Saturday, June 30, 2007

Trying to change people's eating habits one meal at a time!

Yesterday I saw a very good movie called Evan Almighty. The message in that movie was about trying to change the world by doing an act of random kindness one day at a time.

Today I did a nutrition talk at the Pickering Running Room in front of a small group of people who were enrolled in the walking clinic. During my run this morning I thought about how I was going to present my "philosophy" to them.

When I do my talks, I like to gather the group into a small circle so we can have an open discussion instead of just me lecturing. I find that the group learns better this way. Since today's group was small, this was easily accomplished. I was able to explain the importance of making small changes to their current lifestyles which will last them a lifetime. For some it may mean just increasing the amount of times they eat or having breakfast on a regular basis. It's amazing how these little changes can make a big difference.

It's always nice to speak to people who already have made the committment to exercise and whenever I have the opportunity to talk to the runners/walkers at the Running Room I'll volunteer my services. The Running Room has helped me accomplish many of my goals and I've been able to build great friendships with the employees there. I've often recommended to my clients at the gym, who are looking at doing something other than weights, to visit the Pickering Running Room and enroll in either a walking or running clinic.

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to running with some truly amazing friends and we'll be able to get caught up in each others' lives. This week has been one of my best running weeks and I think it has much to do with my relaxed attitude. With no races in immediate sight right now, I can just enjoy my running more.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Having "success" is contagious

This morning, two of my clients had personal breakthoughs and the smile on both of their faces was bright enough to light up the room.

One of them was so distraught just 10 days earlier, that I thought I may not see her again. When she arrived in my office this morning she was so happy to tell me that she had lost 4 pounds and that her clothes were fitting much better. When I met with her and went over the philosophy of my program, I could tell that she was having some doubt about whether this would work for her. She had been on many "diets" in the past and although she lost some weight on them, the weight eventually came back. This week as she went over the changes she had made in her "lifestyle" (including going for a walk every morning) she said how easy it was for her.

The second lady achieved her desired weight goal today and she also was thrilled with what she had done. In total, she has lost over 50 pounds. After returning from vacation and not able to exercise, she said to me that she realizes how important it is for her to get back to the gym/exercising on a regular basis. With some minor adjustments to her diet (adding more carbohydrates) she is confident that she will keep off the weight.

I am so proud of both of these women and the many others that I see at the gym on a regular basis. Once you see some positive changes take place within yourself, it makes you want to continue to see results take place. What's important to remember is that these changes may not always be what's on the weight scale. I talk to my clients about looking for things like improved digestion, energy levels and sleeping. Once I get them to not focus so much on the scale, I see them relaxing more and they realize that how they feel is more important than how they look.
Congratulations to both of you, you made my weekend start off on the right foot!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Do "heatlhy" addictions exist?

Exercise, even though it is a positive activity, can also been as a negative if it starts to interfere or create an imbalance in someones life. I found this particular part of an article very interesting so I thought I would share it with you.

"Positive addiction is that state of mind that allows a person to pursue a seemingly boring activity until it is no longer boring. All aerobic sports are based on that concept. Explanations of the mechanism involved include addiction to the fabled endorphin- induced "runner's high," addiction to increased self-esteem due to the myriad physical and psychological advantages running provides, and tapping into an individuals natural obsessive-compulsive nature. Long-distance running has, for some, served as a positive addiction replacing a recently-shucked negative addiction such as cigarette smoking and alcoholism. For long-distance runners, the sport and lifestyle often complement other aspects of their lives. For the exercise-addicted, the sport and lifestyle of long-distance running are their life"(1)

I think this is a dilemma that I deal with on a regular basis myself. Trying to remain "balanced" is something that I spend a great amount of time talking with my clients about. One particular client who I met with recently, exhibits these classic signs and at times he reminds me of myself when I was his age. Some of my clients exercise everyday for hours and hours and what I try to get them to understand is that you want to find something that you can do not only in the short term to reach your goals, (weight loss for example) but also throughout your life. Is it realistic to work out everyday for 2 hours for the rest of your life? I think there is a small segment of the population that has the time for this but for the majority of us this becomes a challenge.

Personally speaking, I know how much running means to me both physically and emotionally so I need to ensure that I remain healthy enough to continue doing what I love. It also means that I need to start looking at other sports which, even though may not satisfy all the things that I get from running, will give me the physical benefit that I need. I used to love to play tennis and I'm going to start playing next week.

With regards to my clients, what I worry most about is settting too high expectations and then when these expectations are not met, a free-fall takes place. In the case of exercise, I've seen some clients work out religiously day after day without taking a break. Then "life" gets in the way and they cannot workout for a period of time. They feel guilty for not working out and then they begin to choose unhealthy foods to deal with their depression. Luckily, many of my clients bounce back, but there are others who I haven't seen in months and who I know are too afraid to start over again because they see themselves as "failures." These same people would have benefited more by starting out slowly and finding their balance.

