Friday, August 31, 2007

A special type of runner

Today I ran into a friend at the grocery store. We started talking about, what else, running. She is in training for a marathon at the end of October and I was telling her about my upcoming race next weekend.

The topic of tapering came up and I told her how difficult the week leading up to a race is for me. There are only a few people, within my circle of friends, who hate tapering as much as I do. I was happy to find out that she has a hard time with it as well. Even though it is a necessary part of the pre-race training, those last 3 days when I want to run but can't, will be very hard mentally for me.

There are some runners who embrace the tapering but I'm certainly not one of them. I'm already counting the number of runs I have left between now and next Saturday (2) and that will make for a long week.

The extra time off will allow me to focus on the race itself and I will use this time to get mentally prepared. I'm going to break the race into 5, 10K "segments." and will not put my music on until I have reached 25K mark. I'm sure I'll be tinkering with my music between now and the start of the race.

I'll also be preparing my "drop bag" for the race. At the 25K turnaround, I will be allowed to place a bag with personal items just in case I'll need it. This will include a pair of socks, some gels,water bottles and probably another pair of shoes (since my trail shoes have a hole in the side). Thankfully the aid stations are well stocked with food, water and electrolyte drinks (Gatoraide).

This weekend I'll be doing some light biking and probably a nature walk with my kids. I hope everyone has a safe Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No rain today.......too bad!

When I woke up this morning and noticed that it was overcast, I was hoping that it would rain during my run. My kids and I even joked about it as they know how much I enjoy running in the rain. I usually run with a small water bottle but because it looked like it was going to rain, I decided against it.

Unfortunately, the running Gods didn't look down on me today as the rain never materialized. It seems like such a long time since I've been able to run in the rain and I hope I can get that opportunity between now and next week.

I'll be running just one more time this week before taking the weekend off to rest. I'll probably go for a long nature walk at some point on the weekend as well as doing some biking on my stationary bike.

By this time next week I'll be feeling the butterflies for sure. I was telling one of the trainers today about my race and specifically how long I think it will probably take (7 hours) and the look on his face was priceless. Sometimes when I look at the amount of time it should take it does seem a little overwhelming. However, I feel that I have trained properly for this event and now it's time to see how prepared I am.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My last long run before my race

Today was the last chance to get that long run in before my race on September 8th. I ended up doing 21K and by the end my body had felt like it had just gone 12 rounds with the heavyweight boxing champion.

The effects of running 100+KM's has started to show up in places where normally I don't feel much pain (toes, knees and hips). These are good signs that my body is in a "stop or else" mode and I better listen to it.

It's nice to know that I can count on one hand the number of runs I have until my race (4). Of these 4, none will be longer than 12KM's.

During my run I talked to my friend about how nice it will be to sleep in past 5 AM for a change. Today's run started out in the dark and it wasn't until we reached the 5KM mark did the sun start to come up.

The run today was a good way for both of us to talk about Haliburton and the challenges that it will present. I told her that Haliburton was without a doubt my toughest race but that the Iroquois Trail Test that we just completed, wasn't far behind. I think that that will give us confidence for Haliburton. I guess we'll find out next weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gearing up for Haliburton

I felt it the minute I drove my car into the parking lot near the Haliburton forest. I knew right away that this was a special place and that I would be competing in a very special race. It was without a doubt the toughest race I've ever done but once I had finished I knew that I had accomplished something.

I drove over 3 hours just to get to this race last year and thankfully it had a 9 AM start. The race this year, since I'm doing the 50K, starts at 6 AM which means I'll be running in darkness for the first 30 to 40 minutes.

During my trail run this morning I kept thinking about how demanding the Haliburton trail race was last year. It's not something that I can explain to most, it truly is something that you have to experience. I'm hoping that the experience from last year will help but I also realize that I will be running twice the distance that I ran last year. A few of us will be staying overnight just outside of where the race will be happening so at least we can get a few hours of sleep before the race.

Pacing will be critical but I feel like I have that where I want it to be for this race. The one visual that keeps haunting me from the race last year is the one long hill that seemed to go on for 2 or more KM's. It was muddy and there were parts where people were getting stuck while trying to climb over rocks. I have no idea how they did it, but there was a water/aid station right at the bottom of the hill and I remember being very thankful for that.

I noticed that one of my trail shoes had a rip in the side during my run today. I don't want to run in new shoes for this race, so I'm going to take Ken's advice and just tape them up if it becomes an issue. I only have one more trail run next week before my race so they should be fine by the time the race occurs on September 8th.

That seemed so long ago and I can't believe that it is coming up so quickly. Tomorrow I'll be doing my last long run (20K) before my race. After that, it will be runs of no more than 10K as I prepare for my taper which will be one week from today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rested, rejuvenated and recovered (well almost)

After taking the last 2 days off from running I went out this morning for a nice and easy 8K run. Before I knew it, though, it had turned into a tempo run. I usually have a hard time taking more than 1 day off in between runs but I obvioulsy needed these last few days. Today, I was so anxious to go for a run that I could hardly contain myself. My plantar faciitis is still lingering and likely won't go away until after my race but otherwise I felt strong.

