Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You KNOW you are a trail runner when........

Here are some observations I've discovered about myself since I've returned to my "roots" aka trail running:

1. If I don't get at least one long run in the trails each week I feel like a grumpy bear!

2. If my shoes aren't wet and or muddy then I don't consider it a trail run.

3. Running slowly in the trails doesn't guarantee that I'll escape injury free (hitting my head on a tree branch, tripping over rocks or tree stumps or twisting my ankle....all of these have happened at some time btw) but running fast in the trail has always resulted in an mishap of somesort for me.

4. Running with friends on the roads is good but having them run in the trails with me is even better.

5. I STILL get lost running in the trails.

6. I look down more running in the trails than I do on the road but at least I don't have to worry about getting hit by a car or bus (I've come very close to both of these happening to me).

7. When running downhill on the trails I feel like my 5 year-old and dodging boulders, stumps etc. is something that I look forward to.

8. There's no shame in walking the large hills because it will save my legs for the rest of the run. When you are out running for 2 hours plus (Haliburton will be 6-7 hours) does a few minutes of walking make that much of a difference?

9.I don't mind starting my trail run at 6 AM because it means that I'll get to start the day off on the right foot!

10. All I can think about is running a 50 Mile trail race someday soon.......

Monday, July 30, 2007

Do something outside for a change of pace!

When I first started running I remember how much I started to really dislike doing anything inside such as lifting weights. There is something liberating about being outside and having different things to look at besides 4 walls or the TV screen in front of the treadmill.

I find it very difficult to do any type of cardio inside such as the treadmill, step climber or exercise bike. I'm proud to say that poor weather has never stopped me from running outside and this includes snowstorms and thundershowers (OK, maybe not the smartest thing but I was already outside running before the lightning came).

For someone who used to be afraid of being outside in the winter time, it's hard to believe that I have no fear of running when the temperatures dip below freezing. I do, however, prefer the weather we are experiencing now to what we'll face in the winter.

My morning runs usually start with the sun just rising over the horizon. The feeling of warmth that I get from the sun while running is something that I eagerly look forward to.

Sunlight can also help us in other ways. Vitamin D can be made from within our bodies after exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption so being outside has a nutritional benefit as well.

You don't always have to workout with weights in a stuffy gym, especially this time of year, to burn calories. During my bike ride yesterday I saw hundreds of people at Rotary Park and it was great to see so many kids riding their bikes along the path or playing in the park. It made me feel great knowing that I hadn't wasted a day being inside on such a great day. So, go outside and enjoy a nice walk, run or bike ride tonight when you get home from work you'll be glad that you did.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

One of my best 1/2 marathons ever!

Today wasn't about me and how fast I was going to run the Whitby 1/2 Marathon. Instead, I gladly took a backseat and along with a friend, I paced another friend who was trying to get a personal best (PB) for the 1/2 Marathon.

It was simply an amazing day from the moment we started running at 7:30 until we finished a few hours later. For the first time since the Scotiabank 1/2 Marathon in 2006, my only thoughts were on trying to help this person reach her goal. The heat made it hard at times but she toughed it out nonetheless. Watching her battle her own demons along the way and still overcome them, was inspiring to see.

I seem to be in such a better place with regards to my running and it felt great to run a race for someone other than myself. I'm sure at times she was probably wishing we weren't there, but I know that she realizes that we were trying to motivate her.

With just under 1 KM left in the race she picked up her speed and crossed the finish line ahead of what she wanted and the look on her face made it so special for me.

My next two races I'll be running at different speeds but I won't be trying beat any speed records. I'll also be helping a friend try and qualify for the Boston Marathon in the fall of 2007 and I may do another Marathon for "ME" in November of this year.

Congratulations Maureen and thanks for everything that you have done for me these past two years!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Seaton Mud Puppies....A special breed of runners!

It was about this time 2 years ago that I first got my feet wet on the trails. My first run was in the Greenwood Conservation Park but eventually I called the Seaton Trail "home."

As a novice runner, I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the trail runners were. It was a small group of about 10-12 people with all varying running styles and speeds and they called themselves the "Seaton Mud Puppies." Whenever I needed encouragement they were always there. They never made me feel that I was an "outsider" and I felt like they had adopted me into their clan. As I became a stronger trail runner and finished back to back 25K trail races in the fall of 2005, I was encouraged to enter the Ontario Ultra Series in 2006. This was a series of 6 trail races on various terrains covering at least 25K (although many of those races felt like running a marathon).

I was fortunate enough to place 3rd in my age category for that series and at each race I saw the same friendly faces with plenty of encouragement. This year I got caught up with trying to qualify for Boston and today I realized how much I enjoy trail running.

During my run today I did plenty of listening to Gavin and Howie as they talked about their training and their upcoming races (both will be doing 100 Mile races in September). They both gave great advice for my next two races (32K ITT and 50K Haliburton).

Both men have been running for years and they still have the same love for the sport which is both encouraging and motivating. Even though I've been away from this group this past year, today felt like I hadn't even left. My goals for next year will be to do at least one 50 Mile race and the 50K trail OUS trail series.