So, do YOU thik that you are an exercise addict? Take the test and find out:

"An addiction self-test
Where addiction to running stands in your life

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, weight each of the following statements as they apply to you and your running. Then total your numbers and check the interpretations at the end of the test. Fill out the test in pencil, or make photocopies so you can retake it periodically.

___Running is extremely important to me. I'm positive I'll be running for the rest of my life.
___A day without a run is a day without sunshine.
___If it becomes downright impossible to get my workout in today, I can always double up tomorrow.
___Until I get my workout in, I'm a real bear as in unbearable.
___A little pain indicates there's serious progress being made.
___If two aspirin/ibuprofen are good, four are twice as good.
___Warm-up and cool-down are important, but it's what comes in the middle of a workout that counts.
___As far as running goes, more is always better.
___A string of running days must remain unbroken.
___Quality without quantity is impossible.
___Of course I know how many miles I ran last month_
___Unless you've run a marathon, you're not a real runner.
___The more marathons you've run, the more serious a runner you are.
___Rest is for the weary, not for the strong.
___Discomfort exists to run through, not to be an insurmountable barrier.
___All my friends are runners, and I wouldn't consider befriending a nonrunner.
___Many running-related pains can be gotten rid of by running through them.
___If a shirt doesn't boast a race logo, it isn't one I want to wear.
___It exhibits their inbred weakness if people don't want to hear my step-by-step re-creations of races I've run.
___If I have a piddling injury and a sports medicine expert says I shouldn't run, it's obviously time for a second (or third) opinion.
Where does your total fall?

161-200: Running addiction personified. Get help quickly.
121-160: Leaning toward running addiction; beware.
81-120: Neutral.
41-80: Fitness with a mellow bent.
20-40: Approaching terminal mellow; better sign up for a race."

1. Richard Benyo, Exercise Addiction, when more is less, Runners Club of America
2. Richard Benyo, Exercise Addiction, when more is less, Runners Club of America

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remembering my first trail run

It was about 2 years ago, around this same time of year, that I was first introduced to trail running. I remember clearly the feeling of euphoria I felt immediately after the run was over. Throughout the run in Greenwood Park, I remember running cautiously as I really had no clue what to expect.

The person I was running with was a very experienced trail runner and she obviously had no problems. Not wanting to look too out of place, I tried my best to keep up with her but I'm sure I stumbled and was awkward throughout the run.

The air quality was so much better in the trails and I remember feeling at home running in them. It brought me back to a time when I was a child and would go running in the forest with my friends in Montreal.

As I became more familiar with running trails, I realized that I needed to have the proper shoes. They felt so awkward at first but really made a difference especially when trying to climb up some of the steep hills.

The trail races that I have entered have all had the same peaceful feeling to them. There is so much support for all the runners and the volunteers are amazing. I remember one trail race (Haliburton Forest) where there was a large bonfire at the end of the race. All the competitors gathered around the fire and waited for all the runners to finish. I'll usually see the same 10-20 runners at these races and I'm lucky that they have welcomed me into their fraternity.
While some road races have this feeling, the majority tend to be so large that you lose some of that "family" atmosphere.

I can't believe that it's been 9 months since my last trail race (Vulture Bait, October 2006) and I'm looking forward to doing at least one per month for the next few months.

As I ran my 8K this morning, I kept thinking about how nice it was just to run without having to worry about how fast or how far I was going. In fact, I'll probably switch my training to run more for overall time (1 to 2 hours) instead of running for speed. Running trails requires more endurance than speed, as the nature of the course dictates that you will be running longer than you would in a road race. I'm deciding between doing the 25K or 50K trail race in Creemore next weekend. My preference would be to try the 50 but I'll have to see how my body feels at the end of this week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Feeling satisfied!

Yesterday I completed my 50K race and I was very pleased with my performance. Here is a recap of how my day went.

I woke up at 3:30 AM and picked up my friend at 4:30. We then met up with another two runners and drove to Niagara Falls. We arrived at about 6:15 which gave us plenty of time to pick up our race kits, mingle around and make a few pit stops before the race (bathroom breaks).

The race started promptly at 7AM on a grass field. This was different than most of the races that usually start on pavement. The funny thing is that except for the first 500M, the rest of the race was run on asphalt.

It was a great day weather wise and the 4 of us started out together. I was feeling good and started to push myself a little earlier at around the 8K mark. For me, this race was more about battling my own personal demons. I wanted to accomplish 2 goals:
1) Have a better race this year than last year
2) Have a "cramp" free race

I'm happy to report that I was able to accomplish both of these goals. At the 35K mark at this race last year, I had nothing left and those last 15K turned out to be the hardest 15K I've ever done. This year, while I still had some mental barriers to cross, It was not until much later in the race and by then, I knew that I was going to beat my time from last year.