However, taking time off wasn't easy and I kept thinking that something was missing from my day because I didn't run. I rode my stationary bike for 80 minutes on Saturday but it wasn't the same. Then yesterday I took my kids to the Seaton Trail where we did a nice long walk and a little bit of climbing. The kids loved it but I kept thinking that I should be running not walking. It didn't help that I saw a few people running in the trails. On the way back from our walk I even did a mini learn to run program with my kids. They ran for a minute and walked for a minute. This lasted about 2 minutes but at least they gave it a try. The last part of the trail I challenged them to a race to the car which they also enjoyed.

When I started out on my run this morning, I kept thinking about how hard those first few steps are. It takes me a few K's to get into a rhythym, but sometimes after taking a few days off, it takes longer. I was surprised that I was able to find a comfortable pace fairly quickly. I can understand how hard it is to take time off and then come back and how quickly you can lose your conditioning.

My gym is filled with people who haven't worked out in years. I met a client last week who used to come to the gym daily but stopped and is just now getting back again. There were 5 years in between that span! Days started to turn into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Before he knew it he had gained an extra 50 pounds and lost most of the conditioning he had worked so hard to achieve.

I wondered during my run today about how hard it is for me to take even a few days off from running and how important it is to me. I can't imagine, unless it's because of an injury, taking that much time off. I feel that I need to be accountable to me and I want to improve my conditioning. During the weekend I also decided that I need to start to do a little weight training. I've enlisted the help of a good friend who is a trainer at my gym. I asked her to put together a weight training program that I can do twice per week (thanks Taletha). My body has gotten so used to my running, that I need to "shake things up" in order to see any changes.

Because I havent' lifted weights in months, I'll likely wait until after my race in Haliburton to begin this program but I'm looking forward to doing something a little different.

I'm looking forward to running in the trails tomorrow.....hopefully I'll see a deer or two!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sometimes we all need a helping hand....or foot in my case.

I just completed my last run for the week and it would not have been possible if I didn't have great company to run with. Today was one of those days when everything just wasn't "right" with me. I didn't have my usual pre-race snack (1/2 banana) so I had a slice of rye bread instead.
I needed to do a long run of at least 20K and the thought of doing it alone just didn't excite me today. I've been running most of this week alone and I guess I have been spoiled because usually I have friends to run with but our schedules didn't allow us to meet up.
Thankfully I was able to run with one friend today and that made the run not only enjoyable but also manageable. I'm not sure I would have done the 20K today on my own. It was great having someone to talk to, and I think that both of us were feeling the effects of the race we did together last weekend.

I think that my body is telling me to take a break, which is what I'm going to do for the next 2 days. With my race 2 weeks away, it's time to begin a slow taper and get myself mentally and physically ready. Today I was feeling some pain in both knees and my feet. I haven't experienced this type of soreness in my knees in quite some time so I'll have to keep an eye on this.

The air quality this morning was the worst it's been in quite some time. I'm happy that we left at 6 AM and not any later as it is going to be extremely humid today. Usually running by the lake, which we did today, gives some cool air but not today.

As much as I'm going to miss not running over the next few days, I know that it is the right thing to do. If you usually train alone and just don't feel like you can from time to time, don't hesitate to call a friend and see if they will join you. You both will feel better for doing it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting myself mentally prepared to run 50K in the trails

Even though I've done plenty of trail races,they have all been between 25K to 32K in length. In fact, last weekends' 32K trail race was the longest one I've done. Although I finished strong enough to run another race at night, the thought of running another 50KM's is not something that I take lightly.

More than just the physical aspect of running on trails, rocks etc., the mental game will be just as challenging. I'm trying to get my body ready for the fact that I'll be out on the trails for a minimum of 7 hours. Having never done this before, it is natural to feel a little aprehensive about this.

There are just 16 days before that race and between now and then my running mileage will be reduced from 100 KM's to 60 KM's. My plan is to do a few long runs of 20-25 KM's over these next 10 days and then using that last 3 days to rest.

Running a 50K trail race has always been something that I looked up to when I started running in the trail races. Most of the races that I did had 25 and 50 KM distances so when I finished my part of the race, many of the competitors kept on going as they were only half finished. A big part of me always wondered if I could complete that distance on the trails so it will be nice to simply have a goal of finishing the Haliburton 50 K in September.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Confidence is contagious

Have you ever been told by someone that you can't do something or that you aren't ready to do something yet? I'm sure we have all been put in this position and when that happens you only have two options.

Option one would be to accept what others are telling you and allow them to dictate your thought process. The second option, and the one that I try to use more often, is to use their own negativity as motivation.

