2020 – 5k PB Week 14 – Losing Performance and the Countdown to Race Day

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5K PB race day is fast approaching.

So far, weather-wise, it looks like everything is happening to plan with a target race date of December 19/20. Time to train hard, get my game face on, and get my 5k PB in 2020.

A few slight changes to the plan, as once again, it seems that I missed a training session, now with 13 steps, in the Lionel Sanders 5k PB 2020 Plan. 

  • December 7 – 3k Time Trial, and 4x1m @ 5k Race Pace
  • December 14 – 6x400m @ 5k Pace, 1×800 at Goal Pace
  • December 19/20 – 5k in 19:45 or Better

With race day fast approaching, there are a few things I’ve been thinking about, including some key race day prep and life changes that’ll need to be made to best set myself up for success, including:

  • Be flexible –  If this week goes well, and the weather is nice, I will target December 12/13 instead.
  • Mark the distance – The plan is to run the 1.3km loop at Thornhill Regional Park, time to source a measuring wheel, and validate that distance.
  • Employ Friends and Family – My favourite part about races is how the vibe and fellow racers all come together to distract you from how much it hurts. Understanding I won’t have that this year, I will be looking to family/friends to cheer me on. My hope is that with everyone strategically spread throughout, I’ll be able to find the will to push that much harder when it hurts the most.
  • Dedication and Focus – No more BS, time to sleep well, eat well, and not drink any alcohol. For these next three weeks, if my actions aren’t driving towards that goal, they need to change.
  • Focus on mindset.  These last six weeks have been a mental grind of some of the most challenging intervals I’ve ever done, combined with a target date that always feels far away. I’ve done well, I’m relatively on track, and in less than two weeks, it’ll all be over. It’s time to make it count. (Mental note, next time when training, I need to think of it as a long run, by trying not to focus on the goal and all the steps to get there, but instead redirecting that focus to the day that’s immediately in front of me).

FYI, if you continue reading through the training log below, I have some of my better commentary around struggling after a rest week, declining performance, mental struggles, and why the #TTChallenge has been such a welcome part of my 80/20 training.

The full diary of my attempt to 5k PB in 2020 can be found here, Diary of My Attempt to 5km PB In 2020, where I talk about building a base, finding a plan, and the highs and lows of working towards a lofty goal.

December 2, 2020 – 6k @ 10k Race Pace

From Sunday shorts weather to Monday downpours and Tuesday’s snow didn’t come till Wednesday this week.

After the surprising success of week eleven, with a 5x1k that I finished came in all under 3:55, and a pure speed session, where I continued that success with some record fast times, I was pumped to leverage my rest and come out strong for today’s 6k run at 10k race pace.

The results were disappointing at best, and I’m not sure why. My best guess is that, with no hard efforts, I took it too easy last week and wasn’t in game shape today.

The goal for today, run my second fastest all-time 5k at 20:35 while hitting what I thought would be a highly achievable 6k at 4:07. A little ambitious perhaps, but knowing that I’m weeks away from wanting to run my fastest 5k, almost 45 seconds faster, I’d hoped this would be highly attainable.

The result was nowhere near plan with splits of 4:13, 4:26, 4:28, 4:31, 4:28, and 4:28.

Despite the times, looking back I can see the effort was there, with an average HR mirroring my previous two 6k attempts on the 10/8, and 11/4, just today, the times were not.

If there’s any comfort in these numbers, it’s that I know I’m better than this, that most likely last week was just too restful, and physically I just wasn’t ready for today.

December 3, 2020 – 7k Easy Run

Ran my Name in Poor Cursive

In the interest of mixing things up, I decided to run my first piece of Strava art today, by running my names through the Brownridge neighbourhood.

Unfortunately as I quickly discovered, my memory of how to write in cursive isn’t the best, instead, perhaps like some people, you may think I wrote something else.

December 5, 2020 – 5x800m @ 3k Race Pace

After a disappointing return to speed on Wednesday and a poor sleep last night, today was another struggle to get started.

I ate lunch, had a rest, drank a Red Bull, put on my running clothes, and announced to the family that today wasn’t going to be the day, that I felt like crap, and wasn’t running.

The moment those words left my mouth, I was mad, mad for staying up late the night before, mad for not eating well, for having two glasses of wine instead of one, and mad for being 14 weeks into this attempt to 5k PB, and being utterly manic about it.

With that, I promptly stood up, reminding myself it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I get out the door, and if I do, only then can I quit.

It was cold but sunny, and of course, as it always is, I didn’t feel as bad as I feared I would.

The goal, 5x800m at 3k race pace targeting about 3:50km.

I came out fast, and although it hurt like hell, I was ahead of pace and even felt like I might even be able to maintain it throughout, setting my fastest all-time, non-track 800m PB at 2:57.3, a 3:42 pace.

After a two minute rest, I was back at it, this time finishing in 3:00.0, a 3:45 pace, followed by a 3:52 pace on set 3.

Then the rest went by way too quickly. By the time set four started, the two-minute rest flew by, I was hurting, and starting on a false flat finishing way off the goal, with a pace of 4:10, before redeeming myself with a slightly grade aided 4:04.

My struggles with tracking HR continued today as well, where the Wahoo Tickr chest strap has, for the most part, been fantastic, today it was not. Despite wetting my chest as I went out the door, I experienced complete drop-outs on the first, second, and fifth intervals, with better not perfect performance everywhere else. Perhaps, being lightly dressed in the extreme cold was a factor. I guess time will tell.

Wahoo TickR Chest HR Drops on Hard Intervals in the Cold
Wahoo TickR Chest HR Drops on Hard Intervals in the Cold

December 6, 2020 – TTC Challenge Long Run

TTC Challenge – Bathurst to Kipling and Back

Day 4 of my quest to run the TTC took me from Bathurst to Kipling along Bloor, and back along Dundas.

It was cold, it was windy, and I loved every moment of it.

As I look back over these last eight years of training, the “long” is something I’ve rarely enjoyed.

After an hour of running, or maybe two of biking, I’m bored and ready for home.

With more time on my hands than ever before, I had the opportunity to try several bikepacking trips this year, covering some epic routes, including the Durham Destroyer, the Cannonball 300, and the Simcoe County Loop Trail.

The best part of those trips was not knowing what the next turn would have in store, maybe an epic climb, perhaps a beautiful Kodak moment, whatever it was it didn’t matter, because every moment of every day was new, different, and well worth the effort.

As cycling slowly came to an end, I transitioned to high kilometre 80/20 running, and with that, the need for long runs and their related struggles returned, until I discovered the TTC Challenge.

As much as I’ve struggled to get out the door for my hard interval sets lately, what I haven’t struggled with is getting out for my TTC Challenge Long Runs.

I now realize it’s not the “long” I hate, but the monotony of running the same streets, with the same hills, the same lights, and the same everything, every day.

My lesson from this, if you are struggling to get out the door, perhaps it’s time to try something new. For me, the plan had been to try a running group, with COVID that didn’t work out, so instead, it’s been running somewhere new, and so far, I love it. When this is done, I think I’ll even continue to expand the map, perhaps starting with running the major arteries of downtown, then expanding out to different neighbourhoods from there.

With Bathurst to Kipling officially done, next week I’ll move east, running Bathurst to Victoria Park,before completing Line 2 the week after, then wrapping up the final stretch of Line 1 shortly after that.

TTC Map Showing the Stops I've Run as Part of the TTC Challenge
TTC Challenge – Current Completion Status

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