29 Mar 2018

Training Update: 5 Weeks to the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Time for an old fashioned training update. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I completed my first half marathon back on February 11th at the Vancouver First Half Half Marathon 2018. It was an awakening for me - I loved every second of that grueling 1 hour and 52 minutes (read my race breakdown HERE).

Almost immediately after that event, I registered for my next half marathon: the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon (which most know for the full marathon) on May 6th, 2018. When I registered, it was 12 weeks away, so I came up with a 12 week training plan to get myself ready.

Now, I ran the Vancouver First Half in 1:51:58 (chip time), which I was really happy with for my first half marathon. My goal was to run it in under 2 hours. And I did. In fact, before the race I told a couple friends that I thought I could run it in 1:52, so my estimate was spot on!

For the BMO, my goal is to run it in 1:45. So in order to do that, I have to substantially improve my average pace from 5:18/km at the Vancouver First Half down to 5:00/km. That's a pretty substantial increase in a short period of time. But I think it is entirely doable.

My training plan is roughly as follows:
  • 3 runs per week (fitting in a 4th maintenance run whenever possible).
    • Tuesday/Wednesday - Speed Work: Run 1:00-2:00 intervals at fastest possible pace, 2:00-4:00 recovery pace. Total run time 30:00-40:00.
    • Thursday/Friday - Maintenance: Race pace run 30:00-35:00.
    • Sunday - Long Run: Starting with 10 km run at 10 weeks, and increasing by 1-2 km each week, up to 2 weeks before race. So this week (5 weeks to go), long run is 15 km.
The big challenge for me is that I have a number of work trips through March and April that I have had (and will have) to train through. It shouldn't set me back at all, but I do have to be diligent in fitting those runs in, even when I am out of town. So I have to bring my running gear and then fit in treadmill runs if I have to (I hate treadmills).

At this point (March 29th - 5 weeks until race day), my training is completely on track. I have been routinely fitting in all my runs (3 per week). I have been keeping my weekday runs short (close to or just over 30 minutes) and on point (one speed work and one maintenance) and allowing my weekend run to be the long one. I am trying to be more structured with my speed work run - something that is completely new for me. I have historically just gone out to run and focused on time and distance. But now I know that if I want to get faster over long distances, I have to run faster in short distances first.

I have had two big challenges over the past 2-3 weeks though. First one is that my legs have simply been tired. Every run of the last couple of weeks has been exhausting. I have had to change up my diet a bit to get more natural foods in me, including increasing my consumption of fruits and vegetables. That has made a noticeable improvement. And the last couple of runs have started to feel much better - back to my normal energy levels.

The other challenge is that I've had some problems with my back. I tweaked it somehow, and the problems were compounding for a few weeks. I suspect that both of these issues were connected too - I was adjusting my gait to compensate for either my back or lack of energy, which was compounding the other issue. 

In order to combat my back issues, I have been focusing about 20 minutes per day on core strength exercises. Combined with a few visits to the chiropractor, this has made a huge difference. I also eliminated stretches that put pressure on my lower back. I learned that some of my post-run stretches were actually straining my back. So I have had to make a few adjustments there. I am not back to 100% yet, but getting very close and feeling much better.

So here I am. 5 weeks to go until I run my second half marathon. I am pumped. Now I just need to incorporate some hill training.

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