Marathon training is tough. Most non-runners get that. They understand the time commitment, have trouble fathoming running over 20km at once, and truly respect you for your dedication.
What most people don’t get is how much weather affects you. My training for the Ottawa Marathon started on January 7th. The dead of winter. If you’ve ever been to Ottawa in the winter, you know that January and February aren’t the kindest of months. Most people have trouble managing the 20 foot walk from their car to their office. Now add marathon training into the mix. Spending hours at a time, outside….running. People really don’t get how or why I do that.
To be honest, training in the winter wasn’t all that bad. Sure it took some getting used to. But if you have the right gear, and the right mindset, you’ll be fine. My only memorably bad experiences winter training was the days I brought the wrong gloves and my hands went numb within 5 minutes in the minus 40 degree celsius weather. Other than that, it was fine. Actually, it was kind of great. I loved it. Most people don’t spend enough time outside in the winter, and they are truly missing out.
Fast-forward to July. It’s Canada Day in the capital, and my first official day of training for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. Training in the summer - a marathoner’s dream. Right? Not so much. My first run was 8km. I left my apartment at 11 in the morning and headed down towards to canal. Less than 2km in, I couldn’t breathe. I was sweating like a pig. I wanted to give up, and go home. The two water fountains on my route were not nearly enough, and there was no shade to be found. It one of the most uncomfortable and horrible runs I’ve ever been on. I came home dejected, dehydrated and frankly, pissed off.
When you train in the winter, it’s often dark outside. You love weekends, because you’re able to run in the midday sunshine - not confined to before or after work. For me, the optimal time for a winter long run was 10AM to noon. The summer is the exact opposite. I’ve learned to finish my morning runs by 10AM, or wait until after 8PM, which offers a nice bonus of catching a nice sunrise or sunset. Any time in between can be insufferable. The heat and humidity can drain you physically, dehydrate you, and can give you a pretty wicked sun burn - all things I would prefer to avoid.
I’m slowly making the transition to summer training. I’m still learning when to run, what to wear, and how much water to bring. To be honest, I’d rather run in a winter blizzard than in the mid-summer scorching heat.
There is one thing about summer running that is better than winter running: access to paths. In the winter, most major paths are snowed in, meaning that you are confined to street sidewalks or, if you’re lucky, the one plowed path along the Rideau Canal. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great path, but it can get a bit tedious. Ottawa boasts countless runner-friendly paths along both side of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, and many others throughout the city that make summer running a treat. I’m constantly discovering new areas of the city that I thought I knew so well.
Training is going well. I’m currently in the midst of week 6 training, with a 25 km long run coming up at the end of the weekend. Patience, focus and dedication. I’m doing everything I can right now to make my goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon and qualifying for Boston a reality.
Thanks for checking in - I’ll touch base soon.