Saturday, September 29, 2007

An amazing gift

Whenever I go for a run I usually let my mind wander, it’s probably why I’ve come so close to being hit by a car. I think about so many different things but most of it has to do with my work at the gym as well as my own goals and what I want to pursue.

As soon as I get home I feel like I have to write down my thoughts or I’ll lose them. That’s the reason why I created my blog.

I’m sure that my English professors would cringe as there are usually tons of grammatical errors but my main focus is to just get my thoughts onto paper as soon as possible.

I was unaware of how many people actually read my blog until one of my clients asked me why I wasn’t updating it more regularly. She told me that she visited the site and that it helped her to keep her focused while she was trying to lose weight.
She even knew when the last post was. It was at that time that I started to do a daily journal.

I decided to install a stat tracker which tells me how many people visit my site. I was amazed to see the number of people who visit it and from the many different countries they are from. This helps to keep me motivated.

Yesterday I received one of the best gifts I’ve ever received from anyone. A client who I’ve been working with over the last few months and who visits my site decided to take the phrases I’ve used on my blog and put them into a picture frame. When I first read it I couldn’t believe that I written those words and for once in my life I was at a loss for words.
I was going to keep this at the gym but I’ve decided to keep it on my computer desk so I can look at it everyday as I update my blog.

Here it is:

Thank you so much Karen!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sometimes you need to change your environment to succeed in your goals

The common theme this week with my clients has been helping them to understand the important link between their environment and their eating habits.

Many people eat out of boredom while they are watching television late at night. It's not only the fact that it's late at night,but it's the type of foods that people choose to eat at this time which is even more important. The reason why people pick carbohydrates to eat is because they are convenient. All you have to do is open up a bag of chips and your work is d one for you. Having a food higher in protein is less damaging at night. However, people don't want to make a protein shake or even some hard boiled eggs as this takes more effort than opening up a bag of crackers or unwrapping a candy bar.

If watching tv and eating goes hand and hand for you then why not reduce the amount of time you spend watching tv. Will your life be that much deprived if you reduce your tv watching by 1/2 each night? If you have a tv in your bedroom but don't like to eat in bed, then why not watch a little tv in bed instead of in the living room which is too close to the kitchen.

You need to make a conscious effort to do something different and identify the triggers that may be affecting your unhealthy eating. You may have to enlist the help of your friends and family members but don't discount the importance of your physical environment with regards to achieving your weight loss goals.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The best and worst part about running at 5AM

I've been running once or twice per week at 5 AM for the past few weeks and here are some of my observations:

1. Getting up at 4 AM isn't as tough as I thought it would be. It obviously helps that I go to bed around 10PM the night before.
2. I can't function that early without a cup of green tea and 1/2 a banana.
3. I can count, on both hands, the amount of cars I see on the roads. However, the ones who are on the roads aren't exactly keeping their eyes open as I've come close to being hit more than a few times.
4. Running on some of the side streets becomes a challenge especially when there is little light to be found anywhere.
5. I get the strangest looks from the people that I see as they wait for their bus.
6. I don't have to worry about the sun getting in my eyes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Humidity 1 Greg 0

One of the benefits from running so early in the mornings is that I not only have the road to myself, especially when I run at 5 AM, but I also escape the truly hot/humid weather. I typically don’t mind running in hot weather but when the humidity gets to the point where it feels like you are running is pea soup, that gets a little tougher to handle.
That was the case this morning. It started out ok but about 20 minutes into my run I could really feel the humidity and at times I had a difficult time catching my breath.

Reducing my speed didn’t seem to help too much so I had to just do the best I could and I tried not to think about it too much. About three-quarters into my run, I felt some rain and that helped for a brief minute but by the time I finished I was soaked and it wasn’t from the rain.

As soon as a runner has difficult time getting oxygen flowing properly it’s all over. There have been countless articles written about proper running “cadence” with regards to breathing but it’s actually something that I’ve never had a problem with. Sometimes you can think too much about something and that can throw your natural rhythm off. When new runners ask me what to do I always tell them to keep their mouths open at all times and try to find a pace that allows them to breathe comfortably. Whenever my breathing becomes labored, it is always a sign that I’ve gone out too fast. Today, however, the poor air quality made it difficult to get a proper breath in.

I’m sure that my next two runs on Thursday and Friday, since they will be at 5 AM, will be much better with regards to air quality.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Running Gods smiled on me today

I am a firm believer in the Running Gods theory and after today I'm even more convinced.

