“What’s the most difficult part of coaching?” 


This question from my massage therapist (that interrupted my daydreaming) is still lingering as I stare at the shifty ceiling fan above me. Ceiling fans never quit. They will go on and on and on until someone makes them stop. Or they break on their own. They have different speeds of intensity, and if left stagnant, they collect dust. The answer to his question is so clear to me — it’s holding people back from this same relentless spinning around and around and around. Yep, this is an oversimplified analogous take on running but I do believe there’s so much we can learn from the world around us if we pay attention.

There are many overworked concepts tossed around in running circles. “Recovery” is high on this list. By definition, recovery is the process of regaining health. Intellectually we understand its importance and why it exists, and yet, athletes can take this simple principle for granted.

Culturally, we see social media or watercooler conversations celebrate suffering and long hard efforts. This happens in both the workplace and in training. Sure, we should all want to work hard to get where we’re going, but heck, we can’t do much when we’re going full tilt exhausted, under fuelled, sleep-deprived, and crossing that blurry line into burnout. Muhammad Ali is a great teacher in this regard: “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

Like Ali, there are far too many great thinkers out there to write another list of the strategies to recover well. The experts can do that. If you want to start somewhere in understanding what we need as humans when it comes to slowing down or dialing it up, go read Brad Stulberg’s Twitter feed (he says it like it is).

What I can add to this discussion is my own personal experience. Amusingly, as I looked at when to carve away time to write my thoughts for this post, I was up against recovering from a long solo 38k run around Manhattan. Nothing like being in the work to empathize with those you’re writing for. Recovery for me looks like getting high-calorie food and fluids in my body immediately after this type of effort. Sometimes I’ll use a foam roller, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll plug in the heating pad for my legs, sometimes I won’t. I try to spend as much time as possible off my feet and do something that’s unrelated to running. Lastly, and most importantly, recovery is sleep. I don’t bargain with sleep and I don’t stress about it. (I know there are parents reading this and your sleep patterns will surely look different). With the influx of apps and companies out there selling sleep these days, this essential human behaviour can become overwhelming and stressful. That is counterproductive. For a solid take on sleep, listen to Matthew Walker, a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.

To add a few other practical ideas, when I started working with Dylan he was the first recognize that I couldn’t turn around from a hard Sunday long run and do a workout on a Tuesday. That’s not the athlete I am (I need more time) and through some trial and error, my hard efforts are very rarely stacked closely together. This is a solid reminder to keep communication open with your coach around how you’re feeling and to note when workouts just don’t seem to feel right. The seven-day training cycle is arbitrary and definitely not a one size fits all strategy.

As a lifelong dabbler in a broad range of sports, my athletic experience is deep enough to know that everything worth doing takes time. And in some cases, this has meant taking months away from running after a big marathon to fully recharge (physically and mentally) and focus on other things. All of my athletes take time off formal training after their marathons to prolong their passion and development in the sport.

So, back to that looming question from the RMT, yes, one of my greatest challenges as a coach continues to be helping athletes recognize when to turn off or ramp up. Just like that darn ceiling fan, every speed serves a purpose. On the flip side of this, some of the most meaningful moments as a coach have come when an athlete displayed the self-awareness to take a step back to recharge so they could show up for their family, work and future training in all of the right ways. Those are the big wins.

Recovery isn’t just about running, life is busy and full, having the ability to share what’s going on in your life with your coach is essential to creating an effective individualized training plan. The same goes for sharing your running goals with your colleagues so that they can understand you a bit more. Empathy, perspective, and communication are everything here.

Let’s keep pushing the dialogue that rest is not counter to work, it’s part of it.

Yours in running,

Coach Kate

There are hundreds of resources with advice on pregnancy, exercising while pregnant, postpartum comebacks. It’s a lot. As a team committed to coaching many women who are also parents with full lives outside fo their running shoes, we set out a couple of months ago to hear from our own community.

Vancouver athlete and physiotherapist, Steph, was kind enough to share her story of running through pregnancy. More than 30 weeks in, she reflects on what she believes has allowed her to continue to run, feel good, and what she’ll consider when thinking about her postpartum comeback.

It’s been over 30 weeks running while pregnant and I have to say so far so good! I may have slowed down, dropped my miles and the faces in my pace group have changed, but I’m still out here, and couldn’t be happier. Since the day I found out I was pregnant I’ve treated every day I get to run as a gift, not a given (which is a really good lesson, pregnant or not) and my M.O has been to listen to my body.

