If you’re a coached athlete you know this cycle well. Your coach writes you a workout or a block of training in TrainingPeaks (TP), which you upload after completing (or you forget, but at least you did the workout, right?). Your coach reviews the training gives you some feedback and writes the next block of training. And on and on the cycle goes.

While the GPS data gives insight into paces, distance and the quantitative side of training, it often only tells part of the story. What about the fact that you were running on four hours of sleep, or got a killer cramp on the second repeat? The point is, your post-workout communication is an important piece of the puzzle and there is a lot of qualitative information that makes the coaching experience far more complete. Without context, we only have half the story.

In our experience as coaches and athletes, communication, or lack thereof, is often the number one factor in injury and poor performance.

Post workout communication is one of the keys to making the coach-athlete relationship successful, keeping you injury free and progressing towards your goals.

Post-activity comments are an awesome communication tool that allows you to tell the story of your training. With each workout, long run, or pre-race nervous breakdown, your post-activity comments weave the pieces of your training journey together.

So, what are we looking for in your comments? 

1. Be yourself

We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly from your workouts. The more real information you are willing to share, the easier it will be for us to get to know you and build a strong coach-athlete relationship. Similarly, don’t try to twist the story to “impress” your coach. We won’t judge you for missing your paces or calling it quits on a bad day. This is all valuable information for us to use in planning your training.

2. Be consistent

You don’t need to write something every day, but a comment once a week tells a much better story than 3 comments one week and none for the next 3 weeks. The hard workout and long run days are most important. So if nothing else, give us something to work with on those days.

3. Be concise

You don’t have to write 3 paragraphs after a 30-minute easy run. A couple of quick thoughts go a long way, or you can use the scale in 1-10 scale in Training Peaks to describe your effort and how you felt. This is quick and easy to use and provides a whole lot more information to your coach than you might think. 

Leaving comments in TrainingPeaks can also serve as your personal training log. These can be helpful later on when you wonder how you felt the last time you did a specific workout or what went well in your last marathon build up. 

Finally, these comments reflect your personality and help us get to know you as a person. Whether it’s something funny that happened on a run or a humorous reflection of the pain that the workout put you through. These can be equally as important to building a strong relationship with your coach because at the core running is a journey that we all enjoy and we want to be able to share those unique memories with someone who can relate.

Fitting a shorter distance race, like racing a 5km, into your training plan should be an easy thing to do no matter what your current training focus and goals are. There are several scenarios that you might find yourself in when trying to fit in a fast and fun 1 mile or 5km race. We see two scenarios that are most likely this time of year:

  1. You are treating a shorter distance race as a hard workout not unlike any other speed workout day or
  2. You are treating it as a goal race for which you’re really trying to optimize performance.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you hit it right on the day:

Treating a shorter distance as a really hard workout

This is a good option for many if this race isn’t your main focus and just want to have some fun. You can add in a 1 mile or 5km race in your schedule in place of a regular speed workout or tempo run and get back into the swing of training again the next day because the distance isn’t long. There are still some things to keep in mind when doing this because this isn’t going to be easy, shorter distance races are really intense, like hands on knees dry-heaving at the finish line intense. Fun right?

What to keep in mind:

  1. Pre-race
    • In the week leading up to the race, keep overall volume the same but make sure your easy runs are very easy
    • Add an extra day of strides in the week prior. And make sure the strides are given some focus at the end of a run, as opposed to just being an afterthought. The added turnover will come in handy on race day.
  2. Post-Race
    If you’re going to jump right back into regular training after a hard short distance race you need to be diligent about post-race recovery. What you do in the minutes and hours following a race of high intensity can really impact your recovery and ability to jump back into regularly scheduled training.
    • Do a proper cooldown – a slow 10-20min jog to flush out all the ‘junk’ you accumulated during the race
    • Fuel well immediately following, hitting both the 20min window and the 2hr window for post-workout fuelling
    • Address any niggles immediately
    • Resume training as regularly scheduled

Treating a race as just that, a race

If you’re going to go hard and race all out you have to respect the race, even if it is one quarter or even one eighth the distance you usually compete at. Ideally, you would include a proper taper into your training for any goal race. The 5km is not different.

