Well, it's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and this one will be my last as the designated blogger for October. I have really enjoyed writing the blog, and I was hoping on writing a few more entries than I ultimately ending up writing. That is due in part to the fact that I was away on my honeymoon this past week! I did much more eating than running on my vacation, although I did get in one brief 4 km run. So, this post won't be including any training recaps or fun race stories. Instead, I'm going to do a review of my 2016 running season, discussing my goals, my training, and my results.
As I mentioned in my running backstory post earlier this month, I came into 2016 feeling unsatisfied with my results in 2015. I had decided to take a step back from my other sports, and I was hopeful that that would allow me to dedicate some more time to proper running training and allow me to improve my times. Heading into the 2016 season, I had 5 races/distances that I wanted to improve on. Here they are, with my PB at the start of the 2016 season and my goal time for the 2016 season:
|Pre-2016 PB||2016 Goal|
My primary focus for the year was the Tely, and I used a tool called Craig's Running Calculator at www.fasterrunning.com/calculator to determine my other goals from there. Obviously trying to lower my Tely time by 5 minutes was ambitious, but I was confident that if I trained hard enough that goal was within reach.
When I began running in early January, I didn't have any real specifics as to how much I planned to run, and my approach at that point was to do a steady run on the treadmill twice a week and do weight training the other two days. This was the base of my training from early January right through to the Boston Pizza Flat Out 5k in early April. I would run a 4 mile run on Tuesday and a 3 mile run on Thursday, with strength training Monday and Wednesday. I started at a pace of 6.9 mph (5:26/km) and rampped up by 0.2 mph each week, topping out at 8.1 mph (4:38/km). I ran the Flat Out in a time of 23:31, which I felt was a decent time for an early season 5 km on a wet, cold day. My goal for the year was a 21:30 5 km, but the plan all along was to aim for that at the Five and Dime in September.
After the race, I had a good conversation with Marc about training approaches to improve your times. He mentioned that he had a spreadsheet that someone had given him, that had originally come from Derrick Roul. It outlined a 12 week interval training program, and would give you suggested training paces based on your goal time for a given distance. This sounded like a great tool, so I got Marc to send it to me and began my interval training. The great thing about the program was that it called for interval running on Tuesday and Thursday and a long run on Sunday, so this allowed me to keep up my twice weekly weight training as well.
Since the 12 week window for the Tely didn't start until early May, I spent the 3 weeks leading up to that time as a trial run. I entered a 72 minute Tely goal time into the spreadsheet, thinking it would be good to push harder than my goal, and then did my best to run the speeds and distances that were suggested. Bad idea! The Tuesday workouts were short intervals (less than 400 m), and I was able to push through those, but the Thursday workouts were long intervals (800-1600 m), and they were killer. I found myself completing half or less of the suggested number of intervals. Some quick internet research, and a chat with Marc, confirmed that while it is a good idea to run a little faster than your current pace when trying to improve, pushing too hard is counter-productive and can lead to injury. Lesson learned.
The beginning of May came and I settled into the 12 week program, using my goal time of 75 minutes to set the pace. All of these interval runs were done on the treadmill, as I prefer the consistency of the pace and distance when doing these workouts. I got outside for a couple of 10 km runs on my own in early May, my first long runs of the year, but then I got sick the 3rd week of May and missed a full week of training. I'm pretty sure the cold was brought on in part by fatigue, as I was now doing 2 hard interval workouts, 2 strength workouts, and a long run each week. I decided at this point to cut out the weight training for the remainder of the running season, which I think was a very wise decision.
While the interval training was a change in my training routine, the change that occurred at the beginning of June was actually the biggest of the year for me: I went for a run with some of the guys from PRC. Up to this point, in my nearly 3 years of running, including training for 3 Tely 10s, 3 C2Cs, and a marathon, I had done every single training run by myself. From 20 minute light jogs on a treadmill up to 3 hour, 32 km long runs around Mount Pearl, every step I had taken in training was taken solo. Now, I think there are benefits to be had from running alone, and I will likely write a post of my thoughts on that someday. But having made the switch to running my long runs with the group this year, I can definitely say the benefits of group running are greater.
So, June brought a few training runs with the guys, and it also brought my second race of the year, the 10 km at the Uniform Services Run. I hadn't run this one before, and speaking with Marc beforehand he said it wasn't a great course for a PB. My plan was to push for my 2016 10 km goal at the Turkey Tea in October, and after talking to Marc I knew aiming for 45:00 at the USR wasn't a good idea. I still decided to go for my old PB of 48:07, and I ended up crossing the finish line at 47:59 on my watch, with an official time of 48:07. Given it was still early in the year and a difficult course, I was happy with that result.
