Double Digit TEmperatures to Deep Freeze
The perfect analogy to sum up the weather this past week in the Southern Ontario region is one heck of a roller-coaster at its best. The short term warm temperatures lead to slushy, slippery conditions which actually makes it even more difficult to run than it is in those frigid cold temperatures. You are more likely to get all muddy and miserable than ever while also having added risks of injury while trying to dodge puddles or thawing ice chunks on the road. Speaking of which, the risks of getting sick is also at an all-time high - especially if you are not properly dressed for the weather outside.
Speaking of outside, here are my recommended suggestions of what to wear or to layer up for temperatures within the 0 to -15 degrees celsius or colder.
Layering Up: becomING a Suburban Uptown Winter (Runner) warrior
(2) Athletic Technical T-Shirt + Hoodie / Tights (aka Compression Pants)
If you have run multiple races or participated in various charity runs, I am sure that you have more than enough of those t-shirts (whether cotton or technical). I recommend choosing a moisture wicking kind of shirts so that sweat can be transported out easier, leaving you comfortable and conditioned amongst the warm layers of clothing. Long sleeves work too.
Bonus: Q: Do you run with music from your smartphone? A: Based from experience, smartphones tend not to survive all too long in the Canadian cold. Battery life rapidly depletes quicker than usual when exposed and it is best to keep your phone warm during the run. Even if it involves minor inconvenience, wear your sports strap on first before wearing a second layer such as a hoodie.
The next layer would be best if it is either a hoodie or a thick fabric sweater that you intend to abuse, sweat profusely, and wash repeatedly. It is essentially your insulation and storing as much heat as you can from the running.
For the lower body, I suggest either a pair of performance tights or if last resort, joggers. As crazy as it sounds, tights will indeed make you more nimble and not feel like you're running in a sumo wrestler's suit. Most tights are also equipped with some sort of reflective strips to make sure you are visible at night (in addition to other apparels with other reflective imprints)
(3) Wind Resistant Jacket
Now that you have coated yourself with some lubrication for rigorous movement and sufficient clothing layering for insulation, getting a wind-resistant jacket top things off for your wintery run.
Happy running and stay safe out there! - M.W.
Summer Mileage Updates
Hey everyone! Seems like summer is flying by at lightning speed fast and almost over before you know it.
From my last entry to now, the mileage accumulated still hovers around the 60km range while juggling weekday work and some other weekend casual part-time shifts.
I noticed that I have been running much more efficiently compared to last summer. Base from the Strava stats, I see from the matched runs of the same routes that I do over and over is becoming easier to manage as proven by the overall pace, decreased average heart rate, and an increase on cadence. Once again, I see this as the real-life data analysis and application (math.... yeah.) contrary to my high school self thinking that I will never use what I learned ever again LOL.
The crisp, not-so-humid weather and cooling temperatures is also gradually transitioning during the early morning and dusk hours. Good for runners and definitely a sign that autumn is just around the corner. No need to be reminded just by the pumpkin spice lattes alone haha!
Anywho, back on the grind and race season is almost upon us!
Niagara Falls Marathon Training cont.
Been slacking a bit on the blogging side of things, especially during the dogs days of summer - sorry!
However, training has resumed three weeks ago and have been averaging around 68 km weekly for the past few weeks.
Just like what I wrote the last blog entry , I have been roughly following through one of the Strava Premium training plans in preparation for my marquee fall race at Niagara Falls in October. One of the things I made flexible for myself is to not force runs on any particular given day and having the leverage to closely hit the weekly mileage target on a cumulative basis. This upcoming week, I will be entering week 4. And unlike previous training sessions, racking up such mileage doesn't feel as difficult from previous attempts. I do however have to constantly fight the mental side of things to get myself in tuned and getting outside for a run even though my mind doesn't feel like it.
The highlight of these past few runs is finding the controversial cow statue up in Cathedraltown, Markham. I just had to see the hype in person! But what amazes me is that I am now physically capable of running off to places that would've otherwise require a bike ride or a short drive.
I'll be back on the grind again for the next few weeks and update from there on!
Cheers, - M.W.
The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Edition
Longest. Race. Ever. (For now...) , at least mission accomplished - FIRST EVER ULTRAMARATHON NOW IN THE BOOKS!
But just like how life is about the journey and not the destination, the same can be said for the running train ups leading up to the big day
Respect the distance. Respect the elevation. Everything looks easy when looking at other people's Strava GPS log and observing their metrics until you have to conquer the dexterity yourself first hand. I was pleased with this year's performance for the most part but of course, there are much more things that can be done for next year's improvements.
Trail Running Versus Road Running
I personally tend to consider myself more of a road runner than a trail runner. For competition, I am more bias towards road whereas for trails, I tend to personally enjoy myself with the nature, scenery and surroundings.
Road running is more paved, predictable and highly accessible for runners living in the downtown core or suburban uptown residential areas. If speed-work is necessary, you don't have to go too far off to do so - perhaps a school track field or an indoor treadmill will do the trick.
Trail running is easier on the feet, with softer landing surfaces compared to the hard asphalt. It is the perfect escape from the hectic surroundings of the concrete jungle and the 9-5 office environment. However based on weather conditions, the running conditions can get very tactical. In this particular case with the race, the mud was more so in a clay like condition. Footwork and cadence that you're used to with road running will no longer be as effective with trails. Especially since you also have to be mindful of the surface conditions such as tree uproots, rocks, uneven grounds, bridge crossings - all while trying not to get hurt along the way.
