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When & Why did you get into running?

Back in 2012, when I reached my highest of 310 pounds, I knew I needed to make a change. I first started my running as a way to lose weight. As the weight came off, I started to really enjoy the feeling of running a race and improving each time. Initially I started training with various groups with the goal of one day finishing a marathon.  Both goals were met, by reaching my goal weight with a loss of 140 pounds and finishing that first marathon.

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How do you fit running into your busy lifestyle?

Running is such a major part of my life now that I just work everything else around it. With a full time job and other family commitments, I know when training days are and I always find time to run.

 

What was the impetus to start working Mile2Marathon?

As I continued to compete and get faster, my goals in running changed. I used to think qualifying for Boston was just a dream until I had breakthrough race in Eugene in 2017 breaking 4 hours in a marathon for the first time. Now I realize that maybe Boston is not as far away as I thought. I knew I had to take a big step in my training to realize my goal of getting a BQ. I finally found where I was meant to be; with Mile2Marathon. I know with coaching from Tony, Dylan, and Rob it is not a matter of if I will BQ but when I will.

 

What do you enjoy most about being part of Mile2Marathon?

My favourite part of being a member of Mile2Marathon is the incredible amount of support everybody gives each other. From racing together to training together, we all truly care that everyone achieves their goals.

 

Mark exemplifies the true joy we all strive to achieve through a lifestyle of running. As one of the first athletes to arrive at each training session, he shows up with a genuine smile on his face and eagerness to take on the challenge ahead. As a result, Mark has made leaps and bounds towards his ultimate running goals since joining the crew.”  Coach Tony Tomsich

 

Where to next/What’s your big goal currently?

I have a few local races coming up but my big goal is still to run a Boston qualifying time. I am hoping to accomplish this when I run the New York City Marathon in November. I know that Mile2Marathon will give me all the tools I need to get this done.

 

Person that inspires you in running or life?

The person that inspires me the most in running is Steve Prefontaine. The way he trained and raced is how I’ve tried to model my running style after.

 

Fav quote (running related or non-running)?

“The real purpose of running is not to win the race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.” -Bill Bowerman

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Everything you ever wanted to know about the marathon, presented by Mile2Marathon x Saucony

Join us for an evening of running and talking all things MARATHON

6:30pm SHARP for the workout
8:00pm for the Talky talk

Submit your quesitons to info@mile2marathon.com for a chance to win some sweet Saucony swag.

More details HERE.

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Depending on the weather, adjust your warmup routines accordingly. I ran in cold and rainy weather so my focus was staying dry and warm. I maybe did 1k warmup with 3-4 strides and that’s it. Just enough to move my body, not feel stiff, and calm the nerves.

 

The race, like people have experienced in some of the marathon specific workouts start with a little climb. Nothing crazy by those who run like a bat out of hell should probably try not to. I remember my first 5k were fast. You have that downhill portion that has to be controlled. I remember my coach yelling at me for being quick – I felt good, smooth, and was letting gravity help me (that and I was also trying to run sub-2:35 pace as long as my body would let me).

 

Camosun Hill, I can honestly say didn’t feel like a grind to me. There are usually lots of people lining the street to keep the motivation levels high. Sticking with a group is key. I had 7 men with me and while I focused solely on one, it was enough for me to get pushed along. The Ogopogo road to 16th is one of my favourites so it was more fun than worrisome. Just watch out for the speed bumps in front of St. Georges Schooll!

 

Turning left onto 16th has a Hill.  Play to effort not pace. The out and back on Blanca St is a great way to gauge you spacing between competitors. From the turnaround point, however long it takes for you to see the next runner, double that and you have your cushion. I ran scared for the first half of that race, but the turnaround math helped me to relax.

 

While people talk about not hammering down to Spanish  Banks, it’s also important not to hammer down past the UBC Track. Essentially this course can hammer your quads if you let it. A quick rise up to the Chan Centre puts you back in stride before gravity pulls you down to Spanish Banks. Remain relaxed and fluid while letting yourself go just a touch; just stay controlled. No crazy windmill arms flying down that hill!