If you'd like to learn more about the Seaton Mud Puppies, please visit their website:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Spreading the “Gospel of running!”

During my 1-2 days off from running each week, I like to do some reflecting on how much my life has changed in the past two years and most of it has to do with the fact that I was introduced to running.

Now, two years later, I get excited when I hear that one of my clients has started to run. This happened twice this week and each time that I heard their story I had a huge smile on my face. I see running as being very contagious and I hope that they get the same satisfaction that I have gotten from it.

I sometimes ask myself why running? Why didn’t I get introduced to something like golf or another sport? I was seemingly happy working out with weights 5 days per week at my local gym. Lifting weights surely will help you burn calories because lean muscle burns more calories than fat. With no other sport to compare it to though, I didn't know that I could do anything else. Throughout my early years as I struggled with weight issues I played some team sports but very little individual ones. The best thing about running is that it is all within my control. I don't have to rely on anyone else and that accountability makes it rewarding when I achieve certain milestones with regards to my running.

In July of 2005 I had zero interest in doing much of anything else besides lifting weights and running wasn’t even remotely on my radar screen. After my first run, though, I was hooked and it’s been that way for the last two years. Running surely isn’t the easiest sport to pick up, and when I started I was 37 and in relatively good shape, or at least I thought. I soon found out how demanding and yet rewarding the sport is. I kept feeling better and better each time I went out and I improved cardiovascular conditioning as a result. Each time I went out I wanted to push myself further and further. I’ve told this story before, but the first run I ever did was a 10K (not something that I would recommend to anyone now). I wanted to learn as much as I could about this sport and I couldn’t believe that I ignored this “drug” for so long.

It’s been months since I picked up a dumbbell and I’m not sure I’d know what to do with it if I did at this point. It’s ironic that I work at a gym but I have no desire to workout there or anywhere else. The trainers all joke with me that I’d probably get struck by lightning if I stepped onto the gym floor.

I guess why I love talking about running so much is because I know that it is my passion and I want to share and “convert” as many people I can along the way. Just call me the Pied Piper of running!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I needed that!

Today, I had an amazing 10K run on my own. After running with great friends all week, it was actually a little lonely today and I wondered how I would manage. Then, after the first KM or so, I realized how important my “ME” runs truly are to me. I was able to do plenty of reflecting on how great my week has been and how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. I was able to look back at a few races that I’ve done (the good and bad ones) and also look towards my upcoming races. While running on the sidewalk, I tried to visualize how different these next two races are going to be with regards to the type of terrain I’ll be running on (rocks, trails and river crossings).

I realized today how much I truly loved trail running and in a weird way, I think that the fact that I struggled with cramps in Mississauga was a blessing in disguise. Had I reached my goal at that race I would have been consumed with trying to do better at my subsequent marathons and though I loved the training, I also didn’t have much balance in my life at that time.

I truly believe that things happen for a reason and I have been brought back to trail running because it is something that I truly enjoy more than any other type of running. I also just found out that I’ll be having company with me during the ITT race in August and that will make the drive there more exciting and we’ll have great stories to share on the way back.

This weekend I’ll be running in the trails again (20-23KM’s) and then I’ll be helping to pace a good friend who will be running in the Whitby ½ Marathon on Sunday. I think I’m more excited about that race than any I’ve done in quite some time, because I love giving something back to the sport that I love and also helping out someone who encouraged me to teach a Learn to Run Clinic.
Good luck Maureen……I’ll try to keep the talking to a minimum!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thank goodness for great friends!

Today was my 20K run and I was originally going to have to run it alone. While I don't mind running alone, and sometimes actually need to, having company when you know you are going to be out there for just under 2 hours certainly helps. When I got a call yesterday saying that my friend was going to run with me it certainly made me feel better. Then, later in the day, I found out that another close friend would also be joining us. We are all preparing for our very first 50K trail race, so the more running we can do together the better prepared we'll be for that race.

I've been spoiled as of late as I haven't had to do to many runs on my own so the thought of having to do this one alone would have been hard. When we started out at 6 this morning, I was feeling the effects of not having enough sleep. Having company today was something that I definitely needed and I'm not sure I would have had as much fun without my friends along.

Running with a group of people allows you to talk about your running with people who truly understand the highs and lows that we experience as runners. It's nice to know that you are not alone with regards to aches and pains and that we all suffer from being tired from time to time. People who don't run I think sometimes assume that running for us is easy and that is furthest thing from the truth. We all have internal battles that we must overcome but I truly believe that runners are able to win most of these battles. I also think that it has a trickle down effect on other aspects of our lives.

When we started out today all three of us were a little tired but towards the end of the run we all felt amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the morning!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The difference between goals and desires

A desire is a "want to" and can be described as wanting to run a 10KM race for example. Goals are something that you can attach a timeline to and this makes it more definable and real. A goal would be wanting to run a 10K race at the Scotiabank marathon in September of this year.