With regards to the cramping, it was interesting how it would almost start to come on but then slowly it went away. This happened several times towards the end of the race. I think this is why I wanted to push myself a little bit to see if the extra supplements I was taking were going to make a difference. While I did experience cramping after the race, it is much easier to deal with than during the race.

Each race brings with it several interesting stories and I have a whale of one. With 1 mile of the race left I was chasing down a runner. At this point I was using him as motivation to keep going. During this race there were long stretches where I didn't see any runners. I am probably the worst one when it comes to getting lost and coupled with the fact that my brain wasn't exactly functioning properly, this wasn't a good combination. I followed this runner but he ended up going off the course and we both got lost and did an extra 3KM's. Initially I was very upset as I didn't get to run through the finish line but as I look back today I can chalk it up to a funny story that I can tell people about.

The bottom line is that I know how I did and the overall time that I did it in really is insignificant. This race has taken some pressure off of me and I can relax a little more and plan out my races for the fall. I've erased the bad feelings from my Marathon and from the 50K race from last year.

Beyond even that, though, I have an amazing memory of running and spending time with some truly remarkable friends. One of the best parts of the whole day was the feelings we all shared immediately after the race. This continued as we drove home and culminated with a great bonfire in the evening. Running this race really made me appreciate the fact that I can and should enjoy my running more and not focus so much about my time. I think the running Gods were watching again because the pin holding my Garmin came off as I was "high fiving" one of the runners in the middle of the race.

I'll continue to do more races and will still keep Boston in my sights but I'm also going to go back to running trails a little more. The people who run trail races are not concerned with their time as much as they are concerned about having a good time and enjoying the fact that they are running. In the end, you can't ask for much more than that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Let the race begin!

There really isn't much else left to say.

I have my bags packed, both sets of alarms set for 3:30 AM (we have to be on the road by 4:45), my music is set, water bottles are chillin in the fridge, gels and electrolyte supplements are packed in my bag.

My last meal tonight was my traditional pasta meal with some Parmesan cheese. I'll be heading to bed shortly so I can try and get as much rest as I can for tomorrow.

By this time tomorrow I'll be hobbling around the house and loving every minute of it. Here's hoping for a cramp-free race.
Thanks to all of those who have emailed me with their support, you don't know how much that means. I promise a full race soon as I can hobble to basement to write it on my computer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components.

This is a definition I found today while searching the Internet. As I drove my son to his babysitters today, we talked about my upcoming race. Having witnessed a few of my races, he knows how his father will be feeling after the race. Walking upstairs will be challenging for the first few days and my knees and hips will be sore.

I remember after one race when I made sure that I had everything I needed from upstairs so I wouldn't have to make more than one trip on the stairs. Finding a comfortable place to sit will be difficult and getting up will be even tougher.

Most marathon runners acknowledge and accept the fact that they will have to experience some real pain during and immediately after the race. The more I "push it" the more pain I will feel in my hips and thighs. Even if I decide to run rather than race, this weekend, my body will be pounding the pavement for 5 hours (maybe less). There really is no escaping this type of pain.

This type of pain is physical, but overcoming the emotional/mental pain is the thing that runners excel at. Keeping your mind from getting "bored" or from wondering why you are doing this crazy activity, is something that is more challenging than the physical pain. I'll think about everything I can during the race to keep my mind focused. If I concentrate too much on the running then I'll probably come to the realization that I have a long way to go and then I'm finished. Having great friends to run with this weekend will certainly help, but we will each have to keep motivated, and that has to come from within.

So, given all this pain, why do I run? I think part of it is pushing my body to limits that I didn't think I could. Having goals and then accomplishing them is a feeling that is hard to describe. I'm fortunate that my goals are attainable for me and that there are so many goals to achieve with regards to running. I'm already thinking about my next races even though I haven't even finished this one yet. Running not only gives my body a physical workout but also pushes my mind to new limits as well. Another reason I run is because of the amazing people I've met and continue to meet.

This weekend will be a return to my "roots" so to speak, as I'll be running with plenty of trail runners who I've run with during my trail races from last season. I haven't done many trail races this year but the people who do trail races are so nice that I'm sure I'll get a warm welcome back from them this weekend. They'll also probably say, "where have you been?"
My response will be, "running of course!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My last run this week

This mornings run (10K) was my last until the 50K race on Saturday. I kept thinking about how I didn't want today's run to end but also told myself that I needed to rest to get ready for Saturday.

On my run today my Garmin's strap came undone as the pin that was holding the strap snapped off. I ended up running the last 3 KM's not knowing how fast or how far I was going. Maybe that was a sign from the Running Gods for me not to worry too much about time/pace etc. and just run. It's funny how routine oriented I've become with regards to my running. I find it very difficult to run without my Garmin and my music. If either one of these isn't operational, I find it hard to keep motivated.

