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!

Running with a Running Stoller

Not long after our daughter was born my wife and I decided that we should eventually get a running stroller. Since they are not cheap, my wife initially scoured the internet for used Chariot strollers. Unfortunately, everytime she thought she had found a good deal the stoller had already been sold. This only served to convince us that buying a Chariot was a good choice.

Once we settled on buying a new Chariot the only debate left was whether we should buy a single or double stroller. We ended up going with the single CX 1 model http://www.chariotcarriers.com/english/html/cx.php as we both felt that we would be less likely to run with two kids in a stroller.

Once our daughter was old enough to run with in the stroller I began taking her with me on my weekend runs. I started out taking her on runs of about 10-15 km but it was not long before I took her for longer runs. To date, I think the longest distance she has travelled with me is 26 km.

In terms of running with the stroller, I did not find it as much as an adjustment as I expected. It is certainly more of a workout than running on my own but I am still able to keep up with my intended paces.  

The biggest benefit of having the running stroller is that it allows me to spend more time with my daughter. It is fun to watch her sit and keep herself entertained as I run.

The Title of my Blog

I thought I would take the time to explain the meaning behind the name of my blog. When I decided to start a running blog I struggled with what to name it. My wife came across the following quote by Jesse Owens:

”I always loved running &it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power.  You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

I decided to choose the name because the quote sums up what I get out of running. I enjoying the fact that I can set my own goals and push myself as hard as I want in order to achieve those goals.

Trail Running

My experience with trail running is limited to a couple of runs. During my training for the 2010 Ottawa marathons I had a chance to complete a 16 km trail run a couple of weeks before the marathon while I was on vacation on Vancouver Island. I enjoyed the experience as it felt like a complete change of pace from my usual runs through city streets. Of course the background of snowcapped mountains and the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia certainly helped as well.

Last month I had an opportunity to complete my first trail race as I participated in the 5 Peaks Enduro Race at Camp Fortune, a ski hill near Ottawa http://www.5peaks.com/schedule.asp?p=oq&raceid=217. Given that I am currently training for the Prince Edward County Marathon on October 3rd, I treated this race as more of a training run than an actual race.

Two options distance options were offered for this race. The Sport Course (6 km) and the Enduro Course (12 km, two laps of the Sport Course). I decided to register for the Enduro Course in order to keep up with my weekly mileage for my marathon training program.

It was quite humid the morning of the race and it was raining on and off so the course was slippery, especially on the rocky portions. The first half of the course primarily running uphill on narrow switchback trails leading to the top of the ski hill. I managed to complete the race in 1:11 which was good enough for 20th place out of 57 finishers. Seeing as how I did not have a set goal going into the race I was quite pleased with my result.

Once again a trail run provided me with a change of pace and a nice diversion from my usual training runs through the streets of Ottawa. I am not sure that I want to take up traail running regularly but I would certinly contemplate doing this race again next year.

My Running History

I will start off by telling you a little about myself. I am relatively new to the sport of running. My introduction to running came four years ago when my wife talked me into joining a Running Room 5 km clinic with her. At the completion of that clinic we ran our first race, the 2006 MDS Nordion 5 km which took place during race weekend in Ottawa.

Following the completion of that race I decided that running wasn’t so bad and that I would like to try a 10 km race. At that point I had no intention of progressing to longer distances. Funny enough, I completed my first 10 km race and once again decided that a half-marathon might not be so bad. At this point the idea of completing a marathon still seemed crazy!

I think you can kind of see where my story is going now. Here I am four years later having completed two marathons and currently training for my third which will take place in less than a month. I think it is safe to say that I am now hooked on running. In four short years I have gone from a reluctant 5km runner to a marathoner with his sights set on eventually qualifying for the Boston Marathon.