What you need to keep in mind:

  1. Pre-Race Taper
    • For a 5km, you should start to bring down the total running volume at least 5 days out from the race
    • Cut the volume of your long run the week prior to the race
    • Make your last speed workout 4-5 days prior to the race
    • Make the easy days extra easy
    • Add an extra day of strides to your training
  2. Post Race
    You won’t need to take the same amount of recovery time after a 5km race as you would a marathon or a half-marathon. Many high-level track athletes race distances between 1500m and 5000m on consecutive days or several times in the space of a week during their peak racing season. It’s possible to recover quickly. If it is a goal race, you’ll still want to do the following:
    • Be diligent about your recovery immediately after the race
    • Take 3-4 easy days before resuming proper training
    • Consider a rest day the day following the race. This could look like complete rest or some active recovery like swimming or pool running
    • Give your mind a bit of a rest too, like after any goal race

For many of you, your goal race for the spring season is done and dusted. Whether the distance was 1 mile, the marathon, or something in between and no matter if you met, exceeded or came up a bit short of your goal, now is most definitely the time for a bit of rest and recovery.

We all need to respect the need for downtime. It’s as important to listen to your body now as it is when you are in the thick of training. At M2M we usually recommend you take a full week off from running after a marathon. You put your body through a lot of trauma out on the roads and trails. If you find you can’t sit still during this time off from running it’s okay to do some other low-impact or non-impact training. A return to full training should happen gradually over the next 2-3 weeks. Even if your goal race was shorter than the marathon you should still take a few rest days and a few weeks away from structured training.

Take some time for your mind

Too often we see athletes neglecting this aspect of recovery. It’s important that we respect the mental fatigue from a big training block and goal race. 2018 Boston Marathon Champ, Des Linden, said it best after this year’s race.

There is just no way you can stay focused and ‘on it’ day in and day out 52 weeks of the year without experiencing some mental burnout. So even if your body is feeling recovered, take some time off for your mind.

Coping with the post-marathon blues

Many athletes find the transition time between seasons very difficult. I can remember that time well – the post-marathon blues were something I often experienced during my career. You’re out of routine, eating like crap, drinking more than usual and your future goals are a bit unclear. And that is ok.

The transition period is definitely the time to indulge, spend more time with friends and family (that may have been a bit neglected when you were crushing all those miles prepping for your goal race), and do some non-running activities on your bucket list.  It is also a good time to try something new in training or racing. Sign-up for that trail race you’ve always wanted to do or start that strength training routine you’ve neglected for so long. Mixing it up a little should help you to get rolling again later this spring.

So what’s next?

If you haven’t planned out your racing schedule for the fall, now is a good time to do that too. Sit down with your coach, talk about your goals and make a plan to achieve them. This has always been something that helped me kick start my training again after a little downtime. Getting those goal races set in stone can help you visualize what the training will be like over the next few months.

Alrighty, let’s talk about the BMO Vancouver Marathon course. First things first, show up early and keep race day morning as stress-free as possible. The marathon is hard enough already, don’t do anything silly to make it harder on yourself.

We’ll start @ Queen Elizabeth park, the gun goes and we climb a little bit to get out of the park, then we turn left onto Cambie. The 1st km is a net uphill, and it is the 1st KM of 42, do not worry about what your watch says, just get off the line and get the body ready to go.

We’ll turn right on 49th @ about 2.5km, then there is a nice long straight shot for over 6km. Use this time to find your flow and settle in. This section has a really nice gentle downhill from 4km to 9km. It is awesome, don’t force anything here, just relax and roll.

