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December 7, 2010 / elodie kaye

Spring Plantings

I first learned to train and race while living in Washington, DC, a city with the illusion of a four-season climate.  Winter days that don’t warm up above freezing happen less than 10 times a year, and a snowstorm that drives residents to stock up on bread, toilet paper, and water, amounts to about 2 inches.  One year we had 6 inches fall in one night, shutting down the city for 3 days.

By Canadian standards, DC only has three seasons, but my instinct to plan for a running harvest in April is a legacy of those beginnings.  Training for April races entails hard, quality running through February and March.  In Toronto, February is the coldest month of the year, when an hour of temperatures above freezing is a heat wave, and days in the single digits will be more common than days above freezing.  March is warmer but has the risk of freezing rain, much more hazardous for running than a blizzard at 25ºF.

Still, it’s necessary to turn the soil and plant some seeds.  That hope will feed long nights of dreaming in the dark, cold winter to come.  Next year, I’m planning to target the Angus Glen 10-Miler on April 10, then the Sporting Life 10K on May 1, and a rare 15K, the Bread and Honey on June 5.  Because spring weather is so variable in Toronto, it’s not practical to invest heavily in one race.  The 10-miler in April could be drenched with sleet, and the race in June could land in sudden 85ºF heat before we’ve had a chance to acclimate.

Starting yesterday, there were 18 weeks of training until April 10.  I sketched out a plan more casual than the one from last fall, my offering to the gods of winter weather.  The intention is to do a bit less of everything:  less overall mileage, shorter long runs, shorter intervals, shorter tempo runs or cruise intervals instead of tempo.  Last week I dipped my toe into an 8-week phase of dedicated hill work.  In the previous training cycle, I skipped hill repeats because they aggravated the metatarsalgia and neuroma in my feet.  It didn’t turn out to be critical in my fall races, but in the later miles I felt my legs lacked power.  I’m hoping that the change of emphasis to less volume and an early focus on strength will build more speed.  Partly it’s a strategic decision because I’m now satisfied with my level of endurance, but mostly it’s necessity.  It would have to be a very special race — yes, possibly even more special than Boston, to make me endure 3.5-hour long runs in sub-20 temperatures with 20-plus mile an hour winds.

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3 Comments

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  1. Anne / Dec 9 2010 9:22 am

    You write so beautifully, Elodie.

  2. Joyce DZ / Dec 9 2010 6:02 pm

    I miss your running updates. I decided to pay your blog a visit instead of reading it from an RSS feed so that I can comment and say hi at the same time. I hope all is great! 🙂

    • elodie kaye / Dec 9 2010 6:23 pm

      Joyce! It’s so good to hear from you!! I can guess what happened, though I don’t want to. 😦 We miss you. I’m hoping that if/when you come back, you’ll have exciting new adventures to share with us. 🙂

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