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03 2013

Lace Up For Hunger: Half Way There!

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

When I made the decision to run my first marathon, I didn’t intend to just finish. I want to run at least reasonably fast too. Also having once been destroyed by a 30k, I wasn’t going to underestimate the marathon distance. So I took on a pretty difficult training plan, running a solid five times a week at a range of speeds and distances plus one night of playing soccer. Now that I’m just past the halfway point in my training, I thought I’d take a look at where I’ve come over the past nine weeks. Lace Up For Hunger team captain Michael Oliphant finishes 30k at the Midsummer Night’s Run. My weekly schedule starts with a short “recovery run” on Mondays which is intended to get the blood flowing and ease out the soreness from the Sunday long run. I usually do it on the treadmill at my gym and walk half the distance (since the point is to recover, not run fast or long). Being at the gym, I also do a bit of strength, balance and stretching exercises afterward. Tuesdays consist of playing soccer. Actually, playing soccer has been the trickiest to fit into my schedule. Soccer itself is a lot of running, but it’s a combination of fast sprints and quick recovery. Because of the stop and go, quick turning, pivoting, and body contact, I’m usually sorer from soccer than any run. I’m still not sure exactly how it fits in my training (is it like a fartlek run? Or more like sprint intervals?). Hopefully it’s benefiting me somehow. Wednesday is a run at increasing length (started at 8k and is now at 15k) at a slow pace, the same as what I would do a long run. Thursday consists of speed work. I’m alternating between 800m sprints on a track, hill runs and “tempo” runs. The sprints started at 4 x 800; every three weeks another “set” is added. I’m up to seven this week and will eventually hit 8 x 800 in September. Hills follow a similar pattern, starting at four times up the hill on Logan Avenue in Riverdale along Withrow Park, and will eventually peak at seven. I find these the hardest of all my running workouts. Tempo runs are shorter runs done at a fast pace. I started at 30 minutes, adding five more minutes each one. After a rest day on Friday, Saturday consists of a mid-range run at the same distance as my Wednesday run. Most of these are done at “race pace,” which is the pace at which I hope to run the full marathon. I find it helps to run at that pace frequently. Your body will start to become acclimated to it, plus you’ll start to be able to “feel” the pace without having to check your watch or running app all the time. Sunday is the “long slow run,” which is exactly what it sounds like. I have learned the importance of doing this run at a slow pace, 45 seconds to a minute slower than my race pace. The point is to improve endurance by running progressively longer runs, not to run them as fast as you can. Even though I’ll be running a marathon of 42.2 kilometres, I’ll never actually run this distance in my long runs. Most programs don’t go beyond 32k long runs. I’ll be going as high as 36k, only because I’ve never run a full marathon before and feel I need the confidence of getting closer to the full 42. I am now up to long runs of 30k, which I have done three times. My longest week of running has been just over 70k, which will rise above 80k as I get up to long run distances into the mid-30s. Amazingly, a run of 21k (half marathon distance) looks like a light, easy run to me now. How perspective changes! I’ve also had one practice race, the 30k Midsummer Night’s Run, which went really well. Unlike my Around the Bay 30k race in March in which I started fast and was walking by the end, I started conservatively, and actually sped up. My final 10k was four minutes faster than the first, and I finished in 2:39, a full ten minutes faster than my Around the Bay time. Definitely a good confidence booster! It also gave me the opportunity to try out a different approach to pre-race carb loading (actually fat loading followed by carb loading), as well as test my pacing and use of energy gels during an actual race. Training at this intensity, there is always something a little sore, stiff or tight – be it my left Achilles tendon, hip flexors, or the bane of all runners, my IT bands. And one of my toe nails recently turned purple, the true mark of a runner if there ever was one. But training for a marathon has been an incredible test: of formulating a plan with a lot of complex moving parts; staying disciplined and sticking to it as close as possible, and; listening to my body and knowing when to push harder, or often more importantly, when to take extra rest. All good traits that will serve me well beyond running. Hopefully I can keep the discipline going for another eight to nine weeks! By Michael Oliphant, Lace Up For Hunger Team Captain Run with Daily Bread’s Lace Up For Hunger team at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Not running? Make a donation to support Daily Bread Food Bank and the Lace Up for Hunger team by clicking here.

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