Chapter Six ‘What Have I Done’

Welcome to Chapter Six of my marathon training! As many of you know, I am training for my first ever marathon, the Niagara Falls marathon, at the end of October. I am running the marathon in memory of my uncle, Brian Smylski, the former curator and executive director of the Niagara Falls Children Museum, who died in 2011 from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I have decided to blog as a way to track my journey and inform others about marathon training, my motiviation to run and to help raise funds for educational programming for the Niagara Falls Children Museum. Any help to spread the word, would be much appreciated.

My last blog post focussed the aches and pains of running and ways that I have read, researched and am using to ensure that I can reduce the pain, the wear and the tear on my body when I am training 5-6 days a week to run a marathon in close to Four hours! In the meantime, I continue to cross train to help alleviate the ‘wear and tear’ of the continuous pounding of the pavement of my knees. I am riding my road bike in addition (and in substitution) of running. Riding the bike is also good for my team triathlon training, as my wife and I are registered in three additional team triathlons of a variety of distances this Summer (she swims, I ride the bike and run).  I have found that cross training is helping my running times, especially when I am doing tempo runs or running negative splits (running kms where each one is faster than the previous kilometre).

This is how this week broke down for training

Day One: This was the first time since I ran 10 miles last October that I have run longer than 13K. I ran 16K in 1:40 at a 6:18 pace with a heart rate of 133. A nice long slow run. My knees started to hurt at 13K. This isn’t good!!!!

Day Two: Off – I didn’t run or bike but spent some time doing core strength exercises and Pilates. The stronger your core is, the easier it is to keep good running form, which means that running longer distances will become easier!!!

Day Three: Today I did a BRICK workout, where I biked and then I ran. I biked 26.54K in 53:32 at a 2:01 pace with a heart rate of 145. That was immediately followed up with a 5K run at a 5:19 pace with a heart rate of 152. That was some work out! A great bike ride, filled with hills and some inappropriate language that would make my grandmother blush. Surprisingly, the run felt great! A good sign considering my knees hurt yesterday!

Day Four: Hills! Anyone else love running hills? I like the challenge. the challenge to keep my form, the challenge to keep up my effort, the challenge to make the next run up better than the previous run. I am blessed to have LOTS of hills near my house to run. I chose one that is 3K away. A nice little 3K warm-up and cool-down after running 3 hill repeats!

Day Five: Off. 

Day Six: A nice 6K negative split run, where each Km is run faster than the previous one! Did 6K in 32:10 with a 5:18 pace and a 149 heart rate. Running negative splits is my new favourite workout. It pushes your threshold of pain, pace and effort to a new level. Remember, to fun faster, you need to…RUN FASTER!!!!

Day 7: An easy run. 5.87K in 31>08 at a 5:18 pace. A great run with a great feel. I didn’t need to ‘push it’ but felt great and natural running at this pace. However, the next day, my knees hurt. A lot! Pain hits you like a ton of bricks! My knees are getting accustomed the pounding of running longer distances. My body is used to running 10K or under, but over 10K and that is ‘pushing it’ for my body. My knees hurt, my IT bands become tighter than my dads wallet and the pain starts to creep in. That leads to the self doubt. ‘Can I really do this?’ is the biggest question my mind is asking my body….I guess only time will tell. However, that is a story for next time!

For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at


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