The 2015 Season Training Program

January 18th, 2016
The program

My training season for 2015 was loosely based on Timothy Noakes 90km Comrades Marathon Training Program from the Lore of Running. Noakes’ program reads a lot like a marathon plan. It’s broken into 13 weeks where the first 6 weeks are a base phase, the next 5 weeks are a build phase, and the final 3 weeks are a taper. Through the base phase I kept things comfortable focusing on getting 8 hours of running in weekly, doing one workout of substance, and becoming accustomed to back to back Saturday / Sunday long runs. During the build phase I tried to do two workouts of substance every 10 days while running longer back to back runs on the weekends. In the final taper phase I cut down hourly volume by 40% three weeks from race day, then ramped up to the hourly volume equivalent to the race duration (an 8 hour race typically meant 8 hours of running this week) two weeks out, then reigning back to short easy runs and a couple intervals the week before the race (these weeks usually totalled 3 hours of running). I was only able to do the full 13 week build once at the beginning of the season for the Elk / Beaver 100km, after that I’d start counting backwards from my next race and work through the training schedule from there. I did make a couple modifications since Comrades is a road race and I was planning to run hillier courses. My modifications included: running nothing shorter than 1,000m intervals (I kept the recommended duration though), capping most long runs at 3.5hrs (the program recommended a 50km run), interchanging tempos and hill workouts when I could get to the mountains, and logging trail miles twice a week (usually one of my long runs, and one of my hill workouts). I felt this approach worked out well enough, but balancing quality, volume, recovery, and the “fun factor” through the build phase without an objective eye was harder than I expected.

Some of my favourite workouts for the year:

The Man Maker (6-8 reps of 3 minutes on followed by 1.5 minutes active recovery climbing a 7-10% grade) from Rob Krar (check it out on Strava).

The 20, 10, 6, 6 Tempo Session: 20 minutes of tempo, 2 minutes of active recovery, 10 minutes of tempo, 2 minutes of active recovery, 6 minutes of tempo, 1.5 minutes of active recovery, 6 minutes of tempo, and profit!

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Running Tags:

Running The Rut Mountain Run 50km

December 26th, 2015

The singletrack disappears into a mountain of scree, from here on up small coloured flagging attached to what looked like clothes hangers lead the way. My pace takes a marked dive as I run into the first 45% grade climb of the day. I’m only 22km (13mi) in – the last two hours have been a warm up on excellent singletrack. I pass a fellow runner that says he’s bonking, I hand him a couple emergency gels. Moments later, a baby faced member of the the Team Salomon rips by me charging up the climb with a set of poles. Where did he come from? It’s still cold, there’s frost and a light skiff of snow in the shadows. The sun has only been up for an hour now and I was able to leave my headlamp at the last aid station. I keep moving – often on all four. I crest the hill and I’m intrigued to see a fixed rope to assist on a downclimb. I make my way along the ridge, down the chute with the rope, back up along the ridge and onto another rustic trail obscured by the shadows of the morning. By now a small pack of us have formed, the footing has improved, and we’re charging down the hillside. I’m trying to keep one eye on the trail and the other eye on the sparse flagging tied to the tiny alpine trees. We round a corner just in time to watch three runners tumble down a slippery grass meadow covered in snow / ice / frost. They try to stop, but slide into the rocks below. The group I’m in dials it back, we get down the slope – some of us sliding on our butts – we check on the runners and keep moving. By now we’re 25km into our race with three more substantial climbs remaining and we’re only halfway through The Rut 50km.

The Rut packs a punch! The 50km event is just over 51km with 3,500m (11,000ft) of climbing / descending. It boasts some high elevation with a peak that tops out at 3,500m, sections that require all four limbs to ascend, lots and lots of singletrack, and some gnarly / sketchy / rustic sections that require choosing your own adventure – some sections have no trails. It’s an exciting race with a deep field that will certainly test your mountain running chops. It’s also part of the Skyrunning series that are tremendously popular in Europe. When I ran it in 2014 I was floored with how difficult the course was (some reconnaissance on this course is a good idea if you can). I expected the race to fall inline with what seems “standard” to North American trail races. I expected: a small amount of single track, runnable climbs, lots of double track / fire road, and cruisy descents. This course turned all my expectations upside down. It was a complete brute. Upon finishing it I was mildly disappointed with my performance, because… well… I knew I freaked out / was overly cautious on a couple sections – notably the dinner plate size scree (talus?) field with no trail and the snow / ice covered descent where runners were hurting themselves as they slipped and bounced down the rocks to the bottom. Interesting though, today this race lives on as an epic and I really want to do it again. Here’s my track.

