Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not good for my confidence

I decided to run the hills around my neighbourhood this morning as my last hard workout before the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. OMG, what a struggle. The first part of the run was downhill; no problem there. However, I really laboured on the first incline and ended up taking a walk break once I reached the top. On the next hill, I started experiencing side stitches -- another walk break. All this in a short 20 minute run!

So, am I ready for Sunday's race as I thought I was? I'm not so sure anymore. Did I do enough outdoor running in cool temperatures? Did I do enough morning runs? Did I do enough hill work? Did I taper too early?

I'm going to have to rethink my race strategy and time goals.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Taper madness

My mileage this week is way down as I taper in preparation for next week's race.

Many runners experience what they call taper madness. After months of training building up mileage, they feel a void with the lack of running in the last couple of weeks. I didn't think this was going to be a problem for me as I looked forward to taking it easy.

However, it seems that I'm showing symptoms. Since I'm running less, I can push harder. Right? I ran faster for Monday's tempo run. I run faster for Wednesday's hill run. I ran faster for yesterday's "long" run (albeit only 4 miles).

I only have a couple more runs scheduled before the race and those are only 30 and 20 minutes respectively. If I do those on Monday and Wednesday like I usually do, that leaves 3 days of nothing before Sunday. That seems like too long. Do I squeeze one more run in on Friday? Do Monday and Thursday instead?

Then there's the sleepless nights as I lie in bed and calculate splits and race paces trying to decide on my goal time. Do I go conservative, try to break 2 hours or go for a PR (personal record)?

Oh, the madness!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's on my iPod

Here's a sample of what I listen to while I run:
  • You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

  • Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams

  • Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm

  • I Want You To Want Me - Cheap Trick

  • Paralyzer - Finger Eleven

  • We Got the Beat - The Go-Go's

  • Paint It Black - Gob

  • Holiday - Green Day

  • Somebody Told Me - The Killers

  • Promise - Simple Plan

  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

  • Money Honey - State of Shock

  • Vertigo - U2

  • Panama - Van Halen

Friday, April 18, 2008

T minus 2 weeks

The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon is now just over two weeks away. This week's runs were shorter as part of tapering but I kept up the intensity. I did speed work on Monday, some hill work on Wednesday and then 8 miles today. I upped my speed for the last 2 miles to something closer to my race pace. Cardio-wise I felt good and my knee was fine but the bottom of my feet hurt and I was probably close to suffering blisters. I think it's time to get some new running socks.

I had thought about entering this Sunday's Vancouver Sun Run instead of running today's miles but decided against it. I really enjoy running the Sun Run and it would have been a good rehearsal for an early morning race but I probably would have been tempted to go for a PR (personal record) and that may be a bit risky with only 2 weeks to get ready for the half.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ice bath

I was a bit sore after my LSD last Friday so I tried a post-run ice bath. It wasn't actually an ice bath since I didn't use any ice but it sure was cold enough. Ice baths are supposed to promote quicker recovery although there is some scientific debate regarding their benefits.

It certainly doesn't have the appeal of sitting in a jacuzzi but a hot bath is the worst thing for your muscles after strenuous activity.

A cold bath is quite a shock to the system and I never did feel comfortable and I didn't last more than 5 minutes which probably isn't long enough to have the desired affect. Anyway, as I sat in the bath, it reminded me of an episode of Seinfeld.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taper time

The BMO Bank of Montreal Vancouver Half Marathon is just over three weeks away.

Today's LSD (long, slow distance) run was 11 miles. This is the longest run in the training plan that I'm following. I ran it on a treadmill and I felt good and I probably could have maintained the pace for another couple of miles. I must admit, though, that I did entertain the thought of cutting it short at 8 miles. I ran at a 5.5 mph pace which projects to a 2:23 half marathon finish. I should be able to beat that on race day.

After the run, I felt more fatigued than I have for any other run so we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

From now until race day the training runs will be shorter allowing my body to recover from the training of the last few months so that it will be in peak condition on race day. This is known as tapering. By now, I have attained the level of fitness required to run the half marathon so the remaining runs will be used to maintain that fitness without risking injury or fatigue. A lot of runners find it difficult to taper as they stuggle to adapt to reduced mileage. I don't foresee that as a problem.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I did some speed workouts yesterday. I'm not fast at the best of times but I ran relatively hard yesterday. It felt good at the time. The workout was on a treadmill and I stretched afterwards.

However, by last evening my shins were aching. I knew that I had pushed myself too much. I have never had shin splints before so this was quite disconcerting.

I'm taking today completely off and they're feeling much better but not 100%. I'm hoping they'll be fine for a workout tomorrow.

With the half marathon less than 1 month away I'm going to have to be smarter with my workouts. I now know that there's a fine line between pushing oneself to advance performance and going over the edge and jeopardizing the ultimate goal.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Recovery week

This week was a "recovery" week. My LSD (long slow distance) run was only 5 miles. Not too long ago I considered a 5 mile run to be a significant distance. It's kind of neat that I now feel that it's an easy distance again. I haven't felt like this since 2005.

Next week my LSD will be 11 miles. This will be my longest run prior to the half marathon. After that I'll begin my taper and reduce my miles.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Canucks do it again

All they had to do was win against a non-playoff team missing its leading scorer, top defenseman and best goaltender. Edmonton was playing a mean-nothing game (for them) while our playoff lives were on the line. The Flames had lost to the Wild so with a win the Canucks' playoff hopes were back in their control. Instead, they fell short. Again.

The game was typical of the whole season. They lacked scoring and a killer instinct. C'mon, they had 18 minutes of powerplay time and they couldn't win. And, for a team built around defense, there were terrible breakdowns. And, the goaltending wasn't good enough when it had to be.

I've never been one to jump on and off the bandwagon and I won't jump off now but it's been a frustrating season. There's always next year. But, losing 6 of the last 7 with the playoffs on the line is a terrible way to end the season but, unfortunately, we've seen this before.

Changes will need to be made during the offseason. Trevor is probably done as a Canuck. So is Naslund. That's too bad because, at the right price, he can still contribute to this team. However, he now has too much baggage to come back. Nonis has his work cut out for him to re-shape the team but at least he now has some salary cap room to work with. Let's see what he can do.

I guess I can start cheering for the Flames in the playoffs. Nah, who am i kidding; I can't do that. I'm a Canucks fan.

Back to running...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stanley Park

I have heard stories about the hill at the 8 mile mark of the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. The race goes through scenic Stanley Park (a must-see for any visitor to Vancouver). Since today was a rest day, I decided to go for a walk around Stanley Park and check it out.

I haven't been to the park in years so, although I was generally familiar with the route, I had no recollection of how bad the hill was. I was quite surprised by the number of trees damaged from the wind storms last year. You read about it in the papers but still it's quite a shock to see.

The hill itself was generally gradual for about a mile as you climb up to Prospect Point.

It's followed by a nice downhill stretch that will be good to make back some of the time lost.

It's not as bad as the hill I ran yesterday but much longer. I think more hill work has to be part of the plan for the next month.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


On Wednesdays, I work on my hill running. Hill training is a great way to strengthen the leg muscles, particularly hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. It improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness as well.

Usually I do my hill training on a treadmill but today I ran around my neighbourhood. From where I live I have to deal with hills no matter which direction I go. I didn't do the classic up-and-down a hill workout; instead, I just ran randomly around some areas where I knew I'd encounter hills.

I only ran 3.1 miles but it was pretty difficult at parts. However, I ended up running a quick pace (for me), pretty close to my typical 5K pace.
The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon has a pretty steep hill at the 8 mile mark so I'm hoping that this hill training is going to pay off during the race.