Photos from a day of carnage at the 2018 BMO Vancouver Marathon in Vancouver, BC on May 5, 2018. Courtesy of Jody Bailey.

At 9km we take that dreaded right turn on to Camosun. The bad news is that this hill is a tough, challenging 1200m climb. The good news is that it is early in the race. The hill will sting, but I promise you that you will recover and be fine once you hit the peak. Focus on maintaining effort on the hill, do not worry about pace.

After you get to the top of Camosun, it is pretty much smooth sailing. Just kidding. We’ll roll around UBC which is nice because the roads up there are wide and smooth, re-establish your rhythm and continue to focus. Take your gels and hit the water stations when you can.

Nearing half-way now

At 19km we hit a long ass downhill coming out of UBC and onto Spanish Banks. Do not try to hammer this hill to make up any lost time, that is a recipe for disaster as you risk destroying your quads. Float down the hill maintaining effort and trying to run smooth.

At the bottom of the hill we hit ½ way. Your legs will feel funny for a km or two, do not panic, that is normal. Focus on staying relaxed and continue to flow through the beaches.

There is a tricky little climb coming out of Jericho, but it is only 300m long and it’s followed by a nice gradual downhill.

We’ll roll through Kits down Point Grey road and Cornwall, the crowds here are great, so use them to fire ya up.

We gotta run across Burrard Street Bridge at 29km. Yeah, that will suck but there are great crowds on the Bridge and this is the last hard climb of the day. Get over that bridge and then there is a nice downhill onto the seawall. The good thing about this course is that many uphills are followed by nice downhills after to allow for recovery.

We’ll get on the Seawall at about 31km, and from then on it’s all flat and boring. Maintain focus, remain positive and finish that sucker strong. Easy peasy right? Have a great one!

Race day is fast approaching for many big races across the world. If you’re traveling to a marathon, you best be prepared and pack appropriately. There is nothing worse than getting to your hotel and realizing you forgot your lucky race socks at home.

Check out our suggested packing list below

Important!
Passport
Wallet (with credit cards)
Mobile
Airbnb or hotel information
Race registration info on your phone or printed out

Race Day Gear
Pro Tip: pack race kit in your carry-on luggage, just in case…
Running shoes
Shorts, bra, socks, and long sleeve for shakeout run
Shorts, bra, socks and tank for marathon
Throwaway clothes for race morning: toque, old sweatpants, water-resistant poncho, old warm long sleeve, old cotton sweatshirt (older and warmer the better – you’ll never see this stuff again)
Racing hat in case of rain or heat
Racing gloves or arm sleeves in case of cold weather
Garbage bag (big one) to sit on in the athletes village
Kleenex pack to bring to the athletes village
Water bottle for before the race
Racing sunglasses (bring to race start only if planning to wear them)
Post-race layers: jacket, poncho, mitts, toque (give these to your family members)
Small tub of vaseline or body glide
Aleve or other pain/inflammation relief

Food
Snacks for flight: bars, bananas, etc.
Oatmeal packets
Gels, gummies, etc. *exactly what you need for race day, plus a few extra

Clothes
Comfortable travel/walking shoes for all non-running related activities
All-weather jacket
Sunglasses
Underwear (can never have too much underwear!)
Compression socks for flight (we know, so stylish right!)
Non-running clothes – it’s okay to be a bit inconspicuous once in a while and walk around in regular clothes
Essential makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, deodorant (gotta look good out there too!)

by Coach Kate Gustafson

So you won the SeaWheeze 2018 lottery?! Now it’s showtime. This half marathon/party thrown by lululemon always delivers something totally unique that you really won’t find anywhere else across Canada’s racing scene.

 

Every year there is a ton of buzz around the SeaWheeze Showcase Store and you know what, it’s pretty sweet. Even if you’re not into sleeping outside to get first dibs on the exclusive gear it’s worth walking through the store on your way to the race packet pickup to shop what’s still available.