“runners tend improve their performances on the same ultramarathon course once they become more familiar with the exact details of the route.” – Lore of Running (658)

It’s fair to note that in addition to an amazing course, this event is also phenomenally well organized – great food, great environment, great accommodations, and great after party.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Review, Running Tags:

Running The Winschoten World 100km Championships

November 18th, 2015

We gave one last round of high fives before the Canadian Team split up and scattered alongside the sea of chompy anxious runners awaiting the gun at the Winschoten road race. Today the Netherlands, Belgian, European, and 100km World Championships were all at stake. The crowd’s enthusiasm was palpable and the energy was electric as 500 scrawny long distance runners tried to avoid shivering in the cool damp morning. I had an unusual amount of anxiety this morning as I toed the line. Secretly… I was wishing for a new set of legs. I wasn’t feeling top notch, but tried to remind myself that anything can happen in these long races and that I just MIGHT surprise myself. Unfortunately, my day never did improve and the Winschoten 100km turned into my most taxing days at the races to date, but… hey! That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Team Canada at the Winschoten World 100km Championships

So… what in the world happened in Winschoten?! Well… the gun went off, I crossed my fingers hoped for magic, then ran. This course was broken into 10 10km loops and for the first three loops Gary Poliquin and I chatted and passed the time (a definite highlight). Loop 4 and 5 were OK, but I was feeling crumby, and by loop 6 I was pooped and spent more time in the portaloo then I’d like to admit. From this point onward I struggled with motivation and real tiredness. I was struggling with some cramping. I felt extremely fatigued, hungry, deflated, and discouraged with how difficult these 10km loops were becoming. I earnestly tried convincing our crew and team that I should stop, but they’d have none of it. I wasn’t physically injured, they wouldn’t let me sit down. I begrudgingly marched on… for another 40km, until I covered the entire 100km in just under 10 hours. Putting that into perspective, the top male was 6hrs and 22 minutes and the top women was 7hrs 8 minutes.

They won't let me stop!!!
The negotiation. Thanks for taking the photo Jeremy Walsh

Looking back, my performance was largely my own fault… well… with a couple factors out of my control. Here’s what I think happened. Recovery; I wasn’t rested. I raced a 50miler four weeks prior. In a perfect scenario I could have recovered, but I failed to factor in: jet lag, hot weather, extremely poor air quality in Calgary, traveling, and the additional stress of being out of my element / routine for too long. Mental fortitude; I underestimated the mental focus required to run a multi hour event. Even while running an incredibly stimulating race with beautiful terrain, grinding climbs, tear jerking views, and ankle twisting single track. I still find the task of running gets tedious as I pass through the six hour mark. Running 10km loops on an exposed paved course required an entirely new level of mental fortitude that I did not possess the day of the race. There’s a good chance that I burned through my mental strength in that same 50mile race four weeks prior. Bottom line, I wasn’t rested physically or mentally. Tapering; I was stale toeing the line. My preferred two and a half week taper was extended to four weeks due to terrible air quality in Calgary – Washington had a huge forest fire and we were blanketed with toxins for almost two weeks. My lungs are sensitive. I shut down my workouts to avoid getting sick when I should have been peaking. I tried making the best of the conditions, but didn’t feel right with the long taper. I could have used more skin in the game; all major expenses for this event were the responsibility of the athlete. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that securing any funding for these events requires a great deal of time and effort (I’m very grateful), but a higher level of commitment from a country or sponsor comes with a higher level of accountability from the athletes. Not trained for the terrain; summer is about four months long and extremely precious in Alberta. I took any chance to run the trails / hills / mountains when I could have been logging hard paved miles. I underestimated the need for course specific running and the confidence that flat hard paved miles can instil. Add it all up, throw in a long day on the roads, and things did go pear shaped, but that’s OK. Hindsight is always 20/20 – definitely one of the downsides to self coaching. I know I’ve gained some new experiences here.