Heading into July, I was feeling good about where my fitness level was heading into the Tely. I got a long run in with Andrew G and Todd on Canada Day, and then I ran 35:26 at the Mews 8 km, which was only 6 seconds off my goal for the year. At this point, I was cautiously optimistic about my chances for a sub 75 minute Tely. To be honest, I felt on the right day I could potentially push closer to 72 than 75. Unfortunately, as anyone who ran the race knows, July 24, 2016 was definitely NOT the right day. The race started out great, and I passed through 8 km right around my Mews time of 35:26 (4:26/km). But then it got hot. Really hot. I passed through 10 km at 45:23, which meant I had slowed to a 5:00/km pace between 8 and 10 km. If I could manage to keep that pace, I'd be right around 75 minutes. But the heat, combined with the fact that the last 6 km includes the toughest stretch of the course, meant that it wasn't in the cards. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 76:20. Now, I was proud of the fact that I had dropped my PB in the race by 3:44. I know that is something to be proud of. But the Tely was my goal for the year, and I REALLY wanted to crack 75. So this one stung.
I went to the PRC Tely After Party, and my race was quickly put in perspective. I'm actually probably lucky no one smacked me upside the head. "You are disappointed with a near 4:00 PB in today's conditions?!!" After I heard that two or three times, I figured I needed to re-calibrate. Thankfully, Andrew G was there to help. We had run side by side for most of the long runs I had done with the group up to that point, and his words of congratulations and support were exactly what I needed. He knew how much I wanted to hit my time, but he also made it clear to me that the time is only part of the story. He knew how hard I'd trained, he knew where my fitness was, and he assured me that on a better day, I would have killed 75 minutes. I know I've praised Andrew up a few times in my blogs already, and anyone who knows him knows he deserves every word of it. But of all the things he did to help me become a better runner this year, that talk was probably the most important. It helped reset my mind and reset my focus for the races yet to come.
Throughout August and into early September, I restarted the interval training, and increased my speeds to be based on a 72 minute Tely instead of a 75 minute. I also took advantage of the fact that most of my running group (Andrew/Marc/Kiley/Todd) were training for either the full or half marathon at Maritime Race Weekend. I would usually meet up with them 1/3 or 1/2 way through their long runs, provide them with a pit stop, and then join in for the remainder. This provided the dual benefit of getting my distance runs in on some great routes designed by the guys, and also further opportunities to glean as much wisdom as possible from the guys. Early September brought the 5 km at the Five and Dime, and while I didn't hit my goal of 21:30, I came awfully close with a 21:41. That set the stage for a strong finish to the season, which I won't hit in detail as it's been covered in my previous blogs.
In the end, I ran 7 races in 2016, and I came away with a PB in all but the first one. I didn't hit all my goals, but by the end of the year I had dropped my 5 km PB by over a minute, my 8 km by almost 3 minutes, my 10 km by over 4:30, my Tely by 3:44, and my C2C by a whopping 15:15.
|Pre-2016 PB||2016 Goal||2016 Time|
I can be overly hard on myself when I don't hit a goal sometimes, as I mentioned about the Tely above. But it is hard not to look at those results and be proud. I pushed myself to improve, and the results are right there. The improvement is inarguable. And ending the year on the high of that C2C result makes me hungry to get back on the roads in 2017 and push those times down even further.
As I've outlined in this blog, I made two big changes to my training this year that I feel led to these improvements. The first was the interval training. I had dabbled with it in the past, but this year I put in close to 6 months of training where I did 2 sets of intervals each week. They say if you want to run fast, you need to train fast. For me, that seemed to work.
The second, and more important, change was to start training with a group. I said above I feel proud looking at those results; I also feel grateful. Those times are mine, but I didn't get them all on my own. I learned so much running with our group this year. Every single person in our crew helped me at some point this year. I want to thank the core group of Andrew G/Marc/Todd/Steve/Kiley/Neal, each of whom I ran with at least 5 times throughout the year. The conversations were unique depending on who I was running with, but there was always something there I could use. My goal at the start of the year was to push myself as far as I could; in the end you helped push me further.
There were also many people who joined us at different times (Chris/Dan/Ed...), but I won't try to list them all as I'll likely forget someone. But thanks to you all. And thanks to others in the club for words of wisdom shared over coffee, or post race. I mentioned before that I was fortunate enough to have runners in my family, and that helped a great deal starting out. Being immersed in a running community has added to that greatly, and I feel very lucky for that.
And before I finish, on the subject of gratitude, I need to thank the most important person in all of this: my beautiful wife. We have two young kids, and on many of the Saturday mornings that I would leave at 6:30 and come home 4 hours later, she was the one at home keeping them busy. And she never once complained, she was always supportive, and even though she's not a runner, she listened to all kinds of running talk from me this year. And as you've all seen from my blogs, I can go on, and on, and on! So thank you hun, for being there for me through it all, and for giving me the opportunity to do something I love.
Well, that's it. I'm pretty sure the total amount of words I've written in October is much higher than any month since I left school. But it's been a lot of fun. The experience of breaking this all down has been truly enjoyable, and I thank anyone who has taken the time to read them. I hope you've enjoyed them as well.
Cheers and Thanks for Reading,