Tag Archives: marathon 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…

A post about running and beer.

A post highlighting Canadian marathoners Eric Gillis and Reid Coolsaet.

A post about knowing when to go hard and when to take it easy.

A 40 year old dad qualified for the Olympic marathon

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It

While I was off work recently due to the birth of my youngest daughter I managed to finish a running related book. This book actually applies to all endurance sports but I was interested in how it could apply to marathon training.

I managed to read a good chunk of this book while I was rocking my daughter…

What drew me to this book was its focus on the mental aspect of training for an endurance sport. The mental aspect is an important part of training for and participating in endurance sports but this is the first book I read that focused on the mental aspect.

Each chapter tells a story about a different athlete and how there surmounted challenges they were faced with. I liked this approach because it made for a quick read and because I was not familiar with many of the athletes profiled in the book.

The other aspect I liked about the book is that it made me think about my own training. More than one of the stories made me think about ways I could improve my training and race preparation.

If you are into endurance sports I think this is a book worth reading.

Adjusting to a Newborn

I have not been running or posting much lately with the arrival of a newborn nearly two weeks ago. There has not been as much time for running as we adjust to the new arrival at home.

Fortunately I have been able to fit in some runs over that time to keep me active. Most of those runs have come late at night after the kids were asleep and before I shut down for the night.

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to get in a run during the day. It was a hot day, 30C (86F), but it was nice to get out during the day again. I also had a partner join me for the run…

10 km done w. My 3 yr old in the Chariot in the heat today #runningdad #running #instarunners #run613 #6run3

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

Eventually I will get back into a more regular running routine once things at home have settled down a bit. I will be pacing the Army Run half-marathon in September once again this year.

For now I am enjoying something more important, spending time at home with my family.

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?