I know that there are things that I have been able to accomplish with regards to my running, that I probably wouldn't have entertained had I listened to outsiders. How do you know that you are ready to take on a challenge? I think the bigger question is how do you know that you are not ready? Some of the most positive people I know are the ones who don't think too much about what they want to do. Instead they just live in the moment and visualize the steps needed to achieve their goals.

This doesn't mean that they are successful each time they try something but they are not afraid of what they want. They are relentless in their pursuit of their goals and will not let anyone invade their positive thought process. Each milestone they pass their confidence becomes stronger and stronger.

If someone would have told me that I would be running Marathons two years ago I would have called them crazy. You never know what you can accomplish until you start to believe in yourself. Nobody ever said that reaching your goals would be easy and I don't think you'd appreciate them as much if it were easy.

Just as there are negative influences that surround us daily, there are positive ones as well. Sometimes it just takes longer to find them. The best place to look, though, is in the mirror!

Monday, August 20, 2007

What should you do if you have a setback in your goals?

The one thing that I stress to my clients more than anything is not to dwell too much on the negative. As soon as I get them to understand that they are not on a "diet" they tend to relax more and they are able to reach their goals more easily.

Why is this one word so important? As soon as you hear the word diet, you assume food restrictions. If I told you that you could never have your favorite food for a limited amount of time then it would increase your craving for that food. Then, if you ended up eating that food you would think of it as a "cheat" and that would lead to feelings of depression.

Instead of using words like diet and cheat I use words such as lifestyle and life. I explain to them that part of life is having those foods which we enjoy, even if they are not nutritionally sound, once in a while. The important thing is not to dwell on that choice but instead just get back to more healthy eating as quickly as possible.

With regards to goals, I find that having them as "moving targets" makes it easier to deal with when and if we are having setbacks in trying to achieve a major goal. Some of my clients are trying to lose 50 pounds or more but they lose sight of the fact that they already have lost some weight. If all they focus on is the remaining weight they have to lose then they will not give themselves the proper credit for the weight they have already lost.

Sometimes it's hard to stop and acknowledge the small goals because we all want instant gratification. Unfortunately life doesn't work that way.

My own setbacks with regards to trying to reach my goal of running a certain time for my last marathon taught me an important lesson. After moping around for a few days I knew that the hard work that I had just done was a goal in itself. Although, it didn't translate into my ultimate goal, each training run I had made me stronger and gave me the confidence to know what I am capable of.

I have used that training as a "bookmark" which I will return to when I'm ready to train for another Marathon. In the meantime I will focus on other goals such as running for endurance (50 Mile race). That doesn't mean that I'm giving up or settling for less because each goal that I have is significant in it's own right to the one person that it matters to the most.....ME! The one thing that we tend to do is let others define the significance of our goals. We are constantly comparing our achievements to others when we should realize that there are individual variances in all of us which impacts our ability to reach goals.

Take pride in your own accomplishments and at the same time be happy for those around you who are achieving their own goals. You'll be amazed at the good Karma that will come your way as a result.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My first "doubleheader!"

After completing my 32K trail race in the morning I felt great and was ready to run about 3-5K in the evening.
On the way to the race, though, I decided that I wanted to run the 15K race (there was a 30K and a 15K). I have never done something like this before but I couldn't believe how strong I was feeling and I had literally no soreness in my legs.

When I did the 30K race the year before, I remember running into some friends who had done the 32K trail race that morning and were doing the 30K race at night. I was so amazed at how they could even think about that. They were training for a 100 Mile race so this was perfect for them. At the race last year I remember passing both of these runners and they looked so exhausted, almost like Zombies towards the end.

As I started out on my 15K race, I knew that I would hit the wall at some point and that came at about 10K in. Throughout the last 5K I did various run/walk combinations until I finished. Even after these back to back races I felt good.

It makes me feel confident that I could do a 50 Mile race soon, as that will be all about going at a nice slow pace. That's the tactic I used yesterday and it paid off beautifully for me.

I decided to just do an easy 12K run today and will take tomorrow off.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home where I belong!

I just completed my first trail race in 10 months and it was one of the best experiences I've had in quite some time.

I'm so proud of Kelly who finished 3rd in her age category. She did amazing for first trail race and considering it was a very technical course, her accomplishments are even more impressive.
Way to go Kelly!

As for me, I realized as soon as I got of my car that I was back with my running "family." I was greeted by so many people who all asked the same question,"where have you been?" It was nice to know that they remembered me and I assured them that I wouldn't be absent again.

The course itself was pretty technical, lots of rocks and hill climbs just as advertised. At one point I started running too fast and then remembered what my goal was. I wanted to finish the race feeling like I could run again. Since I actually AM running in the evening tonight, this was a real goal and I was very proud of myself for achieving it. I was able to stop and make sure that one of the runners was ok as she was climbing over some rocks. The fact that I wasn't at all focused on reaching a particular time, made the experience in the trails that much better.

