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A runner's diary: Stick to the plan and don't overtrain

Runner Dave Emilio

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Dave Emilio is documenting his training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16.

With four weeks to go, I am beginning to experience the usual prerace jitters. It doesn't matter that I have put in the effort, done the workouts and stayed (roughly) on track with nutrition, sleep habits and rest days – my mind is trying to tell me it's going to be a rough ride. This is part of the appeal of the marathon. It's always an exciting ride.

When training in the past, I've tried to "cram," thinking that throwing in a few extra tough workouts will help ready me both physically and mentally. This usually backfired: I overtrained and wasn't rested enough for the race. This time around I intend to stick to the plan right until the end and head into race day uninjured, rested and ready to go.

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That's not to say there's nothing left to do. With four weeks to go there are still plenty of tough runs. Most importantly, there are a few more long runs, 30 kilometres that I just completed and 34 kilometres next Sunday. Then, the two remaining Sundays runs before the race date will be 25 kilometres and 15 kilometres. Midweek, my training group and I will fit in a 20-kilometre tempo run at marathon goal race pace. On Fridays, we'll do four to six repeats of 1,000-1,600 metres at a substantially faster pace.

If the speed sessions don't meet expectations, it's not the end of the world, but I may reassess my goal of three hours, 10 minutes. I think I'm close. The speed workouts during the week have gone well but left me tired on the Sunday long run. All I can do for the tail end of this training schedule is complete the workouts, rest and sleep as much as possible, keep eating well and hope my body responds with some decent performances on the remaining runs. That, and some rereading of good Sports Psychology articles … then it's time.

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