Once goals are set then you need to determine a plan of action on how you can achieve this goal. Personally speaking, even though I've done plenty of races, it's not until I sign up for a race that it becomes more of a reality. I've been talking about doing the 32K ITT for weeks but today I officially signed up for it.

Now that my goal is set I can concentrate on a plan that will allow me to achieve that goal. This kind of race will be extremely technical (running on rocks, hill climbs and river crossings)so the more often I can run in the Seaton trail the better prepared I'll be as many of these conditions are found there.

During my run in the trails today I tried to recruit a few of my friends to join me but they aren't sure if they will be free on that day. Now that I have officially committed to this race, there's no turning back now. This race will get me ready for my 50K trail race in September as it will probably take me at least 4 hours to complete.

One of the things that goals do is make you face your fears head on. I face my fears everytime I lace up my shoes. There are times when I ask myself what I'm doing and I wonder if I've taken on too much. Having a definable goal makes you more accountable to yourself and others. You can use fear to motivate or cripple you. I use fear as a respect factor more than anything else. I learned early on when I started running not to take any distance for granted. Some of the toughest runs I've had had been ones where I didn't respect the course enough.

With my running, I'm more concerned with disappointing myself than others but I have a few very close friends who I also don't want to let down. I also know that I have helped to get others involved in running and that excites me as well. Just today one of my clients told me that she went for a run around her neighborhood and I was grinning from ear to ear (Way to go Anita).

My friends are such amazing runners that I feed off their enthusiasm for the sport and this also helps me to keep focused. When one of us reaches a milestone in our running or achieves a new goal we are all genuinely excited for that person.

If you find that your goal is too big then set up mini goals for yourself. Your goals should be attainable but they should also require some work for you to achieve them. When you achieve your goal then try and do two things. The first is to "bookmark" that event or milestone and the second is to set another goal for yourself fairly quickly. Bookmarking allows your mind to recall a particular time in your life when you were able to achieve a certain goal. The more success you can recall the more your mind will allow you to think in a positive instead of negative way. Also, If you have another goal ready then you will be able to piggyback on the success of your previous goal and use that momentum to help you achieve your next goal. Before I'm finished one of my runs I'm already thinking about what I'm running on the next day and the day after that.

I have long range goals (qualifying for Boston when I'm 45), short term goals (completing my 50K trail race in September) and a mid-range goal (completing a 50 Mile trail race in 2008). Along the way, my daily goals are to finish each run feeling like I could continue running forever. Now that I have relaxed more, I'm finding that I'm achieving my last goal more often.

So, what are YOUR Goals and how are you going to achieve them?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Two years later and still running strong

I often get asked what I do for fun other than running. This question still stops me in my tracks and it reinforces how important running is to my life.

Most, if not all, of my friends are runners. I would rather go for a run then do just about anything and though I'm getting better at finding balance, running still dominates my life. It ranks right up there with my kids and my work in terms of importance.

While many of my friends have suffered some injuries during their running, including some who have not been able to return to running, I'm fortunate that I've been able to run pretty consistently 5-6 times per week for the past 2 years. I've had some stiffness in my knees and the occasional bout of plantar fasciitis but nothing that has stopped me from lacing up my shoes and heading out on the pavement or trails. My right knee gets so stiff at times that I have to stretch it out every hour and when I go to the movies I have to pick an aisle seat so I can stretch out my leg. Driving for long stretches makes it difficult at times and I'm sure that my two boys are probably sick of me telling them to watch out for Daddy's feet and legs. I'm probably more conscious when walking upstairs and downstairs than most people. If I could, I'd probably take out an insurance policy on my legs (LOL). I do see them as a huge investment in my mind, body and soul so I'll do whatever I can to protect them.

During these last 2 years I'm sure that I went out for a run when I probably shouldn't have but not running sometimes is more painful than the discomfort I feel when I run. I can predict which part of my body will be sore first and how long the pain will last for. It always starts with my right knee (never my left) and then goes away after a KM. If my shoes are worn out, then the next place I'll feel it is on the bottom of my left foot. This also goes away after a few KM's. It's almost as if I tell myself, "here it goes again." I feel that one of my strengths comes from being mentally tough enough to overcome any discomfort and I can tell myself that eventually the pain will go away.

On my long run yesterday we were talking about how long it takes each of us to get into our "zone" where our minds just take over for us. For me, it takes me about 10K before I start to feel good during a run. I've noticed that now that I have begun to decrease my speed runs, the running seems to be less of a physical issue and more of a mental one.

When I first started running I read everything I could find about breathing and trying to increase my oxygen capacity. Eventually I just let things happen naturally and I no longer think about it. If my breathing becomes "laboured" then I know that I'm running too fast and I'll slow it down.

As I write this I'm taking a day off from running but it's not an easy thing for me to do. When I'm not running, then I'm thinking about running, reading about nutrition and running or putting new music on my mp3 player (200 songs and counting)
In the end, I guess I AM a Runner and I'm OK with of that!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Running 30K is never "easy" for me

Today I, along with some great friends, ran 30K along the Ajax/Pickering waterfront trail. Most of us are training for either a marathon a 50K trail race or both. During our training for these events we must increase our long runs to at least 30K and beyond. The goal is to teach our bodies to be out on the road/trail for over 3 hours so when the race comes we are well prepared.

