Karl Woll is one of the three runners we profiled in our documentary series Running Vancouver. He has run over a dozen marathons, 50k ultra-marathons, and trail races, and was coming back to the BMO Vancouver Marathon for the fourth time in an attempt to shave just over 10-minutes off his personal best time to qualify for the Boston Marathon – which he was quite successful in doing.
We caught up with Karl for a post-race interview to see how he’s been doing since the race and what his plans are for the future.
You smashed your goal of sub-3:05 at this year’s BMO Vancouver Marathon by more than 2 minutes for a 13-minute PR. What was different in your training this year and what do you think you did right on race day?
There wasn’t really any one thing I did this year that was different than before, but rather I built upon my training and race experience from the last several years. So marginal improvements across the board. This meant eating better, running more miles and running harder.
If there was one key component that was ‘different’ it was my speedwork. I’ve done interval training for previous races, but this year I had a lactate threshold test with the Peak Centre for Human Performance, and joined a weekly speedwork clinic they held at a local track. I found the quality of my interval sessions was dramatically improved and this helped me sustain a faster pace during the marathon itself.
On race day everything went right. It was a hot day, but I managed to stay on top of hydration and taking in calories. I really just went out as hard as I could and hoped for the best!
How was your recovery after the race and how soon were you back to running?
My body bounced back quickly. I wasn’t overly sore in the days following the race aside from a few lost toenails. I did, however, take a large break from running, which was probably needed mentally more than anything after 4+ months of training on the pavement through a dark, rainy winter.
I don’t think I did much of anything for about 3 weeks after the race except binge on junk food and craft beer and catch up with friends. I had met my goal, and while I have other races I’m doing this year, the Vancouver Marathon was my ‘A’ race, so I didn’t feel compelled to force myself back to running right away.
I’m paying for it now though as I’ve noticed that, as I’m starting to ramp up my training again, my fitness has fallen off quite a bit.
Your goal for the race was of course to qualify for a chance to run Boston. Have the bombings changed anything for you? How do you think that has affected general sentiment towards the race next year?
It was a truly tragic event seeing such needless injury and death but I don’t think the events at this year’s Boston Marathon have really changed things too much for me in terms of my desire to run the race.
I wanted to run Boston as it is regarded as the ultimate marathon experience, drawing in runners from all over the globe. I think it’s a race that has for a long time now been a celebration of marathon running, for elites and non-elites, and has united runners from many different countries. Beyond that, I think Boston been a celebration of human athletic achievement, and all the positive values that come with sport.
I’m sure next year this bond and comradeship between runners will only be strengthened in Boston, and I hope to be there.
You’ve run the BMO Vancouver Marathon now four times, including twice on the new course. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of running the race?
My advice for anyone considering running the race as their first marathon is to just sign up and do it. Don’t get too concerned about the training, the mileage, the gear and tech or anything. Just get out, do some training runs and show up on race day with the goal of getting across the finish line. Then, once you’ve completed a marathon, you can look at changing things up to become a faster runner.
The key is to get out there and first learn to just enjoy running, and enjoy running long. If you worry too much about times and pacing and heart rates, you may never truly enjoy it, and it won’t be a sustained endeavour.
What are your plans for running for the rest of the year and for 2014?
I have two major races I’m focused on but don’t have any time goals – the focus is just to get out and have some fun.
The first is the Arc’teryx Squamish 50(k) in August and then Meet your Maker 50miler in September in Whistler.
I haven’t really thought about 2014 much, other than I will definitely run at Boston if I get in and have I’d have a goal of sub-3 hours. I also plan to do a few more 50km+ trail races.
Read more on Karl’s experience in his race report on his blog, and stay tuned here for updates on his future races!