Being part of the Canadian 100km Team is an experience I’ll always remember and my team mates and our crew were fantastic. It was an honour to wear the Canadian jersey, and the race… well… the Winschoten 100km will live on as my most taxing event to date, but this new running low might give me a whole new comfort range to work with. Next time I’m going through a lousy patch at an event I can remind myself that it’s probably not quite as bad as Winschoten.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Running The Harriers 2:18 Run Elk / Beaver 100km

June 8th, 2015
The Elk / Beaver 100km

The Harriers 2:18 Run Elk / Beaver Ultras take place just outside Victoria, BC. The race distances range from 40km, 42km, 50km, 50mi, to 100km all of which incorporate 10km loops around the Elk Lake and Beaver Lake. The course is mostly gravel, a couple short dirt double track sections, and one glorious fast short paved section. The course is pretty flat and fast overall, it’s rated as one of the faster ‘trail’ races in Canada. The Canadian 100km National Championship occasionally uses this course. This year (2015) was a Championship year and I ran it. Here’s my experiences.

Stephanie and I stepped out of the Victoria airport into the sweet smells and warmth of summer. Steph would be crewing for me – giving me a hand with hydration, fueling, and moral support through the race. Our first order of business was to grab my race package downtown at the 2:18 running store. At the store I chatted with a number of participants and veterans of the course. Some of the veterans spoke of the difficulty this course presents – it’s flat, the pace is constant, there’s no chance to change gears. The reality of the distance I would be running along with some doubts about finishing started creeping in. I continued with my carb loading rituals: lots of rice, fruit, some pasta, water, and loaf of local focaccia. Then for the remainder of the day we kept things low key with lots of park time and reconnected with some old friends – I’d worked and lived in the area for a year while saving to go to Japan. Around noon I noted the temperature had hit a high of 27C (80F) – temperatures a lot higher than I’d been training in. That night we checked in early. The wake up call went off (4am), I was feeling rested, confident and a bit apprehensive. We made a quick stop at the closest coffee shop (Tim Horton’s). I sucked back an extra large coffee diluted with cold water to aid in chugging, and we were off to the Elk / Beaver Lakes where I’d be running ten 10km loops through the course of the day. I nearly arrived late, with just enough time to get through my pre race ticks: tie shoes, test the fit, retie shoes, retie shoes, jacket on, jacket off, retie shoes. Should I wear arm warmers? We toed an imaginary line in the grass, the race director started the countdown, and we were off!

The race was on! A small pack or runners formed a gap and took off from the start – all race distances start at the same time, some of these speedsters were in the shorter distances. I lingered behind sticking to my plan of 45min laps. For most of the first, second, and third lap I studied the course and chatted with any runner that would talk. Steph was doling out the snacks – one gel every 30 mins – and water at the primary aid station. I continued to trail behind the pack. Steph reported that I was gaining time and by my fourth lap I started passing runners. At 60kms I was leading and now banking time. I was still feeling pretty good and felt like I was running easy. My seventh lap was coming up, this would be the special ‘no man’s land’ lap – I’ve never run beyond 60kms. Around this time we were also entering the heat of the day and the trails were quickly losing their shade. The temperature was hovering around 25C (77F). On this seventh lap I grabbed a handful of candy in place of my gels (possibly a mistake of not sticking to my nutrition plan). I clipped through 70km just as a familiar and very unwelcome twinge in my right inner calf hit me. Calf cramp! NO GOOD! My calves and I have a rocky history. I bombed into the aid station, downed some salt, more water, and potato chip (chips yum!). Steph thought I looked frazzled, so she jogged with me for a bit. 500 meters into our jog and my calves flat out seized. Toes pointed downwards, unable to balance, I stretched them out. I started trying to run, they cramped again. We stopped, I took a bio break (my hydration was good). I mumbled to Steph that I wanted to stop running now. We were only 500 meters from the aid station and 600 meter from the car. Being so close to a comfy seat was mentally difficult. Steph slapped me on the back, gave me a quick pep talk, and we jogged a bit longer. My calves continued to cramp. I made it two more kms into my 8th lap (82km), then told Steph I needed to plod through this alone. I made it another 1000 meters to an unmanned water station on a picnic table. Both my calves were still spazzing uncontrollably. I sat on the table pinching and kneading my muscle in effort to release cramp. I started doing some math – another 17km at calf cramp pace might take three hours! I started making deals with myself. I thought “if I get passed while sitting here then I’m walking back to the car”. I spent 20 minutes sitting at this unmanned water station downing water. No one passed. Weird thoughts were rolling through my head, but one comment I had heard at race from a fellow who gutted out a terrible race stuck out. His comment was something along the lines of: “those front runners don’t know how to suffer, they won’t think twice about dropping when they aren’t making their time goals or when it gets tough”. My time goals were slipping, but I thought I’d try to gut it out. Besides I had made it 83% of the way. I was so close – 17km is roughly one loop of the Calgary Reservoir. I stood up and started shuffling. I made it 500 meters just as second place passed me – now I was the hunter, one of my favourite place to race. Another 750 meters and I was good. I tried to run, no cooperation, back to the shuffle, but I wasn’t losing too much ground to the new leader – it felt like we were two turtles racing. Another 1000 meters of shuffling and my calves started cooperating! Although my stomach was sloshing uncomfortably from all the water I had drank. By the end of 8th lap I had regained ground. I was back in first, and the legs were cooperating. Well… cooperating enough. I passed through the aid station for the last lap just as my watch died. This lap would be in the dark, based completely on feel. I was being chased and knew I had to make this lap count and also knew my calves might not cooperate. I ran through this final lap faster than my previous three (factoring out the aid station stop). I continued to regained time and crossed the finish line with a smile. I was happy to have completed the whole thing, happy to be able to sit down, and being the Canadian National 100km Champ for 2015 was a nice added bonus.