I'll never forget the feeling of running my first 30K during training a few years ago. I actually had to run this on my own and it was one of the toughest runs I've ever had. Thankully, it was the last time I've had to run a 30K alone during training. As tough as that run was, I was able to get through it and it made me a better runner as a result. I had no idea about pacing and I remember keeping a map of my route in my back pocket just in case I got lost.

The key to running 30K or more, in my opinion, is not to "think" too much about it. This may sound silly, but as soon as I realize that I'll be running for 3 hours or more, my mind will try to talk me out of it. Instead I will break up the run into segments of 10K. This makes it more reasonable and even though I'm ultimately running 30K by the time I'm finished, having mini goals make it more palatable.

This has been one of the best running weeks I think I've ever had as it included doing 2 trail runs (seeing deers along the way)3 long runs, and a great "Me" run. What made it special was not only the people I was able to run with, but also the fact that I made a conscious effort to slow my running down. In the past, I would have probably ran the last 4K of todays run at a fast pace and would have felt the effects immediately afterwards. Today, after my run I felt energized and only had a litte soreness in my hamstrings.

I'm sure next week will be just as rewarding as it will include more trail runs, as well as a 1/2 marathon race where I will be pacing a friend but it will have to be something to top this weeks runs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A "mini" dress rehearsal run today

I wanted my trail run today to simulate the running "style" that my friends and I will employ for our 50K trail race in September. What that meant was increasing the distance from the usual 9K to 18K and also significantly cutting down the speed that we usually run at. This required some discipline as I walked instead of ran up the major hills but I also finished the run feeling like I could have run longer. In fact, as I type this I could easily go out and run again.

This was the perfect way to get my body ready for not only the Haliburton race but also the 32K ITT race in August. With another run scheduled for tomorrow (30K) and with my weekly mileage approaching 90K, I feel like my body is beginning to get ready for my upcoming races. The key to getting ready for these type of endurance races is increasing the time spent on the course instead of increasing the speed. Even with my reduced speed I managed to take a little fall but hey, it's the life of a trail runner and I'm glad that I can call myself that once again.

3 Clients with 3 great stories!

I'm fortunate enough to work with some truly inspirational clients and I thought I'd share three of them with you today.

The first one is a woman who has had to overcome the fact that she doesn't get much support from her parents who live with her. They are the classic "old school" meat and potatoes type of eaters. This has caused some friction at home, but she has followed the guidelines I have given her and she has made the commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It's hard enough to make changes to your eating habits but if you don't have some kind of support at home then it becomes a constant battle which causes stress. Many people would have buckled under this kind of pressure but not this woman.

She works out very hard and the results are that not only has she lost lots of weight, she has also improved her energy levels. She recently started walking at the Running Room so hopefully she will find the same passion that I have for running with her walking.

The 2nd client reminds me so much of myself when I was her age. She has lost over 70 pounds and despite setbacks that might have resulted in her giving up, she fights through it with the intensity of a Lion. This week she celebrated her birthday and she has so much more confidence than when I first met her. To me, that is even more important than how much weight she has lost. I was lucky enough to meet her mother and it was great to see that she has the support from her family as what she is doing is truly remarkable. As someone who suffered from weight issues for most of my teenage life, I can relate to what she is trying to do.

The final client is someone who I just started working with. He is a gifted athlete who was in a car accident in the Winter but bounced back remarkably and was given an athletic scholarship to a school in the US for track and field. With just a few modifications to his diet, he has returned to his competition weight and we will be working very closely together over the next few weeks as he prepares for his season in the fall.

These three clients are just a few of many people that I get to see on a regular basis. They have no idea how proud I am of them and they continue to inspire not only me but others around them too. Congratulations Charlene, Samantha and Justin and keep up the great work!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Iroquois Trail Test , 32KM's of intensity!

"Rugged trail running test that offers 7 major climbs over varied surfaces of trail, road, gravel, rocks and double creek crossing (you will get wet feet at ~3 km and ~6 km)"

This race will probably be the toughest challenge I've had since my 25K trail race in Haliburton. When their website has these warnings about their race you can bet that it will be one of those races where finishing it will be an accomplishment in itself. My goal is to finish this race in under 4 hours. To put this race in perspective, my best 30K race time has been 2:24. This race will be a good training run for my 50K race in Haliburton and now that I have embraced my slower running I MAY even run the race without my Garmin (a watch that keeps track of my pace, distance etc.)

Last year, during my trail race season, I missed out on this race and had to hear stories from my trail running friends on how tough yet thrilling this race was. I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day as I'm rediscovering my love of trails again.

A fantastic "Me" run this morning

This week I've been lucky to run in the trails with a few close friends and also a 20K with another friend. Because I've been running with my friends more, I've noticed that my runs are much more enjoyable as I'm not running fast all the time. There are times though, that I enjoy running on my own as well as I can listen to my music and get lost in my own thoughts.