There I was, towards the end of my 12.5 KM run this morning, listening contently to my music. I purposely set my music to random play so I never know what kind of song is going to come on. I've noticed that my running speed mimics whatever song comes on. Sometimes a really good song will come on, which I haven't eard in months (I have close to 300 songs downloaded)and today was one of those days. A song by Phil Collins called "Wish it would rain" came on and I thought about how long it's been since I was able to run in the rain. It's without a doubt my favorite weather to run in. Part of why I enjoy it so much is because I usually see people who look surprised to see me running in it. If they only knew how much I enjoy it though.

With less than 1 KM left in my run, I started to feel a slight drizzle. I couldn't believe my luck. Not only was I running in the rain but I was listening to a song about about it at the same time. I'm sure the people driving their cars today probably thought I was crazy as I had this huge smile on my face.

What made today even more interesting is that I usually do a trail run on Tuesdays but decided against it today as several of my friends were unable to join me.

Today's run will be one that started out like a normal one, but definitely had a special ending to it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Are you a "stress" eater?

All of us deal with stress on a daily basis and while some people turn to alcohol, drugs or gambling to deal with their stress,others turn to food.

Most of my clients experience this towards the end of the day. They manage to follow a healthy eating plan up until they leave work but as soon as they arrive home their diet changes radically.

In order to deal with this stress with a healthier outcome, you must first identify the areas in your life that you find most stressful. I'm a firm believer in writing down your thoughts on paper, which is why I write on my blog daily. Taking 10 minutes to write something down on paper sometimes is all that is required to minimize the stress.

Stress is something that feeds our negative thought patterns. In order to create a positive cycle you must be able to change one part of that negative cycle. If you usually turn to food immediately after a stressful situation, make yourself a cup of herbal tea instead. While the tea is brewing, sit down and write down how you are feeling at that moment. This may sound impossible at first, but remember that you must break that cycle and anything that you do different is going to seem "weird" at first. It will take some time, practice and patience but eventually you will discover that you can deal with your stress with a healthier option.

Food, like alcohol/drugs, only suppresses those feelings but those feelings will seem larger in the end. You not only will have to not only deal with the original stress, but you will also have to contend with the guilt you will be having for eating that chocolate bar as a result of a tough day at the office.

The more often you can combat stress with a positve instead of a negative outcome, the more you will be better equiped the next time around.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I just finished my 33KM run today and I'm actually feeling more sore now than I did after doing my 50 KM trail race. There are two reasons for this. They are speed and terrain.

Running on trails, at least for me, demands that I slow down and the terrain is much easier on your feet. Today we ran quite a bit faster than I've done recently, and also my feet took more of a pounding on the pavement.

It was also the longest run I've done since my 50K so I'm sure that had something to do with it. Today reinforced even more for me that I'm not in the right frame of mind to do a fast marathon.

Tomorrow I'll do some light weights and start running again on Tuesday.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Seminar success!

Last night I had my first monthly seminar at Extreme Fitness. The focus was on building a strong support network while trying to lose weight. It was inspiring to hear story after story about how challenging the weight loss has been but that the determination and will to succeed overcame those roadblocks.

We were able to share some ideas on what has worked/not worked in our weight loss attempts. The seminar turned into a great opportunity to build new friendships and form a new support network at the same time. The people, who attended, were able to exchange numbers/emails addresses and it is my hope that they will stay in touch.

We will be holding a monthly seminar on the third Friday of every month and this is open to members and non-members of Extreme Fitness. If you are interested in attending our next seminar, please contact me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Building your weight loss support network

Tonight I am holding a nutrition seminar on the important role the family plays in helping an individual achieve their weight loss goals. I decided to hold this seminar after having a conversation with one of my clients who was struggling with her goals of losing weight. After looking at her home life she realized that her family was not being as supportive as she had wanted. She followed her healthy eating guidelines well during the time she was at work, but when she returned home, her family was not on the same "page" as she was. This caused constant friction at her house. I finally convinced her to have a family meeting about this and it has helped her to stay on track. Here are some other things that might help:

• Enlist your friends and family to be your weight loss cheerleaders. Hint that you'd certainly appreciate a boost of encouragement every now and again. Let them know how much you relish their support when they help keep you motivated.
• Designate certain areas of the house a "no-eating zones" and stick to it.

These areas are for you to perform activities like paying bills or planning menus, which you may normally have done at the kitchen table... where temptation is always just in your reach!