Start time to the 50K was at 7:00 am. In order for me to be well-prepared, I woke up at 4:30 am, get changed, apply necessary anti-chaffing ointments / bug sprays, fill up hydration bag and grab a quick Timmies drive-thru run for my coffee. As mentioned previously, always stick to your own preferred race food procedures. For me, it is a whole banana and strawberry yogurt and a large double double for good measures. I left a whole hour around 6 am solely for the washroom routine so that there won't be any washroom related issues during the race.
Prior to the start of the race, I left another 45 minutes before gun time just to get moving / walking / jogging to kickstart a transitional heart rate raise without spiking it from a lack of warm up. Mental-wise, I feel much more prepared than the half-marathon one that I did exactly one year ago. I still recall getting caught up in the opening hype and over pushed myself the first 2 km into that race. I corrected that rookie mistake this time around and instead of being in the middle of the starting wave, I waited for the start three quarters into the start line.
I was instantly discouraged by the sights of the wet puddly mud pits in the first few steps right after the start line. "Oh fuck," I thought to myself, "this is going to be an extra shitshow of a run..." It was that moment where I decided to ease back on my already slow pace so that I can hopefully still have some reserve energy and willpower in me to finish in the final few miles. In my mind, I was solely focused on tackling the first 10 kilometres as they would be one of the most intensive obstacles throughout the run. This was based on other runner's Strava data for this very race and they proved to be beneficial going into this race. After the first 10K and a bit, those clay like mud pits were everywhere as I was going uphill. You simply had to slow down and in some cases, side step on the moss or grab a side tree branch to boost yourself upwards. Technical, challenging but fun I suppose. And then of course the uphills. Lots of them... unless you are an elite runner that has trained up to beat up your quads, it is best to just walk up those hills (or at least power stride your way up anyways) Second half was a bit more forgiving with the trail way for the most part. For me, I had a relatively steady running pace to get a momentum going for several kilometres before those mud pits make their return visit with a vengeance just when you're beginning to feel fatigued. I also recall having to do two river crossings, good for clearing out some mud but bad for getting your feet wet if it hasn't already been like that yet.
When everything was all said and done, the official completion time was registered at 7 hours 57 minutes and 6 seconds.
Three things that stood out during the race was (1) having ice filled into my hydration pack whenever I get the chance at the aid stations (2) dropping ice down into my running jersey as a physical "air conditioning" from overheating, and (3) the importance of bringing ibuprofen if in the case of headaches and temporary pain relief [as this was proved helpful to my brother who was also running along side with me]
The aid stations were plentiful throughout the race, resourceful with adequate liquid and solid fuel as well as medical team readily available for assistance. Another bonus was seeing fellow Team Running Free members providing support simply by being out there (whether volunteering or also racing in various races during the race weekend). Nonetheless, very humbled.
Will I do it again for future editions of this race? Certainly! The amount of future trainings will dictate whether I stay at the 50K distance or further challenge myself to the flagship 50 miles.
Race gear: Salomon SpeedCross 3, CEP compression socks, Ciele FSTcap, Team Running Free triathlon jersey, moist towelette (if necessary)
Playlist: note - for safety reasons, no music was brought so that I have the senses to be mindful of any obstacles and hazards around my surroundings, instead the soundtracks below were played driving up to the Blue Mountain Village and departing from.
Opening & Closing Soundtracks
Looks like weather will be heating up this week, so I will most likely resume recovery running Tuesday and onwards. If not, then back to some indoor recovery on the treadmill. As most websites suggest, we all need some down time for rest and bodily maintenance. So, I will be taking the remaining July and August slightly more on the easier side and not get too caught up with racking too much mileage. Next upcoming race won't happen until late September with the Oasis Zoo Run and hopefully smash the last record set in 2015!
CHEERS! - MW
Happy Canada Day and happy #Canada150!
Time has definitely fly by in warp speed. Before you know it, it's already summer and running is pretty much in full swing for those that don't have school or taking a break for a bit.
For me, it's also a good mid-year recap of all those things I've trained and accomplished getting to where I'm exact at right now.
It's personally quite hard for me to believe that I have already racked up more than 1,500 km in mileage with my own legs. Some days I simply joke as to that I run more than I do when I drive to and from my workplace! The mileage mostly comprises of training and a few races as listed and recapped in my previous blog entries. All in all, it was detrimental to my sanity when some days are downright shit and need some temporary diversion to get back into things and tackle each and every of life's problems.
I have also got quite a few additions to my running gear so far this year 🙈 and lots of justified wants purchase. A few pairs of training and race shoes, some Team Running Free sponsored apparels, hydration pack, energy gels and chews, and a better GPS HR watch as mentioned last week in the name of more stats and metrics to improve upon. In theory, running should technically be the cheapest way to get into a healthy hobby considering you grab a pair of runners and go outside. However, expenditures start to tally up if you are constantly striving to become a better runner and chasing for a new benchmark from the previous one. As they say, you have to make an investment on your hobby 🙄
As for the second half of the year, I'm expecting more or less the same kind of momentum moving forward. The only difference is that the races are more significant than the halfs and the 10K. The ultramarathon 50K is in two weeks time. The full road marathons are also set in motion for October. And to also keep things humble and modest, I still have huge respect for all distances because you never know what kinds of treacherous conditions or unforeseen circumstances that sneak up on you when you least expect it after all the preparations that you can ever do for yourself have been done.
It's been a blessing to be able to thoroughly enjoy the running journey thus far this year and it's even more enjoyable sharing this passion to those that have a growing appreciation of this gradual lifestyle change.