I'll take the next few days off, reluctantly, and try and get some rest. Perhaps I'll read one of my many books on running or watch an inspirational movie or two. Some of my favorites include Remember the Titans, Rudy and Rocky.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The excitement is growing inside!

With just a few short days until my 50K run/race, I went out for a very nice 9K run today with one of my best friends. I count myself very lucky to not only have friends, but truly amazing friends, and I'm so thankful that most of them are going to be running with me this weekend.

We all have our own personal demons that we must overcome on race day and for me it will be cramping. This is something that I have no control over so I'm trying not to worry about it. I've tried just about everything so far so we'll see if this works for me. There are other elements such as the heat which may effect some of my friends. Because we have no way to plan for these, there is really nothing that we can do about it. With only one more day of running until the race, I will no doubt spend plenty of time reading about cramping and electrolytes, once my last run is completed tomorrow morning. I've yet to have that "perfect" race and I guess that's why I keep running.

Beyond just the running though, the whole day will be one that I'm sure I'll never forget. It starts with the early morning drive up to Niagara Falls (4:45 AM) and will end sometime in the afternoon as we drive home. Along the way, though, there will be memories made that will last a lifetime and that is what will make the day so special for me.

We all have the determination to do whatever we want, whether it's to lose weight or finish a race. Having a belief in yourself is something that you need to discover if you haven't already done so. This belief needs to be so strong that it acts like an armour surrounding you. It should keep all negative thoughts, actions and people away. When things get rough and you start to doubt yourself, you should be able to draw upon the inner strength that we all have to carry you through.

One of my favorite sayings about running marathons, or in this case an ultramarathon, is "If were easy than everyone would do it." What this means is that there WILL be pain/discomfort and maybe even self doubt at some point along the way.
My friends and I will have stories about how certain parts of the race were more challenging than others. In the end, as we look back at our accomplishments, we will turn to each other and say we did it!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend recap

This was probably one of the better weekends I've had in a long time.

After taking Friday off from running, I decided to do a 10K run on Saturday morning. I told myself to just wake up on Saturday and decide then what I wanted to do. In the end, though, it was a "no brainer" and as soon as I started to run I knew that I had made the right decision. It was a little cool early Saturday morning and I was a little stiff but when I finished I felt so refreshed.

When my run was finished I decided to volunteer at a race that was being held at the Ajax waterfront. It was nice seeing so many familiar faces and volunteering allowed me to be right amongst my friends. My job was to clock in the finishers as they crossed the finished line. There were some truly remarkable times for both the 5K and 10K races. A big part of me kept thinking that I should have raced it to see where I stack up amongst these runners. With my race only days away though, I made the right decision to volunteer instead.

After working an overnight shift on Saturday (11-7AM), I met some friends for a 10K run at 7:30. Most people would have been opted for something else to do, but for me, it was once again a "no brainer." I was able to run with my closest friends, share some great conversation and talk strategy about our race at the same time. It seemed like a long time since we were able to run together but like true friends, once you get talking, it's amazing you quickly you can pick up where you left off with no effort whatsoever.

I took my kids for a run later in the afternoon and they seemed to enjoy themselves. If you have a couple of kids with lots of energy, try taking them out for a run and then see how their energy levels are afterwards. Both my kids were exhausted after their run but after refueling and re hydrating their energy levels quickly returned. It would be nice to have the recuperating powers that kids have wouldn't it?

Today I rode my bike for just over 45 minutes and tomorrow I'll be running in the morning followed by another run on Wednesday and then that's it for the week. I made one of many pit stops at the Running Room today to pick up some gels for the race. Before tomorrow's run, I'm going to try a new gel that has more sodium in it than the one I usually take. If it produces no stomach discomfort, then I'll make the switch for Saturday's race. Trying to avoid cramps will be one of the many goals I have for Saturday and if I can avoid them then the other goals I have should follow suit.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Enjoying a day of rest

Today I took a day off from running and decided to use one of the eliptical machines at the gym for 70 minutes. My legs are feeling a little tired and with my 50K race now only 8 days away, I'm starting to get those butterflies again.

Tomorrow I'm going to either sleep in and do nothing OR run for 10K. I'll decide when I get up how I'm feeling. It's very hard for me to take time off from running or exercising but I know that my body probably needs the rest.

I still haven't decided on whether to carbo load next week or not. I'm leaning towards just slightly tweaking my diet and trying to incorporate more potassium rich foods (bananas, potatoes) and see if that helps with my cramping problems. I'm also going to use more E-Load supplements this week and may even look into a pottassium supplement as well.

My weight has dropped to 156 pounds and I'm hoping that the lighter weight will make a difference on race day. I'd like to run the race at around 155 so that should be attainable by next weekend. I've noticed that I seem to be running a little lighter on my feet these past few weeks.