• Make a weight chart and put it in a centralized location so everyone can see your excellent progress. Celebrate together with friends and family in a non-food-involving way when you reach a milestone.
• Save a "rainy day" fund by putting away a certain amount of money for every pound you lose. Start making plans for the fun you will all have together when you use the cash for a family activity.
• Have a family meeting about the guidelines of your diet and your plans for your lifestyle change. Discuss how everyone can help you meet your goals. Try to pin-point problem areas before they throw you for a loop. For example, make sure Dad plans to take the kids out for their Friday night ice cream parlor for the time being.
• Clean out the cupboards and designate one shelf as just yours. Put all your specialty or diet items within easy reach. It will be your "safe" shelf. Make a rule that all the junk food must be stored somewhere else!
• Don't be shy! Share your success with friends and family. When you hit a target, let everyone know it. Let them see how enthusiastic and happy you are to be accomplishing your goals. By sharing in your joy, they will see how important this is to you and will therefore be even more likely to support you.
• Make any family function a healthier to-do by pre-preparing entrees or side dishes that are on your diet plan. If nothing else in the host's spread is acceptable, you'll have a "back-up" meal.
• Plan family meals well ahead of time so you know your menu includes something for the little ones or your finicky spouse in case they don't enjoy your "rabbit food".
• Ask the friends and family who you regularly dine with to help keep temptation at bay by not offering you foods off your diet plan... no matter how many times you've been caught staring at that slice of pepperoni pizza your hubby's eating!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Creating "energy"

One of the most common goals my clients have is how to improve their energy levels throughout the day. This is especially true in the afternoon.

A main component of my program is to eat small frequent meals which contain at least 10-15 grams of protein. Having protein can slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream and combined with high fibre, whole grain carbohydrates, this can improve energy levels within one week.

Another way to create more energy is to become more active. Working out 2-3 times per week at the gym may appear to be enough it barely scratches the surface. What about the remaining 4-5 days of the week? That isn't to say that you must train at the gym 5 days per week but you need to do something physically active at least 5 days per week and for a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 hour to fully get the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. These activities can range from playing sports such as soccer or tennis or even going for a walk. It needs to be something where your heart rate will become elevated and stay elevated for those 45 to 60 minutes. If you are just starting out with an exercise plan then your goal should be to slowly increase the amount of days that you are active. The more you exercise the better you will feel about yourself and the more energy you will create as a result.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One good run deserves another.....

I was able to run 12 KM's today at a nice pace and I seem to have built off the momentum of yesterday's trail run.

During the trail run yesterday, I asked one of my friends what he thought about training for speed vs endurance. During last winter I trained exclusively for speed with the hopes of achieving a Personal Best time at the Mississauga Marathon. The training involved doing lots of speed work, running on the track, hill repeats and tempo runs.

In preparation for my 50K trail race, however, I did more endurance training. This consisted of doing back to back long runs at a much slower speed. I didn't do any speed work during this phase.

The speed training was something that I am most proud of as I really pushed myself to limits which I didn't think were possible. Although it didn't translate into what I wanted at my Marathon, I'd like to do that again. In fact, my plan is to train hard during the winter months in preparation for the spring Marathon (Mississauga or Ottawa) and then concentrate on trail running for the rest of the year.

Having this type of plan makes it easier for me as I know what my goals are each year. After doing the 50K Vulture Bait race in October, I'll take some time off and start planning my marathon training for the winter months.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just what the Dr. ordered!

Ever since Haliburton I noticed that I seem to be in a "fog" both mentally and physically. Even though I ran three times last week I felt like I did it because I had to not because I wanted to. I took the last three days off from running and actually lifted weights yesterday for the first time in over 7 months.

This morning I met two friends at 6:30 AM for a run in the Rouge Valley. This was my first attempt at running in the trails since Haliburton. I actually had a hard time sleeping on Monday as I kept thinking about the run. The two runners I went with are much faster than I am and my only thought was to try and keep up.

As soon as I hit the trails though, everything seemed to come together and I felt so amazing. Those three days off were so important mentally for me because after the run today I felt like I had captured lightning in a bottle. It wasn't that I was able to run fast but rather it was that I seemed to have more energy and my mind was able to relax more.

I was worried that I had lost my mental focus, which is something that I take great pride in having. I know that I will recover from my physical pain but I never want to let my mental game slip. Now I can't wait to go for another run tomorrow morning and that's the feeling I wanted to get from today's run.

I've talked to some of my friends who ran the 100 Miler in Haliburton and they are still recovering from their injuries. Having done less than a third of what they did, I feel fortunate that I'm running at all right now.

Thanks Ken and Steve!

