, more before race day on October 3rd.

The following articles provide more information on the benefits of tempo running as well as some tips to get you going at the right pace http://bit.ly/dcmchw

Running Routes in Ottawa

One of the things we are blessed with in Ottawa are an abundance are areas that are ideal for running. I live near the Rideau Canal so many of my runs will take me along the canal for at least a portion of the run. Strathcona Park is also a regular destination of mine since it is also close to home and running through the Sandy Hill neighbourhood brings back memories of my univeristy years. Another frequent destination of my is the Central Experimental Farm The farm is located near my office and I regularly run through it when I decide to run home from work.

I enjoy running in these parts of Ottawa because they almost give me the feeling I am no longer in the city even though in reality I am still quite close to downtown. Where else can you go for a  run along a UNESCO World Heritage site (Rideau Canal) and a working farm (Ottawa is the only capital city to have a working farm within its boundaries) so close to the center of a large city?

On my longer runs I like to take different routes. When my schdule calls for runs in excess of 25 km I will often run along the Ottawa River Parkway, cross over to Gatineau on the Quebec side of the river or head towards Rockliffe Park which is home to some of the most expensive homes  in the city and to many of the Ambassodors stationed in Ottawa (my daughter and I crossed paths with US Ambassador David Jacobson a few months ago while on a Sunday moorning run).

Where do you like to run?

Lessons Learned

As mentioned in my first post, I am currently training for my third marathon. I will be running the Prince Edward County marathon in Picton, Ont on October 3rd. Since today was my last 32 km run (20 mile) before the marathon I thought I would write about some of the lessons I have learned while training for marathons.

My first marathon was the 2009 Ottawa marathon. for this marathon I used a training program that would hopefully see me finish in 3:45. My training went well. However, race day did not go as planned. First I slept through my alarm and ended up waking up later than planned. As a result I only had time to eat half a bagel before heading to the start line. My second mistake was to only drink Gatorade at the water stations. It did not take long before I started to not feel well. I developed a stomach cramp around 14-15 km into the marathon. Once the cramp started to subside I still did not feel well. In the end, I crossed the line in 4:07 and I felt nauseous.

In order to learn from this experience and better prepare myself for my second marathon I began training with other sports drinks like Eload http://www.medioncorp.com/e-load-snapshot-p136227 and Gu20 http://guenergy.com/products/gu-electrolyte-brew/ingredients-benefits as I find Gatorade to be too sweet. I experienced success with this approach in the months following the marathon as I was able to complete the 15 km Boilermaker in Utica, NY in 1:10 and the Army Race half-marathon in 1:39.

Once I started training for my second marathon I also tried a new approach to my 32 km training runs. I began waking myself up a few hours before the run in order to have a breakfast consisting of oatmeal, a bagel with peanut butter, a protein bar and a banana.

These two alterations to my approach to marathon training were beneficial during my second marathon, the 2010 Ottawa marathon. I felt more energetic and stronger going into this marathon than I did a year earlier. II also felt very strong for most of the race. In the end I was able to cross the line in 3:32.

Once again I learned another lesson as I completed a marathon. I ran most of this race on pace to finish between 3:15-3:20 as I was in between the pace bunnies for those paces. Unfortunately, once I reached 32 km I began experiencing cramping in my calf muscles causing me to slow my pace.

As I started training for the Prince Edward County marathon I did some research on muscle cramping. While there does not appear to be a definitive cause of cramping I did find out that dehydration and overexertion are potential causes. As a result, I have added mileage to my training program (I ran 415 km in August alone) and I started using Zone Caps http://www.medioncorp.com/what-are-zone-caps–p136182 on hotter days as well as for my long runs.

With only a few weeks to go now before my next marathon I will soon find out if these changes to my training will payoff!