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Friday, July 17, 2015

Ottawa Marathon 2015

A couple of months have passed since the Ottawa Marathon, but I often think back and take a moment to retrospect. This race was really fun for a number of reasons. Good friends of ours, Seb and Marilou travelled from Montreal and stayed with us for the race weekend making it somehow special. After Saturday evening pasta dinner, it was time to go for a short walk a couple of blocks to Colonel By Drive to see the Canadian championship 10K race and the only IAAF Gold designation event in Canada which happened to have apparently the best group of elite runners ever assembled on Canadian soil. You could appreciate how fast the first group of African runners was moving only by contrast when you saw a group of runners trailing behind and realized that this "slow" group was flying at 3min/km pace. Inspirational prelude for us "mortals" before the marathon on Sunday.

Following recommendations from an article in Runners World I decided to try something new (again breaking a rule to never try new things on a race day) and woke up at 2am to have a carbo-loading breakfast (bagel with a PB, greek yogourt, banana and power bar). Enough fuel not to feel hungry in the morning before the race. Somehow I managed to go back to bed and fall asleep only to wake up again at 5:30 am.

Seb and I biked on Sunday morning along the canal path enjoying fresh warm morning.  No problem with road closures and parking restrictions. We were able to lock our bikes right in front of the City Hall only a short walk from the baggage drop-off tent. Few minutes later, I was standing in my corral. Running Room founder, John Stanton was on the stage and gave a pep talk before the countdown. 7:00 AM.  Let the race begin.

This was my 14th marathon, but the first one when I started the race conservatively slowly and progressively increased my pace. Running initially with 3:30 pace bunny, by 10km mark I was able to catch up with 3:25 bunny, by 20km I was running side by side with 3:20 bunny, and by 35km I exchanged pleasantries with 3:15 pace bunny, a strong runner with a PB of 2:50. The weather on Sunday was perfect and attracted record number of spectators. Noisy crowds especially along Sussex Ave  helped to cope with the pain of the last 7km. My finish time of 3:13 was not the fastest but one of the most satisfying so far considering that I trained only 5 weeks and was dealing with torn meniscus.  

After the race I met with Seb and ran into my good friend Gerry who was pacing a 1:55 group in Half-Marathon and crossed the finish line
on the spot at 1:54:56, a perfect job Gerry!

My recovery is over. No running in June, doing mostly weight training, biking, walking and swimming. Started running again in July with a goal of doing Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.  Will keep you posted.

Run Strong,

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Substitutes for Running

A long wait is finally over. My appointment with a knee specialist in the Sports Medical clinic here in Ottawa is scheduled this week. A sudden lateral movement when in squatting position strained my knee when playing with my 2-year old in our living room. Improbable injury but it happened right after Ottawa Marathon in May last year when my legs were tired and vulnerable. My right knee has never been the same practically preventing me from intensive speed workouts. However, adversity can be turned into opportunity. Not being able to do my usual millage I resorted to a cross training trying to maintain my fitness level.

Swimming at Carleton University pool on Friday evening became my regular routine even though I'm not a big fan of those 25-meter laps back and forth. To swim 1KM one needs to do no less than 40 lengths while watching a black line below.  However, this swimming routine somehow grew on me in recent weeks. I have to admit it's been a great non-impact workout improving strength and cardio.

Spinning class twice a week at GoodLife gym downtown provides much-needed intensity. After 60-min of pedalling through various "tracks" of blasting music, the floor around my bike resembles a small pond. My heart rate is typically around 145-150 making it sort of equivalent of a tempo run.

You either love or hate the rower machine. This workout can be painful with your heart pounding, quads and arms burning, and your stomach on a borderline of puking. Sort of like an intensive interval training that can push your heart rate into a red zone. Initially it was quite challenging for me to row even 2,000 meters at 2min/500meters, but over time doing this workout twice a week I developed enough strength to sustain this pace for 30 minutes.

My long runs are done on elliptical machine usually on Saturday morning.  It takes 60 minutes to do a 10K elliptical run. So those 30K "long" elliptical sessions give me full 3 hours to watch CBC news, TSN highlights and English premier league. That's my weekly dose of TV.

Just between you and me, despite my doctor's recommendation not to run, once a week I hop on a treadmill, increase incline to 5% and run for 30 minutes doing my "hills" which is a speed work in disguise with relatively low impact.

Having incorporated various running substitutes I have been intrigued by translating these various workouts to some sort of equivalent of running to be able to properly adjust my running substitutes and comply with my training log. The common denominator I have been using is the number of calories burned.

According to Feb 2015 Consumer Reports which did evaluation and rating of gym equipment, in 30 minutes a typical 150-pound person would burn the following number of calories:

  • 125 - walking at moderate pace
  • 350 - running at moderate pace
  • 180 - moderate effort
  • 270 - vigorous effort
  • 250 - moderate effort
  • 305 - vigorous effort


  • 290 - moderate effort
  • 360 - vigorous effort

One conclusion based on the above data is that I need to add 30% of mileage on the elliptical to have equivalent of running. 30 minutes of vigorous effort at elliptical burns 270 calories which is about 30% less than 350 calories burned when running at moderate pace. So when my training log calls for 30K long run I should really be doing 40K elliptical session. Well, that's 4 hours in front of TV in my gym. I can watch two full soccer games and still have time to catch TSN highlights.

Run Strong,

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