 

In the past (and I’m pretty sure it’s the same this year) you won’t get a race bib but you will get some kind of race chip for your shoe/wrist/body. Don’t forget to attach this the night before the race and be sure to follow the directions in your race packet.

 

Mentally prepare for rain but don’t overdress on race morning because you’ll be warm out there once you get started. If you can, get friends or family to carry a jacket for you to throw on post-race. Vaseline on parts of your body that tend to chafe is probably a good idea. Also, rain can make you feel like you’re not thirsty (especially after training through the summer heat), PLEASE remember to drink at the aid stations and take your gels just like you’ve practiced. No new tricks on race day. Go with what you know.

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Give yourself plenty of time to warm up in advance of the 7:00am start. It’s an early one, folks!

 

The course itself is challenging with some sharp turns on the Seawall, a big bridge and a few hills. Many first-timers run this race, which is freakin’ awesome, but that means that pacing can be all over the place. Pay special attention to your own splits in the first 5km, don’t get caught going out too fast.

img_1327From 5 to 9 km, you’ll make two nasty climbs up and then back over Burrard Bridge. Try not to glance at your watch too much when you’re climbing and use the downhill to your advantage. Keep your mind in a positive place, choosing when to look at your watch is one way to do this.

 

Watch your step when you run down from the road to the Seawall at English Bay, especially if it is a wet morning.

 

The second half is where the work really happens and the gritty get grittier. The Seawall always features a few great cheer stations but it can be quiet out there. Try to stay in contact with a group in front of you or work with another runner when you’re out there.

Photos from a day of carnage at the 2018 BMO Vancouver Marathon in Vancouver, BC on May 5, 2018.

Photo by Jody Bailey @3oh6

Around 18km, you’ll need to draw on all of those hill repeats you did last summer to get up and over Lumberman’s Arch. The hill doesn’t look like much but it feels like a North Shore mountain at this point in the race (at least for me it was). Keep your head up and your mind focused here. The final two kilometres are challenging because you’ll be tired and you need to make a series of tight turns on the Seawall. It’s going to feel like the finish line is a million miles away until you FINALLY see it with only a few hundred metres to go. Don’t check out over these last few kilometres, fight to hold your pace or pass others in front of you or maybe even pull a few of your teammates along.

 

The finish line party is always full of surprises and it is worth making the time to enjoy it. And of course, there’s the SeaWheeze Festival that’s always a good time.

 

Good luck and remember to have fun. Go get it, runners!

The Canada Running Series Under Armour Eastside10k is just around the corner. Check out coach Rob Watson’s 10 tips to a kick-ass 10k

1) Be prepared for race morning: Leave nothing to chance. Know what you are going to eat, know how you are going to get to the race, know where you are gonna stash your gear. Arrive early, no need for added stress on race day, you are there to compete and perform. Unnecessary stress will affect your performance.

2) Warm-up: For some this is a 20min run and active strides. For others this is a 5min walk and some stretches. Either way, get those muscles loose and ready to go, it’ll help avoid injury and have you primed to perform.

3) Find your place: Get on the start line and line up with people whom are at your same level. A 45min 10km is a great accomplishment, but you probably shouldn’t be lining up at the very front- you will get pulled out too hard and you will impede faster runners. Also, if you wanna run 35min get yourself to the front- if not you are gonna spend too much energy passing people and you may be trampling over slower runners. Be smart here.

4) Get off the line: The 1st km of this race is the fastest. You will feel fresh and there is a nice downhill. If you are several seconds faster than your goal pace do not worry, get the 1st km in and then settle into your race.

5) Settle and Flow: From 2-5km you should relax and find your flow. If you are pushing too hard at 3km you are gonna be suffering hard by 8km. Have your goal pace in mind and focus on maintaining that effort and rhythm. Being 5seconds too slow is fine as you can make up time with a strong last 2km, but being 5seconds too fast can be disastrous as when you blow up you’ll be giving time back in chunks.

