Settling again in September

30 Sep montrealrnr

“Life is like a Marathon, not a sprint”. As a Marathon runner, I would say life is not like a Marathon at all, because the race only lasts about two and half hours. Life is more like Marathon training, because you never know how good you can be until you have given your all, and there are just too few opportunities to get it right.

The early fall Marathon in Montreal was due to a quick return to Marathon fitness after my failure at Ottawa, the proximity of the race, and the lucrative prize money. This was my third time running the Montreal Marathon, and I could not have asked for a better weather. Sunday morning was 10C with little wind compared to usual. My race plan was to get close to 2:30 and hopefully get into the prize money for the top 3 Quebecers. I figured that a 2:30 would be enough to get into the top 3, which it was. When the gun went off, the front pack took off much faster than the 2:30 Marathon pace that I was hoping for. I stayed back trying to run 3:30/k. I went through 5k in 17:18 and 10k in 35 minutes. Half was in 75:34, and things got hard after that. I forgot how rough the roads in Montreal are and how much a Marathon was suppose to hurt. At 30k, I pulled even with the eventual 5th place finisher. At that time, I was still optimistic that 2:35 will be possible. However, the wall came at 35. Retrospectively, I should have carried gels with me. When I realized there were only electrolytes on course, I should have taken a banana. In a long race, there are just too many what if’s. I tough it out at the end and crossed the finish line in 2:38:48. It’s still a PB.
MontrealRnR.jpg  MontrealRnR2.jpg
Photos: Stephanie Theoret

I have many people to thank for this journey. For example, my PhD adviser for giving me the flexibility to train, Mel for being a great role model and friend, etc. Here, I would like to highlight the contributions of an individual and a group of individuals, without whom I would not be able to have accomplished my goals. The first individual is my coach, John Lofranco. No matter what goals I told John, whether it was 2:35, 2:32, or even 2:30, John’s response to me was, “you are better than that.” I understand that, for John, he was simply doing his job. But, John’s belief in me kept me waking up every day and attempted to be the best runner that I can be. The group that deserves a special mention is the training group led by Dorys Langlois. Dorys was the brain that drove the workouts, and David Le Porho and Philippe Viau-Dupuis were the limbs that carried me through them. Marathon training is very simple, but their professional attitude towards consistent work gave me the confidence to compete at a higher level. This is not to downplay the roles of my other teammates, who were also there at many key workouts and group runs, and I thank you all for being part of this journey.
My biggest supporters. Photo: Gilles Cloutier

The supports I received during this journey also extend to the running community in Montreal. My last example of this comes from a conversation with the 3rd place finisher after the finish. He said, ‘Out of all the people in Montreal, you were 6th. We were all at 2:38 sometimes during our career. See you at another Marathon.’ Coming into the race, I was delusional to think that a 72 half was equivalent of a 2:32 Marathon. I was also naive to think that a few weeks of 200k was going to make me a good Marathoner. The reality is that my competitors trained and competed for years and decades at that level. Runners are only as good as the numbers they put up. Therefore, I am not a 2:30 Marathoner, Yet. Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to perfect a skill. I don’t wear a watch when I run, but I estimate I averaged 10 hours per week, 500 hour per year for the last 12 years. I look forward to the next 4,000 hours of running.

Below is my training for the month,

Week of August 29-September 4 (183k)
M: 24 w/ strides
T: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 20 w/ strides
W: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 22 w/ strides
T: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 21 w/ strides
F: 4*(k in 3:02; 1 min R; 500 in 1:27; 4 min R)
S: 21 w/ strides
S: AM: 11 w/ 4 @ 3:50/k; PM: 5

Week of September 5-11 (170k)
M: AM: 30 w/ 26 @ 3:45/k; PM: 3
T: 19 w/ strides
W: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 6 w/ strides
T: 20 w/ strides
F: AM: 4*(600 in 1:44; 1:30R); k in 3:01; 3minR; 3*(600 in 1:44; 1:30R); 5minR; 4k in 13:20; PM: 14
S: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 4
S: AM: 24 w/ 20 @ 3:35/k; PM: 3