Monday, September 17, 2007

THIS is why goals are important

I've noticed that since my race last weekend, I've been in a bit of a "funk" with regards to my running. I also noticed that my focus isn't what it was. Usually I have one race set up right after another to avoid the exact feelings I'm going through now.
My body is still recovering, I think, from the pounding it took on the trails. It could also be that mentally I'm not recovered yet as well. In any case, I know that I work better when I have a goal to work towards.

Most of my friends are running in either the Toronto or Scotiabank full marathon. The thought of running for speed doesn't interest me right now and I don't know if I can run the type of race that I'd want to run because my main focus has been on increasing my endurance not my speed.

Even though Haliburton beat me up physically, I found that I could relax more in the trails and not have to worry about finishing the race in a certain time. When I finished the race, I had no trouble with cramping, unlike what I've experienced when I've run on the roads (Mississauga Marathon and Around the Bay).

There is one race that I've done since I started running in 2005 and that is Vulture Bait in London. It's part of the Ontario Ultra Series and it's the last race of the season. I've run the 25K race there the last 2 years and last year I was able to do better than the previous one. I've decided to return to my "roots" and this time I'll do the 50K race there. This will be the first time that I'll be doing the longest distance possible at a race as they have a 10K, 25K and 50K option. Unlike Haliburton or the Iroqouis Trail Test, this race doesn't feature too many difficulties and I should be able to run more than I was able to at Haliburton.

Now that I have my goal in place, I'm sure my focus will return. Next stop Vulture Bait 50K, October 13th!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Memories of Terry Fox

In 1980, when Terry Fox was doing his Marathon of Hope run for Cancer, I was 13 years old. He actually ran through the town that I was living in, Ingleside, which is just outside of Cornwall. I remember the buzz that was in the town during that time.

At the time, Running meant absolutely nothing to me as I was still very overweight at the time. Now that I am running, I obviously can look back at his accomplishments in a different light. I made my two boys watch the Terry Fox movie with me last night and because they have followed my own running "career" I think they understood how tough that was for him.

It's unfortunate that I didn't discover my passion for running sooner. However, I try not to spend too much time looking in the rear view mirro. With that being said, I will announce my next running goal tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Finding the time to do what I love to do

I hear so many excuses from people who claim that they simply don't have the time to exercise or make healthy eating choices. While I'm sympathetic to many, especially those that have small children as I do, there comes a point when you have to start making your healthy lifestyle a priority.

This morning was a perfect example of that. I knew that if I didn't get a run in this morning I wouldn't be able to run again until Monday. My only option was to get up at 4:30 and go for a run at 5 AM. It's been a long time since I've run the streets of Ajax at 5 AM but today was that day.

I knew that once I started going I'd be fine and that's exactly what happened. I realize that changing your lifestyle is not an easy thing to do but unless you make it a priority you will find any excuse not to start. Have a great weekend and for those of you participating in the Terry Fox run/walk, good luck!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My reverse taper is working well so far

I did a small run today (9 KM's) but was very sore when I started out. I was no doubt feeling the effects of yesterdays' run after taking the previous 3 days off. I'll do one more run on Friday and then rest for the weekend.

When Monday morning comes around I should be well rested both physically and mentally. It will be at that point when I'll pick my next race.

Right now, the thought of running anything more than 12-15 KM's doesn't interest me and I probably only have one more long race left inside of me for this year. I'm leaning towards doing another 50 KM trail race but I'll make that decision next week.

I'll use the weekend to look back on not only my last race but the races I've done this past year (all 8 of them). It's good to do some reflecting on what I have accomplished before looking ahead to future goals. One of the things I'm most grateful for is my ability to stay healthy for yet another year. I know so many people who have had a difficult time staying healthy and Ifeel fortunate that I've been able to remain in good shape throughout this year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to basics

I went out for a run today for the first time since my race on Saturday. I was extremely nervous because of what my body had gone through. Because I've never run that distance on trails before, I wasn't sure what I would be capable of. I took the last three days off but I wasn't sure if that was enough.

At the start of the run, my left ankle started to get a little sore. During the trail race both ankles took a pounding as the terrain switched from dirt to hard mud to grass. My ankles would turn every so often so I'm sure that's what I was feeling today. Eventually the pain went away and I was able to continue.

Whenever I run on the roads, the natural inclination for me is to speed up. However, when I'm running in the trails I purposely tell myself to slow down. I actually enjoy running at a much slower pace and I thought about how great I usually feel when I run at a slower pace. I want to be able to run for many more years, so avoiding injuries is obviously a priority. By slowing myself down I think I'm accomplishing that.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon, or at least coming close to it, was my original goal heading into 2007. Along the way, though, I rediscovered my love of trail running. Someone asked me today what my next goal was and I said that I want to do more 50K trail races and then a 50 Miler. For me to accomplish these goals I need to shift my focus from speed to endurance training.

