Finding The Time to Train

When I was trying to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon, I started a blog (Brooklyn2Boston) to document the journey. The blog is long gone, but I was able to locate some of the posts. This is one of them.

Training for a marathon is a major time commitment which can be difficult to manage when you factor in your day job (unless you get paid to run!), your family, and a myriad of unplanned events that can derail even the most flexible of training plans. Before I started training for marathons, my runs were often unplanned and the distances varied depending on how I felt or how much time I had to run. If i didn’t feel like running, there was no impact as I was not training for a race.

Training For My First Half

When I started to train for my first half marathon in 2014, I followed the Hal Higdon Half Marathon – Novice 1 training plan. From what I recall from my training, I was pretty consistent with my runs. I didn’t do much speed work at the time mostly because I didn’t really understand the importance of speed work and, quite frankly, running really fast made me nervous! This particular plan consisted of four days of running, two days of rest, and one day of cross training (which was really a third day of rest). At the time, I was starting a new job and my runs rarely exceeded 5-6 kilometres during the week so it wasn’t much of a challenge to find the time to run after work. My long runs always took place on a Saturday and only exceeded 16 kilometres towards the very end of the plan; as a result, I was rarely away from home for more than 1 1/2 hours.

Finding Time to Run

Once I started training for my first marathon, my weekday runs became increasingly longer (10-15 kilometres) and my long runs started to encroach uncharted territory. On Sunday, March 1st, 2015, I ran 30 kilometres for the first time! Sunday long runs took on a whole new meaning for me and I was finding I was now away from home 4 to 4 1/2 hours!

Whenever I speak with fellow runners about training plans, we often discuss how many kilometres we run in a given week and how we feel. Rarely does the conversation come up about the impact on our families when we run as much as we do. My son was turning 5 when I started training for my first marathon and he was participating in a number of after-school programs and weekend activities.

For my weekday runs, I had to adjust my training schedule my runs between work and picking-up my son from aftercare. My routes were always planned so I could finish my run at the aftercare facility and distances were dictated by how much time I had. Fortunately for me, I am able to get to work early and leave early. There were days where I had late meetings and I did not plan any runs on those days (that or I occasionally ran later in the evening). There were times where meetings were booked at the last minute and it just meant I had to be flexible with my runs. On top of all this, we had two golden retrievers (both have passed since I first wrote this, but we now have a 16 month old puppy!) and I have to factor in their walks with my runs!

For weekend runs, I had to finish in time to pick my son up from Sunday Hebrew school (by now I had switched my long runs from Saturday to Sunday). For the most part, I always arrived a few minutes early, but there were a few occasions where my long runs took an extra long time and I arrived juuuuust in time!

I was only running four days a week, but it was obvious I needed to follow training plans that were flexible and allowed me to move things around when required.

Being away for 4 to 4 1/2 hours is a long time, especially on a weekend when you have obligations at home; for that, and I am eternally grateful that my wife supports my running. I sometimes forget how much of an impact running has on my family, so I consider myself very fortunate that my wife is so patient and understanding when it comes to training.

Finding Even More Time

I followed the same training plan for my second marathon in October 2015, but realized I wasn’t running enough to reach my goal of a BQ. When I started to build a training plan for my first BQ attempt at the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon on May 1st, 2016, I had to find the time to add a 5th day of running into an already busy week. As you can see from the plan below, I only missed four days in the 16-week training plan (the big X), but I did have to adjust quite a few runs. My weekly “mileage” was all over the map and rarely consistent, but I was giving myself the best chance to hit my goal.

I know a lot of people who run early in the morning and I’ve tried to move some of my runs to the morning, but I’m not really a morning person! I also need to get up extra early to walk our dog first!

A lot has changed since I trained for my first marathon. I now run six days a week and I run mostly in the morning (primarily because I support business partners on the West Coast, so they’re all three hours behind me! My long runs have moved back to Saturday (I like to have the rest of my weekend to relax or cycle!) and there aren’t any races happening right now due to the global pandemic, but I’m still training to maintain my fitness!

The Beltline Trail

If you live in Midtown Toronto, chances are you’ve heard of the Beltline Trail. The Beltline Trail was established in 1989 and was built on the former Toronto Belt Line Railway. The  9km trail actually consists of three sections and each has a different name. If you’re on the West end, the York Beltline Trail starts at the end of Bowie Avenue, just West of Caledonia. The York Beltline Trail passes through the former city of York and is the only paved section of the trail. From there, so run East to Allen Road at which point you’ll need to head to the street to cross over the Allen and pick up the trail on the other side. 

The Kay Gardner Beltline Trail runs from the Allen East to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. While you’re running on dirt, the trail is not at all technical. You’ll run under Eglinton Avenue and pass the backyards of the beautiful homes that line Chaplin Crescent to the North and Forrest Hill Road to the South. This tree lined section of the trail is very popular for runners, cyclists, and walkers! Be careful crossing Bathurst Street, and enjoy the nice, subtle downhill before reaching Oriole Park. The trail continues on past the park where you’ll reach the Yonge Street overpass. The trail continues past a section of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery where the it ends at Mount Pleasant Road.  

To pick up the last segment of the trail, you’ll need to enter the cemetery and head South where you’ll exit the cemetery at Moore Avenue. Cross the road and you’ll enter the Ravine Beltline Trail. This final section of the trail starts with a steep downhill drop and then turns slightly under the Cat’s Eye Bridge and through Moore Park Ravine where you’ll enjoy a nice downhill run to the Evergreen Brick Works.


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