Posts Tagged ‘running


Valley Harvest 5K 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Monday to all my Canadian friends!!

As in past years I spent Sunday morning running the Valley Harvest Marathon 5K here in Wolfville. It’s so nice to run a race that is close to home and doesn’t involved getting up at 5 or 6 am in order to be there in time for the race to start!


And running here in the Annapolis Valley is a pretty beautiful thing in October!

U Hall

Saturday I went and did the kit pick-up thing, and as usual it was organized wonderfully and unlike a lot of other races they actually have your kits pre-packed for you. I know this makes a lot of extra work for the volunteers, but it is wonderful for us runners because it means we will actually get the size shirt we asked for at registration. It annoys me so much when you go pick up a race kit and they are out of your size, even though you registered for that particular size months and months ago!


The swag…


The hat is pretty sweet since it has a pocket in it so you have somewhere to put your keys/lip balm/etc.

Saturday night I headed back into Wolfville for the kids fun run where my nephew participated (he’s in that blur somewhere!)


and then headed home to get ready for my race in the morning. This is my PR course (I’ve hit a new 5K PR here on a couple occasions), so even though I knew it was nearly impossible for me to hit a new one this year, I had a lingering hope that I would.

Going into this 5K, I hadn’t had a day off from exercise since September 28th, and in the time from the 28th to Oct 12th I had taught 42 fitness classes. Yes, you read that right. I wasn’t meant to have taught that much but there was a mix-up that ended up with me taking on a number of extra classes these past two weeks. Needless to say I was a little tired heading into the race.

Physically I didn’t feel overly tired Sunday morning, that is until I started running. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with my breathing as much as I did during these 5 kilometres. It’s clear that my lungs and heart were feeling a lot more fatigued than my legs were. I felt like I was struggling with every breath, and even though I was keeping a decent pace I found myself having to stop and walk more and more as the race went on.

I was right, there was no PR, but I did finish in 31:38 which was nothing to cry about! It might not have been a PR, but it was my fastest (chip timed) 5K this year!


Normally when I run, I watch my heart rate and when it hits 170 I walk for a bit until it drops back to around 150-155. Because I exercise so much teaching I am really cautious of allowing myself to get too tired when running. I didn’t do that today, and when I transferred the data from my Polar it was quite clear how much I struggled today as a result.


I spent over 17 minutes of the race with my heart rate over 170. No wonder I was wiped when it was over! For comparison purposes, here is the readout from my 5K a few weeks ago which was similarly flat, and where I finished in about 32:30 (so approx. 1 minute slower). In that race I only spent 3 minutes with my heart rate “in the red”.


I can’t say that in the race a few weeks ago I was “rested” because it took place on a Friday after I had taught 15 classes and had, had the previous Sunday off as a rest day.

The point here isn’t for me to gain any pity or sympathy for my lack of rest, what I hope anyone who reads this (and is a runner) will see how much difference being properly rested before a race really can change your performance. So many people (obviously myself included) fail to allow their body adequate rest in order to perform optimally thinking that it doesn’t matter. I’m here to show you that it really, really does!

I grew up in a car family, so I keep wandering around thinking to myself, “the engine was running too hot!!!”

I’ve got one more race this season, a 7K in 3 weeks time. You can be darn sure I’ll be sure to a) take a rest day the Sunday before that race and b) will NOT be teaching 22 classes that week!

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Setting Running Pace Goals

It’s no secret that I’m over winter.  And I am really hoping it’s over me (and the rest of the world) complaining about it and is going to go hibernate until December quite soon!  While I dream of warmer days, I’ve been working on my race schedule for 2014.  There have been a couple wrenches thrown in my wheels while planning so I’m not sure how many races I’ll get to this year, but I’m currently registered for 3, with the plans for 3 others.

This year I’ve been hearing a lot of newer runners chatting about signing up for races, or distances they haven’t run before, and how quickly they hope to finish them.  It seems like I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about pacing like this, “I ran a 5K in 26 minutes, so I should be able to run a 10K in 52 minutes.”  While I won’t deny there are certainly people who can maintain a 5K pace for 10K (or longer), that isn’t something I have experienced to be true myself, and I wondered if some of these people might not be expecting too much of themselves right out of the gate.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome to have a stretch goal, but if you run a 5K in 30 minutes and your goal is to run a 1/2 marathon in 2 hours, well without a lot of speed work built into your training, you’re probably going to be disappointed, and I hate the idea of people being disappointed when they cross the finish line, especially if it’s one of their first races.


So I decided to do what bloggers do – write about it.  First I surveyed a bunch of runner friends to get their best race times in the 5K, 10K, HM and FM distances so I could determine how distance affects the average speed of a runner.  And because I’m surrounded by super awesome people, in less than 24 hours I had 18 sets of data, and was also told about the McMillan running calculator which helps you calculate running paces for difference distances.


So instead of calculating everything from scratch, I decided to use the McMillan calculator to calculate how fast it thought each runner I had collected data on would run a 10K, HM and FM based on their 5K personal best.  My aim here was to see how accurate the calculator is when dealing with an average runner since it didn’t make sense to calculate my own equations to do the same thing when this calculator exists.

When I calculated 10K distances based on the 5K results of my group of runners, the time it calculated was within 30 seconds of the actual finish time for 44% of the runners surveyed.  For the other 66% it calculated a time that was on average 3:20 minutes faster than their actual time.

When I calculated half marathon distance based on the 5K results, the time it calculated was within 1 minute of the actual finish time for 18% of the runners surveyed.  For the other 82% it had calculated a time that was on average 2:45 minutes faster than their actual time.

And finally, when I looked at full marathons, based on 5K pace results, the time the McMillan calculator calculated was within 1 minute of the actual finish time for 8% of the runners surveyed.  For the remaining 92% the calculated time was on average 33 minutes faster than their actual time.

I found these results super interesting because those are the types of results I would expect if you took your 5K time and simply doubled it for a 10K pace, or quadrupled it for a half, etc.  The McMillan calculator already has calculated in the expected decline in speed over time so without having done this little experiment I would have expected it to be pretty on average much closer to the actual race times.  It just goes to show that a lot of things happen out on a race course that a calculator just doesn’t take into consideration (bathroom breaks, injuries, etc.)

So the moral of this little running pace story is:

1) Taking your 5K time and assuming you can maintain that same pace for a longer distance race (without substantial speed work in between) is probably going to leave you disappointed on the other end of the finish line.

2) Using the McMillan calculator is a fantastic reference because it takes into consideration the reduction in speed experienced as the running distance becomes longer.  However, for the average person, it seems to still generate a pace that is faster than most people can maintain over that distance (I say most because there were people who actually ran their best times in all distances faster than the time generated by the calculator), so if you are using it to calculate a goal time for a race, it is a good idea to plan on that time as your stretch goal.

And the real moral of the story is, regardless of your finish time, if you complete a race (regardless of the distance) you should feel SO PROUD regardless of your finish time.  Running in a race is something only a small percentage of the population will ever do, so enjoy that moment when you cross that finish line!!


Special shoutout to my fellow FitFluential ambassadors that hooked me up with their personal best running times so I could write this post! Let me tell you, I am honoured to be surrounded by so many super speedy runners!

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