6) Just get up the damn hill: Accept that the hill is going to suck. It’s just that simple. When you get there don’t stress about the pace slipping. Accept the burn and get to the top. Once you crest that hill, you get a nice down hill to get a few seconds back, and then you start making your way back towards the finish. The hardest part of the race is now behind you. Get back on pace and keep rolling!

7) Find a Group: There is power in numbers when it comes to racing. Working as group can help a lot. A group can pull you along, you can fight the wind together and you can thrive off the positive vibes that come from sharing a common goal. Find a friend and roll together.

8) Focus: This is racing, it is supposed to hurt! Your legs will burn, you’ll fight for breath and you’ll wanna stop. You trained for this. Focus on your goals and stay positive. The pain of racing is brief, but giving up will sting for a whole lot longer.

9) Bite your tongue and give it hell: Ok, you got to 9km. Time to get going! This is where you put your head down and give it hell. Dig deep and push. Give it everything you have until you cross that finish line.

10) Reap the spoils: Congrats on finishing the Eastside 10km! Now enjoy yourself a bit- go get brunch, drink a beer or just do something to spoil yourself. You have earned it!

Our team of coaches have raced this course countless times. Here’s our thoughts on how to conquer this bad boy!

At first glance this course looks pretty easy and fast. A little loop around Yaletown and then out along English Bay, around Stanley Park and back. A lot of Vancouverites are familiar with this route, covering parts of it in training. But it’s not as easy as it looks, especially the last 6k.

Here’s our breakdown for you:
0-5km: This part of the course is pretty straight forward. Your GPS might go wonky on you passing under the viaduct near BC place. Don’t panic, keep running, please don’t complain when Strava tells you, you only ran 20.9k – the course is certified folks! If you’re having a bad day the race goes past the start/finish area at ~1mile, if you’re thinking about bailing out this is the time to do it. The uphill along Pacific Blvd at ~2k comes early enough that you don’t really notice it. Heading out along English Bay you might notice a bit of a head wind. Just tuck in behind someone. Be thankful you’re not 6’2″/155lb, in which case there aren’t too many runners that make for a good shield.

5-10km: The sharp little hill up off the seawall just past 1st Beach can sting, even this early in the race. And the tight turns to go through the tunnel under Stanley Park Dr, near 2nd Beach, are going to slow you down a bit. Don’t try to be a hero and blast around these tight corners. They are often slick with mud and you might end up on your arse like our friend Kelly Wiebe did back in 2014. If it’s a windy day you might get hit with it as you scoot up towards Brockton Point. A wind coming in that direction would actually be a good thing, as it would then be at your back/side along the far side of the wall. So bear with it. Don’t fall into the Burrard Inlet around Brockton Point, please.


10-15km: Ok, we know the seawall is flat as a pancake and therefore should be fast running. But there are lots of sharp little twists and turns around the wall that can break up your rhythm. When you’re having a tough day these turns just keep slowing you down more and more. A strong headwind from Brockton Point to Lions Gate is likely and a real nuisance, but just try to not to fight it too much. Find a groove and stick with a group if you can.

15-20.5km: You hit the gravel path around Lost Lagoon just past 15k. If you were feeling good up to this point, well count your lucky stars, because you won’t for much longer. From our experience the gravel throws off your rhythm and slows you down. This is usually the point in a half-marathon when you start to regret signing up for the race and that ~1k section around the Lagoon really makes you question why the heck you’re out there and not sipping on a latte at Musette Caffe instead. Once you’re clear of the gravel you get hit with a few short steep hills that on any other day you probably wouldn’t notice. But they feel like bloody mountains at the end of this race. They completely trash your legs and make you scramble hard to get back up to speed and find a good rhythm again. The first comes at ~17k, out of the tunnel heading out of Stanley Park. The next comes at the driveway of the Aquatic Ctr. And the final doozy comes right at 20.5k, under the Granville St bridge. Be prepared to hurt and to loose a good 30 seconds in this section.

