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Get off to a running start with our training suggestions and race-day tips, just in time for the 2018 Manitoba Marathon.

Lloyd Letkeman grew up running in Manitoba and has developed quite a resume within the running world.

In 1987-1989, as a junior, Letkeman was Canada's 5,000-meter champion during the Canada Games, from there qualifying to compete in the Junior World Games for 1,500-, 5,000-, and 10,000-meter races.

When Manitoba high school results categories were divided into two, he was the final record holder for both the 800- and 1,500-meter races in the rural area; he currently still holds the 5,000-meter record in Saskatchewan for the junior age class.

A University of Saskatchewan runner during his time in post-secondary also, Letkeman spends his time now competing in marathons and other races. His best marathon time currently stands at an hour and 21 minutes. An experienced runner, to say the least, Letkeman has some insight into how to best train and compete in marathon and other race environments.

"I look at my year in three phases," Letkeman says. "you slowly build up your distance."

He typically aims to complete one long run a week, giving himself a couple of days to recover afterwards, and then does a tempo run. These are faster and shorter runs, lasting about a third of the distance of the race he is training for. 

"You're never going to learn to run fast unless you run fast," says Letkeman.

A couple days of rest later, Letkeman completes what he calls "speed workouts," which are intervals of shorter distances with lots of rest in-between.

"Don't run a race every week," he advises. "You just want to do shorter distances."

Letkeman says that he wouldn't necessarily be looking to run the distance of a full marathon, even if training for one, before race day. However, he definitely recommends running full distance in preparation for a half marathon.

"I usually overtrain a little bit," he shared. "I'll go six miles one week, eight [the next], and then the next week I'll go 10, then go back down a little bit to eight, 12, go back down again.

"I'll work backwards from my overall rate."

Letke, however, does not recommend this training for running rookies.

"If you've done 10 [kilometres] before, you can probably do 20," he says. If you haven't run 10 before, first you need to get yourself up to 5."

For the duration of the race, Letkeman offered several tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable run.

"Do not take the popsicle sticks!" he chuckled, revealing that the cold treats are covered in Vaseline. "That's a do-not-touch zone!"

If new to running, Letkeman recommends taking the water, and slowing down to a walk while drinking, ensuring you are out of the way of other runners. "If you're not used to it and you take the Gatorade, you might get sick."

For more experienced runners, training with your own supply of water available and eventually working your way up to Gatorade is how Letkeman suggests preparing. "It gets your electrolytes back up.

"If you 're doing it for the first time and you get there, you're going to surprise your body." Depending on the length of his run, Letkeman opts to train with water, adding in Gatorade for longer runs.

Despite the unwritten rule that marathon conditions must either be extreme heat or extreme coolness and rain, Letkeman says weather doesn't affect his marathon clothing choices all that much.

"If it's raining out, I'm going to be sweating anyway," he says, adding that wearing a hat in the rain can often be useful. Moreso, it is important to dress for a proper warm-up. Wearing things to keep you warm prior to the start of a race, according to Letkeman, and then removing the extra layers before you run can be the best way to keep you warm throughout the run.

This year is set to be Letkeman's return to marathons after taking a two-year hiatus due to knee complications, and he's excited to return to the running scene. For him, lifestyle fitness is the key to his love for running.

"Running is something I learned to enjoy. I ran my whole life," shared Letkeman, "and back then it was just raw enthusiasm and competitiveness. Now, as an older person, I do it for fun, for lifestyle, and for me as a Christian as well, it's a place where I've found is a great place to pray.

"I can just be appreciative of everything that God has given me."


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