Today's 12KM run was an important first step for me and I'm happy to report that my legs are still working fine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taking that first "step" is sometimes the hardest.

After taking two days off to rest my body after my race, I knew that I had to do something today to help clear my mind,body and soul.

However, running was not an option because I needed to take one more day off. As I lay in my bed this morning it felt good not having to get up so early to go for a run. It would have been very easy to take another day off and in my mind I probably could have talked myself into it. After all I just ran 50K and don't I deserve another day off? While I doubt that I would have turned another day into several more, that thought did cross my mind. What if I take another day off and then another until a week went by?

I thought about many of my clients who have to make that same decision on a daily basis. Should I work out or rest? It's very easy to talk ourselves into not doing something but harder to talk ourselves into doing something, especially when it comes to diet and exercise it seems. I could have used the excuse that I was sore and tired but I know that if I did that, my decision would literally eat away at me and I'd feel guilty the rest of the day.

I decided to ride my bike for 45 minutes just to get myself going again. Those first 5 minutes seemed to drag on forever but eventually I settled into a rhythm and stopped worrying so much about how long I was on the bike for. After running for over 6.5 hours on Saturday what's 45 minutes right? (LOL)

When I finished I immediately felt energized and I knew that I made the right decision to exercise. Now my focus is on my first run since my race tomorrow morning. I have no idea how I'm going to feel but my goal is to run between 8 to 12 KM's. Thankfully much of the pain in my knees has faded away and my plantar fasciitis is clearing up as well.

I feel like a kid on Christmas eve as I wait for tomorrow morning to come. I know that my first few steps tomorrow will be difficult, they usually are after doing a race, but I also know that once I find my rhythm I'll feel like I'm "home again."

When you are faced with making the decision on whether to exercise or eat properly, try to think back to a time when you made that right decision and how you felt afterwards. The ability to look back at the positive choices you have made and the feelings that you had are crucial as they can help you when you are faced with a similar situation later in your life. Just remember that it is easy to make excuses and easier yet to justify them. Don't allow yourself to get out of that positive focus you have built.
You have the ability to do anything that you want to but it has to starts with having a positive attitude. Now, go out and exercise and eat healthy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's next?

After taking yesterday and today off from any type of physical activity, I'll do some light biking tomorrow before going out for a small run on Wednesday.

The biggest thing for me to do now is to pick my next race. I usually have several races lined up but because the running season is winding down, there are only a few races left.

I was worried that I may not be ready, physically to do another marathon in October (Toronto) as I haven't done too much speed work. However, I'm sure that once I start out on the roads again, my drive will return and I'll sign up for that race.

My body feels like it has been going non-stop since April as I've completed a marathon, a 30K race, a 32K trail race and two 50K races in the span of 6 months. Fortunately I've managed to stay relatively healthy through all of this and I want to ensure that I stay that way so I can enjoy running in the winter months.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Haliburton 50K photos

More information on post-race recovery

After Your Race - Post Marathon Recovery
Posted: February 12, 2004
From Lore of Running-4th Edition by Timothy Noakes

After a marathon, the immediate priority is to drink sufficient liquid to correct any dehydration and sodium chloride losses that may have occurred. This ensures that the kidneys increase their urine production as soon after the race as possible, and it is especially important for faster runners. Slower runners who have drunk adequately during the race and who may be slightly overhydrated need to be careful about not drinking too much after the race, thereby becoming water-intoxicated (hyponatremic). Unconfirmed reports suggest that there have been at least two deaths in marathon runners who drank too much both during and after races because they believed they were dehydrated. The increasing frequency of this condition, especially in recreational women runners who take more than 5 hours to complete marathons, has been emphasized repeatedly.

You should be able to pass urine within six hours of completing a marathon. If you are not able to, it is possible that you may have developed acute kidney failure, an extremely rare condition in marathon and ultramarathon races. However, if you have not passed urine within 12 hours of completing a race, contact a doctor, preferably a kidney specialist. If you are developing acute kidney failure, the earlier you seek a medical opinion, the more likely it is that the severity of the failure can be lessened and the need for blood dialysis prevented.

A runner’s appetite is usually suppressed for a few hours after a marathon. When it returns, there is usually a mild craving for high-fat or high-protein foods, such as steak. According to Bruce Fordyce, the only time he eats steak is during the first three days after ultramarathons. It is probable that the protein in the steak is needed to repair the racing-induced muscle damage.

