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Dabbling in All Distances

Today is the 19th of May.  

With still more than one month before the official start of summer, I feel a sense of completeness with regards to the running race season.

I set no real goals for myself with running this year aside from one I most recently failed miserably at: missing a Boston qualification time (and my goal time of 3 hours and 10 minutes) by a pretty big margin.

But still, that sense of completeness seems to have found its way into my head, and I’m glad it’s there.

Truth be told, I didn’t do a lot of running in the off-season, nor did I do much in the racing season. 

Like the typical non-competitive age-grouper, I’ve spent too much time training within my already-strong disciplines, and not enough in my weakest.

Running will always be my favourite.  Unfortunately, it will also always be what I do the worst when it comes to the triathlon.

This season though, before the triathlon race calendar got underway, I really did take an opportunity to find out where my strengths (if any) lie when it comes to different running race distances. 

I’ve managed to run in 6 events so far, all different distances spread out over two and a half months.

Taking on the half marathon, the 30k, a 52k trail race, a 5k and a 10k road race, and wrapping up with a full marathon distance would (by most people’s standards at least) give me good grounds for declaring that I have indeed “dabbled” in all distances this season.

For those of you who know me already, you know that for the most part, I’m into learning things about myself when it comes to this kind of thing…  

Basically,  Understanding the demands of different events, and of course, the limits of my own body.

The last 75 days have taught me that…

Specializing in one or two distances will most likely make you a stronger runner/athlete in that particular distance.  Even if you are completely non-competitive like me.  

Training with no structure with an absurd variation of distances in your race calendar can be fun (as it allows for maximal variety), but you certainly do sacrifice the ability to fine-tune your comfort levels and skill in any one area.

Nutrition requirements can be easily neglected, misinterpreted, and dismissed when consistency is out of whack.  I might be training regularly, but workouts are hardly regular.  

Different styles, varieties of intensity, and duration/volume can really add a lot of guess-work back into your nutrition plan.  On a vegan diet, this has been an added challenge, but it’s also given me an opportunity to refine and focus on quality over quantity when it comes to fuel.

Recovery time takes on a new meaning.  Full recovery hasn’t really happened so far, and no taper for any of the 6 races existed with the exception of a few days of light training and a rest day following a 180k ride before the full marathon in Mississauga. 

With each of these races demanding different things from me, as did the recovery time (or lack thereof) following.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told that the point of an actual full recovery will extend well-beyond the day you say “My legs feel 100% again!”

Variety can be an exciting and entertaining thing.  With so many different styles of running races in the mix, it is definitely easy to stay motivated and excited about the upcoming race itself.

PB’s are great when they happen.  And as for the rest of the time, I’m just happy to be running, whatever the distance.  If you’re feeling bored or demotivated with your run training and focus, you might want to consider planning a season like this one… it might be just what you need.



I’m 26 years old. I have a beautiful girlfriend who doesn’t mind coming out to long races in the extreme heat or pouring rain, and splitting the grocery bill with me and my 4000 calorie / day vegan diet. I’m a triathlete from the ankles up. I started out as a very biomechanically inefficient runner… the worst you’ve ever seen, I guarantee. I’ve somehow managed to drag my pancake-flat feet through marathons, triathlons, and even a 400 kilometre 10-day charity fundraiser run. Shifting the focus away from running though, and training as a triathlete has helped to keep me injury free for the last 3 years. It’s even made me a little faster on my feet. Aside from swimming, cycling and running, I like travel, yoga, and surfing. In 2006, my girlfriend and I lived in Japan and went surfing every week… unfortunately, there is no surfing in Markham.

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One comment

  • Nice article Derek 🙂
    It’s always a good idea to reflect on how the training season is going so far.

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