Getting a Foothold on Road Running in Vancouver


The first time my feet hit the pavement to go running on the road is always tenuous. Perhaps it is the memory of having knee pain for nearly ten years while running but not while cross country skiing. I proved to myself long ago by running one marathon and several half marathons that I can run easily without knee pain.

Each season begins with six to eight weeks building up to a confident 60 min treadmill run as well as two to three days of lower body strength training to build durability. The concept of using the treadmill to run on first is that if something does go sideways it easier to stop instead of being stuck somewhere on the road and needing to hobble back.

On Friday the sun was shinning with clear skies that gave way to a good view of the Vancouver mountains.  It was time for the rubber to hit the road.  The Stanley Park Seawall is a fairly flat run with a beautiful of view of the city for all runners and walkers.  There were many dogs and owners traveling the same route as I (some dogs were running their owners).

Setting the Running Goal

This run was primarily about seeing how my legs felt running along pavement instead of rubber under my feet.  There was a nice breeze to start from just in front of the Vancouver Convention Center.  The 4.0 miles (6.4 km) tempo run set to be a series of four intervals at 5 minutes at a 7:30 min/mile pace with  2 minute rest periods at a 10:00 min/mile pace with a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down on either side.

Getting the Feeling of Running Faster

With fresh legs I started the first interval right on pace before I heard someone gradually catching up with me. Time push the pace! Legs turnover more quickly and breathing rate kept pace. Beep, beep, beep ended the interval. Looking down at the watch face the pace was 6:30 min/mile. Just a little faster than planned. As my legs slowed down she passed me wearing a “Ran Van” long sleeve shirt; she is probably training for the Vancouver Marathon in a few weeks.

The turnaround at mile two happened to be Deadman’s Island. A nice landmark for future runs.  Paces for subsequent  intervals gradually slowed down indicating fatigue.  The positive side is that the recovery pace was around 9:00 – 10:00 min/mile, which was a goal set in February.

Run Analysis – Training Plan Adaptations

First outing on the road went very well. There was no knee pain and my energy stayed fairly high for the rest of the day. Although  a race pace of 7:30 min/mile is just at my anaerobic threshold heart rate of 170 bpm and not sustainable, it is comfortable. Training is on track but, the next tempo runs need to have longer intervals and/or be longer runs.

Now that spring is here have you started to run on the road more frequently?

Photo credit – Ted McGrath via Flikr

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