At first, running really helped with my nausea, and since I’ve run almost my entire life, the guidance from my healthcare providers I could continue as I had been as long as I could still talk during my runs and that I didn’t feel dizzy. I’ve gradually slowed down, taken out a lot of my speed workouts, dropped my weekly mileage from 50-60km to now 30-35, in addition to dropping my paces 1min/km. Every week and every day is different in this whole human growing journey, and it’s been really important to let go of training plans, pace goals, and expectations and to listen to what my body needs.

Early on I added in an extra day of cross-training in the form of weights, pilates or boxing. I’ve always strength and cross-trained at least 1-2 days per week, which I believe is SO important to running strong and staying injury-free… sorry runners, but you can’t just run. I definitely think it’s a huge part of why I’ve avoided some of the common back, hip and joint pain of pregnancy.

Now that I’m into the third trimester and the finish line is in sight (obviously that’s what I’m visualizing), I’ve started to think of what my postpartum journey will look like and plotting my comeback. As much as I’m looking forward to setting some running goals again, my number one goal is to do it safely! I’m not in a hurry. My goal is to run forever and to enjoy it forever which means taking it slow and listening to my body and the experts.

I believe a huge misconception out there is that you can return to running after 6 weeks when your doctor or midwife clears you. However, most OB’s and midwives are looking at the healing of your pelvic floor or cesarean surgery not function which in my opinion, is WAY more important! It’s why I’ve been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist and why they will be the opinion I’ll follow when it comes to returning to exercise and running.

Recently return to running guidelines have been released (a 40 page doc from PT’s in the UK, US and AUS), and the recommendations from this study, looking at LOTS of expert studies, state that “running is not advised prior to 3 months postnatal or beyond this if any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are identified.” Having this information has helped me set expectations on my own return.

As for the rest of my journey, I’m hoping to continue running for as long as possible, but I’m trusting my body (and my physio) to tell me if and when I need to stop. I know running will always be there for me, it’s not going anywhere and neither am I! It may be tedious and involve a lot of patience when it comes to my comeback, but I’ll get there and I know I’ll be back chasing my M2M teammates around the track when my body says it’s ready to go!

Spoiler alert: this is for runners with a marathon goal race.

So you’ve registered for a marathon or your reluctant lottery entry got you into the Berlin, Chicago or New York City Marathon? Good for you! Hopefully, you also have one or two shorter races lined up before you pack your bags. That’s right, we’re talking about tune-up races, people! The purpose, timing and even the distance of tune-up races can vary quite a bit depending on the distance of your goal race. In this case, we’re talking about those 42.2 kilometers of pure exhilaration we call the marathon.

 

Why should I race before my race?

One: It’s fun to know where you’re at. Typically you can figure this out with your coach from your workouts. But a race can be a great (and also fun) indicator, especially if you’re training for the marathon for the first time or you feel like your workouts are at a new level.

Two: It’s the perfect practice environment. It’s so valuable to simulate your marathon pace and you’ll get the chance to practice everything you’ll do race weekend. It’s like a dress rehearsal before the big show. You can wear what you’ll wear in Chicago, eat what you’ll eat in Berlin, fuel like you’ll fuel in Sacramento, and drink water like you’ll drink water in New York freakin’ City. Dialing in on what works and what doesn’t at a tune-up race is not only smart, it is essential.

 

Three: Nothing beats the thrill of racing. We often see athletes so focused on an uninterrupted block of training that they’ll go months without racing and forget what it’s like to race. Hello, logistics and porta-potties! This can create a big mental barrier for athletes come marathon morning. Simply going through the process of pinning on a race bib, getting to the start line, and running in the company of others can be valuable.

When should I race?

Couple things you’ll want to think about and talk through with your coach:

  • How much time you’ll need to recover after the tune-up race?
  • When will the marathon taper begin?
  • How will the race impact your weekly training?

Runners often tackle a half marathon as a tune-up race before a marathon, and typically this is the race distance we will recommend for our athletes. Whether your goal is to run the half marathon all out or as a workout at marathon pace, this distance is most beneficial before your marathon. This will allow you to simulate your plan for the 24 to 48hrs prior to the marathon, with considerations around nutrition (carbo-loading and hydration), racing shoes, racing gear, on-course fuelling, and more.

Common running knowledge says that you shouldn’t race a half within four weeks of a goal marathon. In our experience, however, the best bet is actually five or six weeks out, to prevent any staleness through the final segment of training. But, roll with us here, we would argue that if you’re using a half marathon to practice marathon pace, it can be run within two weeks of a goal marathon. You’ll likely have already started a bit of a taper and 21.1km at your goal marathon race pace is a solid indicator that you’re on track. The danger here is that you will not be disciplined enough to stick to goal marathon pace and run too hard and then fail to recover for the marathon. For this reason, this tactic isn’t our first choice. 