20.5-21.1k: Once you get up onto Pacific Blvd again it’s a clear shot downhill to the finish. You can see that freakin’ finish line forever though. At that point you just put your head down and go for it! Or give high fives to all your buddies cheering for you from the sidelines!

Yikes, we just made that course sound terrible. It’s not. In fact it’s really nice and on a good day it’s fast and Sunday looks like it’s going to be a good day! But, we just want you to be prepared for the worst.

As we get into July we are getting into our favourite time of year – another marathon training cycle.

The long run starts to ramp up this time of year. There are many things you need to know and learn to master the long run. But one that often gets missed is the route you run. The more specific this is to your race the better. The most important aspects of the race course to mimic are the changes in elevation (ie lots of hills, flat, net downhill) and the twisty-turny-ness of the course.

In an ideal world you’d run the actual race course in training, like many of you did with us prior to BMO Vancouver marathon this spring. But if you don’t have the luxury of living in the city you’ll be racing in, you can still take some time to plan a route that has similar features to the race course for your fall marathon. We did this for our Boston Prep long run in Vancouver, with our UBC-Camosun loop.

This will benefit you both physically and mentally. You can train your body to better endurie ups and downs and twists and turns. The more efficient you become at these the better you’ll be on race day. And simply knowing that you’ve done long runs to mimic the course should give you the confidence to race without fear of the course bearing you.

Coach DW has been doing some route planning with a few of his athletes who are running the Jack & Jill marathon in July. The course runs along an old railway bed and has a consistent downhill grade that drops from 2,500ft to 500ft over the 42.2k. This is a unique course and we’ve been practicing that downhill by doing some race pace sections of their long runs on the revamped Arbutus greenway. Let’s hope it pays off!

Last week we talked about how to pick the right fuel for your marathon training and racing. The take home message there was; it is very individual, try out a bunch different things and go with what you like the taste of and what agrees most with your stomach.

This week, let’s talk about how much of that fuel you should be taking in, whether it be gels, sports drink, bloks, stingers, straight up honey packets (as one person on Instagram suggested). Similar to picking you’re fuel, you need to practice, practice, practice to dial in the amount of stuff you need to take in.

We do suggest some minimums that you should aim for, and these are based on the grams of carbohydrate in your fuel. Most gels and sports drinks will give you that info on the packaging. What you want to focus on is consuming at least 30grams of CHO per hour. Most gels have between 20-25 grams of CHO in them. There is a good listing of the nutrition facts for a lot of different fuelling products HERE. But you’re unlikely to suck out every gram of gel as you franticly stuff it in your face mid race. So subtract 5grams from that and you have what you’re getting in with each gel. So to hit 30grams you need to be taking down roughly 1 and 1/3rd gel per hour. Or 1 gel every 40minutes. That is at MINIMUM.

(If you’re using sports drink instead, you can change up the concentration of the drink to get in more CHO. Instead of adding the standard 1 scoop of powdered drink per XmL of water, add 1.5 scoops. See where that lands you.)

What’s the maximum? There isn’t one. It’s when your GI system shuts down! When is that? You’ll only find out by practicing and pushing your limits. Practice on your long runs or long tempos. Those runs will best simulate the blood flow through your gut that you’ll be experiencing on race day. We don’t know of anyone that can push much beyond 60 grams of carbs per hour.

You can mix up your fuels too. Sometimes taking the sports drink on offer on the course, other times taking gels or bloks you carry with you. Variety is good, as long as you know your stomach can handle it. Dylan’s best formula was a 1.5x concentration of PowerBar Endurance drink at one aid station and a Powerbar Gel at the next station. But what worked for him isn’t necessarily going to work for you. So get out there, practice, practice, practice and get things dialled in.