Week of September 12-18 (94k)
M: 9 w/ strides
T: 13 w/ strides
W: 13 w/ strides
T: 13 w/ strides
F:  4*800 in 2:23; 2min R; 6*300 in :50; 1min R
S: 4
S:  10k at La Grande Vadrouille in 37 min; 5k in 17:06

Week of September 19-25 (93k)
M: 10
T: 5
W: 15 w/ strides
T: 5
F: 5
S: 8
S: 6th at Montreal Marathon in 2:38:48

Week of September 26-October 2 (58k)
M: Rest
T: Rest
W: 13
T: 5
F: 5
S: 15 w/ strides
S: 20 w/ strides

Already August

31 Aug

August is already over. As a graduate student, for the past couple of years, this means getting ready to patiently teach undergraduates how to program. However, this year I am excited to be taking on a new responsibility of making my personal training program. I will still train with Dorys’ group whenever possible and consult John about training. Since my training and racing schedule do not match with anyone in the group at the moment, I look forward to the new challenge of making my own schedule.

On the athletics side, I finally won the Mont Tremblant Half after racing it 3 years in a row. I was third in 2014, second in 2015, and I finally completed my medal collection this year. This race was also part of an awesome weekend with my teammates from the McGill Olympic Club. We had a blast volunteering at the race, and came home well contended.

3 days after the Mont Tremblant Half, I raced the highly competitive 5k Endurance at DDO. My legs were still heavy from the Half, but I was proud of the effort. This was a great confidence booster to resume training after a difficult recovery from the Mont Tremblant Half.

At the end of the month, I competed at the Half during the Quebec Marathon. The race was more competitive than recent years due to a group coming from Toronto. I gave a good effort for the first few kilometers, but the pace got a bit too much to handle after that. No matter how much I train and improve, there will always be better runners, but I unfortunately allowed that to negatively impact me mentally during the race. After falling off the front pack, I lost focus and eventually came through the finish line in 74:04. On the plus side, the weaker effort helped me to recover much more quickly than the Mont Tremblant half, and I am happy to be back to training on the next day. This race was part another great weekend I spent with the Paquet family in Quebec. They were wonderful hosts that contributed to another great day of running.

After 3 races, it is time to get back to the final preparation stage for my Montreal Marathon in September. With each cycle of Marathon training, I am learning something new and improving slightly. I hope to nail my final few workouts and the taper before the big day.

Below is my training for the month,

Week of August 1-7 (203k)
M: 22 w/ strides
T: 22 w/ strides
W: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 18 w/ 15 min @ 3:25/k
T: 23 w/ strides
F: AM: 4*mile in 5 min; 3 min R; 400 in :68; 3 min R; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 19 w/ strides; PM: 14 w/ strides
S: AM: 29 w/ 12@3:23/k; PM: 13 w/ strides

Week of August 8-14 (135k)
M: 19 w/ strides
T: 34 w/ 4*20min @ 3:35/k; 2 min R
W: 20
T: 15 w/ strides
F: 4*k in 3:03; 300-400-500-400-300 pyramid; 3 min R
S: Rest
S: 1st at Mont-Tremblant Half in 72:43

Week of August 15-21 (142k)
M: 2
T: 5
W: AM: 5; PM: 5k Endurance in 16:05
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides
F: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 19 w/ strides
S: AM: 4; PM: 26 w/ 25min@3:35/k; 10min@3:25/k; 15min@3:35/k

Week of August 22- 28 (118k)
M: 16 w/ strides
T: 16 w/ strides
W: 22 w/ 3*mile in 5:10; 2 min R
T: 20 w/ strides
F: 12 w/ strides
S: 5
S: 7th at the half in Quebec Marathon in 74:05

enJoying July

31 Jul 10,000start

This month was relatively quiet with one race and a lot of training. I enjoy training towards a goal, but I love competitions even more. However, I understand in order for me to get to the next level of performance that I seek, the only thing I can control is my training. I recently started to train with the group coached by Dorys Langlois on Friday and Sunday, and the reason for this change is to have training partners that are aiming for a fall Marathon. So far, the workouts are difficult, but great, and I believe I am making solid progress at getting my next Marathon correct.