When I awoke this morning, I knew that I was going to run on my own and the fact that it was raining made it even more special. There is nothing I like better then to run in the rain with a big smile on my face. I get a kick out of the drivers who watch me and who are probably thinking that I'm crazy to be out there. They have no idea how much I enjoy running in the rain.

When I run on my own, especially on a day like today, I can really clear my head of any negative thoughts I'm having. It's almost like I'm leaving any unresolved issues on the road. I can also develop a clear thought plan as to what my goals are and how I can achieve them. I also think about my kids and what their lives are going to be like and how quickly they are growing up. When I get close to my home I begin to slow down as I want to prolong the end of the run for as long as I can. Luckily for me, I have another run planned in a few days.

Tomorrow I'll take a day off from running. In the past I've used this day to ride on my exercise bike for an hour or so but lately I've needed a day off or two from any type of exercise so my body can rest. With two long runs planned for the weekend (20K trail on Saturday and 30K on Sunday) I'll need to make sure my body is ready for that kind of work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Are you hitting the "wall" with regards to your progress?

Several of my clients are experience some setbacks with regards to their goals. This usually happens when they have been following the same training and nutrition program over a prolonged period of time. Our bodies are amazing machines, but unless we are constantly being challenged, they will fall back into a pattern where little progress is being made.

When I first started running I was able to drop weight very quickly but now my body has figured out my "normal" pattern of training and my weight loss is minimal at best. The only way for me to see much improvement is to change either my speed or distance. As I train for my 50K trail I've been running at a reduced speed and my focus is on improving my endurance. Without even trying, I realized that as a result of this change in training philosophy I've dropped a few more pounds.

With regards to having setbacks with weight loss, it probably means that you need to change up your training. The last thing I ever recommend to my clients is reducing the amount of food they consume. Instead, I like to encourage my clients to increase the amount of time they are exercising, changing the equipment they use and/or increasing the intensity of their training sessions.

Instead of using the same piece of cardio equipment that you usually use, try to do something else (maybe even go for a run). Take an objective look at your training and diet regimen. Are you pushing yourself enough so that you see results without injuring yourself? I can't tell you how many people I see at the gym who continue to do the same thing day in and day out and see very little progress. That is one thing that still puzzles me to this day. They are the people who still haven't figured out the importance of training intensity and/or proper nutrition. I always think how much further they would be if they understood this important link. The truly sad thing is that all it usually takes is making a few changes to their diet and within a week they see that their digestion, energy levels and sleeping have all improved. When I see my clients make that connection, it makes me feel like I've done a good job.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another great trail run today

I think I'll just starting dropping the "great" when I mention trail running, as every time I run in the trails it keeps getting better and better.

A group of 4 of us went out this morning at 7AM to run in the Seaton trail. Along the route we saw a deer and ran across some train tracks. The amazing thing about running in the trails is that my breathing is so much more relaxed and I'm sure that has something to do with the better air quality. I also run slower in the trails as I'm trying to avoid rocks, twigs and stumps from tripping me. I managed to avoid falling today but did stumble a little bit. In the past I've had some nasty falls and even hit my head on a tree once.

After finishing our run, I felt like I could have kept going for another hour and as I headed home it's what I kept thinking about. Had I not had to go to work, I'm sure I would have gone for another run.

Tomorrow I'll be running 20K with a good friend and it will be nice having someone to talk to, as the run will take approximately 2 hours. That should give us plenty of time to catch up on each of our lives.

I've had several clients tell me that they read my post about having positive people in our lives and how it has helped them. Personally speaking, I'm very lucky to have the friends that I have and continue to make, and I really believe it's because I try my best to stay as positive as I can.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Creating a positive "aura"

I firmly believe that we all carry around an "aura" which is either negative or positive. For example, if I go to the mall I can easily pick out the people who are positive or negative. It's how their posture is, body language and facial expressions. I do my best to avoid these people at all costs. I call them energy vampires because they will literally suck the life out of you. We all know the saying "misery loves company" and these people would rather bring you down than pick you up.

Likewise, I can spot positive people very easily and I do my best to gravitate to them. They wear a positive "halo" that is both captivating and contagious. They welcome other positive people because that is how they continue to remain positive.

This doesn't mean that these people don't suffer from bouts of depression or sadness, but what it does mean is that they don't let it consume them. They are more interested in trying to find a solution instead of dwelling on why they are sad.

I count myself very lucky to have so many amazing friends who are there for me and who I know I can count on when I'm feeling down. No life is perfect but if you can surround yourself with positive people who you can count on when the chips are down, then you will learn how to deal with the down times in a constructive manner. Sometimes it's just having someone to listen to you. Other times you may need someone to motivate you to exercise more or make healthier food choices.

Isolation is probably the single most common problem that I see with my clients. Our minds like to play games of self doubt with us and it's those times that we need to have people around to help us get out of our funk. True friends will realize this before you do and will offer a lending hand or ear before you ask. I've been described as an open book by most of my friends so they know how I'm feeling without me even having to say anything. Running allows me to dump any negative feelings that I have and when I'm finished a run I have a much better perspective on things.

