Hello fellow runners,
I’m writing to you from my work desk, it’s a beautiful fall day and I’m excited to finish work and get out for a run!
It’s truly the season of marathon and half marathon races here in Korea and around the world. My favorite race over the past few years is the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in Toronto, Canada. The race took place last Sunday and is one of the biggest races in Canada. The first year I signed up, I planned on doing the 5km. Unfortunately I developed my first and only running injury, a shin stress fracture. I had some unfinished business. The following year, I raced in my first half marathon (1.21.23) and my second ever (1.19.58), last year. It’s inspiring to see my friends and old club-mates (Longboat road runners) run personal bests and some very fast times. It has made me focused on running personal best times in my upcoming half marathon races.
What is that one race that you excited about each year?
Race day planning
This week I looked at the race website for my first half race in Mokpo, Korea. It’s all in Korean but after some google translating, I figured some things out. The elevation looked insane from their graph, it looked like a mountain race. On a closer look, I realised it was 50 metres of elevation gain each side of the course, which isn’t too bad. The course is out and back so I practised this week running out and back. This might sound pointless, but it’s important to simulate a race day scenario as much as you can before race day. For Sunday’s long run I ran out for 35 minutes and back 35 minutes, to simulate the race day mentally. Out and back runs also have the added benefit of working on pacing. If you run for example 8km for a training run. Run in one direction for 4km and then try to match the time on the way back. This keeps you mentally focused, instead of just zoning out. Try it for your next run, you’d be surprised on how you tune into your stride and pace. When looking for previous results I came up with nothing! I was curious about the running scene in Korea before I moved here. I’ve been here for 8 months now and I definitely have a better feel for the running scene.
The Korean running scene
There’s no doubt in my mind that Korea has the infrastructure to produce great runners. There is plenty of green space and running trails to take advantage of. The problem is it doesn’t have much recognition as a sport. The main sports are more skill-based sports like baseball, taekwondo and volleyball. You see Korean runners at the Olympics and you would think there’s a big running scene there. The only race I’ve done here was a half marathon in my current town, Gwangju (south-western Korea), in May. There were a dozen good runners, and the rest were more fun runners. When I’m running on the city river trails, I rarely see runners pass me by, certainly not women. It seems to be older men that are the only serious runners, women are a rare sight at races. There are some good running groups in Seoul, but the main one is the Seoul Flyers, which is mainly expats.
A taper is the reduction in training volume leading up to an important race. This isn’t exclusively used by runners, it’s used by most sports athletes. In lay man terms, your fitness only reaches peak levels when you are most rested. Unfortunately there is no easy answer on how to taper, but there general guidelines to adhere to for the best results. The shorter the race, the less of a taper period is needed. The longer the distance, the longer the taper should be. For a 5km race, a taper could be 3-7 days, for a marathon it can be up to 3 weeks. The longer you’ve been training for, the greater the taper should be. If you’ve been only training for a few weeks, a shorter taper is required. The intensity will remain the same but your overall mileage will reduce, this allows your body to adapt to the previous training load and sharpen up for race day.
Hazards to avoid
Due to the reduction in training, the immune system can actually become weakened. That sounds counterintuitive, but the body starts to go into holiday mode and as a result the natural defences are weakened. Sleep and proper nutrition is crucial to avoid suffering the dreaded race week cold. Another common pitfall I’ve seen is over-training too close to the race. The adaptations should have taken place weeks before the race and throughout the duration of your training plan. Doing extra workouts or not tapering can lead to poor race day performances. In my early racing days, I would run hard the day before a race to feel like I could run the goal pace. In hindsight, this affected my race day performance negatively. Trust your training and just let go of the anxiety. To avoid this take a rest day 2 days or the day before a race, and do some race pace intervals 4-5 days before your race.
Top tip: It’s better to under-do the taper rather than over train and end up racing in a fatigued state.
This weeks training log
Tuesday// 2km at half pace (4 rec), 1.6km at half -5 pace (3 rec), 1.2km at half -10 pace (2 rec), this workout was a simulation for race fatigue over the course of a half marathon and getting used to being uncomfortable.
Wednesday// 8.2km easy recovery run
Thursday// 2x 10 minute tempo run with 2 minute recoveries. Average pace was 3.41/km, this is around the goal pace for the half marathon. It felt good and my form was good.
Friday// 7km recovery run
Saturday// 6km easy run
Sunday// 15km medium long run//4.39/km average pace// 70 minutes
Total kms: 56km
Thank you for reading and following my journey.
Until next week,
The Health Heads