Tag Archives: marathon training

What Next?


After coming off the high of running a marathon the first thing many runners tend to do is look to what their is or should be. I’ve certainly done that often, signing up for a fall marathon less than one week after running my spring marathon on more than one occasion.

This year is different for me. I’m not looking toward what my next goal is. I have a more important issue to look forward to right now, the arrival of a new baby within the next month. I will get back to running before that happens but it will just be running to stay active and running home from work in the evenings because I can. 

I will also get around to getting the Chariot out and take my 3 year for some runs. I haven’t taken her out yet this year, partly due to the cooler weather we had been experiencing here before the recent heat wave that affected Race Weekend. I need to make a point of getting out for more adventures with her before she gets too heavy to run with like her older sister. 

Beyond that I am not sure what I will get up to in terms of running over the summer. If I do end up doing any races they will likely end up being last minute decisions. I guess if you can I have a goal for the next little while it really is just to keep active and stay in shape so I continue my annual gig as a pace bunny in the Army Run half-marathon. 

Race Report: Ottawa Marathon 2016

Yesterday was my 8th consecutive Ottawa Marathon and 14th marathon overall. Initially my plan for it was to try and beat my time from November and in the process improve my Boston qualifying time. Once it became apparent that we were in for a hot and humid weekend I changed that plan and decided just to run based on how I felt.

After watching my daughters run the 2 km with their grandparents Saturday afternoon I went home and made my usual pasta meal for dinner. I managed to get to sleep early and was ready for my 3:30 wake up call for a breakfast consisting of orange juice, oatmeal, a banana and a bagel. Finally, I ate a handful of raisins before I headed out the door to top off my glycogen stores.

Since I live close to the start line (2km) I opted for an easy run down there to serve as a warm up. It was already 18C (64F) before the start although there was a cool breeze to help. I decided to start out at a 3:15 marathon pace (4:35/km) and adjust accordingly if needed.

Figuring it wouldn’t be long before I started to feel the heat and humidity I settled into a routine of dumping a cup of water over my head at every water station and made sure to run under every misting station set up along the course. I figured it was best to get started on making sure I took efforts to stay cool before it was too late.

In response to requests from the organizers many residents living along the course also set up sprinklers and hoses to provided more relief for runners. The crowds supporting marathoners are usually strong  along most of the course but this year the support seemed even stronger than usual. As mentioned people had sprinklers set up all along the course, there were several locations where people were handing out freezies and there were even a couple of locations in between water stations where people were handing out bottled water.

My 4:35 pace felt fine through the first half but as I passed that point I knew I was going to start losing time due to a combination of a stomach cramp and the heat. By the time I hit 25 km I was now on pace for a 3:23 finish. From that point on my goal was to maintain a steady pace to get myself back to the finish line. My right calf also felt tight at times throughout the second half. I expected to have to deal with a cramp at some point but was fortunate to avoid that.

Around 37 km the 3:25 pace bunny caught up to me so I knew if I held on at that pace I finish in around 3:25. That task became a little more difficult when we made it back downtown to the point where the marathon and half-marathon courses merge. Normally the half-marathon starts at 9:00 and by the time I reach this point only the fastest half-marathoners are coming through (last year the lead male runner passed me at this point). This year, due to the heat, the half-marathon started at 8:15 and there was a large crowd of half-marathoners merging with the marathon course.

I probably lost some time over the last 3 km as I tried to make my way through the crowd but by this point but it did not matter. My goal for the day was just to have the best run possible given the conditions and I had already accomplished that. In addition, this change was necessary in order to make the day as safe for as many runners as possible.

I had the advantage of knowing exactly where my family would be watching for me to come in. As I rounded the corner to take on the final 1 km stretch I worked my way over to the west side of the road to be in position to see them. I slowed right down to give my girls high fives and my friend Greg who has been at the finish line for at least 6 of my 8 Ottawa Marathons was there to capture the moment with this photo….


I crossed the line in 3:26:37, not quite the time I was hoping for when I started my training but I am pleased with it for reasons mentioned above. Marathons are not easy and many things have to  come together on race day to reach your goal. If my current Boston qualifying time is not sufficient when registration closes in September I’ll just have to go after that again next year.

I went home and celebrated with a beer…


And lunch from Five Guys…

In a way I am sad to see Race Weekend come to an end. It really is a great weekend to be in Ottawa and an event I think is the best race weekend in Canada. Hopefully I can continue my marathon streak here going next year…

Tapering for a Marathon

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As mentioned in my last post this is my last week of tapering before my goal marathon. You may also be in the same position if you have been training for a spring marathon.

The taper period used to be the part of marathon training I enjoyed the least. With more free time on my hands I often found myself getting restless, worrying about whether there were aspects of my training I could have improved, the forecast for race day, my meal plan etc.

Actually I can’t say that I have mastered the last one. My nutrition books come back off the shelf and get frequent use during this last week. My favourites are the following ones – The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald and Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners.

Having been through it a number of times now I’ve come to accept the taper phase as a valuable part of the process of preparing for a marathon.

To get through it I’ve taken to getting caught up on reading and watching running related movies. It helps keep me relaxed and distracted about the items I mentioned above. I also enjoy the shorter easy paced runs more than I used to because it is a reminder that I am ready for race day.

Are you currently tapering for a spring marathon? If so what do you do with the extra free time?