The Elk / Beaver 100km

It’s fair to note that this is a small event. I was competing against twelve other men and my primary competitor was likely beat up from his marathon the weekend prior. My goal was to finish in the range or 7.5 to 8 hours. I finished in 8 hours and 8 minutes. My average pace ended up being 4:53 min / km. I lost 19 minutes during my calf cramp lap. Aside from the cramping I enjoyed racing the longer distance, but I was VERY surprised at how difficult it was to self pace – after five hours and leading I had a hard time talking myself into working harder. In a National Championship year they do not allow pacers on this course, I’d love to run a flat 100km with a pacer or in a pack with similar goals. It’s interesting to look at the course results and see how they differ between the years that allow pacers and the years that don’t. Overall the event was really well organized, the camaraderie was fantastic, the trails were great, and the eight hours of running went surprisingly fast. I’d run this race again and will definitely be running another 100km event. In retrospect I should have stuck to my nutrition plan, I need a watch with a longer battery life, and I’ve already started with the calf raises. Also, I need to be faster in the aid stations in the later stages of the race.

Here’s my track and an official race report from the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club. Special thanks to Stephanie for her fantastic crewing!

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Review, Running Tags:

Run Like a Dog and Just Eat

April 27th, 2015

Charlie Spedding’s comments about diet from 1984 are just as valid today.

“Everybody wanted to know about training, shoes and diet. … a lot of [runners] were hoping they would be able to eat themselves into peak physical condition, rather than follow … quite a lot of training. There were various fad foods, supplements and diets, and I was often asked if eating … would improve performance.” – Charlie Spedding, From Last to First (14)

Spedding won the Olympic Bronze medal for the marathon in 1984. His comments above were reflections on the seminars and speaking gigs he gave following his win. It’s interesting that we haven’t progressed in the last 30 years. Whether it’s the high fat low carbs, paleolithic, vegan, vegetarian, or whatever diet. As runners, we’re probably still overly concerned with diet shortcuts and less interested in logging miles and just running like a dog.

“Effort is everything. Just do it. Run like a dog.” – The Pitfalls of Run Coaching

If you’re looking for a good running book then pick up From Last to First. Spedding’s race recounts are really entertaining. If you have the time also check out 14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life by Alberto Salazar too. Both books interweave – both authors ran some of the same races, and were in their peak around the same time.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Running Tags:

Running Philosophies

March 13th, 2015

Finding running advice online is tough, fortunately there are many great books on the subject. Here are a collection of quotes and sources that influence my running philosophies.

Keep it frequent. Keep it consistent.

