Coach Blog: Fall training September 22-28

This week was a pretty big week, in a lot of different ways. Monday was a huge workout, as we jogged down to the canal and joined the Concordia Stingers cross country team in a steady state run. With our group at around 25-30 runners, and their group of about the same size, there were plenty of training partners and no one needed to run alone.

On Wednesday the workout was “choose your own adventure” which worked out a little differently than I had planned as you will soon read.

On Saturday, we were few, but we did a very big run out to Parc Maisonneuve, near the Olympic Stadium. Some others in the club were racing in Laval on a great, but hilly, cross-country course.

The biggest day of the week, however, was Sunday, as our pack of debut marathoners took to the streets of Montreal for the biggest of distance race challenges.

But let’s start with Monday. The workout was pretty straight-forward: 15-35min of steady state (i.e. near 2h race pace). The good thing about being in the big group was that there are fewer holes. It is all well and good to rely on one’s own will for long, sustained runs, but having a few people around you can really help you find that extra push. The canal is also a nice place to do a run like this because it is flat, and there’s a nice grass strip along the paved path so you can get sure footing with less pounding. Doing tempo work on undulating terrain is not always recommended, as the goal is to stay under your threshold, so for work like this the canal is ideal. That said, the dips and bumps below and above threshold that a hilly course provides is not always a bad thing. In any case, for this week, we decided to roll it straight.

It was also nice to reconnect with my successor as head coach of the Stingers, Simon Driver. He took over when I moved to McGill, after a year with the team as an athlete. He has a ton of experience in running though, and is one of those annoying guys who stays in low 30min (like 33-34) 10k shape regardless of training, and can bust out a 32 after a few weeks on the treadmill. Man, I wish I had that skill. Anyway, Driver has wrangled the Stingers for a couple years now and it is good to see he seems to be getting a little more support that I did. They will be joining the indoor track season this winter! Progress!

On to Wednesday…Our “choose your own adventure” workout was inspired by a recent read, “Run” by Matt Fitzgerald. There is a lot to say about this book, but one of the insights Matt makes is that it is important to do workouts that you like to do. If you like the workout, you’ll be happy, and happy runners are confident runners, and confident runners run fast. He also implies that there is a connection between doing workouts we like, and our genetic predisposition to adapt to certain kinds of training. I’m no geneticist, but this does seem to be in line with the latest discussions around epigenetics and “responders” and “non-responders.”

At first I left it open: what workout do you guys want to do? I was met with silence. Possibly the group is not experienced enough to know what workouts to pick. I leaned on the veterans for some suggestions, and we narrowed it down to running something on the 1500m loop rather than the xc course, to get a little better footing. Then we got a couple suggestions: a progressive tempo (10min-7min-5min-3min) which we have done before, the classic Monafartlek workout and the next step in Foxy Frog (2-3x3min cruise-3min 10k pace-3min cruise). The progressive tempo would cater to those who take a while to warm up, while the Monafartek is more advanced and good for those who wanted to run a little harder (there’s 10min of 5k pace running and 10min of tempo pace running in that one). The Foxy is a little bit more variable (18 or 27min) but more sustained (the progression only has 12-15min of faster running).

With these options, the team divided itself into groups and away they went. We finished up with a couple fast 400m loops on dirt with the varsity squad. A few of the rookies were able to roll with some of the veteran varsity girls on here, which, while not indicative of anything specific, should surely add some confidence. And confidence was the goal of the session.

On Saturday, only a handful of folks were out, due to the large contingent racing either xc or marathon the following day. We went to Maisonneuve, where I used to train with Montreal Olympique, a now defunct, but highly successful club.

(That club has an interesting history, starting with the merger of a few smaller clubs into one bigger one, and ending when the three main coaches moved on to their own individual projects: Francois Pap back to the Fleur-de-Lys, one of the founding members of the club, Eric Janvier to St. Laurent Select, while Sylvain Lavallee kept up MTLO for a while, before he moved on. Sylvain was a wise and crafty coach who lead Emilie Mondor in her rise through athletics. It is too bad he is not as involved as he once was.)

The workout was alternating 1min at 10k pace and 3min at marathon pace. I actually joined Kazi and Sterling for 12min of that, then excused myself to run with Linda, Gina and Misia…and even that kinda hurt. Anyway, my own fitness aside, the goal of the day was to run a lot (40min to get there, 40min to get back, around 30min of fartlek) and to move a little on the grass. It was good for me to run with the women a bit because they were having trouble locking into the right paces. They were probably going too easy on the recoveries. Now they seem to have it all good, however.

Now on to the racing! Here are the results for the crew this weekend:

Laval xc meet:

8k collegial : 9th overall 27:28 575 Ennabaoui, Nassim Coll. Champlain St-Lambert 12/08/1996
5k collegial: 24th 23:01 478 Prévost Cormier, Claudelle Coll. André-Laurendeau 11/09/2000
8k civil : M_senior-II : 1st 3rd overall 27:45 1891 Kehoe, Shawn 1975
8k civil : M_senior-I : 3rd 4th overall 29:44 1887 Martin, Michael 1985

5k civil : F_senior-I :
1 15th overall : 21:37 1868 Berry, Erin 1991
2 16th overall : 21:49 1855 Walsh, Brenna 1987
3 18th overall : 22:06 1865 Haines, Marie 1992
4 30th overall : 25:37 1856 Van Klink, Nicole 1989
5k civil : M_veteran-II : 1 11th overall : 20:23 1859 Landsberger, Les 1958

Marathon:
Melanie Myrand (3:04:57) 3rd woman overall, 2nd Canadian, 2nd Quebecer, 1st 25-29 age group Qualified for Boston (BQ) MOC McGill student/varsity
Liz Mokrusa (3:19:52) also 3rd Canadian and Quebecer 2nd 30-34 age group (BQ), MOC, Concordia alum

Dan Kelly 2:50:49 10th overall, 1st 18-24 age group, MOC McGill student/varsity (BQ)
Dave Liu 2:51:35 13th overall 2nd 25-29 age group, MOC, McGill student (BQ)
Audrey-Anne Henri 3:25:33 6th 25-29 age category, MOC, McGill alum (BQ)
Anthony Franchini 3:11:56 MOC (BQ)

Half Marathon
Ryan Salsbury 1:15:51 9th male, 1st 30-34 age group MOC PB
Annyck Besso 1:31:42 MOC, McGill student, PB
Melanie Linton 2:06:01 MOC

10k
Paolo Roy 36:49 MOC, McGill student

As you can see, not all exceptional results, but most of the runners were first timers (only Liz was not) and the heat really took its toll. The good thing was the post-race feedback (not right after, but a couple days after) that they were keen to start training again and even to do another marathon. Of course, the marathoners will get a nice break now, but feeling like you want to go again is a good sign.

The photo on the blog is Annyck rolling up one of the Elite women in the half-marathon. It was not the best day for everyone!

Next week: recovery week and some testing.