Week 17 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

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Race day is almost here now. One week from today I will run my 14th marathon, and 8th here at home. I had one final full week of training this here although I did dial back on the mileage once again. I ended this week with a total of 79 km.

I managed to fit in two good workouts this week where I was able to push the pace a bit. Tuesday’s run ended up being a 12 km effort with 7 km done at my tempo pace.

Thursday my speed workout involved a 2 km warm up, 6 x 200m/200m easy, 5 km @ 4:30/km, 1:30 easy, 6 x 200m/200m easy. I had planned to make the workout even longer with a longer warm up and cool down and longer run at marathon pace but had to cut it short due to time constraints. I think I still managed to put in a solid effort.

This morning I went for my last long run before the marathon. It was an easy 19.6 km effort and it was fitting that I saw several of these along the way…

In terms of what’s left before the marathon I have a few 6-7 km runs and a 12 km marathon pace run scheduled. I plan to keep my mileage around 50-55 km. My training is done so there is no need to push beyond that in the final week.

More importantly I plan to try and get to bed early every night leading up to the marathon and loading up on carbs (I got  start on that tonight by picking up some supplies at the grocery store).

How was your week?

Week 16 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


Race day is now 2 weeks away. At this point the main goal is to avoid injury or getting sick. My key workouts are out of the way. I ended this week with a total of 76 km done, just ahead of last week’s effort. This week also saw my last run over 20 km before the marathon.

The key workout was my speed workout Thursday evening. This week’s workout called for a 3.2 km warm up followed by 5 x  5:00 @ 4:00/km and 3:00 easy. It was a solid run. By the time I reached the last 2 intervals I was feeling the effort and had to push myself to keep up the pace I was aiming for. 

Saturday when I went for my run I passed what is always a welcome site at this time of year, a sign of just how close race day is…

2 weeks until the @ottawamarathon #running #marathontraining #runottawa

A photo posted by Patrick Girard (@pat42.2) on

This morning my goal was to run 28 km. Despite the occasional gusts of wind the cool weather was good for a long run. I felt good and did some of it at my marathon pace…

Now I am down to my final 2 weeks of training. This week will be a final week of full training while the last week will be lighter in terms of mileage and effort. My goal, as previously stated, will be to stay healthy. At this point there isn’t really anything I can do that will improve my result on race day. I just need to avoid doing something silly. 

Next week I will still do a tempo run on Tuesday followed by speed work on Thursday. I will end the week with a long run of less than 20 km. I am not entering the point where I will start paying even closer attention to my diet and making more of an effort to get to bed on time. 

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…

Ever wonder why you have muscle soreness after a marathon?

A post about the ebbs and flows in marathon training.

A study about whether rinsing a sports drink in your mouth can enhance your performance under certain conditions.

Week 15 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


With race day now 3 weeks from today it is really starting to set in that I am about to run another marathon. Overall it will be my 14th marathon but the feeling when I finally get this close to race day is the same. When you register for a marathon and even when you officially start training for one race day seems so far away. For me when I get down to the last 3 weeks and the taper period is when it really starts to sink in.

Following 3 busy weeks of just over 100 km this week was a bit of a recovery week for me, partly because I was scheduled to run a 10 km race this morning. This week’s total was 62 km. Even though I wasn’t going for a pb this morning the recovery week was probably well timed.

Other than this morning’s race all my runs this week were done at an easy pace. In terms of highlights my oldest daughter sent me to work with a beanie boo on Wednesday because she wanted to take it to the bus stop but could not take it to school, leaving me with a running partner…

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Thursday was perfect for running and I fit in 2 runs…

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As for this morning’s race, being 3 weeks away from race day my plan was to use it as an excuse to run a tempo run. Despite  a cool and windy morning, 3C (37F) at the start, I did just that. I managed to finish the race in 41:09, my second fastest 10 km of the year. It felt good to push the race after a relatively easy week of training…

Next up are the last 3 weeks of training. That will likely consist of one more heavy week and 2 lower mileage weeks.

How was your week?

Week 14 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


Race day is exactly 4 weeks away from today. I closed out the week today with what will be my longest run of this training cycle, 35.3 km, and what will be my busiest week, 112 km.  This week was almost my 3rd consecutive 100 km week. That is a first for me. 

In the process of logging my busiest week in terms of mileage I managed to log a couple of solid faster paced runs this week. The first was a threshold workout on Tuesday. Since I was scheduled to do a VO2 max test Wednesday afternoon I got up early and did my run before work. The workout consisted of a 3.2 km warm up followed by 2 x 3.2 km @ 4:10/km with and easy 2:00 between sets followed by a cool down.

Thursday evening was time for my speed workout. Having done the previously mentioned VO2 max test the day before followed by an easy 12 km that night I was not sure how I would feel for this run. Surprisingly I felt fine and had no trouble completing the workout consisting of a 3.2 km warm up, 6 x 200m with an easy 1:30 between sets, 6.4 km @ 4:20/km, 6 x 200m with an easy 1:30 between sets and ending with a 3 km cool down.

When I headed out for my long run this morning it was overcast and cool, the kind of weather it would be nice to have on race day. My plan was to run for 35-36 km and I ended up with 35.3 done. I felt good once again during the run. It was a good way to end what has been a busy week.

The upcoming week will see me drop my mileage, mainly due to the fact that I am running a 10 km race next Sunday. I plan to use that one as a tempo run. Then I will have one more full week of training before race day. Now I am starting to get to the point where I am conscious about not doing anything unnecessary that might impact race day

How was your week?