I'm going to offset the lack of running next week, while I taper, with some cardio either at the gym or at home on my exercise bike. This will allow me to keep my sanity and allow me to run the race at the weight that I want.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Are YOU doing everything you can to create a healthier population?

I had very good conversation with one of my clients yesterday. We were talking about how this generation of video game playing/internet viewing children are headed towards a very unhealthy road.

Then we talked about how our parents viewed exercise and healthy eating. I cannot remember as a child ever watching my parents participate in sports. My client agreed and she couldn't remember watching her parents participate in sports either. I grew up in a family where most of my siblings had some kind of weight issue. It would have been so easy to continue this cycle. When I started to lose weight at age 15 I decided then that I would not succumb to having a weight issue ever again. Since I started running 2 years ago I am now in better shape than I ever have been at any point in my life. This is something that I take great pride in.

Another aspect that was almost never talked about was healthy eating. "Brown" bread was thought to be healthier than white when in reality they both are about the same nutritionally speaking. Special occassions always had food as the centre piece. I remember eating frozen tv dinners and eating ravioli on a weekly basis (it's probably why I haven't had either one of these items since my childhood). I also remember separating egg whites from whole eggs to cut back on the fat and getting in trouble because I was wasting part of the egg.

I like the fact that not only do I talk about the importance of healthy eating and exercise, I TRY to do my best to give my children an example of this. My hope is that they will develop healthy exercise and eating habits that they will use for the rest of their lives.

We have more variety of healthy and unhealthy foods now than when I was their age (8 & 5) and it's important for them to get educated on making the proper choices most of the time. We have the opportunity to teach not only our children but family and friends how to live a healthy lifestyle. It has to start with each of us.
So, are YOU doing everything YOU can to show people around you how to live a healthy life?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Change of plans

After visiting my "Mecca" today (aka the Pickering Running Room) and looking at the water bottle attached to my hand, I was convinced by the lovely ladies there (Maureen and Nancy) that this would be too cumbersome to use in a race.
Instead I'm going to use a smaller water bottle attached to my hip. I use a similar type pouch to hold my MP3 player so having another one to wear should not be an issue.
I'll probably also bring along my water belt just in case I decide to use it. I'd prefer not to run with it as I remember how annoying the water belt was towards the end of the 50K race last year. At one point I remember taking the belt off and putting it over my shoulder.
The water bottle they showed me holds about 6-8 oz. of water so that should be enough to keep me hydrated in between water stations.
Thanks Ladies!

Looking forward to tapering next week!

Today I did a steady 11K run (5:08 min/K). As I started out, though, I wasn't sure how long I was going to be able to run for. My legs are starting to feel a little tired and "heavy." That's usually a good sign that I need to start to take some time to let my body heal. With the 50K race just 10 days away, this will be my last week of heavy running. In fact, I'll probably just run two more times this week (Thursday and Saturday) and twice the following week (Monday and Tuesday) and then rest up for the race on Saturday.
I've mentioned before how difficult it is for me to stop running because I find it so beneficial to me both physically and mentally. Riding my bike or doing the eliptical at the gym just isn't the same. However, I know that I will benefit from taking some time off so I'll listen to my body and do the right thing.
If you see someone at the gym doing some eliptical training on Friday who looks like they would be happier outside, don't be shocked, it'll probably be me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nutrition "training" for the 50K race

Today I did a steady 16K run at a 5:13 pace. It was a little warm when I left my house just before 7:00 AM and progressively got warmer as I went along. Luckily I remembered to bring along one gel, which I took at the 10K mark, as well as some E-Load capsules which I took before and during the run.

I started to think about just how FAR 50K is. Yes, I've done it once before and I've also done a few marathons (42.2 K) so the extra 8K in theory, shouldn't be a problem. However, I'm still haunted by the feelings I had last year during the race as well as the cramping issues I've suffered during my last 2 big races (Around the Bay and Mississauga Marathon). I've been experimenting with lots of different food combinations during my training but it's hard to know if they are working. I've never experienced cramping at any time during my training runs whether they are tempo runs, hill repeats or long distance runs (25-32K). There has never been a point during any of my runs in the past 2 years that I've had cramping problems.

Today I was doing some research for eating during the ultra marathons (anything over 42.2K) and most are in agreement on two things:
1.You better schedule in walk breaks.
2.You will need to eat food during the race to keep you going.

With aid stations every 5K, and running roughly a 6 minute kilometre, that means running every 26-30 minutes straight. I've decided to cut that in half and take a walk break every 2.5K. That should take about 15 minutes. I've also decided to carry water with me. This is something that I normally don't do during a race. I've found that running with a fuel belt just too heavy and uncomfortable. I'm going to wear a water bottle attached to my hand and fill it up at the water stations. This way if I need some water in between stations, I'll have it available. I'll also take 2-3 E-Load capsules every 15 minutes.