Toeing the line of the Quebec 10,000m championship with some of my best training partners.
Photo: Jerome Bergeron

Racing wise, John convinced me to give the 10,000m another shot after some mediocre result at the Waterfront 10. I seeded myself at 32:30 since this was the McMillan equivalent of my half Marathon PB. My new training partners have PBs much faster than this, and being able to keep up with them at workouts gave me the necessary confidence to run at this pace. Even though I ran a huge PB of 32:42, I only see this as a confirmation that the fitness gained from the last cycle of Marathon built is still there. Next month, I will race two half Marathons to further test my fitness. Hopefully, I will have some good news to report in my next blog.
Photo: Jean-Daniel Labranche

Below is my training for the month,

Week of July 4-10 (202k)
M: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 8*400m in :69; 200 Recovery
T: AM: 11 w/ strides; PM: 20 w/ strides
W: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 25 w/ 20 min @ 3:25/k
T: 25 w/ strides
F: AM: 3000m in 9:26; 2000 in 6:12; 2400 in 7:32 before stopping; PM: 13 w/ strides
S: 25
S: AM: 30 progressive long run; PM: 5

Week of July 11-17 (127k)
M: 16 w/ strides
T: 15 w/ strides
W: 4*k loop; 3 min R
T: 5
F: 10,000m in 32:42
S: 20
S: AM: 24 w/ strides; PM: 15

Week of July 18-24 (200k)
M: 25k w/ 25 min and 35 min @ 3:35/k; 5 min R
T: AM: 11 w/ strides; PM: 21 w/ some trail running
W: 2*1000m in 3:00; :40 R; 600m in 1:42; 6 min R;
T: 23 w/ strides
F: AM:2*14 min @ 3:33/k; 3 min R; mile in 5:09; 3 min R; PM: 13 w/ strides
S: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 30 w/ 5*15min@3:35/k;2minR; PM: 11 w/ strides

Week of July 25-31 (218k)
M: 22 w/ strides
T: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 23 w/ strides
W: 10 min @ 3:15/k; 4*800 in 2:26; 3 min R
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 23 w/ strides
F: AM: 2*20 min @ 3:30/k; PM: 13 w/ strides
S: AM: 22 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: 35 progressive long run

June with John

30 Jun John&I

The recovery from Ottawa was a slow process, but I tried to enjoy it as much as I can. The shorter workouts reminded me what 10k race pace felt like and I took full advantage of it by racing the Toronto Waterfront 10 at the end of June. The race featured some of the best Canadian runners, and I was motivated to show my best on race day.
Another motivation for me was having my coach, friend, and rival, John Lofranco, in the race. John was looking to beat his age, while I had a much less ambitious goal.John&I
For a Marathoner, I started conservatively early and moved around people on the wide roads of Toronto. I thought I can run under 33 minute, and I managed to stay at that pace until 8k. The last 2k required a lot of mental toughness to get through, but I crossed the finish line in 33:19, which is good for a 10 seconds PB. It was not necessarily the PB I wanted, but I know better to complain about a PB. I haven’t PBed in the 10k for more than a year, and will definitely not know when my next PB will be. Therefore, I celebrated by enjoying some great 10,000m racing at our national championship in the evening.Waterfront10
Photo: Michael Lin

Below is my training for the month,

Week of June 6-12 (150k)
M: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 1000m in 3:00; 4*400 in :67; 2*200 in :32; 3 min Recovery
T: 14 w/ strides
W: 5000m in 17 min with 400 at 5k effort and 200 at MP
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
F: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
S: 5*5 min; 1:30 min R
S: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 14 w/ strides

Week of June 13-19 (181k)
M: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 6*1600 in 5:20; 90s R
T: 19 w/ strides
W: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 25 min w/ 5*30s surges
T: 21 w/ strides
F: 21 w/ strides
S: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides

Week of June 20-26 (84k)
M: 4*800 in 2:32; 2*400 in :68; 2*200 in :32; 2 min R
T:  10 w/ strides
W: 2000m in 6:30; 4 min R; 4*400 in :70; 2 min R
T: 8
F: Rest
S: AM: Toronto Waterfront 10 in 33:19; PM: 6
S: 10 w/ strides

Week of June 27-July 3 (200k)
M: 26 w/ strides
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 17 w/ strides
W: mile time trial in 4:47; 10 min tempo; 4*400; 3 min R
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 19 w/ strides
F: AM: 15 w/ strides; PM: 17 w/ strides
S: AM: 35 with 4*15 min @ 3:35/k; PM: 5
S: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides;

Mayhem in May

30 May

Running sucks sometimes.

