Modified Run Streak

I’m excited to have finished my first month of daily workouts!

Each January Run Ottawa launches their running streak challenge, to help keep us motivated through those long winter days. Last year I’d just gotten a new treadmill and was excited to see how many days I could keep up. Unfortunately, I did hit a bad spot in my depression which caused me to stop running altogether before it ended. (I made it to day 18, missed two days, got four more consecutive days in, then I was DONE.)

This January I decided to attempt my own modified version of the challenge – where each day I would choose from either running, biking, or skating (which a Twitter friend amusingly referred to as the “Canadian Triathlon”, haha!). I allowed myself a minimum of 2k for running, 5k for biking, and 5k for skating. It was the perfect solution for someone like me as I was able to choose my activity depending on how my day unfolded, allowing me a bit more flexibility.

This is the first time I have exercised on a daily basis and completed an actual month-long streak, so I couldn’t be more pleased with myself!

I’m definitely liking being able to add cross-training to my training schedule! As I found out in my figure skating lessons – where you have to be able to perform the same moves on both your left and right sides – my left side is weaker/lazier, and so I will need to work on fixing this imbalance. This should hopefully help make me stronger as a runner as well as prevent injuries.

I have also learned the benefit of rest days. My speedwork training has actually worsened with each passing week, which I attribute to not getting a day off. I came in after long runs and lifting weights and my legs would have absolutely nothing left in them. No power whatsoever.

As I move forward, I will still have long run Sunday’s at Run Club and Speedwork Monday’s at the dome, but I’m hoping my legs will manage to (a) adjust, and (b) benefit from rest days earlier in the week. One can only hope!


Running Threshold VO2 Max Test Results

My original post where I describe the testing process is located here:

The results are now in, and I’ve had a chance to sit and look through the paperwork to try and make sense of it all. Not too surprisingly, my lactate values indicate that I still have work to do on building up my aerobic base. While I’m amazed by how fast I have become capable of running, I do feel it when I am out there on my longer runs. Anything over 10km and you will see a steady decrease in speed as I struggle to keep going with the same intensity. Clearly I have to focus on longer runs and building up my endurance to be out there longer, so that I can achieve my goal of running marathons!

The next set of results show my “pace zones” as following:

Zone 1 (race pace for events lasting 3+ hours):
10min/km – 7:30min/km

Zone 2 (events lasting from 40mins – 3 hours):
7:30min/km – 5:52min/km

Zone 3 (events lasting from 20-40mins):
5:52min/km – 5:33min/km

Zone 4 (between anaerobic/lactate threshold & VO2 Max):
5:33min/km – 5:00min/km

Zone 5 (VO2 Max pace for events lasting 2-6mins):
5:00min/km +

For Sunday long runs we are supposed to be in our Zone 1 in order to build up our aerobic base/endurance. I had been running a little on the fast side, so it looks like I can bring down the pace even more to reap the benefits of my distance training. For my long runs I think I should be out there for a good 4 hours at least to get my legs used to working for that long.

So now I’m wondering how long it will take me to build up a good base from this point on, and whether I should delay my next marathon race from October until perhaps April/May of next year, when I’ll probably be a bit stronger and notice more of a difference.

The test results also showed that I am an efficient runner, which probably explains how I managed to get so fast despite my fitness level, lol!! My VO2 Max came out at 38.8ml/kg/min.

The last little bit was information on nutrition, and proper fueling during training. That is, how many grams of carbohydrates and even proteins I should be consuming during a run to help maintain and even enhance my performance. Because I have a pretty strong stomach, I’m actually thinking of bringing a little protein bar with me for my long runs now, to incorporate along with my gels and electrolyte drink! I’m definitely curious to see how that goes.

Marathon Training, Week 14

Things are going well! I’m having an absolute blast with the group I’m training with. I can’t believe I’ve made it all the way to week 14, which includes hill training of up to 10 repeats and 32km long runs that span 4 hours. I’m doing things I never imagined I could be capable of doing! Especially considering the fact that I’ve never been particularly athletic – I went from couch to runner about 19 months ago, and basically moved up from 10k training straight to full marathon this January. The original idea being that I would hang in there for as long as possible, and that all of this would at least help me become a stronger runner for my 10k race in May. I wanted the challenge, but I was ok if I wasn’t yet strong enough to complete the full training. And now here I am four weeks out from Race Weekend actually considering switching up the marathon – a thought that both thrills and terrifies me in all the right ways! 😉

Highlights from my training so far include going beyond the 6 hill repeats of my 10k training, and tackling the never-ending hill on Trim Road. By the time I had completed 8 repeats there, I had reached an elevation gain of 189 metres, or 620 feet! I felt so badass! I’ve definitely been getting some sort of sick, twisted enjoyment out of the otherwise tortuous hill training, lol. My approach is to just zoom up those things and get it over with as fast as possible. In doing so I’ve become a much stronger runner and people think I’m crazy, bahaha.

Sunday long runs have also been enjoyable. Particularly because the people running the marathon clinic at the Orleans Running Room love to come up with ‘themes’ for our outings. For example, one Sunday we ran around town keeping our eyes peeled for the motivational posters they left out, and we had to collect our tag from each one (I run with the 4:45 group). We also dressed in our Canadian gear because it was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It’s little things like that which bring a whole new dimension of fun to our long runs. Plus the water stations where people volunteer to set up food and drinks for us are amazing. The treats are greatly appreciated on these runs where we’re now burning over 2,000 calories. (I never realized how much fuelling up during runs helped give me the energy to keep going until now!!) And the enthusiasm of the people running these water stations is so uplifting. Neighbours get involved, many selfies are taken. Then we’re back on the road with big smiles on our faces.

I really don’t think I could’ve handled these long runs if it weren’t for my group by my side. Not only do they help keep me at a pace that allows me to keep running these longer distances without burning out, but the conversations help keep me out of my own head and focused outside of myself too, which I really need. Thoughts like “maybe I should cut this run short and turn back” just can’t enter my head anymore.

It feels absolutely amazing to be part of Run Club and connecting with so many fantastic new friends. I’m so happy that I went for it! I walk in now and see the familiar faces of people I trained with in the 10k clinic last year, and my marathon group this year, and it’s like we’re all a big family. I love it.

Group photo with our Boston Marathon runners!