I had several stumbles and only one fall but overall I was very happy with my performance. It was fitting that one of the songs that played on my MP3 player was "Home" by Chris Daughtry because I felt that way throughout the race today.

Rather than feeling tired and sore like I usually do after a race, I actually feel great and I'm ready to run again.
Tonight I am going to run the last 5-7K's of a race that two of my closest friends are doing (Midsummer Night's Run). I actually feel pretty good considering I just ran 32K and may want to run more than that but hopefully common sense will prevail and I'll just run a few K's with them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

My favorite running songs

If you've ever seen me running alone, chances are I'll be listening to my MP3 player and sometimes I'll even be mouthing the words. I'm always on the lookout for some songs that will inspire me. Sometimes there's a word or two that takes me back to a place and time in my own life and triggers a special memory (good and bad). Currently I have about 150 songs that I cycle through and here are just a few of my favorites:

Tom Petty: "Running Down a Dream" "Learning to Fly"
Pink: "Who Knew"
Daughtry: "Home"
Boston: "Peace of Mind"
Kanye West: "Stronger"
Natahsa Bedingfield: "Unwritten"
Timbaland: "The Way I Are"
Tom Cochrane: "The Untouchable One"
The Killers: "Read My Mind"
Linkin Park: "What I've Done"
Def Leopard: "Two Steps Behind"

Being nervous is a good thing for me

I've done over 30 races in the past two years but during the days leading up to a race I get extremely nervous. You'd think that I would be used to it by now but that’s not the case. My emotions range from nervousness, doubt and fear to finally confidence.

I wonder if I’ve taken on too much and even though I consider myself a strong runner, I sometimes wonder if I still belong in this exclusive “club.” Rather than use this as an excuse to quit however, I use these feelings to motivate me.

I have NEVER quit a race and the confidence and experience I have built over these last 2 years will replace my nervousness, doubt and fear that I feel prior to the race.

One of the worst races I ever had was a 10K race in Guelph and the reason why it was tough was that I didn’t respect the distance as much as I should have. Even though I had just completed a few 25K trail races my lack of respect for that race made it very difficult. I learned that day to never take any distance for granted ever again. I was not mentally prepared to run that race and I realized how important that was. Now, I spend as much time getting mentally prepared for races as I would physically. If I’m not mentally prepared then the race will knock me on my butt.

However, rather than use fear as a way to motivate me, I use respect instead. Today I’ll use mental imagery to run the race in my head. I’ll visualize how I’ll have to keep lifting my legs up high to avoid tree stumps. I’ll visualize climbing rocks to get to the top of the hills and how I’ll have to pace myself properly. I’ll also visualize how great it will be to run across the finish line and receive my medal (or in this case a commemorative rock)

Tomorrow’s race will be a grueling 32K and it will take every ounce of spirit and determination to complete it. It won’t be easy, trail races never are, so I’m mentally and physically prepared for the race.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

One to go!

Today I did what I was told and resisted the urge to workout and opted for a day of rest instead.

My knees are starting to feel the pain as they heal themselves as are my feet. I actually found it nice to sleep in until 7AM this morning and will hopefully do the same tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be all about getting all the last minute items I'll need for my race. This will include gels, electrolytes and possibly a new outfit. I'll need to get to bed early tomorrow night as I'll be leaving for my race at 5:45 AM. I think that I'm equally as excited about running in the evening as I am for my own race so getting plenty of rest will be crucial tomorrow.

In addition, I'll have to make sure that I'm well hydrated and I will also have either a pizza or pasta supper on Friday evening (I'm leaning towards pizza).

I usually like to watch an inspirational movie the night before a race so it will probably be Remember the Titans or Rudy. If I'm in the mood for a comedy though I may pick up the movie "Friday" with Chris Tucker and Ice Cube. I guess it will all depend on my mood tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Savoring every last step today

I tried to stretch this mornings run as long as possible without going out for too long since I'm tapering for my race on Saturday.
As I finished my run and stopped my Garmin I walked for a few more minutes before coming into my house. Knowing that I won't be able to run for the next few days will be tough but I understand it's the right thing to do.

During the run today I was visualizing how my race will look like. I kept thinking about how much fun it's going to be not only to be in the trails, but also seeing so many familiar faces from the trail series I was involved in last year.

Between now and Saturday morning I won't be doing anything physically active, which will be a challenge mentally. I'll keep myself busy with work and probably watch an inspirational movie or two to get me mentally ready for Saturday. Even though I'm not going to be running fast on Saturday, I still have to remember that the 32K race will most likely feel like I'm running a Marathon (42.2K) as I'll be out on the course for at least 4 hours or more. It usually takes me about 10K before I get into a rhythm but will all the expected hill climbs and water crossings, it'll be interesting to see how my body responds and how long it takes me to find a comfortable pace.