Training was better than ever during this cycle of Marathon preparation. I was professional and did everything I was aware of to become a better runner. I slept more, ate healthier, and focused on the details to get my training to be as consistent as possible. I am also aware that in the end, result is very important, since it is the only thing that is fair in life. Unfortunately, the result was not there on the race day.
Photo credit: Canadian Running

I lasted about 400m at the pace I wanted to run. I quickly adjusted my goal and patiently waited for the tide to turn. At 15k, my diaphragm forced me to re-adjust my goal again, and at 25k, I knew finishing would take a lot from me. The decision to stop at 28k was very difficult, as I was hoping to give much more to my friends, family, and the wonderful people at Ottawa. I am deeply thankful that many people assured me that this was the right decision given the circumstances.

As always, when you set high goals, failure is part of the process. In the short term, I hope to recover in time to race at the Toronto Waterfront 10 on June 25. In the long term, I will definitely be aiming for a fall Marathon at either Montreal or STWM.

Below is my training for the month leading up to the Marathon.

Week of May 2-8 (188k)
M: 25 w/ strides
T: AM: 25 w/ strides; PM: 17 w/ strides
W: 10*2min 10k; 2min Marathon
T: 23 w/ strides
F: 24 w/ strides
S: 8 w/ strides
S: 38 w/ 30 at 3:46/k

Week of May 9-15 (155k)
M: 26 w/ strides
T: 24 w/ strides
W: 2*1200-800-400; 3-2-1 min Recovery
T: 12 w/ strides
F: 24 w/ strides
S: Long run w/ 80 min @ Marathon effort
S: 24 w/ strides

Week of May 16-22 (100k)
M: 20 w/ strides
T:  Rest
W: 20*1 min at 10k pace; 1 min jog
T: 13 w/ strides
F: 13 w/ strides
S: Long run w/ 60min MP
S: 15 w/ strides

Week of May 23-May 29 (72k)
M: 14 w/ strides
T: 4
W: 10 min tempo; 3*400 in :73; 3 min R
T: 4
F: Rest day
S: Rest day
S: Stopped at 28k of Ottawa Marathon

Awesome April

1 May

This month was awesome since I finally begin to see the benefit of training. Earlier in the month, I traveled to Toronto to participate in the Spring Run-Off 8k. It is always humbling to race outside of my comfort zone once in awhile, and get my butt kicked by 18 other people that were better than me on that day. It makes me realize that others are working hard as well, and I still have a long way to go to get to that next level of fitness. Later in the month, I had a great race at the Montreal Half. The Montreal Half was my last test of fitness before the big show in Ottawa, and I nailed it by running a well paced 72:20. It’s difficult to race well during Marathon training, but I was very please with the results. This race made me believe that I can run with the 2:30 pace group at Ottawa Marathon.
Krista, her pacers, le boys, and I

Another event that indirectly made me believe that I am in store for a good race at Ottawa is the Boston Marathon. Even though I was not able to travel to the race to support my training partners, following them throughout the race on social media made me believe that we are doing something right in our training.

Below is my training for the month.

