Chasing Three Hours
I’ve been chipping away at the sub three hour marathon for a while now. Like many runners I came into the game late, I don’t have a running background or any semblance of an athletic history for that matter. Sure, as a kid I enjoyed semi-athletic activities like riding bikes, but the geography of rural Canada (Ontario) makes self propelled transportation a normal part of everyday life. In high school I took up skateboarding and missed out on organized sports (as a skater and teenager sports were very uncool). While in College I followed the boarding trend and joined the snowboard club. I was back on my bike though riding (30km) daily to school to save a couple bucks on Toronto’s Transit, but that certainly doesn’t count towards an athletic history. Through my University years I spent summers planting trees which was hard work, and I was part of the mountain bike club, but we drank more beer than we biked. After school I did a bit of travelling (Japan), got a real job, and moved to Calgary. No athletics, no organized sports. So take everything I say with a healthy grain of salt. :)
I started running consistently in 2010. As a cubical dwelling IT worker I felt out of shape, but you can read more on why I’m running. I signed up for a half marathon (2009) and trained for a month. For the last 4km I waddled like a green plastic soldier, but had fun. My brief month stint as a runner ended until I signed up for a full marathon (Calgary 2010). At this point I started doing my research; tapers, technical clothing, and the world surrounding running were still a mystery. I followed a basic online marathon training program, ran the marathon, survived and had a good time. Read more about my first marathon. I then signed up for another marathon (Vancouver 2011) with the ambitious (secret) goal of breaking three hours. I trained through the winter, ran Vancouver, and had a humbling marathon. I made so many mistakes in that race, I didn’t fuel, I didn’t hydrate, I didn’t have a proper base, and I became intimately familiar with ‘The Wall’. Read more in my 2011 marathon results. I flitted with a couple other marathons that summer improving my nutrition, but left the three hour goal untouched.
I finally met my three hour goal at the 2012 Kelowna marathon and so much has changed in the year between these two events. Since Vancouver (2011) I’ve been running with people that are significantly faster and more experienced than myself (I find it motivating to be the slower guy). I’ve accepted that there are no shortcuts to improving as a runner and that to run faster I need to spend more time running at an easy pace (not at a harder pace). For Kelowna I ran five days a week and logged 80km (50mi) or more weekly (leading up to the marathon), whereas for Vancouver I ran three days a week and logged about 60km (37mi) weekly. I’ve been running my long runs based on heart rate as opposed to pace. I’ve bought into the theory that by running based on effort I’m compensating for adverse weather and more difficult running routes. Interesting enough I’m running my long runs faster while following effort vs pace. I’m focusing less on complex training programs, although every run has a goal (75% HRM, V02Max, endurance, etc…). I’ve started running tempo runs in place of intervals (the jury is still out on whether this is a good idea). I also started working exclusively at a stand-up desk and I stand all week (tight hamstrings, running, sitting, then running do not mix well). Basically running has become a part of my lifestyle. Running takes consistent work, but it is a lot of fun. Here’s my track from Kelowna.
Splits (min/km) for Vancouver and Kelowna