I'll begin a mini "carbo-load" plan tonight which will mean an increase in carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, breads) and a slight decrease in protein. I'm feeling very "light on my feet" these days so I won't carohydrate load too much as I don't want to feel too heavy on Saturday.

The main thing I'll be doing though is resting. If anyone has any ideas on some good non-physical activities that I can do, please let me know. I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A "Zen" like moment today

It happens every so often when I'm running in the trails. I never know when "it" is going to happen but I can count on "it" happening
when I need "it" the most. The "it" that I am talking about is the feeling of pure tranquility that I get when I have completed a trail run.

The first time that it happened was the very first time I went running in the trails of Greenwood Conservation Park about just over 2 years ago. A feeling came over me that is hard to explain. All I know is that I had such a clear understanding that what I had just done was something that I NEED to do as much as possible. It is that feeling that has kept me running in the trails 2 years later.

Perhaps it's the better air quality in the trails. Maybe it's the feeling of being one with nature. I think that part of what makes this so special is that I don't HAVE to identify why it happens and maybe that's the point! In life sometimes we ask too many questions instead of just accepting what the answer is. We seem to always want to figure out why something is happening to us instead of just embracing it. If I spent too much time trying to analze why I get this feeling I'd miss out on just enjoying it.

Well, whatever it is, I'm glad that I feel it because it puts me on such an emotional "high" that usually lasts for the entire day and sometimes more. When this feeling comes over me it, I protect it and will NOT let anything invade or compromise this feeling.

I find it very difficult to become angry when running in the trails. This doesn't translate as well on the roads where I have to avoid the occasional car, truck or bus from hitting me.

Today was one of those days that re-affirmed my love of trail running and it came at just the right time for me. With just one more run coming up until my race, I'll cling to this feeling until the start of the race on Saturday morning.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Feeling the aches and pains during taper week

So, here it is, taper week! With only a few days until my race on Saturday, I have to be very smart this week with regards to my running. The other element which needs careful attention is my diet and of course rest.

With that in mind, I reluctantly rode my stationary bike for 1 hour this morning. Although it didn't come close to the great feeling that I experience running, it still was a good workout nonetheless but it had less impact on my joints.

It's during this week that I start to feel all those little nagging pains in my feet and knees. Because I run so many miles, my body does not get a chance to heal itself properly. Whenever I take more than a few days off I start to feel myself healing and at times this can become uncomfortable.

If I were planning on racing this particular race with a time goal in mind, then I would probably do a carbohydrate loading phase starting on Wednesday. However, I'll probably just slightly increase my carbohydrates during the last 2 days before the race. My last meal on Friday night will be most likely be pasta with parmesan cheese.

Experience has taught me not to go too crazy with my carbohydrate intake as I don't want to feel "heavy" on race day. This is the one downfall of carbohydrate loading. Although I'm still a fan of this practice, I think you have to really understand your body well and experiment with varying carbohydrate loading plans before you find the right one for you.

As long as I stick to my plan of running this race at a nice easy pace for at least the first 25K then I think I'll be fine. IF I feel really good at that point I may push it a little bit but since I haven't done a trail race in over 10 months, there's no telling how I'll feel at that point. By the time I hit the 25K mark I know that it will feel like I've run about 32K.

Stress no doubt contributed negatively to the disappointing marathon in Mississauga. Because I don't have any pressure on me now, I should have a better race experience this Saturday.

It's a little hard to have a set plan during a trail race with regards to walk breaks. In the past I would normally just run at a comfortable pace and then slow down if I felt like I needed it or if there was a long hill to climb. I usually let my breathing be my judge. I know that if I'm breathing too heavily then it's time to slow it down a little.

I want to be able to finish this race well enough so that I'll be able to do a mini "bandit" run in the evening at another race. I'd love to run two of my friends in for the last 5K of their 30K race on Saturday night which will make for a great experience. I know that if I push it too much during my race then I won't have anything left in the tank for that run in the evening.

With just 2 more days left of exercising until Saturday you'll know why I may be cranky on Thursday and Friday of this week!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Have a plan and do your BEST to stick to it!

I had a very enlightening run this morning. Initially my plan called for between 12-16K as I should be tapering for my race next Saturday.

After speaking it over with my best friend though, we decided to do 20K but at a very comfortable pace. When we arrived to run this morning the plans changed slightly to do 22K which was fine with me. However, we started out going faster than we should have and I didn't want to make this an uncomfortable run. The goal I've had with regards to doing my long run of 20+ is to finish them feeling like I could run 20 more. I knew that if I continued at the current pace we were going then I wouldn't accomplish that goal. When we turned around at 11K I needed to take a pit stop (bathroom break) but I also wanted the faster runners to keep going as I was happy to take it slower today.

