Monthly Archives: October 2010

Taper Troubles

As of this post we are a little over 9 days and 18ish hours out from race time.  A week and a half until I find out if my summer of semi-sporadic, occasionally-injured, sometimes-promising training was effective or not. I’ve managed to develop some more speed/strength since my first marathon, but as many of you know, the real race begins at 30km so those last 12.2km could be hell in a hand basket if I’m not careful.  It will be interesting to see if the tempo runs, track workouts, and weight sessions have had any significant merit past the 30km mark for me, or if everything falls off the rails like it did in Ottawa this spring.  Realistically, even if I control my race-day jitters and go out slowly, fuel properly, hydrate well, and manage my efforts effectively there’s nothing guaranteeing that I will make my sub-4hr goal.  Sure all the training I’ve put in has set me up with a decent chance at achieving it, but I’m still going a bit squirrelly thinking about the possibilities. In other news, today is the first day in nearly two weeks that I haven’t been nodding off at my desk…a LOT.

asleep at the wheel

It was getting to a point where I was beginning to wonder if I was narcoleptic, but after a few changes my body seems to be responding.  I’ve been making an effort to get more sleep as of late, and even though my kids still wake me up at night, I think I’m catching back up on the deficit.  Also, the decline of activity that the taper brings can only be helping; I was pushing a lot of my workouts pretty hard, and my body needed the break.  My hope is that I haven’t tapered too much by race day, and my body decides to co-operate. Only time will tell…9 more days of uneasy waiting…9 more days.


Soooo Tired….

I tried to squeeze my taper-LSD into ridiculously busy weekend schedule last weekend.  It should’ve been easy considering it was supposed to be much less distance than my regular LSDs, but I was still going to have to get up at 6am (which isn’t a big deal for some of you, but a morning person I am not) which made it a bit of a PITA.  I got my gear out the night before, and even went to bed early to make the next morning as smooth as possible.  Everything was perfect, everything was planned and ready to go…that was until my youngest child decided that 10:30pm -2:30am was the perfect time to get up and party. When the alarm went off the next morning, it wasn’t “snoozed”, it was quickly turned “off”.

It’s been almost a week since I ran last, not by design mind you but life just has a way of changing your best laid plans whenever it feels like it. Whether kids, family commitments, or opportunely placed bouts of rain it’ll find a way to show you who’s boss. Regardless, I brought my gear to work yesterday, and snuck out for an easy 5km on the Bruce Trail just to shake the cobwebs off. I took it easy in consideration of my taper, and really kept my eyes open on those damp/slippery rock outcroppings and tree roots. The run felt great, and it looks like I beat another bout of rain so it was timely as well.

On top of my lack of ability to run as of late, my busy schedule and continual late nights are leaving me constantly tired.  “Go to bed earlier” seems to be the easiest solution, however every time I try to do that, something ends up throwing a wrench in it for me.  Last night I tried to go to bed an hour early only to find myself laying there wide awake for 45 minutes, then just as I was starting to fade away my wife comes to bed ranting about how she left her wallet at the voting station this afternoon (I found it for her this morning), then to top it off the baby started crying at 3:45…and 4:30, and pretty much from 4:45 to 5:30.  I crawled back in to bed around 5:40 knowing full well that 6:00 was coming far too quickly.

So what’s the point of this post….nothing really, more of a woe-is-me rant than a philosophical breakthrough.

Hope you all are faring better.

My Experiements With Chia

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the most experimental with my diet (I eat fairly healthy, not always, but overall not too bad….at least all the food groups are represented 😉 ), but after reading Chris McDougall’s Born to Run, and the hearing the seemingly endless virtues of Chia I decided that maybe I could give these little black seeds a try  (sure Chris talks about salad for breakfast and penole as well, but that’s just crazy talk).

I found a bulk food store which carried Chia, and since buying a bag of seeds about a month ago, I’ve been steadily experimenting with just how to consume them in the more effective, yet tastiest, manner.  First things first, when you add Chia to water the seeds absorb the water and expand into theses weird fuzzy-aura-floating-blob looking things.  Honestly, after being left to sit for a bit you end up with a glass of what looks like cavier mixed with slime.



Black Caviar

Black Caviar


I’d like to say how wonderful and refreshing the taste is at this point, but I’d be lying.  In this state the mixture is pretty flavourless and this is where recipes come in handy.  After some online research I’ve come across several sites that outline the basic Chia Fresca, as well as other possible concoctions.

Unfortunately, I learn best by crashing hard face first on the floor most of the time, and in typical fashion I started adding the little black seeds to water/juice/drink crystals/etc. whenever I could.  Ultimately, I’m looking for something that will maximize Chia’s fluid holding properties with something that tastes great, without being super-laden with sugar.

A few quick notes:

o         Mixing 1cup of seeds into 1L of water makes a gel that could rival Asics’ insole pockets

o         Applejuice was a mediocre mixing agent.  It’s healthy but the taste is a bit wacky.

o         Crystal Light juice crystals work well to keep the calories down, and do add some decent flavour.

The experiments will continue, and I’ll let you know if I come across anything exciting but I’m not holding my breath…I really doubt Chia mixed into beer will taste all that great.

Getting Sick and Tapering

It never fails.  3 weeks out from a race, and I end up getting a cold.  Maybe it’s the mental stress, maybe it’s the physical fatigue, maybe it’s my generally crappy sleep habits, or maybe it’s a combination of all 3…all I know is that I’ve been feeling them all, and now I have a barking cough and phlegm oozing from all the usual phlegmy areas.