The day after the race is usually characterized by varying degrees of mental and physical fatigue and, in some, mild depression. Typically, your legs will be stiff on account of the muscle damage, and anything except sleeping will seem to sap all your available energy. This usually lasts for 48 hours after a standard marathon and for 7 to 10 days after a short ultramarathon.

Little can be done about these feelings, except to accept them as normal, to sleep more, and to avoid excessive physical and mental activity. I suspect that the depression is due to depletion of brain neurotransmitters—an exaggerated response of the same type that in a milder form explains the ability of running to reduce anxiety.

From the second day after the race, there is an increased likelihood of developing symptoms of infection or inflammation. In a study of the incidence of symptoms of upper respiratory tract inflammation or infection (sore throats, nasal symptoms, cough, or fever) after the 56-km Two Oceans Marathon, Edith Peters and Eric Bateman (1983) found that 47% of runners who ran the race in less than 4 hours developed such symptoms in the first 14 days after the race, whereas only 19% of those finishing the race in between 5:30 and 6:00 developed these symptoms. The frequency of these symptoms in the slower runners was the same as that of members of their households during the same period, whereas that of the faster runners was much higher. These symptoms were not trivial, and in 47% of runners they lasted for more than seven days. Taking vitamin C, both before and after these races, may reduce the probability of developing these symptoms (E.M. Peters et al. 1996). Other studies have confirmed that there is a greater risk of contracting these symptoms after ultramarathons (E.M. Peters et al. 1992; 1997) and marathons (D.C. Nieman et al. 1990) than after shorter-distance races of 5 to 21 km (Nieman, Johannsen, et al. 1989). Similarly, runners that train heavily are also at increased risk of developing these symptoms.

At present, we do not know whether these symptoms are due to a bacterial or viral infection or whether they represent an inflammatory or allergic response to the high rates of ventilation sustained for many hours during the races. Thus, there is uncertainty about whether to treat the symptoms with antibiotics or with anti-inflammatory or antiallergenic medications.

However, the best form of treatment is rest. My bias, first suggested to me by my colleague Wayne Derman, is to believe that these symptoms are probably of an allergic or inflammatory origin and are not due to infections. This seems especially likely given the increased probability that athletes will suffer from allergies.

After about one week, when your enthusiasm for running starts to return, it is a good idea to analyze the race in detail to find out what errors you made both in the race and in training. If you ran well, it is probable that your training was appropriate and that you paced yourself well during the race. If you ran badly, it may be that your training was not appropriate, that you raced too much in the previous 12 months, or that you ran too fast too early in the race. The most common errors made by runners are overtraining, training too hard too close to the race without a decent taper, or racing too frequently and too recently. You should also pay attention to the balance between speed and distance training. Was the balance correct in your training? Did you carbohydrate load effectively, or did you become hypoglycemic during the race because you failed to carbohydrate load properly, to eat the correct prerace meal, or to ingest sufficient carbohydrate during the race? If you quit mentally during the race, analyze your responses. Did you start having negative thoughts at some point in the race? There is also the possibility that you did in fact run to your genetic potential (chapter 2) but that you are not yet willing to accept the reality.

Runners Web

Post-race recovery

As expected, I'm more sore/stiff today than yesterday and that will only get worse by tomorrow. There are many elements that go into the post-race recovery. I've researched for hours about different methods of recovery and have found some common traits:

Running again

It is essential that I REST for the next few days. I had given some serious thought to doing some very light biking to try and get some of the lactic acid out of my muscles but my body is having nothing of that. The best thing that I can do is to keep my body moving a little bit at a time. The easiest thing to do would be to sit on the couch but that is not going to help the healing process. I'll probably go for a walk with my dog at some point today but that's it. I'll follow this same protocol for Monday.

No matter how much I drink, I still feel thirsty. I've been drinking water since the minute the race finished but I still feel dehydrated so I'll continue to drink water throughout the day.

Immediately after the race, even though I know the importance of restoring my glycogen levels, I had zero appetite. I forced myself to eat a bagel though. Last night I had this strange craving for red meat. I normally don't eat red meat and had to do some research to find out why I was craving it. It turns out that this is very normal and it is the body's way of telling me that I need to repair my muscle tissues. As my appetite returns to normal today, I'll begin to eat more carbohydrates as well as proteins.

I found this very interesting and as I read more about it it made sense to me. There was such a build-up to this race for me and now that it is over I'm left with "now what?" I also use running as a way to reduce my stress levels so I'll have to find another outlet for the next few days.

