hills

Sporting Life 10k Race Report

I think this race gets filed under the “I forgot I’m doing an Ironman” category of race entries.  In February, March and even April it was easy to keep thinking that I had lots of time before my long course races – Welland, Ironman Canada, Barrelman – that is, until I realized that Welland Rose City Tri is on June 15th, which is NEXT MONTH. Exactly 5 weeks, which is considerably less than the “lots of time” I thought I had.

I pretty much signed up for this race because I wanted to buy an Icebreaker merino shirt, and I got a $35 gift card with my $40 race entry. That was about 87% of the reason, the other 13% being that I really love racing.  Like, really, really love it.

That being said, I did pretty much everything wrong in training:

#1: I haven’t done any speed training since last October unless you count a track meet, a half marathon, or a 3x1200m that I did sometime in March.

#2: I’m only doing two decent runs a week: hills on Tuesday and long on Sunday, with some scattered recovery (read: mind-numbingly slow) and brick (read: mind-numbingly slow and uncomfortable) runs. Did I mention that I walk-run my long runs? I don’t know what fast is anymore.

#3:  I spent over 9 hours training in the week leading up to the race, including 5 spin classes from Wednesday to Saturday.  I went a little too hard on my Thursday class, because apparently I don’t have an off switch.  Oops.

raceweek

But who cares about race-specific training for a 10k, right? I have a half to train for in…oh yeah (eep!)…5 weeks. (more…)

Up and Over

Climbing technique is a key skill for competitive cyclists, and lots of recreational cyclists also benefit from learning how to properly pace and crest a hill.  We all have a tendency to ease off a little as we reach the top of a hill and the grade levels off, but if you add a push at the top and over the hill you can recover at a much faster speed than if you rest as soon as you reach the top.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do that little push to recover at 35km/hr rather than dying at 6km/hr over the top of the hill.

Okay, so now that we know the best technique for cresting a hill, how do you practice it?  By doing Up and Overs of course!  You can do these outside, on a trainer or in a spin class – whatever floats your boat. The key is to keep the effort level high until you’ve moved from the hill to the sprint.  No sneaking breaks in between! (more…)

Doing the Audacious: Road2Hope Marathon

Marathon training officially starts today! Fortunately it was pretty easy to get started because Mondays are my off day in my new training plan, so I spent about 40 minutes in the gym doing core work and rolling out my well-rested muscles. Phew!

We’ve already talked about my audacious (isn’t that a fabulous word?) goal to train for my first marathon in 10 weeks and qualify for the Boston Marathon. We’ve already agreed that I’m crazy, so let’s move on to how I plan to make it happen!

Here’s the qualifier – I’m not a new runner. In addition to my other triathlon training, I’ve been running between 35 and 45km/week for most of the summer, and I’ve done at least four long runs 20km or longer in the past two months. Obviously this training plan isn’t for someone just starting out, and I’m not a coach or a doctor so please use discretion if you choose to follow along.

My Audacious 10-week Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope Training Plan:

Week 1: August 26 – September 1 (43km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 5km easy
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – off
Saturday – 8km distance, spin class
Sunday – 20km long

Week 2: September 2 – September 8 (55km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – off
Saturday – Esprit de Montréal, Olympic Duathlon
Sunday – 20km long

Week 3: September 9 – September 15 (47km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 7km recovery
Wednesday – 10km easy tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km recovery
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 25km long

Week 4: September 16 – September 22 (62km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km easy with some hills, spin class
Sunday – 25km long/tempo

Week 5: September 23 – September 29 (69km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 12km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km easy, spin class
Sunday – 30km long

Week 6: September 30 – October 6 (55km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 7km recovery
Wednesday – 10km tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km recovery
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 33km long

Week 7: October 7 – October 13 (67km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 12km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 15km easy with some hills, spin class
Sunday – 25km long/tempo

Week 8: October 14 – October 20 (62km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 14km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km distance, spin class
Sunday – Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, 21.1km at goal race pace

Week 9: October 21 – October 27 (40km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km easy
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 15km easy

Week 10: October 28 – November 3 (63km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 8km easy with strides
Wednesday – 8km tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – off
Sunday – Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope, 42.2km

New to this training program is the addition of core work, strength training and roller sessions; every weekday I add about 30 minutes of cross training with core and roller on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and strength training on Tuesday/Thursday.

