Phoenix marathon training update: What it’s like to train for a warm destination race marathon during the winter on Vancouver Island

winter runningHave I mentioned how strongly I dislike training for a marathon during the winter?

As a chronically cold person, I much prefer warmer climes when running outside for long periods of time; I’d take sweating it out on a hot and muggy three-hour run to trying to stay warm during a gloomy and damp three-hour run ANY day. Even though I don’t have to deal with snow and 20 below temperatures here on the west coast, I struggle to get warm no matter how many layers I wear, both when I’m running outside and when I’m just sitting around inside. And when you’re sitting there freezing before you need to go outside to run at 6 a.m. in even COLDER temperatures, getting up and out the door is a real struggle.  

Despite my dislike for cold weather running, training for the Phoenix Marathon on February 27 has been going well. Other than that week over Christmas when I was sick—which happened to be a recovery week anyway with only three short runs planned plus two strength workouts—I haven’t missed a planned training run yet. Since November, I’ve built up from 10 km by 10 per cent each week to 28 km for my long runs until Christmas, eased off to 10 km during my recovery/death flu week, then built back up again to 19 km, 26 km and 30 km (my long run planned for this weekend), respectively. I’ve been doing three 30-40 minute strength training sessions in the garage gym (which is also freezing cold and requires multiple layers), plus two to three other runs during the week: a 40-minute tempo run on Tuesdays and a 40-minute interval run or random track workout on Thursdays. If I have Friday off, I’ll do a 5 km or 10 km easy run. I’ve managed to foam roll twice a week, which is an improvement from never finding time to fit it in during previous marathon training plans.

This is about as much snow as we get here in southern Vancouver Island. It's still bone-chillingly cold, though!

This is about as much snow as we get here in southern Vancouver Island. It’s still bone-chillingly cold, though!

Although I generally feel good and have no pain, injuries or issues, I have no idea if I’m where I need to be speed-wise. I’ve been using my FitBit Charge to track runs since my Garmin died, and it isn’t very reliable at tracking pace, especially during interval runs. Because I need to get faster if I want to qualify for Boston again, it’s important at this point to know if I need to up my game when it comes to speed training—so I signed up for MEC’s 10K Rust Buster race happening this coming Sunday to see just how fast I can go!

Unfortunately, I also have a 30 km run planned for Sunday. So once I cross the finish line, I’m just going to keep going, albeit at a much slower pace, for another 20 km.

Winter sunrise over Elk Lake, one of my usual Sunday long run routes. It's as cold as it looks.

Winter sunrise over Elk Lake, one of my usual Sunday long run routes. It’s as cold as it looks.

I’m hoping after this weekend I’ll have a better idea of where I’m at in terms of Phoenix Marathon training and what I might need to focus on over the next five weeks. After this weekend I’ll have two more long runs (33 km and 36 km), then will taper down to 25 km, 14 km and 10 km before race day.

So stay tuned for a post-race recap and speed update!

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Thanks Amanda for the link-up!