Most research shows that I can resume my running again in about 3 days. My plantar actually made it through the race without too much difficulties but I want the pain in my knee to subside before I go for another run. I'll either go for a light run on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week for no more than 5-6 KM's. From there I'll build up my mileage slowly.

I've thought about doing one more 50KM before the end of the year, in the middle of October, but I'll make a final decision on that at the end of this week. If I don't do that race then I probably won't do another race again until next year but will cotinue to keep my mileage/endurance levels moderate to high. Next year I want to compete in the 50 KM Ontario Ultra Series and do one 50 Mile race. The 50 Mile race will take about 6 months of training but thankfully I have the support of a great group of trail runners who will help me with my training.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What an Adventure!

Please bear with me as I try to make the recount of my 50K adventure as brief as possible.

It started when I picked up my friend at her house at 1PM on Friday afternoon. We drove about 2:15 to get to our motel in a little town called Minden. The Halliburton Wolf Reserve, which is where the race was held, was 45 minutes away from where we were staying but we were unable to find a place closer.

We drove right to the race site to pick up our race kits and then drove back to Minden. After sharing a Pizza, getting our race gear finalized and relaxing for about an hour, we called it a night. The race started promptly at 6:00 AM and because we both like to get to the race at least 45 minutes before the start, it meant that we had to get up at 3:30 AM.

Neither of us got much sleep and we left for the race site at 4:30 AM (thankfully there was a Tim Horton’s across the street that was open 24 hours!) We arrived at the race site at 5:15 and soon realized that we both didn’t have any headlamps/flashlights. Even though I’ve done well over 30 races, I’ve never started one in the dark. Lucky for us they did provide us with light sticks and that, combined with the fact that we stuck close to those runners who DID have headlamps/flashlights, made our race that much safer.
It wasn’t until about 45 minutes into the race that the sun made its appearance.

Without a doubt this was the toughest race both mentally and physically that I’ve ever done. There were parts of the race that made it impossible to run as the vertical climb was just too steep. Just when I started to find my running rhythm, another long hill would appear.

Even though I had done the 25K race here last year, there’s nothing really that can prepare you for Halliburton. It’s one of those races that will challenge you each step of the way and I needed to be mentally focused or it would have demoralized me. Towards the last half of the race I realized how much fun I was having and I seemed to relax more. It was almost like I knew at that point that I had arrived as a trail runner. I learned very quickly how to do the “shuffle run” as my legs and knees were aching at around the 30 KM mark. I’m proud to say that although I stumbled a few times, I didn’t fall and that is an accomplishment on its own.

It was very hard to get the sugars into my system as I went through at least 8 gels as well as bananas, oranges, E-Load and watermelon at the aid stations. Unfortunately the aid stations were every 5 Miles (8-9 KM’s) so I had to carry 4 water bottles with me. At the aid stations I would refill my bottles with E-Load and Water (two of each). My weight belt kept slipping on me from the back, so I had to carry two bottles, one in each hand, for the whole race.

Those that know me know that I love to listen to music while I run. Unfortunately there are only so many times you can hear the same songs before they lose their significance. Towards the end of the race I was tired of hearing the same songs and would have preferred to have some company. I met up with a few runners, one who was hurting so bad that he had to walk the last 25 KM’s. I stayed with him for awhile and after the race I thanked him for being there. During trail races of this length it’s easy to get disoriented as your blood sugars start to drop. There were times when I had to really focus on where I was and ensure that I was on the right path.

My goal for this race was to finish strong and although there were times where I questioned why I was out there, it never crossed my mind to give up. I feel like I have crossed over into the world of trail running and will make that my focus from now on.

Two years ago, when I started running, I never dreamed that I would have completed two 50K races in the same year including my first in the trails. Once I sit back and let it all soak in, I’m sure I’ll feel good about what I’ve done. Right now, though, I just need some Advil……….

I am an official Ultra Trail Runner now....

Mission completed. I will have a complete wrap up after my body heals.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thank you!

This will be my last post before I leave for Haliburton and I just wanted to say thanks to all those who have wished me well. The emails from my clients have been overwhelming and the chocolate brownies that one of my clients made for me will be a nice treat after my race on Saturday (LOL).

I still can't believe what I'm about to do and it seems like just yesterday that I was running in the trails for the first time. When I started running trails I always envisioned doing a 50K and eventually more, but it didn't occur to me that it would be happening only two years into my running.