Thankfully I had my music with me and I would have been content to just tag along behind them until I finished. However, I had a better run because my friend also wanted to run at a slower pace. We both are training for the 50K trail race and we have been running over 100KM's per week. Going fast today wasn't on the radar for either of us and I'm thankful that we both have that same mindset. We were able to talk about strategy for that race and how our pace will be much slower than even today's. It's so easy to get wrapped up in trying to run fast all the time especially because we run with a group of people who are very fast in their own right. We both are capable of running fast if we need to but it's not important to either of us right now.

It's all about having a plan and sticking to it. Sometimes it takes discipline to force myself to run at a speed which is slower than what I'm accustomed to. If I was training to improve my marathon time, then my training would be different and speed would become more of issue.

I'm very fortunate to not have a few close friends who will help me with my training. They know how important running is to me and how hard it is to taper. When I mentioned that I may go running tomorrow I got a very stern NO and because I respect this person more than anyone, I'll listen to her.

My plan this week will be to run twice (Tuesday and Wednesday) and do some other cardio on Monday (biking or eliptical) and then take Thursday and Friday off completely.

Thanks for a great run Nancy!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What an amazing day!

Even though the day isn't over, I've already had a complete one.
For me, there's nothing like starting the day off with a run and to make it even better, I ran in the trails with 5 amazing runners. I wanted to keep my pace nice and steady and I kept thinking about my 32K trail race which is one week away. If I can duplicate this pace I'll be happy. We did about 11.5K in the trails but I felt so good that I knew I had to do something else.

On the drive home I contemplated doing another 10K run or going for a long bike ride. I was able to contact a good friend who is an amazing rider and runner. Unfortunately her injury has temporarily put her running on hold but she is still able to bike. We had an a great 32K ride and I'm still full of energy. It's hard not to get invigorated by the energy of the sun and the weather is just right for any type of activity whether it's running, biking, rollerblading or walking.

Yes, there are chores that need to be done around the house but not taking advantage of such an amazing day would be a huge mistake. If I'm not careful I may go for another run later today.....

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's been 10 months since my last Trail Race

Wow, I can't believe it's been that long since I've competed in a true trail race. Even though the 50K race I did in June was considered a trail race, the terrain was all bike path with just the start and finish on grass.

So much has changed with me since that last trail race in October of 2006 (Vulture Bait, 25K). That was the last of a series of several races that I did in the Ontario Ultra Series and I was competing for 3rd place in my age category. My focus was not only about finishing but finishing strong and fast. As I had done this race the year before, I wanted to improve upon that result. My body was physically ready for the trails as I had done 6 trail races prior to Vulture Bait. I also knew the course from last year which made it easier to prepare.

I would never have guessed that almost 1 year later I would be doing my first trail race of the 2007 season. Much of my focus this year was trying to improve upon my marathon time and as a result I missed out on some truly great trail races. Although I wouldn't have traded the marathon training experience for anything as it showed me what I'm capable of, I have missed the trails tremendously.

This year has been a great learning experience for me and I've discovered that I truly need to be running more trail races. I know that qualifying for Boston is still a realistic goal for me but it's not someting that I need to spend all of my time focusing on. Instead I want to work on my endurance with the ultimate goal for next year to be running a 50 Mile trail race. This is the equivalent to running two marathons back to back. When I look at the trail runners they are such an inspiration and I want to follow in their footsteps. I find the accomplishment of running for distance even greater than running for speed as it takes more mental discipline to complete these races.

As my focus has switched from speed to endurance, I've noticed that my body is recovering faster than it was during my marathon training. Knowing that I don't have to run fast has allowed me to relax mentally and this has translated into a much more enjoyable experience. I'm also lucky to have friends who also want to run for distance and this will make it more fun when we finish the 50 Mile race together.

I usually get nervous the week before a race, and my last trail race I certainly did. This year, however, I'm going into the 32K trail race with my main goal of finishing the race feeling like I could run another 20K. I know I'll probably get caught up in the emotion of the race on race day itself, but I'm confident that I'll be able to draw upon the experiences I've had on my long slow runs on Sundays. As there is still one week to go before the race I'm sure my mind will start to think back to all the great trails I've run through in the past 2 years. It will be nice to go back "home" next weekend!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Old injuries are more of an annoyance than anything else

One thing that I've had to accept since I started to run is that I WILL be sore most of the time. I’m lucky that the running “God” have spared me any major injuries such as broken or sprained bones, MCL/ACL tears of the knee and this has allowed me to continue to run almost daily for the past 2 years.

The one recurring injury that I do suffer from, though, is something called Plantar Fasciitis. It's an overuse injury affecting the sole or flexor surface (plantar) of the foot. This means I have inflamed the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting my heel bone to the base of my toes.

I can usually tell when this injury is going to strike, and more often than not it’s because I need to get a new pair of shoes. Lately though, I think I’ve been having this injury because of the amount of mileage I’ve been putting in. The pain usually only lasts for a few hours and happens as soon as I wake up in the morning.