“How often you work out is the most basic element of training for long-distance [events] … consistent frequency throughout the year is the most effective way to maintain fitness” – Going Long (37)

“inconsistency in training makes for a never-ending struggle to maintain … fitness” – Hansons Marathon Method (12)

Run at least 30 minutes. Get used to running frequently, then extend these short runs later in the season.

“Even a 25-minute run is better than forgoing a workout altogether” – Hansons Marathon Method (110)

“I suggest a minimum of 30 minutes for most [easy] runs; the stress isn’t great, and the benefits are substantial.” – Daniel’s Running Formula (98)

Long runs start at 90 minutes. Be careful exceeding 3 hours.

“endurance training stimulates [glycogen storage and fat utilization] and increases the capillarization of your muscles … stimulate these adaptations [by running] 90 minutes or longer” – Advanced Marathoning (14)

“place a two-and-a-half-hour limit on [long runs] … Runs of three hours or more aren’t popular for elite runners .. Ultramarathoners and some marathoners will benefit from runs in excess of [38km]” – Daniel’s Running Formula (98)

“If you regularly do [two-and-a-half hour runs], you’ll become strong but slow … You’ll also increase your risk of injury because [fatigued muscles] lose their ability to absorb impact” – Advanced Marathoning (15)

“2-3 hours is the optimal window for metobolic adaptations in terms of long runs. Beyond that, muscle break down begins to occur. ” – Hansons Marathon Method (52)

“it is best to be a little conservative about the long stuff. This approach will enable you to recover quickly, maintain consistency, and avoid injury.” – Going Long (11)

Tempo / lactate threshold workouts are great for long distance runners. Speed / interval sessions are good too. Do some every week.

“A high lactate threshold is the most important physiological variable for endurance athletes” – Advanced Marathoning (5)

Keep your workouts under control.

“perform your tempo runs under desirable weather conditions and on relatively flat terrain with good footing … the goal … is to maintain a steady intensity … You can monitor your heart rate, but a steady rhythm under constant conditions is what you want” – Daniel’s Running Formula (113)

Rest once a week or whenever you need it.

“you should always take either an easy day or a rest day between [planned] workouts” – Hansons Marathon Method (109)

“Take a complete rest day once a week” – Going Long (15)

Try not to take two consecutive rest days.

“While recovery is important, cumulative fatigue calls for only partial recuperation” – Hansons Marathon Method (14)

“If you must take two days off per week, try not to have them be two days off in a row.” – Going Long (7)

“After two days … insulin response was dropping, oxidative stress was rising, and metabolic activity within individual muscle cells was slowing” – Don’t just sit there

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Running Tags:

Running the Lost Soul Ultra 50km

February 25th, 2015
The Lost Soul Ultra

The course for the Lost Soul Ultra meanders along the Old Man River pulling runners over the undulating coulees surrounding the prairie town of Lethbridge Alberta. The Lost Soul has a manageable amount of climbing (1,300m over 53km) on the main loop, but conceals numerous insults and packs quite the punch for a prairie run. It’s a challenging course and a phenomenally well run event. It easily has the best stocked aid stations and volunteers. I definitely plan on running this event again.

When I ran this race in 2013 it was my first run over five hours. After glancing at the course profile online I planned to put most of my effort in the hilly section (the first 33km) then cruise the flat section back to the finish. This was great in theory, but I had never actually seen the terrain. I had no idea what kind of surface I’d be running on, nor had I been acquainted with a coulee, or even been to Lethbridge! The easy flat return section that I had banked on, just did not exist. Instead I encountered: sand, wet slippery grass, sticky mud, bushwhacking, and tiny flying bugs everywhere. What a surprise! My poor hydration, overly enthusiastic pace, and the accumulation of the steep descents finally caught me around the marathon mark. Cramps in my inner calves started alternating between legs. My friends at the final aid stations giggled afterwards about my degrading running form in those final miles – I felt like Frankenstein and apparently I was running like him too. Most of the last 15km was spent managing cramps and on the final steep descent I awkwardly descended backwards for fear of a calf cramp locking my feet pointing downward and sending me tumbling through the cactus, down the steep bank, and into the river. I finished the race in five hours and change (first place), but was running scared those last couple miles. The finish wasn’t satisfying, it wasn’t a good race, and I realized that I had a lot to learn for these multi hour trail events.

