Simon From Toronto

2019 MEC Race 5

Evaluating the First Races of 2022.  How’s it going?

June 5, 2022

It’s May 15th:  I’ve completed the first 7 races of the year and I’m in a bit of a break, with a month before the next race.

I figure this is a good time to look back at my performance over the first batch runs.  How am I doing, what’s working, what isn’t working, etc.

At least thats the way it started.  Digging into the results brought up something unexpected, and ittook me a little while to put this post together and make a plan for the next part of the year.

The Numbers

I’ve run 6 road races and 1 trail race.  For the purposes of this evaluation I’ll leave the 5 Peaks Kelso Trail Race out, as its a bit of a different animal.

The 6 road races to date are:

DateRaceDistanceTotal TimeAvg PaceHow it Felt RunningHow I Feel About the Result
March 20Achilles Canada St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race5K PR25:15:005:02Great😃
March 27Hamilton’s Around The Bay - 10K Relay10K59:35:005:58Hard🙁
April 9The Spring Run-Off 8K in High Park8K46:31:005:48Good - but hot!🙂
April 24CMCC’s Backs In Motion 10K Run10K57:26:005:43Good🙂
May 1The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon21.1K2:21:536:42Very Hard🙁
May 7Sporting Life 10K10K55:45:005:34Good😁

The Goal

My main goal going into this year has been to beat the times that I had set in 2019, before Covid.

Though I had started running in 2018; 2019 is what I would consider my first real year of running.

In 2019 I ran races that included: the Spring run off, a beer run (which sadly I haven’t seen this year), a few 5 Peaks trail races, a few from the MEC series, and the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

I run a lot more now, and expect that I should be able to run faster further, but by how much I don’t know. 

The Results

That first 5K was great.  I ran at a 5 min pace, and while I know this isn’t going to qualify me for any marathons, its the longest I’ve been able to sustain that pace.

The Spring Run Off was decent too, beating my last time on the course.

The Vancouver Half and the Around the Bay 10K were disappointing, and far off my expectations.  I have some ideas about what happened.  

I can’t say I’m not disappointed with the 10Ks though.  Sure, I’m getting faster with each one, but so far none of them have beaten my times from 2019!

Digging into the Numbers

So I actually didn’t realize this until I started to put together this post; it was only when I went back through my 2019 10K times that I found I was running faster back then.  I thought I’d pr’d a few of this year’s 10Ks, but nope!

My Garmin account has the records, but for some reason it didn’t flag them as PRs – I probably did something wrong.

I couldn’t believe it at first so I cross checked with the race chip times (they’re still online) and sure enough, my 10Ks were faster before the pandemic.

What’s Going On with My 10K times?

My 10K pr is from August 2019, MEC Race 5, with a chip time of 54:34 and an average pace of 5:27.

My times so far this year are 57:26 and 55:45 for the CMCC and Sporting Life 10Ks respectively. Not even including Hamilton as that one was a mess.

A couple of minutes difference, more than enough I think to account for differences in the course – none were particularly hard – and certainly not better, which is what I was expecting.

I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about why my times might be slower now. What is different now vs then, and what I need to do to get the times up to where I want them to be.

MEC Race 5 August 18 2019, 10K PR to date

Differences between 2019 and Today

I know I’m getting older, and improvement can be a bit tougher, but surely I have a lot of room to improve.

2019 was an insanely stressful year, work-wise and personally. Running is something I latched on to as it helps to clear my head.

These factors aside, there were things I was doing physically back then, which I have gotten away from, and I think it bears re-evaluating some of them.

2019Now
Running a couple of times a weekRunning 3x / week

Bootcamp 5 - 6 days/week - workouts were mostly cardio, bodyweight, and lots of kettlebellCrossfit 2x / week. Functional training, varied workouts.
Eating before runsFasting before runs. I got into this habit with all the 7am training runs, but in fact have often found myself running out of gas at about 10K
More intervals. I was following a plan from the Nike Running app.While we were doing intervals weekly we've gotten away from them in the last few months
Ran mostly in the eveningsRun only in the mornings
Rested for 3 days before racesRest 1 day before races

I don’t know if this is a factor, but that 2019 PR, and the ones leading up to it were later in the season – in August.

Running Frequency and Distance

Looking at my running frequency/distance by about the middle of the year in 2019 I was running about as frequently as I am now, though the distance I was running was quite a bit less.

Runs per Month
Distance Per Month

Heart Rate Data

Out of interest, I also pulled my average monthly heart rate for runs from 2019 to 2022.

I kind of expected my heart rate would be dropping over time, but this year its actually been climbing since April. I don’t know if there is anything to that, or its just a factor of more races this year than before.

I know I start to struggle when my hr goes above 160 and stays there – the second 10k of the Vancouver half marathon it was up there the whole time.  It was a real struggle to finish and by the end of the race I was the closest to passing out I’ve ever felt.

Certainly something to keep an eye on.

Average Heart rate while running 2019 - 2022

Conclusion

So I think I stopped doing some things that were working for me, and bringing back some of them backwill help me with my goal times.  These being:

  1. Get back to weekly interval runs.
  2. Eat before every race.
    This can be a little bit challenging, particularly for those 7 am races where you you have to get up so early to eat and .. clean out the system. Goals though. In 2019 most of my runs/races were later in the day, so this wan’t really an issue.
  3. Rest more before races.
    This was particularly evident in Vancouver, where we were exploring for the 3 or 4 days leading up to the race and went for a mountain hike the day before.
  4. Add a kettlebell workout to my routine.
    I think adding an extra workout day, and the whole body workout I get with kettlebells will improve my strength and conditioning overall, especially with side to side and circular movements.

In terms of the disappointing Vancouver and Hamilton races, I think they were heavily impacted by two things:  the strong need to go to the washroom during the race, and the waiting around beforehand: Hamilton just because it was a relay, and Vancouver due to the bomb threat. The first is an easy fix, there’s not too much I can do about the waiting, so I’ll need to find a way to deal with it.

Also I want to see what I can do with my heart rate after 10K. Hopefully the 4 items above will help bring it down.

In general I think that to get faster I need to focus more on getting faster (surprised).
It seems obvious, but while running regularly has enabled me to run further and for longer periods, I’ve been hoping it will make me faster overall, and that hasn’t really happened. My “comfortable” pace is around 6min/km, and it hasn’t really changed in a long time.

I’m not sure if that means more speed work, more work at bringing my heart rate down, or what, but it seems this is where my focus should lie.

What Do you Think?

Any suggestions or advice?  What kinds of things have you done to improve your times?

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