 

The little blip up to W4th past Spanish Banks, I don’t remember hurting but I also knew there were people at the top cheering for me. It’s amazing how out of sync with pain you can be sometimes. But from other people’s race recaps they found that Hill tough. So head down and grind it out.

 

Ensure something is saved for Point Grey road. The little undulations will start to take a toll same with the wee climb over Burrard Bridge. You get a nice slow downhill from the peak of Burrard all the way to the park. At the downtown side of Burrard, my Dad was standing there and with his minimal words nodded his head and said “the race starts now”. I believe this rings true to everyone.

 

At Second Beach pool I lost track of my splits (the beauty / downfall of running with a Timex versus a Garmin). I knew the distance remaining and made a note in my head to put my head down. For me, and all Vancouver athletes, the sea wall is as familiar as the back of my hand. It was a time that I had to put my head down, ignore the German man that kept yelling at me to go faster (no, I didn’t know him) and shift my focus inwards. There aren’t many people cheering along the wall so it’s a time that mental toughness is crucial. It’s a long 10k to the finish line when you’re alone. But the beauty is that it’s flat until the little Hill to Georgia, although it felt like a mountain.

 

When turning onto Pender for the final stretch, it’s not a flat road. There’s a slight incline, which you feel with 800m to go. But the crowds start to grow the throughout the day, use their energy to give you that last push. I remember feeling lonely with 800m to go, but by 400m those cheers will forever be a goosebumps inducing memory. It’s a fantastic finish line and I hope people soak in their city cheering them in.

Effective March 1, 2018 anyone who would like to attend M2M group workouts in Vancouver will be required to be a member of BC Athletics. This membership will be good for the remainder of the 2018 calendar year.

It has been wonderful for us to see the group in Vancouver grow. We still believe strongly in keeping the group workouts open to runners of all ages, abilities and commitment levels and therefore do not want to close or cap the group. However, we feel a certain level of safety and accountability is necessary at this time. The BC Athletics memberships will provide this for both Mile2Marathon and you, as well as some additional benefits to you.

Membership options include:

Non-competitive Training Only ($20):
◦ Discounts with BC Athletics partners, detailed HERE.
◦ Liability and Sport Injury/Accident Insurance
◦ Not eligible for entry in sanctioned events

Competitive Memberships:
1) Competitive Road/Trail ($60)
2) Masters, age 35+ ($70)
3) Competitive Track & Field/Road/Trail ($100)

◦ Discounts with BC Athletics partners, detailed HERE.
◦ Valid for entry in sanctioned events as noted
◦ $3.00 Day of Event membership exemption
◦ Liability and Sport Injury/Accident Insurance
◦ Performances included in Provincial & National rankings
◦ Eligible for entry in age category BC Athletics

To signup, please follow the below link. It should take 5 minutes to complete the registration process: www.trackiereg.com/M2M

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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.

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We are pumped to announce that Kate Gustafson is joining the M2M coaching crew! Kate is an amazing runner, coach, and woman. She’s inspired so many through her own running, coaching, and outreach with girls & woman across the globe. As M2M continues to grow in Vancouver and beyond, Kate will look to inspire more athletes and help them reach their goals. We feel truly lucky to have Kate join our crew of coaches. Kate’s full profile is below, and on our TEAM page, HERE.

