Achilles tendonitis

This blog was supposed to be about running, but seems I have to change the subject from running to recovering from running. The achilles problems which started after my barefoot experiments haven’t still gone away.

I did my last real run in Finland August 21st. It wasn’t bad actually and I felt quite ok during the run and after. My legs felt ok, otherwise it wasn’t ok, since I ran relatively slow less than 6k in 30min while my heart rate was at 85% of maximum. And then day after the achilles pain was back. I haven’t really run after that.

Week ago I decided, that since I’m not runner anymore, better start doing something else. Since I have small home gym at my basement, I figured out that I start from there. After 30min I decided that’s it for now. Then I quickly changed my mind and thought I will do one more bicep workout with dumbbells. When I was getting the dumbbells from the floor, I felt sharp pain on my lower back and couldn’t almost get up.

Ok great, that’s it, now I can’t do any exercises at all was my first thought. It was true for a week. After seeing chiropractic couple of times, I was ok to do another 30min workout at my mini gym today.

And not only that. I went shopping couple of days ago, and bought KT tape. I was so much encouraged how my right leg felt after wearing them one day, I decided to go for a run today morning. Two months no running at all but today I did 2.75km.

Running again

I’m taking baby steps. I have read a bit about kinesio tape and how they might help or might not help from recovering injuries. There is not necessarily a lot scientific proof they do anything, but many people seem to have been able to recover from achilles tendonitis with kinesio tape even after suffering from it for years. If it’s not tape what helps with the healing process, I’m ok to use the placebo effect too.  I better believe they do help.

My leg has been quite ok as long as I haven’t been walking too much and as long as I remember to do the workouts. The stretching and achilles and soleus strengthening. If I walk too much with the dog (or without), then the pain is back. If I forget the stretching and strengthening workout, the pain is there even when I’m not doing anything.

I’m not sure what helps and what doesn’t. My idea has all the time been, that I should keep diary about the pain and about my workouts. I start it now.

Thursday 10/22/15:

  • Kinesio tape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7OAD4zIBos
  • Stretching after 10-15min walk (with the dog) both morning and evening: http://az675379.vo.msecnd.net/media/1356056/strengthening-leg.pdf
  • New achilles tendon workout morning and evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2gubqenGDo
  • Jumping 2×20 times on mini trampoline
  • 2.75km run
  • 30min at gym
  • 20min indoor cycling
  • Foam roller morning, after run and at evening.
  • At morning almost no pain at all.
  • During evening mild achilles level 2/10 and  pain level 5/10 at lower right calf.
  • I skipped mini trampoline jumps at evening because of the calf pain.
  • Healthy breakfast oat meal and banana. To make it easy to get enough protein (which should help recovering), I went for whey protein both morning and evening. Pizza for dinner 🙂
  • Polar loop shows 215% activity level.

I scheduled PT for tomorrow and I hope it helps for the calf pain. I rather have calf pain than achilles, but the later usually follows from the first.

Barefoot running

It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  It’s only nine days till Helsinki City Marathon.  I thought I’d have a lot to write between Ottawa marathon and Helsinki, but no, I haven’t been writing anything.

After Ottawa, I thought I’d try something new. Barefoot running. That has been in my mind at least last couple of years. After reading Finn’s “Running with Kenyans”, Jurek’s “Eat and Run” and starting to read McDougall’s “Born to Run”, my urge to run barefoot certainly hasn’t diminished.

So I did like many other do. I went and checked where to get Vibram Five Fingers. It seemed to be hard to find any from traditional stores, so I end up ordering pair of VFF EVO Bikilas from Amazon. I also started to investigate barefoot running more deeply, and found Xero Shoes. I ordered pair of those too. What a deal, shoes with 5000 miles warranty for $30!

Vibrams

Bikilas came just in few days. I had read a lot about how to start slowly and not to run too fast and too much in the beginning. I especially liked Xeros Shoe’s founder Steven Sashen’s writing “How NOT to start barefoot running“. My favorite sentence there is: “which part of 200 yards was confusing to you?”. Steven makes it very clear: you should start with short distances.

I was thinking after reading that, ok, good understood, now I will wear my VFFs and do 10k really fast,  and that’s what I did. It felt great. I was running faster with lower heartbeat than normal. My Polar told my Running Index was 60, which was highest running index I ever achieved (edit: actually no, 61 is, which I got on my second VFF run. 60 I’ve done before too). Must be because of barefoot running and not because I was tapering last two weeks from Ottawa marathon.

Selection_293
With or without Vibrams. Notice lower heartbeat on blue – with Vibrams.

My calves got really sore next day and I barely could walk. I was expecting that, since I knew I ran too fast and distance was all too long. I rested a couple of days, and did 5k with Vibrams. Rested couple of days more, and did another 5k with well cushioned running shoes. My feet were still quite ok. Little soreness.

Xero Shoes

Then I got my first pair of Xero Shoes. I did the laces and instead of running with them, I just started to wear them. They were nice. Nice to walk with, nice to drive car, nice to go to pub and have few. Great sandals. Next morning I got anxious, and I had to try to run with them. They were nice to run with too. Totally different compared to Vibrams. Xeros give you instant feedback if you are doing something wrong. They do the flapping sound. Seemed I had hard time to get my right foot not to make the sound. I tried. I ran 10k, 5k and sometimes there was less noise than others. I figured out, that my muscles are too sore, so I thought I will take a break for one week or so.

Selection_305
Xero Shoes after muddy 10k run

After one week, my feet were ok. No soreness everything felt good. I decided to do a run with Vibrams this time. 10k. Immediately when I started running, I noticed a little pain on my right achilles tendon. Usually my left foot is the problem child, but now first the flapping sound, and now pain! Maybe similar pain I noticed just before Ottawa Marathon. It eased during running, but after run it was still there, and made me really worried. I had read a lot about achilles pain, and to be honest, I was freaking out that I had been able to create my self chronic achilles pain. I decided to stop running totally till there was no pain.

The pain just didn’t go away. Not after one week. After two weeks, ok, no pain. I did indoor cycling and weigh training, but did not run. Then I started to do a bit longer bike rides. 50k, 10k, 30k. Not much pain. In the morning, no pain. Another 50k bike ride and boom, pain is back.

Physiotheraphy

That’s when I scheduled an appointment for physiotherapy. The PT trainer created me a program how to strengthen and stretch my calves and soleus. I got also interval training program for running. First run: 5min walking then 3 x (1 min walk + 1 min run). 25 days to Helsinki City Marathon and my runs are about 2k including walking. Eh!

After couple of weeks PT, I did my first continuous 5k run. My aright chilles hurt after run, which was depressing, but it did get normal just in couple of days. I don’t think I’m going to run marathon in Helsinki, no way. Even if my achilles would be ok, I haven’t been running almost at all. Last weeks I have been cross training even less. So yes, it’s not going to happen.

The dog

We got dog, a copper nose beagle, a week ago. We have been wanting a dog for a longer time, but this one came without no thinking or planning at all. We went to look for dogs. Rescued dogs. We met Carter, and kids thought oh how cute he is: “Daddy, please!!!!”. Ok, yeah, why not.

When the lady came to do house visit before the signing of the adoption papers, I asked about how about jogging. Yes, but start slowly so dog gets used to it. Gradually! Yes sure, I know all about that. Start slowly, that’s my middle name.

So we did first 20min run between normal walk. He did great. Certainly he can do more than that. Next time 30min and about 5k plus walk before and after. No problems. I went and checked beagle forums. I learned beagles can run easily 20k and much faster than any people can run. Oh wow, this just might be an excellent running dog. We did 5k in the morning, so sure we can try 10k in the evening.

I had not run more 6k for over month now. Dog, I don’t know. This was yesterday. I didn’t know how my achilles was going to react, and will I have to carry the dog last 5k, but that’s what I decided to find out. First we walked the hilly sections of the route. That way dog gets his chance to do the sniffing and stop on every tree and so on. And I didn’t need to run on hills, which my PT instructed against in the first place. Besides, walking for first 15 minutes is a good warm up.

Carter
Carter

We started to run. Between 6’00” and 5’40” pace. First 5k went really well. I had some pain but dog was doing fine. Then till 7k still fine. I noticed that hiatus from running is easy to feel. With very moderate just a bit faster than 6’00” pace and I feel it everywhere.

We managed 10.3k in around 1 hour. My achilles was sore after the run, so I did the stretching, skipped the strengthening exercise and put some ice to ease the moderate pain. Today morning I had no pain which is really good sign. Some stiffness though. Dog was also doing great, so the distance wasn’t too much for him.

10k with Carter
10k with Carter

This morning we also did 40min walk and 10min run just to warm up my calves and soleus before morning stretch. He likes to pull the leash a bit, so mainly we actually concentrated on that. To get rid of pulling the leash.  While running he actually does not pull, but while walking he does, so still some work with that.

Helsinki City Marathon

Anyway, no Helsinki City Marathon for me. That’s reality, although mentally I’m still thinking that maybe if I can do 20k this weekend, then I could at least think of doing 10k run 1k walk, but I don’t think so. I’m not in shape to run, and I don’t think it would make any good to my achilles tendon, but we will see about that.

Ottawa Marathon

It’s been almost three weeks now since the Ottawa marathon, and I still haven’t written a race recap. Time to start writing now…

Day before the race

Me, my wife and our four children left Aurora around 10:30am and headed to Ottawa. It was around four and half hour drive to The Health and Fitness Expo at Ottawa downtown. When we finally got near the expo around 3pm the traffic was really bad. I decided to run to the expo, so that my wife could then continue driving slowly along with the traffic and pick me up from the expo.

When I started to run, I also made a decision, that this one and half km run will be my final run before the race. I made little sprints to make it more credible even though I was running with jeans. I have to admit, I felt a bit better than day before. I wasn’t still feeling optimal, but not terribly bad either.

Finally I got to the expo with printed email I had received earlier in my hand. Turned out, that the email didn’t have my bib number, so I had to turn back from the desk, and find it from list of all participants in printed papers on the wall. No problem, I did find it fast, and there was not a lot queuing. Once I had my bib, I continued to validate my chip and pick my race T-shirt from 2nd floor. I was certain, that if I were fast, I still had time to buy some energy bars from the expo and then head to downstairs to wait for my drive.

My plan worked well enough, so next step was to find the “hotel”. It was a bit further away. I haruokad reserved two room apartment from local college dormitory, since all hotels were sold out when I decided to register to Ottawa Marathon. Once we finally found our hotel and were able to check the rooms, it was time for last real meal before the race.

I wanted to have some pasta, so I launched Yelp smart phone application and read few reviews for nearby Italian restaurants. We decided to go to Tony Capone’s which was 10 minute drive from the hotel. I’m not an expert with Italian food, but I wanted to have something with a lot of pasta in it. I ordered Cannelloni con Salsa and small glass of wine. Well, there was a lot of cheese, but not as much pasta as I hoped. Wine wasn’t very small either and made me wonder if a big glass of wine is such a good idea less than 12 hours before the race.  But I enjoyed the dinner.

I wasn’t still feeling 100% in shape and while checking next days weather, I noticed it’s going to get to 28C (82.4F) during the day, so I was already thinking, that sub four-hour finish time is certainly not going to happen. I mentioned this also to my wife and kids. I said that they should not get to the finish line much earlier than 11am, since I will not be there before anyway. Race was scheduled to start at 7am.

I decide to set my watch to get to the goal anyway. I did read some of the marathon mistakes people do, and one was to dump the goal just before the race. So I kept the goal as is, untouched. I set the distance for 43k and time to 3:57. That way, even if there is a lot of turns, and the running distance is longer than 42.2k, I’m still able to make my goal. Pace was set to 5:33min/km. Oops, I thought, that’s 7 seconds faster I have been training. Luckily I ran most of my marathon goal pace runs at 5:30min/km pace, so I was still quite well prepared.

There was a little grocery at the hotel, or college campus to be exact, so I went there and bought big jug of orange juice for a small high carb evening snack as well as sandwich for my breakfast. Then it was time to check I have everything ready for the race day and try to get some sleep.

The race day

I had my alargreencoralm clock set to wake me up at 5:45am, so I had enough time to have something for breakfast and to drive to near the start line of the race. I had my sandwich I bought yesterday and small glass of orange juice. I wasn’t feeling bad at all, and I managed to get around four five hours of sleep, which was ok.

It was around 15 minutes drive to the downtown of Ottawa. I left car around 1km from the start line ennejuoksuaand walked rest of the trip. While walking, I had my pre-race energy bar, as I always do. I also drank just a little water.

When I finally get to the start line around 6:45am I went to look for 4 hour race bunny. I went in front of her, and just behind the 3:55 race bunny. I was on the corral I had chosen while I registered to the race. I felt I’m in wrong corral. I have always overlooked people who go to faster corrals they belong. Now I was doing the same, I was thinking. I decided not to judge people ever again for setting their goals and actually trying to achieve them by choosing corral accordingly.yellowcoral

I started to go through my strategy. I didn’t see 3:55 race bunny while making my plan. I saw 3:50 race bunny. I decided to stay good distance away from her, and try to keep the 4:00 race bunny behind me. I also decided, that for the first half, I try to keep my average heart rate below 158bpm. That’s 80% of my max heart rate. If my heart rate goes above, then it is a good indication of running too fast. Sounds a bit like a plan, I was thinking.

I don’t usually listen to music during races, but this time I decided to give it a try. I checked my phone has everything set and that I could pause and start music just by pressing the only button on my ear phones. My phone was packed tightly in arm band. Music wise everything seemed to work. Just couple of minutes to the start. Phew!

Adrenaline starts to flow. That’s good, this is good, good, not nervous at all. Then start. Everything starts. First walking to the actual start line, and then I start to run with all the people around me. There’s a bit of a rush, and I’m not able to run my goal pace in the beginning. I have to bypass too many people, since they don’t know how to choose correct corral darned. I’m almost getting annoyed, but then I remember, that I’m probably in wrong corral my self. But then, at least I’m trying to run the correct pace for this particular corral. I’m trying to run at 5:30min/km pace.

When I cross the 5k and check my watch, I’m a little ahead of my goal time. It took about 26min to get there, and my heart rate is 158bpm. It doesn’t feel bad, so I decided to continue with the same pace, which was around 5:30min/km. The 3:50 race bunny was closer to me than she was at the start line.

Before the 10k lap time, I notice that there is something wrong with my music settings. First of all, this confession is going to ruin my highly valued street credibility. I had Killers album in my playlist. For whatever reason, that’s the album my phone choose to play first. It played whole album, and then it began again. I was pretty sure at the moment, that this is going to be the only album I’m going to hear during the whole race, since I don’t have time to take my phone off the arm band. Well ok, I decided to stick with that as long as I could tolerate it. Great, great music!

At 10k my heart rate is still a bit below 160bpm and I have actually been able to run a bit faster. Also now I’m running just behind the 3:50 race bunny. I’m feeling excellent. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the carb loading. I don’t know, but I’m flying. At 13k water stop, the 3:50 race bunny slows down for a drink, so I just decide to left her behind. I start to run faster. My heart rate is at 160bpm, but I’m feeling dangerously good. A little uphills don’t bother me at all, on the contrary. Whilst seeing people’s backs coming towards me, it gives me more self-confidence.

At 15k my pace is 5:21min/km and I feel just better and better all the time. I start to run even faster, so when I get to 21.1k, I’m very close to running my half marathon PB. I keep the 5:16min/km pace all the way up to 25k. I’m still feeling good, but it’s getting a bit warmer now. I have to stop listening music. The same album over and over again is making me sick. My heart rate is way above 160bpm, but at this point it doesn’t matter anymore. Last time I bonked around 26k, so I’m trying to keep the pace at least till 30k. That way I would most likely get to my goal and I would be celebrated sub 4 hour marathoner!

At 27k I can see other runners running towards us. These are the faster ones. I see 3:00 race bunny.scotiabank-ottawa-marathon-tapio-vaattanenI wonder how long does it take for me to get to where he’s running now. How far do we run away before we turn back. Kilometers between 25k and 35k are usually the most boring ones. Maybe it’s not the route or the race, but the feeling and fatigue. This time is no different.

At 30k I’m still doing relatively well. My pace has fallen to 5:42min/km, and sun is playing her role extremely well. It’s definitely not 28C, but it’s getting all the time warmer. I’m starting to struggle. Even worse, 3:50 race bunny passes me. I’m trying to keep up, but at 33k she’s gone. I never see her again. At 35k I check my watch. It seem I’m going to make it. I’m going to get to my initial goal. My goal #1. Sub four hours. My goal #2 was to get to 4:15 and goal #3 to at least make new PB finishing in less than 4:25.

Every meter is really painful at this point. Just to get 100m ahead is a struggle. My pace is still below 6:00min/km, or even 5:40min/km. I took a small empty bottle with arm band with me. I decide to fill it on next water station. I also decide to make a pit stop, although I could most likely survive without either taaviottawaone, but when I check my watch, I was six minutes a head of my goal. I could afford a little luxury without sacrificing anything. It seemed possible I was getting finish time below 3:55 which is so much better than I would have ever imagined.

40k and there is only 2k left. Well, two very long kilometers, but even if I drop my pace to 7min/km, I’m going to finnish in less than 4 hours. For the last kilometer I’m able to run just a little bit faster and my pace was a little less than 6min/km where as my heart rate went over 170bpm.

I crossed the finish line. My official finish time and my PB is now 3:54:50. After the race I of course first drank a lot of water and sports drink. There was a plenty of refreshments including bagels, bananas, protein powered chocolate milk as well as yogurt. I took everything what I was offered, and then started to locate my wife and kids.

I have run in Ottawa before during business trips, so I knew how scenic the route was going to be. The route was relatively flat with just some smaller hills. The weather was also perfect before the sun really came up and started burning, but that’s something I just have to be ok with. The weather was still so much better than I was expecting. It was almost optimal. Atmosphere was really great, and the spectators made their best to make runners feel welcome.

It was definitely the best marathon I’ve ever run, but of course, it must have something to do with the fact, that I was also able to reach my number one goal and finish sub four hours.

Next

I have already registered to Helsinki City Marathon which will be held at 15th of August. I’m thinking setting my goal to 3:45, but we will see about that. I have also started barefoot running. It would be really cool to run my next marathon with minimalistic shoes, but I don’t think I have enough time to do the transition.

 

High Carb or High Fat

This article by TrainingPeaks highlights my thoughts on the subject: “We don’t need to choose one OR the other. We can have BOTH and this will allow us to develop our fat metabolism as well as carbohydrate metabolism.”

That’s what I try to do. Improve my ability to burn fat, while my normal diet consist of 40%-50% of carbohydrates. Before long runs I tend not to eat anything. Also, anything less than 30k, I try not to use gels or any other extra energy during the run. This has worked very well for me on long runs, but I don’t know how it will affect my next marathon. I run my long runs on mornings. I do eat carbs the night before the run, but I don’t spend time on having breakfast before the run. This way I also feel extremely light during the run, and I haven’t really felt my energy levels being low. On the contrary.

Other than that, I think I eat carbs moderately in general. I wouldn’t say I follow high fat diet, but I try not to demonize fats or specifically choose low-fat products either. I don’t think fat is a big problem, or at least not as big as white wheat and sugar. I  also do believe, that the ones following low carb high fat diet have a lot of good points.

My favourite article about this high-fat diet and endurance training is this article by Sami Inkinen: “Becoming a Bonk Proof Triathlete: Fat Chance!?

Finnish rye bread with salmon
Finnish rye bread with smoked salmon

I’m now trying to get all possible carbs I can get. I started carb loading yesterday. Now  I have three days to do the loading before the race. I find that much more difficult than I thought it would be. Getting more than 400g carbs a day seems to really require  some what concentration. I find it a bit weird, since I always though I eat a lot of carbs. I eat porridge for breakfast, and a lot of rye bread. Bananas after workouts, and with porridge and/or greek yogurt I have oranges, apples, blueberries or strawberries, for instance. I consider all of these as healthy carbs.

I haven’t really done any carb loading previously, if the pasta dinner prior the race day  isn’t counted. Carb loading is definitely something I need to concentrate more, if that’s something I see I could benefit from.

So far I’ve done my trainings and races following traditional approach what comes to carbs. Well depending on how you define the term traditional. If we go back to stone age, maybe carb loading wasn’t that popular.

Who knows, maybe I try a bit longer period on low carb high fat diet before my next marathon, but let’s first try to get through the one this week with high carb diet.

Check  also the TrainingPeaks article: “Food Fight: High Carb or High Fat Diet For Endurance Athletes

Carb loading during marathon week

Today is perfect day to start carb loading. Recipes and macros provided in this RW’s article doesn’t really look at all like my normal day. My everyday macro goal consist of 40%  carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. That macro works when you are on calorie restrictive diet and want to lose weight, but for normal diet, amount of proteins would be all too high. When  loosing weight, I think, you should try to keep protein intake high (1g protein per pound lean body mass), so you are rather loosing fat instead of muscle. But then, instead of looking for the macros and percentages, I’m usually looking the absolute number of grams of protein intake.

In real life my macros varies in great deal too. Here’s how I did yesterday:

Macros

Although the above picture is very close of my macro goal, yesterday was actually not normal day for me. I wasn’t feeling well, so I tried to get much more proteins and C vitamin compared to normal. For me it means some extra greek yogurt with raw oranges. That usually helps, and it did this time too. I’m feeling much, much, better now.

Ok, back to carb loading. I have never really done it before. I don’t do it before long runs, unless you count a couple of extra slices of rye bread I might take a night before early long run.

I think RW’s article is a good baseline for me too. I’ll probably increase the amount of carbs close to 60% and also try to get at least 3000-4000kCals per day for now.  Proteins I try to keep in minimum of 150g as I usually do. Fat I’m not really that  concerned about.

 

Don’t forget to check RW’s arcticle: How to Carb-Load for Marathon Week | Runner’s World.

Tapering and setting a realistic goal

I read few blog posts about tapering. To be honest, I don’t even know what that word means or how to use it correctly, but I think that is what I should try to do now. Both, taper and to use the word correctly. Marathon will be at this Sunday and I have six days to… taper?

Ok, so I’m trying to take it easy what ever the proper term is. I have understood that I should not stop running totally few weeks before the big event. I have one week left. Better rather train as I normally would, but with half effort. That’s exactly what I did today morning. Instead of running 10k, I did 5k. That was an easy decision.

I wasn’t really feeling well at all anyway, so that sounded like a good idea in the first place. Even if I would have never heard the word taper. I thought first running really easy 5k and even better, running easy 5k without GPS and HRM. That strategy I had to reject. Without my watch I feel like I’m not actually running at all. If the training gets stored only in my memory, I’m afraid it never happened. I decided that I will have my watch and HRM, but I’m not going to check the watch during the run, so it is almost like  running without the watch.

Instead of running easy 5k I ended up running tempo run at 5’33″pace. A bit faster than my marathon goal pace. Since I wasn’t feeling well at all, I was seriously thinking about my goal marathon pace once again. I was also thinking, does it really matter what have I set my goal to be. In the end, I will run as well as my current fitness level is, so does it really matter what goal I have set? I’ll start of course with certain pace, but unless I’m really stupid, I would assume, that if it feels all too fast, I would do a corrective action and slow down. Right, that’s what people normally do?

Morning 5k
Morning 5k

But then, when I did my two first marathons, my goal was set too high, and I couldn’t get even near the goal. Or is it just something I thought happened, and the end result really did not depend on my goal, but on my past physical training. Enough thinking I thought.
I stopped running after 5k about 300m to home. I checked my average HRM, and it was 158bpm which is 80% of my max HRM. I knew it, since I wasn’t feeling good at all. At least the course had 51m ascent and only 21m descent, so it wasn’t actually that bad. Still, pretty good indication of my current well-being. My nose is running and I have a bit sore throat. The usual feeling before marathon, of course. Feeling 100% healthy would be too easy.

Week 14/15

Monday – Long run 21.1k@5’27@164bpm/83%
Tuesday – Steady state 10k@6’18″@142bp/72%
Wednesday – Goal marathon pace 10k@5’40″@154bpm/78%, Gym 30min , Indoor cycling 10k@26min
Thursday – Swimming 1000m@29:57

Summary: 41.3k@5’43″@153bpm/78%

14 weeks of training
14 weeks of training

Not a bad week, but I have been feeling much better previous weeks. I was supposed to do one 10k till end of week, and Sunday would have been perfect day for that.

What can go wrong in a marathon?

This is my fifth marathon – everything should go great

View from my morning walk

I have registered myself for May 15 2015 Ottawa Marathon. This will be my fifth marathon. During my usual morning walk with my youngest daughter, I started to think what can and what will go wrong.

It’s now eight full days till race day. What can possibly go wrong? Why am I even thinking anything could go wrong?

More training

I have been training actively last 14 weeks, and I have one more week to go. Instead of usual 12 weeks pre-marathon training period, I chose to extend it up to fifteen weeks. Well, I was actually forced to register to Ottawa marathon instead of Toronto marathon, but effectively it is the same. Ottawa marathon will be held three weeks later, and now I have three extra weeks compared to my initial plan.

More experience

I have more experience than I had in my previous marathons. Last time I was actually able to get to my goal I set for my first marathon. That was because I knew how to set my expectations. I managed to run under four and half hours my finnish time being 4:25. Now I know even more about running marathons, how to train to a marathon and how to eat while training to and during marathon than I have ever known before.

Less weight

I’ve been able to lose some weight. Actually, I have been able to lose a lot of weight while training. Earlier I have always gained weight during marathon training, so this time I made it differently. I actually monitored what I’m eating, and instead of gaining weight, I was able to lose more than 20 pounds.

More speed

My previous marathon

I’m faster than ever. I ran 5k sub 24 minutes. I was able to run 10k in less than 50 minutes without having the race bib attached, which I have not been able to do ever before. My PB 10k is still 48 minutes, but that was Toronto 10k race with optimal conditions on really fast downhill course. My PB for 10k has always been over 50 minutes while running in Aurora on my own. Finally I managed to do it in less than 50 minutes. I did half marathon as my long run in 1:51. I did 30k long run in less than three hours. I should be faster and in better shape than ever before.

More endurance

Previously I’ve run one over 30k long run before the race day, while my other longs runs have been between 20k and 25k. This time I chose to do three long runs over 30k. I started my long runs on very slow pace, but while I became more comfortable, I raised my pace from earlier. The whole meaning for running in slow pace is to be able to recover faster. While increasing my pace, I was still able to recover either as fast as earlier, or even faster.

So what can go wrong in Ottawa May 24?

Goal

Vancouver
Running in Vancouver

First of all, my goal might be wrong. I might be faster than I have ever been, but have I set my goal correctly? Do I really have what it takes to run sub 4 hour marathon? My initial goal for this Spring was to manage marathon in less than 4:15, so why did I change it to sub 4:00? In a good day, I might be able to do it in less than 4 hours. Not all days are good. If I start too fast, I might not be able to do it in less than 4:15 and there goes my goal. That’s what has happened to me previously. Eventually it seems, that  I manage to put my bar too high, and then I’m not able to get to even to my initial goal.

The weather

If it’s going to be hot, which is normal at the end of May in Ontario, it will give me chills instead of warm and fuzzy feeling. Some times I feel, that my finish time is directly in relation with temperature. The warmer it is, the slower I am. Last Autumn in Toronto I ran my PB, but it was quite cold. When I started it was 7C/45F and it never went above 15C /60F. That was pretty close optimal. If we go above 20C/68F or even worse, close to 30C/86F, then I’m definitely going to struggle.

Injuries and recovery

I been quite healthy so far. I’ve already run all my long runs, and I’m not going to do any further fast runs either. I’m going to take it slow and steady now. Few 10k and shorter runs keeping my pace at 5’40” it is going to be. That said, my left feet is a bit sore and my ankles are making me worried. Nothing I’m not used to, but if I really start to think, maybe the feeling in my ankles is something I’m not so used to.

I ran my last 30k three weeks before the upcoming race date. That’s ok, I will recover from that. But my last 21.1k. Was it too fast and too close to the race date? I just wanted to get some self-confidence and run it in 1:54. But it was this Monday, so less than two weeks to the big thing. I’ve read forums and articles just to find enough evidence that it was not too close and not too fast.

Sleeping and resting

I haven’t been sleeping very well last couple of weeks. I know I’m not going to sleep well last nigh before marathon either. I never sleep well in hotels, and even at home ground, I will not sleep well last night before the race. So I better try to sleep longer now, that I have a chance for it.

Resting is most important part of recovery.  Not running too fast or doing any more long runs will guarantee that I get enough rest.

Fueling

I told about loosing weight. I have been following a somewhat restrictive diet. But it doesn’t mean, that I haven’t been eating well. On the contrary. I have been eating a lot and making sure that I get enough carbs, protein and fat. I have also been interested to try out something new. Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet just to make my ability to burn fat better. I usually run my long runs on Sunday mornings without eating anything before run. I know some people don’t like the idea, but it seems to work very well for me. It’s easier to run when feeling light. During colder weather, I don’t even need to carry water or gels with me. I’ve also tried to get with as little add-on energy and water when it got a bit warmer. I’m hoping this will make the last 10k easier for me.

I’m not going to switch to LCHF any time soon, and especially not in middle of training. So I’m going to do some carb loading before the race. This time I will actually do it a bit earlier than just last day. I’m going to avoid my previous mistakes. I’m not going to either drink or eat too much just before the race.

Every time you try something new, there is always a chance, it will not work. Even when you are trying to fix something  you know didn’t work last time. It is a normal trial and error method you just need to do till you succeed .

Nothing will go wrong

Trees
Vancouver trees

And everything can go wrong, but it will be only one of many races. I heard many times, that if you would really remember how bad the last miles on marathon are,  you wouldn’t run another. That also points out how important it is to have right mental attitude. You can do your part on training to get your self physically fit, but that is not enough. If you are mentally set to go, you can get better results than others with same physical capabilities and training behind.

It is very important to know your limitations, but it is even more important to focus on your strengths. So instead of thinking what will go wrong, better think how you can achieve your best possible result with the given conditions. You can only affect how much and well you train. That’s all done now.

And then, even if you manage to make some mistakes you could have avoided, or if the weather or any other external condition  is not optimal, there will always be another race. So for now, I’m not going to think what will go wrong, but what have I done right so far, and the things I’m going to do right on the race and on these last eight days before the race.

What about you?

How do you handle your worst marathon fears? What you think is the best way to get to the best possible result?