Toronto Half-Marathon Training: week 9 - 10

Regular updates on my training for the Toronto half-marathon

The stats:

Week: 9-10/26

Workouts: 41/105

Distance: 116km/415km

Workouts:

Week 9

  • Long run: 8.5km
  • Benchmark run: 15 minutes
  • Recovery run: 4km
  • Speed run: 8x200m

Week 10

  • Recovery run: 3.5km
  • Long run: 9.5km
  • Speed run: 10x200m
  • Tempo run: 4km

It’s safe to say week 9 and 10 of my half-marathon training went far better than my off week in week 8. I enjoyed 3 blissful consecutive rest days and felt refreshed for my week 9 long run. Seeing the 8.5km goal for my run, knowing that it will be the farthest run I have ever run without stopping, was nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

To stay focused and relaxed about the increasing distance of the long runs, I am focusing on getting into a consistent breathing rhythm and pace, consuming healthy pre-and post-run foods, doing dynamic stretches pre-run and static stretches post-run. It may just be a mental thing, but having a consistent focus and routine has made me perform better with each run.

Week 9 - love/hate relationship with speed runs

I thoroughly enjoyed week 9, except for the speed run of course. I’m developing a love/hate relationship with the speed runs. While they are exhilarating, and I love listening to music that gets me pumped up during my run, the target of a 4:18/km pace in the 8x200m speed run was a goal I didn’t even get close to although I tried my best.

Overall, I was happy my progress in week 9 and I’ll certainly be keeping the vast contrast to week 8 in mind if, and when, I’m feeling off with my training in future weeks of the program.

Week 10 - my longest run ever!

I could feel my love for running coming back again in week 10. The 9.5km long run, that I managed to complete (without stopping!) in 1 hour and 2 minutes was incredible. I loved getting out into the sunshine and the fact I maintained a consistent breathing rhythm and pace the whole run. I feel like my performance on this run came down to 2 things — the 2 pieces of avocado and hummus on toast that I ate 90 minutes before the run and the 24-hour long marathon playlist I found on Spotify, so I could skip through any songs that weren’t working for me without any danger of exhausting the whole list!

The 4km tempo run in week 10 was my first in a few weeks. I felt so gung-ho knowing the run was only 4km. This coupled with the fact that my tempo run fell on Canada Day, meant the waterfront where I usually go running was packed with people enjoying the festivities.

The options were, maintain a quick pace and focus on how to dodge the people/bikes/strollers ahead or risk the average pace indicator on the Nike+ Run Club app telling me I hadn’t met the pace goal at the end of my run. I chose the former, completing the first kilometre of the run in a 5:22/km pace. ‘Awesome pace, Nic!’ I thought until I felt completely spent halfway through the tempo run. Note to self; pace myself better in the next tempo run and keep an eye out for stray strollers and wandering toddlers.

Things feel like they are getting serious in the program now. My next long run in week 11 is double digits — 10km  to be exact and my recovery runs are getting longer! There’s an abundance of speed work coming up in the program too, though I'm not sure how I feel about that prospect. Considering that I found the 4km long run back in week 3 a challenge, I’m impressed with how I have progressed with building up distances and running the whole way each time.

Having the training program in place has made all the difference, so if you’re wishing that you could run further or dream of crossing the finish line in a running race one day, pick a distance, sign-up for an event and find an app that you enjoy to set up your training program for yourself. You’ll be challenged physically and mentally, but it will all be worth it when you tick that fitness or running goal off your list!

How do you approach preparation, energy and recovery for your long runs or intense workouts? Let me know your strategies in the comments below.