Run types:
The key to building strength and speed is to vary the training intensity, which forces your body to adapt to different stimulus and increases your running efficiency. Also, if you want to run fast in racing, you have to run fast in training!

Recovery: it’s impossible to run too slowly during a recovery run; they should be very, very easy.

Long: around 5:45 pace, sustainable effort.

Long/tempo: maintain long run pace for the majority of the run; in the middle 10km, run every second kilometer faster than 5:00 pace (marathon race pace), maintaining long run pace between fast kilometers.

Distance: relatively easy run, pace around 5:30 depending on the day and terrain; some of my distance runs include hill work since my goal race has a significant downhill portion.

Easy: pace around 5:20, medium effort over shorter distances.

Tempo: slightly slower than 10km race pace, around 4:40 based on my 10k PB.

Intervals: these change from week to week, but involve running faster than 10km race pace (4:00 to 4:30) over shorter distances (1600m and shorter). If you’re looking for ideas, check out my running workouts page.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go run!

Hills, Heat and Anything Difficult

On a weekly basis, my spin class will groan as they hear me enthusiatically proclaim, “guess what? It’s HILL TIME!” – sometimes more than once in a class – followed by, “let’s make this one a REAL challenge!”

While most people hate training in adverse conditions, hills, heat and anything else difficult only increase my enthusiasm, often leaving my workout buddies rather confused; I’ve heard a running buddy mutter under his breath “I knew triathletes were crazy!” when I suggested running our intervals on a hill rather than a flat loop. I never skip a run because of heat – if anything, I’m more likely to head out for a lunchtime run if the temperature is above 35 degrees than if temperatures are cool.

You might be thinking that I’m totally crazy (and you’d probably be right, my dad’s been telling me so for years), but I have a good reason to legitimately enjoy making my workouts a suffer-fest: I’m competitive. Races don’t usually consist of perfectly calm water, a tailwind for the entire bike course and a flat run at 16 degrees with a bit of cloud, so the more I suffer now, the faster I go on race day.

Running in the heat or tackling crazy hill repeats on my bike make me a stronger, faster athlete, and if that’s not enough to make me work for it, I just think of all my competitors who decided to skip their tempo run today because it’s too hot, or those who decided that 3 hill repeats are enough. Those are the ones who will slow down in the last 3km of the run when it’s 35 degrees out and we haven’t seen shade in 20 minutes, or who will see me pass them on the big hill in the middle of the bike portion (you know, the one with the turnaround at the bottom so you can’t keep any of your momentum for the climb back up).

I also get a mental kick on race day when I encounter adverse conditions. The cumulative experience of having finished runs in extreme heat and completed long rides in the middle of a downpour mean that instead of freaking out, I just remember that I’ve done this before and I can do it again. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it something I can do. If races are 50% mental then that’s a huge advantage right there.

The key to training in adverse conditions is to adjust your expectations and take precautions if necessary.

  • If you’re running in the heat: make sure you hydrate well, wear a hat and sunscreen, and realize that you won’t be able to run as fast as usual; nobody is doing tempo runs at their usual pace when it feels like a sauna. Try to start heat training in the spring so your body can gradually acclimate as temperatures rise.
  • If you’re doing hill repeats: take it easy on the first few because the effort builds up quickly, and judge your effort by heart rate or perceived effort rather than pace or speed.
  • If you’re riding in the rain: leave more space when following (in addition to the safety considerations, you also likely want to avoid getting a faceful of spray off their back tire) and slow down on turns as slick tires combined with oil from the road can get very slippery.

Now, I realize I’m not going to convert everyone to crazy athletes who enjoy hills and run when it’s ridiculously hot outside, but there is a perverted pleasure in doing something difficult and succeeding. Why do you think people do Death Valley ultramarathons or climb mountains? Instead of focusing on how much faster you could be going if only it were cool and flat, take satisfaction from knowing that you are a tough, badass athlete who can handle anything!