What's Been Happening...
Spring is finally here and it's also pretty much transitioning into spring running season! Looks like I already broke my resolution of posting more often and then doing the exact opposite couple weeks thereafter ?- I guess I'll make it easier on myself by doing monthly editions, perhaps that will keep things more interesting
I have been keeping average weekly mileage ranging from 75 to 85 km for the past few weeks. This also includes visits to the gym and the dreadmill in which I make sure I don't take any shortcuts by maxing out the incline on the treadmill and steady pace. Majority of the runs stuck to my marathon training regime for May, while other runs are squeezed in strictly as a post-daytime work diversion and clearing my mind (and it helps!) And shoes! Out goes the old ones that accumulated over thousands of kilometres and in comes two pairs of Saucony as my primary workhorses. TBH, the more mileage racked up, the better the excuse it is to buy more pairs of runners as a reward to myself ?
Throughout the past weeks of missing in action, I ran the Chilly Half-Marathon in Burlington and also the signature Around The Bay 30K in Hamilton as training benchmarks towards the main goal of the full marathon in Pittsburgh this upcoming May. For weekly long runs, I managed to set a minimum of at least 25km and keep pushing the mileage boundaries without provoking any preventable injuries. The biggest highlight of them all is my recent 50km run with my brother from my house all the downtown Toronto! I am extremely proud in the sense that I checked off one of my bucket list items and actually turned that mythical points of destination into reality.
First race of the year! This race is the first since the last one in Hamilton for the full marathon. It was a great opportunity to shake off the rust and the race day jitters altogether. Call me superstitious but I am a big believer of starting things (or in this case, the running season) on the right foot (and pun intended!). By getting my pre-race routines and game day rituals right, it helps me significantly to replicate the same best practices for the year ahead. In this case, this Chilly Half helped set the tone for the Around the Bay couple weeks later.
This was my first time competing in this race. Race day pickup was at Mercedes-Benz Burlington. As a car guy and related to my daytime work, I had an enjoyable time being fascinated by nice cars all around not to mention the very long sleeve race shirt for this year. It was a nice touch to have it in black with silver caption accents, so nice that Canadian Running had an article for that very subject.
The course itself was flat and very reminiscent of the Barrie Half Marathon route that I did last June. The start line was somewhere within the middle and you first run towards Hamilton before looping up the lakeshore area northeastward towards Oakville. The only obstacle for this race was mainly the weather as it can significantly vary from year to year. This year was sunny but quite windy so my pace was adjusted to tailor to the conditions. To my delight, I managed to obtain a new half-marathon PB by 2 minutes over the past record in Barrie.
Would I do this race again? Certainly will and I did! The 2019 edition of Chilly Half will be Sunday, March 4, 2018. And it just can't get any better with free beer and chilli after race to complement that PB.
Around The Bay
...I enjoyed the Valley Inn Road so much I came back this year to conquer it again ?- NOT! I am so glad my winter running training plan effectively bailed me out amidst my busy work schedule week. My mind was not ready but my physical training offset the indifferences and it all turned out great. I rode the confidence booster from Chilly Half into this race as well as the lessons learned from last year and the year before in 2016. This year, I decided to tackle the first (fast) corral but tucked myself way at the back of the line. Why? Ample of space within my surroundings. Also, this gives me enough time to slot myself in a comfortable but fast enough of a pace to set the tone for the entire duration of the race. By the 2nd kilometre, I felt that pace I had was sustainable enough to keep me going and so my next priority was finding somebody with the same pace to run behind so I don't feel the full brunt of the headwind crashing towards you. The Burlington skyway segment brought me back memories from my Hamilton marathon so that was a nice distraction during the run. Another thing I did differently was sticking with my gel pack intake during my run and being discipline about it. Just that alone gave me sufficient time absorbing the calories and converse it into my run when I need the energy most. Compared to last year, I had not feel especially tired or suffer tremendously compared to last year and especially during the infamous hill, I felt that I still had lots left in the tank to tackle the hill. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself being featured on Canadian Running's coverage of this year's ATB, check out the YouTube clip below!
When everything's all said and done, I managed to carve out an 11 minute PB over last year's result which further sentiments incremental improvements towards the grand prize: full marathon PB and eventually be competitive enough to chase for the unicorn.