The aid stations will be stacked with gels, bananas, gummy bears, M & M's,pretzels and cookies. Eating things other than gels is something that most people wouldn't do during a marathon. However gels don't have enough sustained carbohydrates for this race.
Last year I ate bananas and pretzels and this seemed to work well. You have to use foods that your stomach will tolerate. The last thing you want is to have any GI issues during the race. Because of my cramping issues, I'm going to make sure I eat at least 1 banana at each stations. The potassium from the bananas and the sodium from the E-Load capsules should avoid the cramping issues that I've suffered with.

As with any race, though, there are variables which are out of a runners control such as the weather. The hotter it is the more electrolytes will be lost and the more water and electrolytes will be needed to ingested. Running a marathon or ultra marathon has more to do with mental preparation than physical exertion. During my taper week next week I'm going to make sure I have every base covered appropriately.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend recap

On Saturday I did a nice tempo type run (10K/4:55 pace) and then spent the rest of the day getting my kids ready for their "MudRun" race the next day.

On Sunday we met up with a group of friends and all drove down to the race site. My kids were excited and when we arrived at the race they really started to feel the emotion of the day. Seeing hundreds of runners all getting ready for a race is a nice experience and I was glad that they could witness it for themselves.

The weather was warm but not too hot/humid. My race started 30 minutes behind schedule. This was not a good sign and I should have realized that this was not going to be one of the better organized races I've attended.

The event was one of the better ones last year but this year the number of participants doubled and it was obvious that the organizers didn't do a good job of planning for this.
The run itself was fine but mostly because I was able to run it with friends. It didn't have the same "feel" to it that it had last year which was very disappointing. Because the race course was poorly marked, we actually did an extra 2KM's.

After running through tires, over bales of hay, river crossings and finally through a mud pit, most of us just wanted to get hydrated, cleaned up and head out. Unfortunately all that they gave us was a cup of an electrolyte replacement drink. Most races give out water, and some type of food (usually fruit and bagels).

My sons' race followed mine after about an hour. This is where the fun really started. Both of my sons took off well and they were supposed to run about 1.5K and finish in the same mudpit that I ran through. After about 20 minutes my youngest son and other little ones came rumbling through the mudpit. My oldest, however, was nowhere to be seen. After about 30-40 minutes a bunch of parents went into the trail to find our children. It turned out that one of the race marshalls sent my son and about 20 others, the wrong way and they ended up having to do another 3-4 KM's. They had to be picked up in a truck and driven back to the start of the race where they could run through the mud.

This capped off an unfortunate and stressful day to say the least. This race was so much fun last year and was such a letdown this year. It's highly unlikely that I would do this race again. My sons were happy with the fact that they were able to get muddy and also happy that they got some prizes and a medal.
I'm happy that my next race is less than 2 weeks away so I can erase the negative feelings I had about this one.

Friday, June 08, 2007

One of the best 2K runs I've ever had

I took the day off from running as I had racked up over 80+ K's over the last 6 days. Instead I rode the bike for 40 minutes.
Later in the day, though, I felt like going outside and I asked my oldest if he'd like to go for a mini run. Thankfully he said yes and seemed excited about it too. We walked towards a mini hill I've called "death hill." It's about 500 M in length and has a slight incline. I had my Garmin watch on, which measures distance run, pace per Kilometre and calories burned along with a few other things. I talked to my son about these different categories and he seemed to be really excited about it. He wanted to wear the watch as he ran up the hill and of course I let him wear it.
When we got to the hill he was so excited to see how he could do and we decided to run up the hill turn around and run back down (1KM).
We both ran side by side and I was impressed at how well he was doing and that he was keeping a nice pace. We talked about his breathing and using his arms to pump him up the hill. When we finished the 1KM he noticed that his time was 6:44.

After giving him a high five and congratulating him, he said that he wanted to do it again. This time, I showed him to how to set the watch to run against a virtual "buddy." My watch allows me to set up a training buddy to race with and the object is to try and beat the buddy. We set the goal of doing 1KM in 6:50.

Off he and I went once again although this time he went out a little too fast. He had to walk a little bit on the way back down the hill but he was so far ahead of the 6:50 that he didn't seem to mind. He ended up finishing this 1K in 6:30!

After the run he was understandably tired and sore but I told him how proud I was of him. One of the best moments came when he told me that he wanted to do all the races that I've done. I told him that I can't wait until he's old enough to run a race with me.

The Mud Run is just a few days away and I'm already anxiously awaiting that day for the kids and myself.
Tomorrow I'll probably do a 10K run or bike for an hour. It's hard to believe but I'll be running a 50K race in just 2 weeks. There will be just one more week of heavy running before I start to taper for that race.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My life before I started running

During my 20K run today, one of my friends asked me why I run so much. She knew, though, that the answer was that I run because I love it so much.