At the very least it seems to be a pretty common trend amongst athletes, and in my sports circle, runners specifically.  I’m sure the seasonal change in the weather, and flu season beginning don’t help, however a handful of online running friends at (all training for the same November marathon as I am) have reported suffering from colds as well.  Perhaps this is part of why tapering is so important?  It certainly can’t hurt…or can it?

The question I’ve been dealing with as of late is how long should one taper?  There are a significant number of training plans out there that have a 2 week taper, though there variations.

At the beginning of this calendar year I had a slight tear in my upper calf muscle 3 weeks before a 30km race I had been training heavily for.  My therapist advised rest, and a calf sleeve, but assured me that I would be able to race.  Relieved, albeit disappointed I asked him how this would affect my conditioning; he told me that 3 weeks off/light exercise shouldn’t cause me to lose my base despite my worst fears.  Turns out, he was right.  Not only did I run without pain, I did pretty well too.

Since that time, I’ve done a lot of online research and found that tapering seems to be as clear as mud.  How long should one taper?  Should tapering have a steady reduction in mileage or a sudden stop?  How much mileage during taper is acceptable? Or too much?  My current training plan maintains the weekday mileage, and has a significant reduction in the long runs on weekends, is this enough taper?

I guess when I get to the root of this issue, the question really is:  At what point will you benefit more from resting and less from training?  I’ve heard the adage “the work you put in today is the benefit you see 2 weeks from now”, this fits the 2 week taper plan, however, is it truth or hearsay?

So… What do you think?

Yasso 880s?

Lately, speedwork has been playing a larger and larger role in my marathon training.  I still keep it to once a week to prevent overtraining issues, but now I am seeing the benefits of it more and more….and dare I say…I’m starting to look forward to it?  Regardless, when I looked at my training plan saw 6×800 with WU & CD (warm up /cool down), I paid special attention to it.  Over the past month, the anxiety of my upcoming race has been looming more and more over my shoulder.  Not so much the distance, or logistics (it’s my hometown race!) moreso my goal time.  I desperately want to break 4 hours, with any additional time under that goal to be a bonus, but nagging doubts have me wondering if I really have it in me.

Last night, after 3km of warm up, I started my sets of Yasso 800s.  The only problem being the local track is only 380m round. I’d rather add distance than short change myself so for each two laps of the track I added an extra 1/4 quarter lap, which set me up for 880m total distance each lap….sounds good in theory, but man did that extra distance take it’s toll.

As per usual I went out WAY too fast with my first 880 at 3:25, and second at 3:40, and by the end of the second one I was ready to pack it in for the night. But after a slow rest lap I was ready to settle in for some decent paced hard work. The rest of 880’s averaged around 3:52.

For those of you who are confused as to what a “Yasso 800” is, here’s some explanation:  According to the Yasso “conversion” if you can can run 10 sets of 800m at a set time (min:sec) then it’s a pretty accurate delineator of you’re your  marathon time (hr:min). Confused?  I was too when I first read about it.  So here’s a snippet from Bart Yasso’s website to clarify.


“Bart and I were at the Portland Marathon last September when he told me about his workout. He was training for a marathon later in the fall, so two days before Portland he went to a nearby track and ran Yasso 800s. “I’m trying to build up to ten 800s in the same time as my marathon goal time,” he told me.

Huh? Half-miles in 2 or 3 hours? I didn’t get it.

Bart saw that he’d have to do more explaining. “I’ve been doing this particular workout for about 15 years,” he continued, “and it always seems to work for me. If I can get my 800s down to 2 minutes 50 seconds, I’m in 2:50 marathon shape. If I can get down to 2:40 (minuses), I can run a 2:40 marathon. I’m shooting for a 2:37 marathon right now, so I’m running my 800s in 2:37.”

As much as I wanted to stay at the track and see if I could keep it up for a full set of 10 (which I was fairly confident I could, unfortunately 6 was all I had time for.  It was still a great workout though, and as soon as I got home from a tired 3km cool down the sky opened up with a downpour, so maybe my timing was more appropriate than I could have predicted.

Lunchtime Woes

Why is it, when I make a few unhealthy food choices that they become easier and easier to make?  Instead of bucking up, grabbing the bull by the horns and eating a nice healthy apple as I should, I’m sitting here chomping away on a Snickers bar feeling simultaneously great and gross?

Who am I kidding? I know EXACTLY why…it tastes awesome.  Unfortunately, as with most terrible-for-you food lately I end up with a cement mixer in my stomach hours later.

My lunch option was one of necessity, economy, and laziness.  A frozen Crustini, I found in the bottom of my freezer last night, I had bought a couple of these “instant” meals a few months ago when they were on sale for $2 a piece (now I know why).  Yesterday I cobbled together the last two pieces of bread for my healthy sandwich, and with kid commitments etc. I didn’t make it to the market last night to pick up more.  That meant a lunch out ($$$) or the frozen wrap-looking things that was about to expire in the bottom of my freezer ($).  Unbeknowest to me, said frozen wrap-looking things were 300 calories of gooey cheese…each…and I had two.  By the time that bit of information reached my brain, my stomach was already struggling to break down the greasy, poorly cooked mess.

I’m currently training for a marathon, and this leaves me considering a snack 23 1/2hrs out of every day.  I’m hungry, and when quick calories are needed, often it’s the junk that feels oh-so-good sliding down your gullet.  Crappy lunch leads to crappy snack which leads to the cement mixer again.

I’d say  my lesson was learned, but something tell me that this is a lesson I will be taught over and over and over again….ad nauseam