In short, the course is more difficult than it looks. The coulees are great fun, but the descents are steep and abrupt. It was quite an insult to nearly tumble back into the river valley after a nice gradual climb, but every great course contains insults – that’s what makes them so great. The running surface of the Lost Soul ranged from narrow well worn trails, to matted paths through fields, to bushwhacking, to very small sections of road. If you’re planning to run it, then practice steep river bank descents, running on grass, and make sure you get your hydration right. Here’s my track.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Review, Running Tags:

Success Traits, Being Your Goals, and Recovery

February 11th, 2015

I forgot what a gem Going Long: Training for Triathlon’s Ultimate Challenge by Friel, and Byrn is. While this book is targeted towards the athlete training for an Ironman distance triathlon it has a lot of overlap with long distance running material and endurance athletics in general. Here are a couple sections and ideas I liked.

Success Traits
The successful traits of an athlete are listed as: confident, focused, self-sufficient, adaptable, quietly cocky, and mentally tough. Confidence is loosely described as balancing respect for yourself and your athletic abilities. Self-sufficiency by taking full responsibility of your actions, and taking calculated risks to try to win rather than trying not to lose. Quiet cockiness because “[they] know they have what it takes physically to succeed [but the] most successful ones never brag about this … their assuredness is obvious to anyone who watches … they don’t talk about how good they are … they are afraid it would come back to haunt them.” That last trait really resonates and follows the behaviour I’ve observed in world class athletes.

Being Your Goals
The section on being your goals expands on the success traits. It’s suggested that in order to be a champion we need to eat, train, recover, behave, and become a champion. By becoming a champion we’re striving to be the best we can. In our diet it’s suggested that we: eliminate processed foods, get our energy from whole sources, limit starchy and sugary foods to during and after workouts. Champions know that “success does not imply arrogance”. There’s also mention of how “athletes have a fear of truly committing to their goals” and I can certainly relate.

In addition to these broader soft ideas there’s a lot of good technical information on training plans, workout phases, breakthrough workouts, recovery, etc… All of which share a lot of commonality with ultra marathon / marathon training plans. I’m always amazed at the time commitment these Ironman level triathlons require – 15 hours weekly to just complete one! Imagine what a runner could do with 15 hrs or running per week.

A couple thoughts on recovery from Friel, and Byrn:

Remember that there is no such thing as a ‘recovery run.’ Recovery sessions should be non-impact oriented

Your mind will try to convince you that you are different from everyone else, that you need less recovery. History has shown that almost everyone is best served by resting.

Rushing recover is a false economy. When your body needs rest, it will take the rest that it needs by any means necessary. Fatigue, illness, burnout, and injury…

If you’re wondering, Friel, and Byrn suggest recovery should take four to six weeks following a full effort race. This is definitely a book worth picking up.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Review, Running Tags:

Chasing Three Hours

October 11th, 2012

I’ve been chipping away at the sub three hour marathon for two years now (since 2010). Like most runners I don’t have a running pedigree, I came into the game late with a meagre semblance of an athletic history. Sure… as a kid I enjoyed being active – riding bikes, treking – but the geography of rural Canada made self propelled transportation a necessity for fun and socializing. In high school I took up skateboarding along with smoking and missed out on any organized sports or athletics. Through College I followed a similar vein. Became a member of the snowboard club, stopped smoking, joined the mountain biking club, and started riding my mountain bike 30km a day so I could save a couple bucks on transit fare to afford my Kraft Dinner. Through my University years I spent summers planting trees which was really hard work and one of my most rewarding jobs to date. After University I travelling, taught in Japan, got a real job, lived in Ontario, then moved to Calgary Alberta. No athletics, no organized sports. So please… take any bit of my fitness advice with a a healthy grain of salt. :)

