Friday, June 5, 2009

Making the Switch

Having come off a British winter into a Canadian spring it dawned on me that my training was never quite going to be the same again.

After enjoying five and a half years at Loughborough, both as a student and a working man, the familiar routine of annual training periodisation, socialisation and racing was to come to an end. Under the regime of infamous coach George Gandy, life for an aspiring athlete couldn't have been much better. Fantastic insight, great facilities, amazing trails and run loops and above all, incredible training partners and friends to share the experience with.

Ed Prickett Memorial Relays 2006 (4 x 2 miles vs. men's 4x400m team - I won!)

Vancouver quickly became a lonely place as far as running was concerned. For the first month I trained alone, unmotivated and fed up with pacing the pavements and the repeated stress on my calves that the relentless tarmac pounding caused. Loughborough was but a distance memory, a holy land amongst the barren suburbia of the city.

I came to Canada in great shape having been training specifically for a spring marathon, however due to work commitments the chance to race and put my large aerobic capacity to use over 26.2 miles faltered and I was unable to take to the streets in anger. With this in mind running became a hassle, a 'should do' rather than a 'want to do' in my list of priorities. For the first time in years I was seriously concerned that my running days were numbered.

However things soon changed with the Vancouver Sun Run, the world's largest 10km road race, where I finished 41st out of 56,000 competitors. I missed my personal best by 12 seconds due to a stitch in the final mile, but realised then that I loved running too much to give it up. I was very fortunate that Kevin O'Connor, a fellow Brit living in the city, had got in touch through the website and spoke to me on the startline, inviting me to train with the Vancouver Falcons.

VFAC track session of 12 x 400m off 1min jog, me in purple shorts, Jay leading us off.

I now run with the Falcons every Thursday in Stanley Park and every Saturday at Point Grey School in nearby Kerrisdale. The two sessions orchestrated by John Hill are pivotal to my week, a chance to train alongside likeminded athletes, aspiring for fast times whilst juggling work commitments and day to day lifestyles. If anything, it's like a mature version of Loughborough where the students are replaced by adults. I owe a lot to the guys towards the front of the group with whom I share the pacing, hand slaps and "good jobs" with each week. They welcomed me with open arms and it's great to feel part of a group.
So to Jay, Brad, Simon, Paul, Kevin, Phil and everyone else, thank you!

Of course I miss Loughborough, the seventy guys and girls smashing it up on a Saturday morning, or the throng of athletes making their way to various fixtures week in week out, but I'm glad that I made the decision to move to Vancouver, and right now I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

As a comparison between winter marathon base work in Loughborough and 5k/10k specific workouts in a Vancouver summer, I present my typical training weeks of 2009:

Winter, Loughborough, UK 18-22 mile long easy hilly run Rest 6 miles easy 10 miles easy 6 miles easy 4m WU - long rep session, short recoveries (6 miles) - 4m WD 12-15 miles easy 6m WU - circuit training - 4m WD 6 miles easy 4m easy - 6 mile steady - 4m easy Rest Rest 2m WU - 10 mile tempo - 2m WD Rest
Weekly total: ~100 miles

Summer, Vancouver, Canada Rest 13 miles relaxed 8m cycle to work 8m cycle home + 10 miles relaxed 8m cycle to work 8m cycle home + 12 miles steady 8m cycle to work 8m cycle home + 7 miles easy 8m cycle to work 8m cycle home + 6.5 mile WU - rep session (4.5 miles) - 5 mile WD 8m cycle to work 8m cycle home 5m cycle - 3m WD - track session (3 miles) - 3m WD - 5m cycle Rest
Weekly total: ~65 miles + ~90 miles cycling

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