When I start to run the pain lasts for a few kilometers but then goes away (or maybe I just stop thinking about it). I’m confident that by the time my race occurs on the 18th I should be injury free.

It’s amazing how much the mind can play a role in injuries. The more I think about the pain the worse it seems to get. I think that’s why I love running with my music because I seem to get lost in my music and sometimes forget that I’m running at all. I really believe in the power of the mind/body and soul that we all possess. This inner strength can literally carry us to complete any task and it can make us forget about any pain/discomfort that we are feeling for as long as we need to. I’m not preaching about being reckless because there are obviously some injuries that you must pay attention to. My old football coach would always ask us if we were injured or hurt. If one of us was hurt then we could still play but if we were injured we couldn’t.

This is a question that I wrestle with quite a bit. I hate letting anything get in the way of my running and it takes quite a bit to knock me down to the point where I won't run. However, I've started to figure out that I don't need to push every run as hard as I used to and this has probably added years to my running. I want to ensure that I will still be running 20 years from now and the only way to increase this probabilty is to protect my investment!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I WILL embrace my taper week!

With my next race only 11 days away, I will begin to "taper" between now and the start of the race. What that means is that my mileage will be cut in half (100KM to 50KM) and the amount of day s running will also be reduced. I just finished my last long back to back runs (19K trail and 21K road) and though I usually hate the thought of not running, my body is beginning to feel the effects of the mileage and it is literally screaming at me to stop running for a little bit.

One week from now I'll be starting the first of three consecutive days off from running so I'll be mentally and physically prepared for my race.

It was great having company to run with today and we were able to discover a new route which made it fun. We both are doing this race next weekend so we were able to talk about our strategy for the race. This is one of the few races that I can remember where I have no idea how I'm going to do. I'm not setting a goal for myself but will use this race as a tune up for the 50K in September. We both have agreed to run our own race which means that if one of us wants to push it more than the other one, we aren't going to stand in the way of that.

During my taper period, where all I'll be doing is thinking abouth the race, I'll probably start putting some type of strategy together but right now all I can think about is getting some much needed rest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not my day in the trails this morning.

Today's run in the trails was filled with trips, falls, and wipe outs and when I finished my run, my previously white shirt was covered in dirt. It's just the kind of experience that one should expect when running in the trails and I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything. It's OK to fall down but it's not OK to STAY down. This is something that I talk to my clients about and it applied to my run this morning. I knew the pain would be temporary and after limping for a few hundred meters, I was able to return to my pace.

Though my knee was a little bloody and one of the bones in the palm of my left hand is bruised, I still count it as a great run. Both mishaps occurred when I was scooting down a long downhill and I hit a stump which sent me flying. I told my friends that knowing you are going to fall is worse than the fall itself. It's almost as if time stands still while you crash to the ground with a big thud. My friends have all experienced this before so they almost expect to happen to one of us and today was my turn. One of the falls I had occurred at the exact same place that my friend fell one week previously. How's that for precision?

It was nice to catch up with my friends who I hadn't seen since last week. It's great to have friends who you can not see for one week but then pick up right where you left off one week later as if it was just yesterday. We each ran or rested over the weekend.

The pace today was a little quicker than usual which I'm sure attributed to the falls that I had (at least that's what I'm chalking it up to). It's amazing that you can run in the same trails week after week with no troubles and then have a run like I did today. I think that element adds to the excitement of the trails for me. I never have to worry about falling on the roads when I'm running (the day that that happens will probably be my last time running)

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to running between 18-20K in the morning and then I'll start to bring my mileage down a little bit in anticipation of my next race on the 18th.
At least tomorrow I won't have to worry about falling......

Monday, August 06, 2007

Be your own inspiration!

I get to meet lots of people in my line of work. During my introduction to my nutrition philosophy I always make reference to my own struggles with weight loss as a teenager. I do this as a reminder to myself about how tough it was and is to lose and keep weight off.

When I mention this to my clients they look at me in disbelief and I’m sure some of them thought that I was trying to pull a fast one on them. The more I speak, though, the more they realize that I was indeed severely overweight.

I’ve had other clients who have said that I have inspired them start running because they can sense the passion I have when I speak about it. While I find this flattering, it’s also a little overwhelming at times. I may provide my clients with the tools to help them achieve their goals, but the real hard work begins and ends with them.

While I was running this morning I great song came on my MP3 and I want to share some of the lyrics with you. It’s a song called “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield:

“ Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovations
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten!”

While this song was playing I thought about the chapters left to be written in my own book.
What chapters in YOUR book have yet to be written? So much of what we do is in our control and yet we tend to let outside distractions deter us from our ultimate goals. I say do whatever you need to do to protect your goals and guard them like a knight would guard his castle.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Taking time off is harder than it seems!

As I sit here typing at my keyboard, I’m into day 2 of not running and it’s killing me. I was going to take another day of tomorrow but I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to do it so I’ll go for a light run tomorrow morning.