As a cubical dwelling software developer (2009) I was spending 8 or more hours at a desk, I was feeling out of shape and generally crumby, but you can read more on why I’m running. I signed up for a half marathon as a dare, trained for a month, and ran the marathon way too fast, but had fun. That brief stint as a runner lasted a month and a half until I signed up for the full marathon the subsequent year (2010). At this point I realized I needed to take things a little more serious. I started doing my research. Learned about fascinating things like: tapers, technical clothing, and nutrition. I followed a basic online marathon training program, ran the marathon, survived and continued to have fun. Read more about my first marathon. In 2010 I was pretty close to a Boston Qualifier and quickly signed up for my next marathon (Vancouver 2011) with the ambitious (secret) goal of breaking three hours. Now I started taking things more seriously… I trained through the winter! I ran Vancouver, but had a humbling marathon. I made so many mistakes in that race (not enough water, not enough fuel, not enough fitness) and hammered into the wall. Read more in my 2011 marathon results. In 2011 I flitted with a couple other marathons that summer improving my nutrition, but left the three hour goal largely untouched.

Finally in 2012 at the Kelowna marathon I broke that three hour barrier and it feels like so much has changed. I’ve been running with people that are significantly faster and more experienced than myself over the past year (I find it motivating to be the slower guy). I’ve accepted that running is hard work, there are no shortcuts to improving. If I want to run faster I need to run more and at a relatively easy pace (75% heart rate maxish, not at a harder pace). While training for my sub three hour marathon I ran five days a week logging 80km (50mi) per week, whereas my previous marathons training was three days a week with about 60km (37mi) weekly. Recently 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 (tight hamstrings, running, sitting, weren’t jiving with my running). Running has become my lifestyle.

Splits (min/km) for Vancouver and Kelowna

Kelowna vs Vancouver

Here’s my track from Kelowna.

Update: In 2013 I ran a new personal best of 2:43 at the Sacramento Marathon.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Running the Moose Mountain Marathon

September 13th, 2012

I’d been running through the dense vegetation of an Aspen forest without much sign of life for almost an hour now. Tufts of matted grass trail-side occasionally grabbed my foot threatening to take me down. I try calculating how long until I’m out of the woods through a carbohydrate depletion mind fog. I figure another ten minutes. Suddenly something large starts crashing through the brush towards me. It’s black, it’s big, it stands up… I brace for the worst… a blond pony tail whips through the air. Thank goodness! It’s a woman in black Spandex picking mushrooms and not a bear! A couple minutes later and I’m behind the finish line of the Moose Mountain Marathon eating homemade soup and scraping the dried remains of an energy gel from my shirt, shorts, and legs.

Moose Mountain Marathon Course

The Moose Mountain Marathon in Kananaskis Country starts and finishes in the West Bragg recreational area (45 minutes outside Calgary Alberta). Close to 150 runners participate in the three distances (16km, 29km, and 42km). The 16km (10mi) course is the most popular distance and also the least scenic. The 16km route takes you through the Aspen forest of the Telephone Trail where you spend most of your time looking at your feet, dodging mud holes, climbing through cattle fences, and being frightened by Spandex wearing mushroom pickers. The 29km (18mi) is the most scenic, it’s basically one big hill race with a 1000m (3200ft) gain / loss. The 29km route takes you along the Moose Road Trail, Moose Packers Trail, to Moose Mountain Trail, and then back. At about the 10km mark you break through the tree line and continue to run the next 8km surrounded by spectacular panoramic views. The 42km (26mi) option combines the 29km route and most of the 16km route. The elevation gain for the 42km distance is somewhere in the ballpark of 1700m (5500ft), the highest point around 2300m (7500ft), and the actual distance closer to 40km than 42km. It’s a great course and event. I will definitely run it again.

My race plan going into this event was progressively conservative – in the Powderface 42 I targeting an 80% max heart rate, this time I targeted a marginally higher rate of 83%. Things went well, I took the climbs at my own pace, worked through a couple side stitches in the first half, and legs felt good on the descents (likely the results of weekly trail running). Coming through the 27km aid station I was told that the guy ahead of me had a 5 minute lead. So.. I took my time, ate some party mix (there’s nothing better than cheezies and chips on the run), had a couple drinks, took a quick pit stop in the woods, then back on the trail. The final portion of the run was through the overgrown Telephone Trail where it’s hard to look at anything but your feet – let alone know if someone or something is closing in on you. After crossing the finish line I was surprised to learn that I had narrowed the gap to 70 seconds. If I had known we were that close I would’ve run harder! I finished with my 83% goal. Here’s my track.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags: