Monday, 20 July 2009

P-K on the Roads and Summer Holidays Tips

P-K athletes-- both local and on-line-- were active on the summer road racing scene over the weekend, led by Dylan Wykes' fine mid-marathon-build outing at the Acura 10 miler in Toronto (results, story and pics available from A solid interval session on Thursday (7x1k @ low 2:50s on trails, with a 200m jog recovery, preceded by a 30mins a.m. run and a 25min warm-up)and a good recovery day on Friday settled the issue about whether to approach this one as a tempo-pace effort or attack it for the win. Despite having upwards of 150kms for the week on board before starting his warm-up, Dylan would decide to race rather than train this one. Eschewing coyness, Dylan hit the front shortly after 2k and did his share to keep the race on the right side of 3min/kms up till the 14k mark, at which point eventual winner (low-28 10k man Hosea Kibet, whom Dylan described as a gazelle-like in the lightness and ease of his stride) took charge. Decisively beaten and on the verge of draining the glycogen tank dry, Dylan eased it in over the final couple of kms, satisfied at having done all he could competitively on the day. This will be his last all-out race effort before the World Marathon Championships in Berlin on August 22, leaving just over two weeks of hard slogging before the beginning of the final descent, so to speak, into race day.

Also competing in Toronto were new P-kers Reg Smart and Mike Gill, who hit their pace targets nicely in the 10 miler and 5k respectively, running 18:45 and 1:18 and change, their consistent hard work apparently beginning to pay dividends.

About 36 hours earlier, and on the other side of the lake, another group of us was lining up for an uncharacteristically rain-soaked edition of the Buffalo Subaru 4 Mile Chase*-- a nearly 30 year old summer staple that loops the funky Elmwood Village district of that resilient old city. Typically one of the warmest and most humid races of the year, this year's Chase was an almost chilly 63 degrees F, with and on-and-off drizzle that made it feel like a tepid day in May rather than the Dog Day of Summer that race veterans have come to expect. The highlight for our group was Paula Wiltsie's come-from-behind defense of her title in the master's women's race. (Paula continues to pull things together following her diagnosis of iron deficiency in early June). After Paula, new member Myra McDonald-- just recently a participant in the 50+ category-- surprised everyone with a money-winning 5th place finish in the master's division. (Myra didn't discover that she had done this well until, having failed to find her name in the standard age-class results, she took a look a little higher up the board!) Working down the women's age groups, Margarita Sviajine continued her strong string of racing with a win amongst the 35-39 year olds. Margarita is looking forward to mixing it up in the over-40 division starting next year. Meanwhile, Emily Tallen signaled the beginning of her rebound from illness and a disappointing nationals track 5k by finishing a strong 5th against perhaps the best women's field in the 29 year history of the race (beating her were 2 Kenyans and 2 Ethiopians with national team experience). The only P-K men entered in the race were masters Jeff Brison and Yours Truly. Jeff ran by far his best time in 3 visits to the race, solidifying his best summer of racing in years, but missed the master's money by one spot in what was perhaps the deepest over-40 field in the history of the race. I, meanwhile, ran a very flat-feeling 20:03, good for 2nd place in the master's field behind the formidable Al Arbi Khattabi, who was coming off of a strong 2nd place performance at the Boilermaker 15k only 6 days prior.

*This year marked the 29th running of the Buffalo 4 miler, eight of which I have attended, dating back to the late 1980s. This is by far my favourite summer road race, so I'd like to make a personal pitch on behalf of the event to those planning to be in its general vicinity next summer. Next year is the 30th edition of the event and is not to be missed by connoisseurs of the fine road racing experience. This race has an early evening start, and the post-race beer party on the beautiful boulevard of the Bidwell Parkway is the best I've seen in my 30 years racing in the streets. And after the official party and awards, an excellent dinner (and more beer at the superb micro-brew emporium, Coles, for those in the mood) is only a block or two away at any one of a dozen cafes and restaurants. Oh, and did I mention that the entry fee for first-timers is 10 US bucks?

Some Tips for the Holidaying Runner:

Sticking with the theme of summer running, I thought I'd offer a few simple tips on how to keep your training on track while on the road. Like everyone else, runners like to travel and escape their typical routine during the precious few weeks of the Canadian summer; but, for the serious runner, this does not include a break from the training routine-- quite the opposite, in most cases. Most serious runners I know actually like to use their time away from work to do more running, not less. Keeping to one's running and strength training schedule while away from home is,however, not easy, given how embedded our routines are in our domestic surroundings and daily perambulations: our familiar running times and routes; our regular training partners; and our gyms and home exercise rooms. And then there's the difficulty of explaining to our non-running friends and relatives why we can't have a beer at 11am because we'd like to go for a run later even on our vacation! ("Don't you ever take a break from running?", they feel free to wonder aloud).

Here, then, are a few simple tips for keeping things going while on summer vacation and out of one's training element:

1. Pack shoes that you can do both faster sessions and longer, easy runs. Since space is always a premium while on the road, bring a single pair of relatively new and lighter-weight trainers on your summer trips.

2. Remember to bring a lightweight mat on which to do your flexibility and strength work. One of the most annoying things I've found about vacationing at cottages and crowded friend's houses during the summer is the lack of a decent place to get on the ground to do my core and flexibility routine. With a small, roll-up mat, one can get outside and do this stuff almost anywhere (thereby avoiding tripping-up your uncle and causing him to spill his gin and tonic).

3. Use the "out and back progression run" in place of tempo sessions. Although the increasingly cheap wrist-born GPS is rapidly solving this problem, most travelers still confront the difficulty of getting a controlled, harder workout in on unfamiliar roads or trails. One of my tricks over the years is has been to go out in one direction for 30mins at my typical easy run effort and attempt to come back the same distance 5mins faster. This works on any surface and produces a very accurate estimation of proper tempo pace, I have found.

4.Run in the water. Many of our typical vacation spots here in Canada are close to deep and calm (at some point in the day, at least) bodies of water that are ideal option when excessive hills, dangerous traffic and/or flying bugs make running on the road a daily trial. You may have to pack a water belt for this one, but a partially deflated kid's water ring around the waist will also do the trick when added buoyancy is required.

5. Run in the mid-afternoon. Most of us stay up later while on vacation (one of the pleasures of vacationing in the first place), so trying to do your thing in the morning will just make you more tired. Besides, most of your friends and family will be tired or preoccupied in the mid-afternoon and probably won't miss you if you slip out for an hour or so. This will bring you back just in time to help with dinner prep and enjoy that best drink of the day-- the post-run beer (for my taste)! Running in the mid-afternoon will be hotter, but that will just make that other summer-specific post-run treat-- the plunge into the lake or ocean-- all the sweeter.

I'm sure there are more, but that's a start. In my experience, runners who take a few simple steps to maintain their routines-- and thus hang onto their hard-won spring conditioning-- are ultimately much happier campers than those who let it all go. Running need not monopolize you and your family's summer travels, but neither must you sacrifice your precious shape in order to enjoy some time at the lake or visiting relatives. In fact, running might even intensify your seasonal experience, since it can acquaint you even more intimately with the sounds, smells and feel of the Great Outdoors in summertime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not relevant to this particular blog post, but I thought you might be interested in seeing

It's video clips from a coaching seminar Jack Daniels gave a couple of days ago. It looks like they're still uploading parts of it, but there's a good 30 or 40 minutes of footage so far.

8 August 2009 at 23:17  

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