Running, Running and More Running

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Recognizing Edmonton summers are truly the best, I thought I’d let you in on my plans for the season: running.

I enjoy waking up with the summer sun (sometimes before it) to get in a speed workout. I enjoy planning my weekends around a Saturday morning long run. I’ve learned how to properly use my Garmin watch. I’ve learned I am not blister-proof. I’ve learned peanut butter flavoured gels are not a good idea. And I’ve learned of routes through beautiful parts of Edmonton I never knew existed. All in all, I’m eight-ish weeks into full on marathon training with another eight-ish to go until the big day – and I’m enjoying it.

But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought – on more than one occasion – “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? I CAN’T RUN 42.2 KILOMETRES! I CANNOT AND WILL NOT RUN UP ANOTHER HILL! THIS IS INSANE – WHY DO PEOPLE DOOOOOOOO THIS?”

My most recent long run was about 25 km, which is a distance I’ve only ever hit twice (thus far…). It came on the heels of my fastest 5 km yet at the Edmonton Pride Run and a few weeks after a personal best of 1:59:21 in the half at the Calgary Marathon. I feel stronger. I feel faster. But there are also times when I wonder if I actually have any business attempting to run a full marathon. I’ve only been a “runner” for about a year, after all.

But I’m going for it and, as with any sort of training, preparing for a marathon takes dedication. I had to shift my focus when it came to 16 weeks out. Prior to that I had some trouble with my hip (which Grant at Leading Edge Physio has pretty much fixed right up), resulting in inconsistency in both hitting the gym and running. Prior to that though, my routine of personal training twice a week, HIIT four times a week and running four times a week was going strong. But that routine needed to change.

The shift was a hard one mentally. I’m currently running five days a week, and the mileage is only going to continue to climb. I’ve only been to HIIT twice in the past eight weeks (and both times reminded me why). I’m still training with Brett twice a week – and it’s challenging and rewarding as always. But I’m becoming more and more aware that I’m conditioning my body to run a marathon. Which, of course, is what I want right now. And while, in classic Heather fashion, I was really hard on myself in the beginning, I’ve settled into things.

How?

A month and a half ago I had no idea what a fartlek was, what 200m, 400m or 800m intervals looked like, or how to properly run a tempo workout. I’m aware any of the above can be searched quite successfully on the Internet, but since I find myself surrounded by some pretty impressive runners, I thought face-to-face advice made sense.

After I signed up back in February for the full at the Edmonton Marathon, I had plenty of people offer help – from the Blitz crew to running pals who are experienced marathoners to a friend who was already in training for her first ever full. Fellow Blitz bloggers and runners extraordinaire Nick and Kacey Keyko offered help on more than one occasion, and I recall responding that it would be great if they could provide me with some tips for speed workouts since I’d never done any. What I was expecting was a chat about the topic or an email with some helpful links. What I have is a plan. A plan I’ve been following to a T (because, let’s face it, the Keykos know what they’re doing), with regular check-ins. Regardless of how my marathon goes, I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever be able to adequately thank them.

Over the winter, I essentially chased them and the rest of the River City Runners through the cold and dark river valley every Wednesday evening. I’m not sure I ever thanked that small, intense, FAST group for putting up with me tagging along – though someone has to bring up the rear, right? Fast forward to now, and the Wednesday Run Collective with lululemon is packed – and it’s great. It’s full of people working towards crushing a variety of running goals, as well as helpful training tips from some of the best. (And sometimes I even sort of kind of keep up with the speedsters from RCR.) I run alone plenty (and enjoy it), but Wednesday evenings combined with running company at every turn through Blitz (special thanks to Chris for “tagging along” for 25 km this past weekend), November Project Canada and a friend or two I have yet to pull into this community provide both balance and motivation.

In the spirit of my last blog, this is my latest example of how amazing Edmonton’s fitness community is. It’s full of the best damn people and is, by far, the best damn thing that’s happened to me. When I started this whole fitness journey, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted out of it. Time and time again, my results in the gym exceed any expectations I have (thanks Brett). And while I started running because it seemed like a good complement to the gym, I’ve grown to really love it. (I figure you’ve got to love it if you’re going to do it for 42.2 km…)

This will be my first marathon. At this point it’s hard to say whether it will be the first of many, or the first and the last (though I hope it’s the first of at least a few). As August 23 quickly approaches (*gulp*), I do have goals in mind… but what I know for sure is this: so far, so good.

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