I started to think about how much my life has changed since I started running.
My life consisted of working at a job which I hated and which was very isolating and negative in nature. I was working with recovering alcohol, drug and gambling addicts. While I saw some people have success, the majority of the time I would see the same people come back time and time again. To say that this was depressing would be an understatement. Not only was the nature of my job depressing, I worked a 24 hour shift. This gave me plenty of time off in between shifts. The problem was that I had no social life and would often just sit around the house and play video games and wait for the kids to come home.

This pattern led to feelings of apathy and while I did workout at the gym every morning at 5AM, I realized that I didn't have any friends as most people worked a traditional 9-5 shift. I isolated myself and this pattern repeated itself for years. Most of the time I didn't think I was "worthy" of having any friends. I was in a "comfort zone" and even though it wasn't a good one, it was something that I was familiar with.

When I look back at this cycle of behaviour, it is easy to see why I was so unhappy. I also can't blame anyone else but myself for this but I try to look back at that time and use it as a learning tool.

Running literally changed and saved my life. Do I put too much emphasis on it for my new life that I have created? Well consider this. Since I started running I have amazing friends, I don't play video games anymore and I'm doing something that I love to do (sports nutrition). I have completed 3 Marathons and over 20+ other races and I have more drive and determination now than at any other time in my life. I also am in better shape now that any other time in my life. I've yet to meet someone who guesses my right age. Most are off by at least 5-7 years which obviously makes me feel good.

I'm also happier and seem to have a positive "glow" about me most of the time (especially when I'm running). I've also been able to show my kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle (they aren't allowed to play video games at my house).

No, my life isn't perfect, far from it actually, BUT I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the person I am now if it weren't for running. If you are lucky enough to find that special "something" that changes your life forever, then grab a hold of it and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My mini tempo run today

Since I'm doing a long run tomorrow (20K) the plan for this morning was do between 8-10K at a nice easy pace. Unfortunately my feet obviously didn't get my memo as I ran faster than I had intended.

I have approximately 100 songs on my MP3 player and I set the play list to "random" so I never know what kind of song I'm going to get. I purposely have a mix of some slow and fast songs and today's run seemed to have more fast than slow songs. In fact, at the 8K mark, one of my favorite songs came on (Free Bird by Lynard Skynard) so I just had to keep going until the song finished.
After my run I realized that I had just run 9K in 43 minutes (4:45 min/K). It was nice to know that without evening consciously doing anything, I was able to do this pace.

I still have conflicting thoughts about the 50K race/run. I have two scenarios which keep playing inside my head. One of them is running with my friends for most of the race and finishing together. The other one sees me feeling good and just wanting to run my own pace and see what happens. Whatever scenario plays out, I want to make sure and do better than I did last year.

My kids and I will be running in the "Mud Run" this Sunday
I'll be so happy to see them having fun running in the Mud as I know that this race was one of my favorites from last year. What makes this race even more special is the fact that most of my closest friends will also be there. I'm hoping that my kids will realize how much fun running can be.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The importance of variety

As I lay in my bed before heading out to do my run this morning, I had the motivation to run but I didn't want to run the same route as I usually do. This hesitation bothered me somewhat and I wondered if I should actually go out at all? A small part of me was thinking that maybe this was a sign that I needed to rest today. I know that if I did, though, I'd be regretting it all day.

I have about 4 different routes that I can take from my house and that are anywhere from 8-15K in length. The problem is, I've done these routes so much that sometimes they become boring. Today I decided to try something new and did some running on side streets that I normally don't run on. For someone with as bad a sense of direction as I have, I was taking a little bit of a risk but I ventured out anyway. When I finished my run I realized that I did 12K in just over 1 hour. It was nice to know that I found a new route that covers 12K. I'm sure I will start looking for a few more so I can keep my running routes from getting too boring.

During my run today I was thinking back to the training I did for my marathon. I liked the fact that every run was a little different. There were days where I would just run hills and others where I would run on the track. I also did plenty of speed or "tempo" runs. I'm looking forward to returning to this type of training sometime in July as I prepare for a fall Marathon. The 50K run in a few weeks is more about endurance than speed so I'm not focusing on doing too much speed work right now. When I think about the 50K it scares me a little because I remember how I felt last year and also how I felt during and after my marathon this May. I'm sure I will be fighting those demons between now and the start of the race. I've decided to just let the day come and decide my strategy when it gets here. I'm sure I will discuss it during the drive up to Niagara Falls with my friends.