Week of Apr 4-10 (124k)
M: 4*k hills
T: 24 w/ strides
W: 22 w/ strides
T: 3*10*short hills w/ circuits
F: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 6 w/ strides
S: 19th at Spring Run-Off 8k in 27:33
S: 11 w/ strides

Week of Apr 11-17 (200k)
M: 25 w/ strides
T: 4*3k in 10:30; 2min Recovery
W: AM: 21 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
T: 1600 in 5:00; 1200 in 3:40; 800 in 2:20; 400 in :70; 3min R
F: 26 w/ strides
S: AM: Long run with 80 min @ 3:55/k; PM: 18 w/ strides
S: AM: 24 w/ strides; PM: 6

Week of Apr 18-24 (112k)
M: 4*6 min @ 5:20/mile; 2 min R
T: 4
W: 3*5*:75 uphill; :45 R; 3 min R between sets
T: 2
F: 12
S: AM: 12; PM: 4
S: AM: 10th at Montreal Half in 72:20; PM: 12

Week of Apr 25-May 1 (202k)
M: 22 w/ strides
T: 23 w/ strides
W: 2*800 in 2:20; 3 min R; stopped on the 3rd
T: AM: 24 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
F: 27 w/ strides
S: AM: 32 w/ 20 min MP; 5 min HP; 20 min MP; PM: 18 w/ strides
S: AM: 24 w/ strides; PM: 4

Made in March

31 Mar

Last month did not end well, but the time spent away from the sport when I was injured and sick helped renew my passion for running. I stopped to dwell on missed or bad workouts that I cannot change, and I started viewing each day as a new beginning and an opportunity to get better. With the increased level of dedication, the volume and intensity of this month’s training have been higher than I previously anticipated. Hopefully, this will make Ottawa Marathon a great experience for me in 2016.

With an increase in the amount of training, there comes an increased uncertainty of its benefits. After all, the benefits of training only appear when I have recovered and execute my goal race. During the Marathon build, I am almost always tired, and each workout was a grind to get to the next. Luckily, I had a good test of fitness at a local 10k race in LaSalle, where I finished 4th in 33:35.


The race reminded me of my love for competition, and it was nice to be within seconds of my 10k PB based on only Marathon specific training. After the race, one of the runners asked me to write a few lines about my running story that might help to inspire others. For now, the story is very simple. I was just a boy that loves running and competition. In high school, I ran 50k/week and thought I was working hard. University was a big surprise when I found out only 160k/week is considered working hard. It took me 10 years to get here. However, I am now running 200k/week and know that there are others working harder than me. Running has made me humbler. At the same time, I realize that hard work does not guarantee success. In the end, I am back to that boy who just loves the process of running and competition.

Below is my training for the month.

Week of Feb 29-Mar 6 (160k)
M: 18k w/ 12 min tempo
T: 20 w/ strides
W: 10*100m fast; 100m cruise
T: 17 w/ strides
F: 20 w/ strides
S: AM: long run w/ 20 min Marathon Pace; 5 Half Pace; 20 MP; PM: 12 w/ strides
S: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 12 w/ strides

Week of Mar 7-13 (190k)
M: 9*4 min @ 3:30/k; 1 min Recovery
T: 20 w/ strides
W: 10*2 min 10k effort; 2 min MP
T: 22 w/ strides
F: 20 w/ strides
S: AM: 29; PM: 12 w/ strides
S: AM: 25 w/ strides; PM: 14 w/ strides

Week of Mar 14-20 (130k)
M: 25min@3:40/k; 5min@3:30/k; 15min@3:40/k;
T: 12
W: 12 w/ strides
T: 5*800m in 2:25; 2:30 R
F: AM: 14 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 5
S: AM: 4th in 10k (33:35) @ LaSalle; PM: 5

Week of Mar 21-27 (198k)
M: 24 w/ strides
T: 23 w/ strides
W: 10*3 min @ 3:25/k ; 1 min @ 3:45/k
T: 20 w/ strides
F: AM: 21 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 10k @ 4:00/k; 10k @ 3:50/k; 10k @ 3:30/k; PM: 5
S: AM: 10; PM: 24 w/ strides

Week of Mar 28-Apr 3 (192k)
M: 10*2:15 of hills
T: 24 w/ strides
W: AM: 22 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
T: 3*300m hill; 1300m tempo; 300m hill
F: AM: 12; PM: 17 w/ strides
S: AM: 24.3k in 90 min; PM: 5
S: AM: 10; PM: 15 w/ strides; Evening: 12 w/ strides