Tuesday, 24 June 2014

#128 Comes and Goes (In Waves)

The Longest Day Ekiden Relay start. Friday June 20th. Leslie St. Spit. Photo: A Thuss.
Before I begin, I'd just like to thank ALL the runners, volunteers and supporters who came out to make 'The Longest Day Ekiden Relay' a success. It's great to see the Toronto running community come together and celebrate our collective commitment, competitive spirit and camaraderie. Complete results can be found here.

#STWM Marathon Training Part I: A Need for Speed

Training for STWM is now officially underway (technically it began several weeks ago with continued recovery and "base building") but before logging the big miles and hammering long intervals to prepare us for racing 42.2, Coach Campbell has us (The Black Lungs) do a four week "speed phase" with fewer Ks and faster (funner?) shorter intervals and hill workouts.

As an overview, our weekly mileage remains steady around 100-120K with a single speed session on Thursdays, a weekly long run (21-27K) on Sundays, and lots of easy and aerobic (i.e. auto-pilot) runs with occasional striders added to the end.

As an added "treat", many of the Lungs are also either running the Pride 5K this Saturday (that may or may not be exactly 5K, but which is nonetheless a fantastic event with great post-race refreshments) or the Canada Day 5K in Burlington a few days later. These efforts are meant to both test our current fitness and speed, as well as develop it further. It's also a great excuse to race a shorter summer race and enjoy the team aspect of running as a group. Of course, the post race beers and BBQ help quite a bit too!

From a more personal perspective, I am not in the best head space right now when it comes to running. I'm in a bit of a rut as I continue to deal with a right leg (hip, groin, not exactly sure what) issue that is manageable most of the time, but occasionally a pain in the ass (quite literally in fact). Add to this a more recent issue acclimatizing to the heat and humidity (combined with low iron levels) and I find myself more fatigued than I should be and unable to hit the paces I want too or run comfortably for very long. Luckily, it is 'early' in the build and I am very much hoping to "run through" these issues and arrive on the other side, better and faster than before.

This time last year things were looking very different as my training was going almost perfectly to plan. I was injury free and about to break 16 min in a 5K for the first (and to date, only) time. This I did at the Pride 5K (2013) where I ran 15:53, good for third overall and was over the moon. 

Just today I wrote a short piece for the (Canadian Running) magazine about our self-perceptions (of who we are now and who we want to be in the future) and how we can 'use' these to our benefit. A big impetus for that was where I'm currently at. As runners we are always looking forward and hoping to continue to improve. It is therefore very challenging (mentally more than anything) when weeks, months and perhaps years later, you are not only NOT moving forward, but feeling as if you're going in reverse.

I've never been one to use excuses for failure or sub-par performances, but rather pride myself on always remaining positive and taking control of my circumstances. Now more than ever, I must consider the long term goals I have set for myself (i.e. running well at STWM) and make the changes that will set me up for achieving them. That is likely to mean acknowledging and accepting this current setback and doing what is necessary to get through it.

We all struggle from time to time. Runners know and experience this perhaps more so than many others. It's how we respond to our struggles and overcome them that make us the better people and better runners we strive to be.

Monday, 16 June 2014

#127 Here we go again...

Once again, it's time to start...

Blogging that is! 

You might have thought I was referring to running and training, but as many can attest, I simply never stop doing that!

So where to begin?

How about with some recent race results?

Last (last) Sunday (June the 8th), I ran the Bread and Honey 5K. It's a wonderful event and part of the Bread and Honey Festival in Streetsville, which is actually part of Mississauga. It's a mostly flat and fast (certified!) course in which I finished 7th overall in 16:30 (3:18/K) and even managed to have some fun chasing down and sprinting to the finish with my BLT training partner Darren Lee, who beat me by a hair (0.3 of a second) in the final few metres!

The result itself is far from my best, but almost exactly what I expected given the lack of speed training I've done recently (since Boston) due to a nagging and mostly annoying groin injury. It is however an honest and perfectly acceptable result that gives me a good gauge of my current fitness.

Even more recently (like yesterday), I was in Winnipeg for the Manitoba Marathon. All day Friday and Saturday I was working the expo for Canadian Running and giving away copies of our Canadian Race Guide. On Sunday, I then took part in the event by running the Half and just as I did the week before, I was spot on in predicting my finish time. On a cool and wet morning, on a perfectly flat course with excellent marshaling and descent crowd support, I managed to run a 1:15 flat which was also good for 4th place overall. Again, this is nowhere near a personal best, but still a good 'starting point' what with the real training for a fall marathon set to begin.

And now with only 18 weeks to go, it's definitely a good time to 'start!' 

If you didn't know already, I'll be running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon #STWM on Sunday October 19th. As the marquee event of the Canadian Running Series, STWM is an exceptional running event in every aspect and I'm super excited to be part of it. This will be my seventh attempt at the marathon (42.2K) and was also my marathon debut back in 2011. As usual, I won't shy away from stating my goal of running a personal best (PB). At one time, I boldly claimed I would attempt to run sub 2:30... and believe me, I would absolutely LOVE to do that! But until I see evidence to support that goal, running a PB (i.e. faster than 2:34:13) will be my primary aim and the basis of my training. As extra incentive, I'll also win a case of beer from race director Alan Brookes if I manage to beat his personal best of 2:34:40. Game on!

Start of the 2012 #STWM. I'm in there somewhere!
As you'll see over the next weeks and months, my training will be done with the continuous support of my amazing run crew, Black Lungs Toronto. With a carefully crafted program and plenty of speedy teammates to chase around, I'm probably more excited for the daily and weekly grind of the training (the 'trial of miles') than the actual event itself. Always a fan of cliches, "it's not about the destination, but about the journey getting there..." And a journey it will be.  

I'm also super excited to announce that for the first time ever, I will be running for a charity. Although the details are still being confirmed, I am looking forward to being a part of the Alzheimer's Toronto team which aims to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's Disease, a cause that is very near and dear to my heart (stay tuned for future blog posts on the topic). The Alzheimer's Society of Toronto (@AlzToronto) is an amazing local organization that supports those affected by the heart-breaking and debilitating illness and I would greatly appreciate your support for me, my team and my chosen charity. A fundraising page will be launched shortly, at which time, I'll direct you there in the event that you'd like to support us.

I'll leave it at that for now and encourage you to check back here for regular updates or follow me on Twitter @dansway07. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy running!