Pittsburgh Marathon is only a few weeks away and I have one more short distance race (Race Roster Spring Run Off) and a few more long runs before tapering. I have been seeking areas with major hills to combat such obstacles if it very well indeed shows up. I'm feeling mentally confident but it doesn't mean jack if I don't continue trusting and following the process set in place for myself with my training. You know what they say: "actions speak louder than words" To be continued next month with updates to my progress then! Cheers - M.W.
Roller Coaster Weather
The weather has not been kind in the past two weeks in Greater Toronto Area. It has been a constant cycle of merciless snowfall, freezing temperatures, or a combination of both.
I barely hanged on with a whole lot more visits to the gym with the treadmills and upper body workout to complement the constant abuse on the lower body from the running mileage. I also managed to stay focused by having online motivations such as an online Strava badge ?. In this case, it was the 5 x 5k challenge as reflected this past week with five consecutive days of running.
Mike's Winter Essentials: Nathan Halo Fire - Review
Disclosure: This headlight was bought out of my own pocket and did not alter my influence for this review
The Halo Fire by Nathan outdoor products is their flagship headlamp especially with runners in mind. It comes with 3 LED lights for various lighting modes. Their product page also claims to have over 280 lumens on their brightest mode - it is bright for sure but at the expense of shorter usage time.
- 5 lighting modes (from dim to max brightness, strobe mode)
- RunWave technology for convenience and less fidgeting during the run
- Reflective materials on the strap
- Product guarantee backed by Nathan --> excellent customer service
Real Life Application
I received my Nathan Halo Fire as a direct replacement from my personally bought Nathan Nebula Fire. The outgoing headlamp stopped charging through the USB charger and was effectively useless if it cannot charge. I reached out to Nathan's Facebook page and they were quick to ship me the replacement (which became the very Halo Fire that I have been using even to this very day) upon proof of original purchase of my defective headlamp. I am pleasantly surprised by their willingness to stand behind the products that they sell and doing the right things to delight purchasers like me. However, I have since been quite wary of all electronic devices that require USB charging - including this replacement piece.
If you are interested in this item or similar, I am pleased to offer $5.00 OFF merchandise over $50.00 or more excluding taxes - at runningfree.com or at an in-store Running Free. Simply apply the CODE: 47794 to redeem this offer from me!
Have a good week ahead! Cheers - M.W.
Moving forward, I am revising the blog title to a much more appropriate "The Uptown Runner" moniker.
The more I observe my own runs within the suburban neighbourhoods, the more I realize of the differences compared to downtown running. More open running space, less traffic stops. More solo running journeys, less so of community-knitted runners out there. And ongoing changing landscapes with non-stop urban development and growth pushing northward in the City of Markham.
Adding Incremental Mileage to Weekly Totals
I have been adding extra mileage to top up my weekly mileage totals for the past four weeks. This is mainly to further build endurance and trying to achieve my goal to reach up to 3,000 km or more by year end. I pushed it even farther to 3,200 km so I have some buffer should I need to take any extended breaks from bodily fatigue or commitments along the way as the days pass by.
New Playlist & Song Sequencing
Indoor Track Work
Gradual Mileage Increase
This year, I am also attempting to raise my weekly running mileage and ultimately pushing the annual goal boundary too. Last year, I set a modest mileage of 60 km / week. And by trying to stick with the program, I realized that I once again have to be even better at my time management skills - as if I haven't already done so. However, life happens and so do injuries along the way. So it goes along way to compromise my regular day-to-day priorities along with my running hobbies. At the end of it all, I managed to rack up approximately 2,800 km. Not bad but fell short of my personal goal of 3,000 km.
The realistic goal for this year would once again be 3,000 km. But I am raising the bar higher to 3,200 km. In other words, I am once again setting my weekly goal of 60 km plus an extra 5 for good measures if in the case of any minor setback.
I came across an interesting article from Runner's World, suggesting of the 6 training habits that lead to Boston qualifying times - according to Strava. I feel confident knowing that the tailoring for this year's training is mostly aligned to what the article states.
The Strava 40|80 Challenge hosted by Lululemon was also great motivation to kick start the frequent running habits to. By the end of the event, I managed to rack up roughly 82 km within 13 days. Hopefully my drive towards improvement continues on for the remainder of the year, and not limited to just being motivated by prizes and tangibles ??
Have a great week everyone! - M.W.
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.