Getting Back to Preparing for Seek the Peak

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Canada Marketing Summit where I met some of this blog’s followers.  They mentioned that they enjoyed the posts about training for the Grouse Grind, so I thought it was time to provide more thoughts on the subject.

Last year was almost write off for participating in the Grind. Seek the Peak and the Grouse Grind Mountain Run were out of the picture instead finding and preparing a new space for my business took all my energy and time. Now settled, I am able to direct more attention towards staying physically fit.

Grouse Grind

Preparing for Seek the Peak 2014

For those unfamiliar with this race it rises 4100 feet and transverses 16 kilometers from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver to the top of Grouse Mountain and back down to the chalet. This event is a fundraiser for ReThink Breast Cancer; it can be completed solo or as a relay.  It is a fun spring challenge which I completed three times from 2010 to 2012. An uncompleted goal is to finish in under two hours.  Each year the course was slightly different due to trail construction or snow at the top.


Seek the Peak Results 2010 to 2012

Year  Stage 1  Stage 2  Stage 3  Stage 4  Total
2010  0:20:49  0:43:25  0:53:12  0:26:49  2:24:14
2011  0:16:49  0:36:03  0:47:08  0:22:19  2:02:18
2012  0:26:53  0:29:22  0:48:10  0:24:48  2:09:12

 Setting Goals for 2014

Three completions gives me some trends to work from.  Previous training data on Training Peaks shows me what training I was doing and how fit I was to accomplish  these times. My memory enables me to replay how I was feeling on each part of the terrain.

Stage 1

The first stage is fairly flat and is a quick 3.5km jog behind Park Royal, along the Capilano River to just under the bridge. 2011 was my fastest year while  in 2012 I wasn’t confident in my fitness so I started out too slowly.

Goal: 0:16:00 min at 4:34 min/km – start further up to the front and go out faster.

Stage 2

This 6 km stage undulates through the forest, often with downhills, stairs and flat sections. There are places to pass or be passed. It is an opportunity to have a little fun and move more quickly. Two years it opened up into a the Capilano River Regional park before heading up Nancy Green Way the other year it went over the dam itself.   In 2010 the road heading up to the Grind was literally a grind! In 2011 I made sure run on that road often so that my body and brain was very familiar with it.  The fastest year, 2012 I made sure to set a specific pace on my GPS and heart rate monitor.

Goal: 0:29:00 min at 4:50 min/km – keep a fast past in the forest and be steady on the road.

Stage 3

Ah, the Grouse Grind! It will probably be about 20% slower than the best Grind time for the year.  The challenge is getting an appropriate number of ascents in due to the fact that it opens in late May or even one year it was June 12th! Opening day depends on how clear the trail is from the previous winter. Five climbs seem to be the right number for me. In 2010 my left calf cramped about three quarters they way up which seriously hampered stage 4.

Goal:  47:00 min, season opening Grind time of 40 minutes. Be light and quick on my feet.


Cresting over the top of the Grind doesn’t mean the end is near, just nearer! There is a little bit of rest as the trail winds past the maintenance yard before the last ascent. Many participants walk up the wide dirt road because of how steep it is and how tired they are. As other pass going the other way it is clear that the home stretch isn’t far away.

Going downhill  after this last climb safely, but fast is a challenge due the gravel.  In 2010 and 2011 it ended at the chalet, but in 2012 the course was changed to end somewhere differently. My preparations were foiled because I didn’t have a clue as to how much further I needed to go so I slowed down to conserve energy.

If the ability to run the course can be incorporated into the training plan do all stages. Run the stages a single sections and as bricks of multiple sections without completing the whole thing will help you gauge and adjust your training but also help you familiarize you with the route. Grouse Mountain runs weekly training sessions on Wednesday nights.

Goal: 0:22:00 min

Total:  1:54 hr 

Seek the Peak Training

Now time for a plan! I started training at the end of February. It started with building base distance and strength then eight weeks (now) out continue with resistance training two to three times per week, but transition to two sessions of power and move to more single leg exercises. The other days would remain for high aerobic or threshold runs on the course.

Strength goals are to be able to deadlift 1.5 times body weight and front squat 1 times body weight each for 5 repetitions. These targets are important so that my tendons and ligaments are able to support the running. Strength training has been proven to assist with improving running economy (so less energy is required). I am up to body weight with the deadlift and getting closer on the front squats. Long runs have progressed from easy 20-30 minutes to just over six miles with several types of intervals including high aerobic and threshold to build endurance and speed.  

The distances will continue to build up in 5-10% increments to 9.5 miles. Then more emphasis will be placed on going faster for longer. Some of the runs will also be on the course (hopefully the Grouse Grind too!).

Find out more about Seek the Peak.

Reliable information on strength training: Poliquin Group

Need more training guidance? Please contact me at Lifemoves

Are you training for Seek the Peak? Please share your thoughts.

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