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Kate Gustafson is a writer, runner, and coach—with her truest passions being travel and supporting women & girls in sport.
As a former Women’s NCAA Division I Ice Hockey player (named captain in her senior season), Kate loves sweaty pursuits. She has completed the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal, spent six weeks training at high altitude in Kenya, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raced twelve marathons and is a proud Guinness world record holder for distance run on a treadmill by twelve women over twelve hours.
Her personal best times include 2:46:40 in the marathon and 1:18:43 in the half marathon, both achieved in 2017 while training under fellow coach, Dylan Wykes.
When her hockey-playing days came to an end she revisited her passion for running. Eleven years later, she has completed 75+ races and trained with many inspiring coaches and teammates along the way—with all of this hard work culminating in a top 25 finish at the 2015 Boston Marathon and a 26th place finish at the 2017 Berlin Marathon.
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In 2013, Kate founded an online coaching business, and has since supported over 65 athletes across Canada in their various running pursuits. In 2014, she launched Girls With Gusto, a pilot running program for girls in Regent Park, one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods. And in 2015, she co-founded Run To Give YVR to bring Vancouver’s running community together to help the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.
Kate has led cross training clinics at the Toronto Raptors Basketball Academy, Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey School and Scotiabank Girls Hockey Fest, Ottawa Senators Hockey Camps, and led the Female Hockey Jamboree and Hometown Hockey clinics with the Vancouver Canucks.
She believes that perseverance, grit, and a profound love for sport are essential. She strives to pass this along to young girls through mentorship, endurance athletes through coaching, and fellow teammates through her own training.
After graduating from Union College in upstate New York, Kate began her professional career in advertising in Atlanta and Toronto before spending the next few years in non-profit leading a team. In 2012, she made the jump to professional sports at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. In early 2015, Kate moved to Vancouver to write for lululemon. Kate also writes a blog; a project that started during a year spent travelling around the world.

 

training tip

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!

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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.

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We know your GPS watch is all the rage: from tracking your pace to reading your text messages to brushing your teeth and combing your hair for you. It has lots of fancy bells and whistles. But sometimes we should ignore all the info it’s throwing at us and just run by feel.

Now we’re not going to ask you to leave your watch at home altogether. We tried that before and it didn’t work – we wouldn’t wanna miss out on that Strava mileage… Instead on your next recovery run we want you to plan out a route ahead of time that is a prescribed distance and just go out and run it. Don’t look at your watch a gazillion times and adjust your speed to try to hit your prescribed easy run pace. Just listen to your body and try to run easy. See where that lands you.

We tend to get distracted by the info from our watches when some of the most valuable info we can get as runners is from the signs our bodies give us. Your recovery run pace isn’t going to be exactly the same everyday and you need to learn to let your body tell you when you should dial it back. This is something Coach Dylan is trying to get back in the habit of doing and it’s something that can be very valuable for everyone. Next time we will delve into why you should run this same route you’ve mapped out on a regular basis. And how doing so can benefit your running.

We believe this a simple, low-tech way to track your recovery or lack thereof. Here is what we suggest and the thinking behind it;

  • Run that same route on your recovery runs, on the day after your usual speed work and/or tempo runs.
  • Record an overall time for your run, but don’t obsessively check your pace and HR and all that jazz during the run. Just get a time. Heck wear an old chrono watch or carry a stop-watch if you want to be really old school.
  • Try to run the same ‘easy’ effort for these runs.

After a few weeks of doing this you should be able to get an idea of how well you are recovering from your hard workouts. If you consistently run 60 minutes for your 12k route and then one day you run 63 minutes (while going what feels like your usual easy run effort) it might just be you’re having a bad day. Or it might be a sign that you went to the well too much on your last hard workout. Or that you are still feeling the long run you did 3 or 4 days prior. If the next time out your go back to running 60 minutes, great. Let’s call that 63 minuter a bad day. But if you’re consistently slogging away and finding your running 63 minutes again and again, it might be a sign you need an easy week or a rest day.

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With the First Half 1/2 marathon coming up quick, we wanted to get you guys prepared for what to expect on race day. 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 can sting, even this early in the race. And the tight turns to go through the tunnel under Stanley Park Dr 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 keeping 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. Also it’s really sandy right now as you approach Si’wash Rock. The City of Vancouver threw down 4th Beach there a few weeks back to try to get rid of the ice. It’ll be a mess on a wet day. Be ready for it.

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. The gravel throws you 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!

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. But, we just want you to be prepared for the worst. Thank us after, when it’s better than we described it.