When I talk to my clients about their eating, I stress the importance of adding variety to their meal plans. If you eat the same foods over and over it becomes a challenge for some. There are some clients, though, who don't mind eating the same foods as it takes the pressure off of them in terms of meal preparations. It all depends on what your comfort level is. I have found that the more structured you make your eating the better results you will get. I give my clients about 3-4 options for each meal and this seems to help keep them on the right path. What I then focus on is trying to make these 3-4 meal options as appealing as possible.
Whether you are training for a race or trying to lose weight, remember to keep things interesting by adding variety to whatever plan you are on. You will be thankful you did.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Running in the rain

Today the plan was to run a nice easy 8-10K. After doing 32K yesterday I was a little sore for about 1-2 hours and then I was feeling fine. It still amazes me at how quickly my body is able to recover. When I first started running it took days for some of the soreness to go away and now 2 years later I'm healing faster.

When I woke up and saw that it was raining I had a big smile on my face. Running in the rain is something that I love to do. I think it has something to do with feeling "cleansed" while running. Another thing that I love is to see the looks on some of the drivers or people waiting in bus shelters. I'm sure they are probably thinking that this guy is nuts for running. I make sure that as I pass them I have a big smile on my face so they know that I am truly happy doing what I am doing. There isn't a weather condition that has prevented me from running and I like the fact that no matter the weather, I will be going for my run.

Today's run was 10k and I felt very strong towards the end. I'll probably do another 10K on Tuesday and Wednesday and then a long run on Thursday of 20K. I'm counting down the hours until the MudRun this Sunday. The fact that my kids will be doing their own mud run at the race on Sunday is what really is exciting me.
Participating in sports with your kids is the best way to show them all about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another long run in the books

After taking Saturday off from running, I met up with a few friends on Sunday morning for a run. Some of us were doing 32K in preparation for the 50K run/race in 3 weeks while others were doing 20+K. It was nice to have a group to run with as it becomes harder to do those long runs when you are by yourself.

Today's run took 3 hours and 12 minutes or just over 6 minutes per Kilometer. That is roughly the speed we will be going when we do the 50K. Towards the end,I felt the need to go a little faster. There is something about kicking it into gear towards the end of a long run which I feel satisfying. Luckily I had my music with me and it helped to keep me motivated.

My friends know that it's something that I just have to do for me so they don't take it as me wanting to show off. I like the final push during a long run so I can simulate the race feeling. As soon as I started to push it, though, I could feel that my right quad was beginning to cramp a little. I had taken some E-Load capsule just before starting my mini speed run and this seemed to help as the cramps only came for a few seconds and then went away as I eased up a little.
Even though I haven't seen any scientific evidence to prove that going faster increases cramping, I've noticed that as soon as I push myself a little more on a long run I feel the cramps coming on. I don't experience this on any of of my shorter runs though even when my pace quickens to 4:45 per Kilometer.

During the 50K the stations are stocked with lots of things like bananas and salted pretzels so I'm hoping that these things will help if I experience cramping once again.
This will be my last long run until the 50K so I will use these next few weeks to rest up and prepare for that day. My longest run will probably be no more than 20K between now and then so I'll stick to doing plenty of "ME" runs averaging between 8-12K.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Your passion "candle" will only grow brighter over time!

Today during my 10K run I thought about the last 2 years and how my life has changed so much. In that span I have left a job, got separated and discovered a new passion called running.
I thought about the many friends I've made along the way and how truly lucky I am to have not just friends but really close friends who I can lean on and who know that they can lean on me when they need to.
I feel that I have not only embraced the sport of running but that I try to spread the gospel whenever and wherever I can. I've taught a learn to run clinic and have convinced more than a dozen people to try a running clinic or even just to go out and run.

The more I run, the more I feel that I am not only helping myself but also helping others as well. I honestly never thought that when I started running I would have people actually looking up to me and asking me questions about running.
When you have a passion though, and most people know that mine is running, it becomes natural to just to want to talk about it. Most people understand that when I start to talk about running it is something that I enjoy doing. There are only a few close friends though, who really understand what running means to me and I'm thankful for that.

Whatever your passion is, and hopefully it is something that is healthy, I hope you treat it as a special gift. Some people go through their whole lives wondering what their passion is and sadly, some never find it. If I hadn't been open to the idea of running 2 years ago I never would have discovered that I had this passion for running. I used to hate running and never quite understood why people would do this type of activity. Keeping an open mind allowed me to at least try this new activity. Exposing yourself to many different activities is the key to helping you discover what activity truly makes you happy. If going to they gym is something you do but really don't "enjoy" it, then look for something else.

You need to find something that you love doing and not only look forward to but something that you will make time to do for yourself. I hear too many clients complaining about the fact that they have busy schedules and no time for exercise. When I sit down with them and go over their schedules, I show them where they can fit in at least 1 hour of exercise per day. Most will at least give it a try but the ones who have the most success with losing and keeping their weight off are the ones who make it a priority in their lives.
Just remember that like a tornado that gathers power as it goes along, your passion will grow larger and larger with each passing day.
Good luck finding yours!