I often get asked if running is difficult, but I think the thing that works best for me is that I try not to think about it. That isn’t to say that I don’t have “bad” runs from time to time but even the crummy runs are better than not running at all. One of my friend’s favorite sayings is that the bad runs build character and I would tend to agree with her.

I have this nagging little voice in the back of my head which tells me that my day isn’t complete without a run of some kind.

When I was at Wild Water Kingdom yesterday with my kids, there was a sign at the park that said “No Running!” I turned to my oldest and told him that that was a sign that I didn’t like. He just looked at me and laughed.

While I thoroughly love the races that I’ve done, the one thing I hate about them is the fact that I have to stop running for 2-3 days to rest my legs. Even though my legs thank me for the time off, that little voice in my head gets more annoying the more time I have in between runs so my mood gets worse as the week progresses.

I’ve often joked with my best friend that nobody truly understands how “sick” (and I use this term in the best possible way) we are. We’ve talked about doing a 50Mile race soon because lately our runs have been slower than usual and we always say afterwards how we could run for a few hours more. Well, when we do the 50 Mile race, we won’t have to worry about that as it will probably take us 12 hours to complete.

Now that my training has switched from speed to endurance, I find that I’m not in need of as much time off. Training for the Mississauga Marathon was the most grueling experience I’ve ever been through and though the results were not what I wanted or expected, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. It isn’t something that I want to do more than once per year however as I do want to focus more on training for distance.

Sometimes I wish I could just relax more and enjoy my “down” time, but I find that running, while physically exhausting to most, is entertainment to me and it brings me as much joy as watching a movie, a night of dancing or reading a book does for others. My passion just happens to require a pair of running shoes (Alchemy Wave), dry fit shirts (Nike or Brooks) and shorts (Brooks).

Friday, August 03, 2007

The mind AND the body was willing today!

I finished my 10K run this afternoon and though the temperature was in the 30's, I actually felt pretty good. Having my music with me certainly helped as just when I thought I was going to slow down, a great song played on my mp3 and it literally carried me the rest of the way. My combined running and biking this week was well over 100 KM's so taking the weekend off from any type of running will be the smart thing to do. With my next race just 2 weeks away, it will almost be time to start tapering which I'm sure my body will be thankful for.

Getting ready for a run!

I'm actually getting pumped about my run this afternoon (1:30PM). I think that part of it has to do with the fact that so many people are telling me NOT to run today because of the heat. I'll take that as a challenge and move forward.

I will be smart about the run as I'm taking 2 water bottles with me, I usually just take 1 and I won't be running too fast. Unlike some of my friends, the heat doesn't seem to affect me as much but I'll have a report later this afternoon on how it went.

I wouldn't characterize myself as having a kamakaze personality, but when it comes to running, I've yet to meet a challenge that has prevented me from completing a run. I know that I'll feel better, mentally, after I'm finished.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A run, even a small one, is better than nothing!

Trying to find time to go for a run when you have other family committments, in my case watching my 2 boys, is difficult. Today was one of those days where I knew my time was limited and I only had about 40 minutes to get in some type of a run.

I was able to manage 8K and that gave me just enough of workout where I felt like I had done something. It would have been easy to just say that I wouldn't be able to run but I know that for the rest of the day I would be regretting that decision.

Sometimes the best runs I've had have been ones where I didn't have much time and I had to push myself to go a little faster than normal. It was difficult to push too hard today as the weather is not great for running. There's an outside chance that I may go for another small run in the afternoon but it will depend on how humid it is.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Injuries, what's an injury to a runner?

Today's 20K run at 6 AM was a tough run for myself and 3 of my friends as each of one of us is recovering from some sort of injury. These ranged from swollen ankles, bloody knees, sore hips as well as muscle soreness and fatigue.

It was evident, from the beginning, that today was going to be a struggle and even though we started out early enough, the heat made it tough especially going up some of the big hills. It seemed to take about 5 KM for me to get into a comfortable rhythm.

However, as sore as we all were, I know that none of us would have missed this run because we would have felt worse had we not gone out. I'm lucky to have such amazing runners as friends as they do a great job of keeping me motivated and they have the type of inner strength that is so important for running. I think that we feed off of each others' strengths and none of us wants to let ourselves or each other down.

By the time the week ends, I will have run for 7 consecutive days and 12 out of the last 14. By doing back to back long runs of 20K+, I'm preparing my body for my upcoming 2 endurance races in August and September. We all talked about how nice it will be to have the weekend off from running this weekend. I'll TRY to take it easy this weekend but that will be difficult especially if I see someone running on the road while I'm driving.

However, I understand the importance of taking time off to heal my nagging injuries so I'm sure my body will be thankful for the rest. My mind, on the other hand, will be asking me why I'm not doing the thing that I love the most. Let's hope my body wins this battle of wills!