Yo, what about the 5k and 10k?

Talk to your coach. Often these races can replace a weekly workout! We’re 100% on board with shorter tune-up races to simulate a race environment, practice competing, and work on developing a positive mental mindset around race day.

What does my tune-up performance actually mean?

If you’re looking for an indicator of marathon specific fitness, it’s hard to find that perfect race or race distance that does the trick. If you’re in the thick of marathon specific training and knock out a personal best time in a half marathon tune-up that’s likely a good sign that you’re on the right track for marathon race day. The strength and endurance needed for both of these distances are similar. On the flip side, a half marathon is only half the distance of your goal race (that’s high math!). If you haven’t put in the specific training for the marathon, your half marathon tune-up race isn’t likely to indicate a whole lot.

Not all tune-up races will go well. Because sometimes they don’t. This does not mean that your marathon won’t go well. While in the midst of training for a marathon you may be more tired than after the marathon taper, so your legs just might not have that extra pep in their step that you were expecting even though your fitness is high.

Lastly, it’s all about the process when it comes to tune-up races. Make a point to connect with your coach on what makes sense to add or remove from your schedule so that you’re excited about the upcoming season of running. See you on race day!

During a marathon build, we can get so focused on hitting the miles, nailing the workouts and perfecting our recovery routines, that we forget the crucial piece of nailing down our marathon fuelling plan. 

Science tells us that no one can get through 2hrs+ of running without their muscles becoming depleted, and for them to continue to work, we need some kind of fuel. Nike’s famous Breaking2 project put the spotlight on the importance of fuelling, with scientists and athletes heavily invested in finding the perfect fuel and strategies to break the 2-hour barrier. 

Building a fuelling plan

The early weeks of your marathon build provide the perfect opportunity to build a fuelling plan. This means considering what you’re going to use for fuel, how much of it you’re going to take and when you’re going to take it. 

Start with research

Find out what products will be available at your goal race and decide if you want to use that fuel, carry your own, or some combination of the two.

How to pick the right fuel for your marathon training and racing? 

The most common forms of fuel are gels and sports drinks. At the end of the day, all these products are just different combinations of sugars that convert to carbohydrate (CHO). CHO is what your muscles crave and need to keep you going on race day.

Picking your fuel is an extremely individual choice. What works for your training partner might not work for you, so try out a bunch of different products during training to find what you like the taste of and what agrees most with your stomach. Practice taking fuel on your long runs or long tempos, since these best simulate the blood flow through your gut will experience on race day.

We suggest trying the fuelling products (gels and sports drinks) that are available on your race course first, and going from there. If the fuel available at the race doesn’t work for you, try something else that you will carry in the form of gels or blocks and gummies. Though sports drinks can be a great option, they are harder to carry than gels, so unless you’re getting bottles handed to you every 5km, stick to your own fuel or the aid stations.

How much should you be taking in? 

We cannot stress enough how important it is to practice the amount you need to take in. 

We suggest some minimums that you should aim for, based on the grams of carbohydrate in your fuel. This information can be found on the packaging for most products. Focus on consuming at least 30grams of CHO per hour. Most gels have between 20-25 grams of CHO in them, but you’re unlikely to suck out every gram of gel as you frantically stuff it in your face mid-race. 

Rule of thumb: subtract 5grams the number of carbs in your gel and you have what you’re actually getting in. To hit 30grams, you need to be taking down, at minimum, roughly 1 and 1/3rd gel per hour, or 1 gel every 40minutes.

If you’re using a 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, add 1.5 scoops. See where that lands you.

What’s the maximum? It’s when your GI system shuts down, which you’ll only find out by practicing fuelling. Be sensible here – you don’t want to completely ruin a training run by trying to take down 200grams of CHO per hour. Most athletes can handle between 60-80 grams of carbs per hour. 

When to take in that fuel?

Early and often.

Start by taking fuel 5-10minutes before the race, and then take on fuel at consistent intervals throughout. We suggest every 20-30minutes of running, taking roughly the same amount of fuel each time. 

A common mistake in fuelling is that people often wait to start sucking back gels until they feel like they need it. If you wait, it’s going to be too late, as all of these forms of fuel are going to take a while to kick in and deliver the energy you need. 

Gels are usually taken with water, something that you should also be practicing on your long and tempo runs whenever possible. Unlike fuel, hydration is much more dependent on race day conditions. Hydrating properly is a strategy in itself, so we’ll save this topic for another time. For now, make sure you’re washing down those yummy gels with some water.

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!