Whatever you outlet is, try to remember that people are watching you and you never know who's life you may influence by your actions. I still get overwhelmed when I hear people tell me that I have inspired them to run. To me, running represents much more than just a physical activity and so I guess that's why I take it so seriously. I call it my "entertainment" and I make sure that I don't compromise this for anything.

I hope your search for positive people is a successful one because you will enjoy your life much better when you find more of these people.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A 25K that felt like 10!

Today I did my 25K run in preparation for the 50K trail race in September. Each week I'll try to increase the distance but more than that, I'll try to increase the amount of time I'm running. With no time goal in sight for the 50K, it will be more important to focus on the mental aspects of the running. For me, that means getting my body ready to run for probably 7 hours. While that may seem intimidating, what will make it easy is that I won't have to worry about going fast. As I'm running with friends, we have all decided just to go and make this a fun adventure. If one of us needs to walk we'll all walk.

I was fortunate enough today to be surrounded by 4 amazing ladies during my run and the conversation helped to ensure that we didn't even think much about the running.
Our pace was great and I didn't push myself until the last 4K but even then I was trying to be cautious about not going too fast. I didn't want to feel sore, especially in my hips, right after the run and when I got back to the Running Room, I felt like I could have kept going.

This was one of my best weeks of running I've had in quite some time and next week I'm sure will be even better as I kick off the week by running trails on Tuesday morning.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Testing your resiliency each day

Each day we are dealt different challenges which can derail our ability to reach our goals. Nobody is immune to having these obstacles and it's our ability to be bounce back which will ultimately decide how successful we are.

I've noticed that the clients who I see at the gym, who have made the most improvements in their life, are the ones who see me on a weekly basis. Even if they not able to follow the plan I give them very well, just being able to talk about their issues with me seems to help them. I focus much of my sessions on not just how they are eating, but other factors that may affect their ability to make healthy choices most of the time. These factors range from stress, lack of sleep to dealing with their spouses or children. Instead of focusing on what they are not doing, I praise them for the healthy choices they are making.

I believe that one of the keys to being resilient is learning from mistakes made in the past but also to "bookmarking" events where an obstacle was overcome. Because my plan is all about lifestyle changes and not diets, I correct my clients whenever they use words like "cheated or fell of the wagon." Instead, I call it "life" and remind them to just get back to making healthier choices as soon as possible.

Stress is one of the factors that many people don't fully understand but it can impact your ability to make healthy choices. Plenty of my clients have admitted to being "stress eaters" so finding better ways to deal with stress becomes a priority during our sessions.

I make no secret of the fact that running has allowed me to deal with much of my stress. At the same time, though, I also realized that my competitive nature with regards to running was giving me stress. Trying to achieve a certain time caused me anxiety and this affected my performance on race day. As I learn more about my abilities and relax more, I'm confident that this will result in achieving my personal running goals. I never want to forget, though, about why I started to run and how that very first run made me feel. As I start to train for my upcoming 50K trail race those are the memories I will cling to the most.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Learn to Run.....it changed my life maybe it will change yours too!"

Yesterday I did a nutrition talk for the learn to run clinic at the Pickering Running Room.
As I look back at how I started my running "career" it always fascinates me because I did so many things backwards. For example, I completed my first 25K trail race before doing a 5K or 10K race. I never had the benefit of doing a learn to run clinic and my mechanics probably suffered as a result. I had didn't know what kind of shoes/clothes I should wear. I did know, thanks to the woman who introduced running to me, that I was a "runner" and NOT a "jogger." Beyond that, though, I was very naive when it came to running.

The learn to run clinic is a great place to introduce yourself to the sport of running. I was lucky enough to teach a learn to run clinic last year. The clinic takes you from running 1 minute at a time up to 10 minutes. This gentle introduction to running helps to prevent injuries and the emphasis they place on "fun" is something that can't be overstated. When I was at the Running Room last night, I ran into several of the members from that clinic. It was great to see them still running one year later. Not all the members from that clinic are still running, but the ones who are really seem to have embraced the sport. Some even thanked me for helping to inspire them which is nice to hear.

During my run today, I thought about all the people that were in that clinic and I wondered how each of them were doing. I hoped that the ones who were still running were getting the same excitement that I get each time I go for a run.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How was your run?

At the end of my run this morning, my neighbor spotted me and asked me how my run was? I told her that my run was great and that it usually is.

I seem to be more at peace with my running of late and it's translating into having more fun with my running. Running for time instead of for speed/distance is something that I'm really getting used to. Today I ran for just over an hour (1:05) and tomorrow I'll probably do the same (hopefully in the trails). If I can't hit the trails tomorrow morning then I'm going to do a long run in the trails on Saturday morning followed by another long run on Sunday.

I was invited to run in the Haliburton Forest on the weekend but I'm not sure that I want to drive all that way, run 25+K and then drive home. There's something about keeping that race a secret until September. Even though I've done the 25K there, the 50K route will be a little different. Most of the runners that are going up this weekend are preparing for their 100 Mile race at the same location. The thought of running for 24 hours or more is not something that I want to do. I wouldn't mind trying a 50 Miler but that's about it. Then again, I said after doing one marathon that that was it, and I've done 2 more since then, so I guess I should never say never right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's starting to sink in......finally!

Today when I got up to do my 20K run, I had several routes in mind and I couldn't decide which one to pick. Should I run from my house and do a 10K out and back? Should I go up Church Street all the way to the waterfront and then turn around? What about driving to the waterfront and then running 20K there?
It was a weird feeling not knowing what route to pick.

I decided to make a compromise. I drove to Valley Farm Road and Finch, the same spot where Ken and I saw the deer one week ago, and from there I ran to the waterfront trail and back.
With my location out of the way, the next thing to figure out was my walk breaks. Running alone, especially for 20K, is hard because at least with a group the walk breaks are easier to figure out. When I'm running on my own I find it harder to take regular breaks as I get "lost" in my thoughts and before I know it I'm running longer than I'm supposed to. I decided to run for 5K then take a 1 minute breaks. This worked well as the 5K mark was just at the start of the waterfront trail, at the bottom of Liverpool road, and there was a water fountain there which I needed on the way back. The 10K mark came just past the Pavillion and I took my gel at this point.

Running along the waterfront trail was amazing today and I saw a few bikers, runners and walkers along the way. All of them had smiles on their faces and you could tell that they were enjoying being outside so early in the morning. It was nice not having to avoid cars for a change.

My biggest problem, of late, has been running too fast during my long runs and then feeling sore immediately afterwards. Today, I wanted to feel like I could run another 20K after doing my run today. For that to happen, it meant slowing my pace down and I'm happy to report that that is just what happened.

As I reached my car I knew I could have gone longer because I wasn't going as fast as I usually do. As I prepare for my 50K trail race, I'm going to use today as I reminder of how I should feel after my long runs.

Monday, July 09, 2007

THIS is how a 50K run can be considered "fun!"

(Haliburton 25K, 2006)
During my run today, I kept thinking about my upcoming 50K trail race in September. Of all the places to do a 50K "trail" race I've picked the most difficult in my opinion.

To help ease the pressure, though, I've decided not to focus my attention on how long it takes me to finish. Instead, my thoughts are going to be on crossing the finish line with two other amazing runners who are also going to be doing their first 50K trail race on this day.

Even though I was running on the sidewalks today, I was picturing myself running through the trails and the many different hill climbs there will be. During a trail race, most of the the runners will walk up the hill and then start running the downhill part. There's no point in burning yourself out going up some really steep hills, especially when you know that you will be running for over 5 hours.

Now that I have committed myself to the race, I'm going to develop a plan that gives me the best chance to finish it.

Tomorrow I will be running 20K and I will probably do 2 long runs of 20K or more each week until the end of August.
I love running early in the morning, so 6:00 AM is when I'll likely start.

One of the most effective training methods for doing a 50K trail race is increasing endurance. These longer runs, especially if I can do them in the trails (Seaton or Rouge) will go a long way to prepare me for the Haliburton Forest.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My next major race

After re-discovering my love for trail running, I've decided to do a 50K trail race in Haliburton Forest on September 8th.(http://ouser.org/races/hali.htm)

Last year, when I did the 25K trail race there it was by far the most difficult race I've ever done. Even after doing my most recent 50K race in Niagara Falls, I know that the trail race in Haliburon Forest will be twice as hard as that one.

When I finished the 25K last year I said to myself that I couldn't see me doing that race twice. This year a few of my friends are doing it with me so that will surely help.

The training for this type of race will require longer runs as well as more trail running. With just 8 weeks before the race, I'll have to start the preparations for this race this week.

I may throw in a 1/2 marathon race in July, (Whitby 5000) and another trail run in August (Iroquois 32K trail test) , just to keep myself motivated but my ultimate goal is to finish the 50K in under 7 hours. It took me over 3 hours to finish last year's 25K so I believe that 7 is realistic.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Who knew that running around in circles could be so much fun?

Today I took my kids to Pineridge High School so we could run on the track there. This was a way for me to get some exercise and also allow my kids to experience running at the same time. I even found a pair of running shorts that I gave to my oldest son.
After, feeding them both a good carbohydrate heavy breakfast, we headed for the track. I was surprised to see so many people there. Along with a coach who was doing some running drills with a few students, there was also a football practice and soccer practice going on in the middle of the track.

My oldest picked up his MP3 player and we all started out running at our own pace. My youngest even managed to do a few laps and at one point I was running with him for a bit. They both seemed really excited as well as exhausted afterward. After completing about 20 laps, my oldest said he wanted to do one more with me. That last lap was probably my most satisfying of the day as we ran stride by stride and I kept encouraging him to keep focused and finish strong.

They both seemed to have a great time and I told them that on the weekends that I see them, we'll make a point of going to the track on Saturdays.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A nice ending to a long week

Today when I arrived at work I found out that I was voted the top nutritionist at all the Extreme Fitness locations across Toronto. All the trainers and managers made a point of congratulating me which was nice. Probably the best thing about working at Extreme is the people I work with. Most are quite younger than me but I never feel out of place there. It probably helps that while they can certainly lift more weight than I can, they know that I can run circles around them so we have a friendly competition at the gym.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the awards ceremony as I had to watch my children, but it was nice getting some recognition nonetheless.

After dropping my kids off to their babysitters, I went for a 9K run. I'm looking forward to running with my kids tomorrow at Pineridge High School in Pickering. I figure I can get a little run in and they can play around in the middle of the track and/or run a little bit with me as well.

It's supposed to be very hot/humid over the next few days so any running I'm able to do will be done early in the morning.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Those of you who know me understand that I try not to get too upset but for some reason what I saw on television yesterday really made me mad.

I was watching the sports telecast and one of the stories they "highlited" was a hot dog eating contest. Since when did this become a "sport." I couldn't believe the amount of time they dedicated to this. Is this what we want to see? I thought that sports involved some type of physical activity? There are many courageous stories I see at my local gym everyday that would inspire people to make healthy choices.

During my run today I kept thinking about why this bothered me so much. Maybe because it's something that I would never consider doing myself. Last week I was asked by the trainers at my gym if I wanted to participate in an egg roll eating contest. The look I gave them I'm sure made them realize that they shouldn't ever ask that question of me ever again.

At the end of this telecast the "winner" ate over 65 hot dogs and they stated that the "average" person consumes 65 hot dogs per year. If that's what "average" is then I'm proud to say that I'm not "average."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A perfect weather day for running

There was a "calm before the storm" air to the weather today as it felt like at any moment it was going to rain.
I was almost hoping that it would rain as it's been a long time since I've run in the rain. Unfortunately there was no rain but plenty of wind. This made the return part of my run a little challenging but also fun.

During my run I passed the same woman twice along different parts of the route. Whenever I see a runner I always give them that "runners nod" which is a way to say "good for you!" It's nice feeling part of something and with runners, I always feel like I'm in a special group.

I'll often get these odd looks from drivers or from people who are waiting for a bus. I'm sure most of them are thinking that this guy is nuts to be running this early in the morning. Then again, I'll often get honked at by people driving who I know and who appreciate what I'm doing. I think I feed off both of these responses equally well.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Raise your hand if you saw a deer this morning!

To sum up this morning's trail run in one word I would use "incredible!"

As I met my friend at 6:15 and we started out he spotted a deer about 10 feet away from us in the trails. He was just staring at us and it was an amazing sight to see. Most of you know that I subscribe to the "Running Gods Theory" so I KNOW that look in the eyes of the deer was meant for me. I'm sure he was thinking, "it's about time I saw you back on the trails again!" (or at least that's the story I'm sticking with.

After that encounter, I knew that this was going to be a great trail run. Thankfully my friend knows the Seaton Trail very well and even though I've run in them before, he took me on a route that I hadn't been on. At one point we were actually running on a railway bridge looking down at the water/trails. We stopped for a brief moment just to take it all in and then we were off again.

I felt more relaxed today even though the terrain was something that I hadn't been used to in quite some time. Running in the trails forces you to concentrate more on where your running instead of just trying to run at full speed. For me, that's just what I need.

I'm definitely going to make sure that I run in the trails at least once per week, if not more. Today's run was invigorating and made me realize that my first love was and always will be trail running!
Thanks Ken for an amazing experience.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Doing the smart thing isn't always easy

Today I decided to take a day off from running and rode my stationary bike instead. Even after riding the bike, though, I felt like I should have run. My body needed the rest, so not running was the smart thing to do.

I picked up a new pair of trail shoes today at the Pickering Running Room and realized that it has been months since I've been running in the trails. I'm both excited and nervous about tomorrow's run but I know that once I get going, I'll be fine.

Starting the day off by running trails, (6:15 AM) is something that I used to do on a regular basis but I've replaced that with running on the roads. I'm hoping that the run tomorrow will kick start a great week.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's next?

After working a 12 hour overnight shift from Saturday night to Sunday morning, I met up with a few friends for a 25K run. While some would call this cruel and unusual punishment, I couldn't imagine starting off a day any better than with a run.

Today's run was difficult as I was still feeling the effects of last weeks race and I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help either. However, it was great running with friends today as most of the week I ran alone.

At times today I had to listen to my music just to get through the run but just having friends around, even if I'm not talking to them, can really help to stay motivated.

As we made our way back to the Pickering Running Room, several runners who were there, asked me what my next race was going to be. For the first time in a long time I simply said I have no idea. There are a few that I may do (Whitby 1/2 marathon, 50K Trail race and then the Toronto Marathon) but right now I'm simply enjoying the fact that I'm running.

I like doing one race per month as it keeps me focused but I also realized that since February, I've done 4 long races (1/2 Marathon, 30K, Full Marathon and 50K) so taking some time off would probably be a good idea right about now.