I'm very nervous and excited at the same time and with a 3 hour car ride tomorrow afternoon, I'm sure my emotions will be overflowing by the time I get my race kit. I don't know what is worse, the prospect of running for 7 hours or the 3 hour drive home afterwards. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

This week I talked to my clients about reaching for their goals and never letting anyone come between them. I'd like to think that I try to live my life that way so when I speak to them I really am just reinforcing my own belief system. I've had to overcome many obstacles in my life to get to where I am, as everyone does, and although the journey has been very rough at times I'd like to think that I am a better person because of it.

Thanks again for your support and my next post will be a report on my race!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The importance of structure

There has been one recurring theme that I have noticed with my clients this week and that has been how important structure is to them.
Now that the kids have returned to school, many of my clients have told me how much easier it will be to follow my plan as they can return to "normalcy" once again. This has been something that they were unable to do during the summer months.

While I agree that the summer months can be especially hard, as the importance of eating healthy seems to take a hiatus during this time, I don't believe that it has to be that way. Unfortunately our bodies don't take a summer holiday and it's important to try your best to keep focused on eating healthy the majority of the time. In addition, it also means that exercise becomes more important. I like to call exercise the great equalizer as it can give people more flexibility with their eating. The problem is that during the summer months not only does eating suffer but so too does exercise. Poor eating and lack of exercise is a deadly combination.

Instead of looking backwards, however, I prefer to look ahead. Creating a positive atmosphere is the first step to achieving your goals. You need to ask yourself if you have all the tools necessary to complete the task at hand. In the case of losing weight this includes making sure that you have healthy foods available in the house. It also means scheduling in workout times throughout the week. I see so many people with electronic day timers but how many of these people pencil in their workout schedules in them? You have to make healthy eating and exercise a priority or you won't give it the attention it deserves.

Getting into a routine, where you know what time and day you will be working out will only improve the likelihood of you achieving your weight loss goals. In addition, scheduling your meals is even more important. I'm often asked what is more important working or diet. My answer to that is simple: Ask yourself how many times you consume food in a week versus how many times you work out in a week.
Sometimes planning a weeks worth of meals can help not only the person trying to lose weight but the family itself. Too many people come home from work with no idea what to have for supper. They are usually tired and will grab the first thing they see or make stop at a fast food restaurant. This can be avoided with some simple planning ahead of time.

Don't wait any longer to start creating your own structure it will pay off for you in the end.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nothing to do now but sit and wait until Saturday...

This morning I had my last run before my race. It was a steady 12K run and I tried my best to slow it down. Knowing that it was my last run for awhile, I really made this run fun. There were some great songs that came on my MP3 player just when I needed them. I think I passed about 3 other runners and a few walkers this morning which was great to see since I left my house just after 6:00 AM.

The weather today was perfect for running. There was a light chill in the air but as soon as I finished my first 2 KM’s, the weather began to warm up and the decision to wear light clothing paid off.

Since this was the first day of school, I also ran by several students. I was thinking back to when I was there age and hoped that I inspired even one of them to start running. Sometimes I wonder how much my life would have been different had I discovered my love of running earlier in my life. I tend not to look back too much but that is one thing that I think about from time to time.

As I spoke to my clients today, they all wished me luck in my race and most were shocked when I told them the distance that I was running and how long it would take me. One lady has even started to run so I think that my constant chatter about my love of running has rubbed off on her (LOL).

I’ll use these next 3 days to rest, relax and recover. While it won’t be easy, I’ll do my best to comply. However, if I’m extra grumpy this week you’ll know it’s because I’m not running!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Legs still work.....thank goodness!

After taking the weekend off from running, I went out cautiously for a run today. My right knee is still a little sore and I am still feeling the effects of my plantar fasciitis, but I managed to run 12KM's just the same.

The pace was faster than I thought it was going to be, but I have resigned myself to the fact that when I run alone, with nothing but my music to listen to, I tend to go faster. With all the emphasis I've been placing on reducing speed in favor of increasing endurance, I'm always pleasantly surprised to see that I haven't lost any of the speed I worked so hard to improve on, during my marathon training last Winter/Spring.

With just one more run left this week, I'm already starting to get my "game face" on. This week I'm going to do whatever I need to do to get as mentally focused for this race as possible.

Rather than hitting the trails tomorrow morning, I've decided to run from my house so I can see my oldest son off to school tomorrow. I'll run another 12K but try to slow the pace down a little. After that run, my legs will be given 3 days off from running. I will probably do some light biking or elipitcal work, on Wednesday but that will be it.

On Friday afternoon my friend and I will be taking our "road trip" to Haliburton and then will get up early the next morning for our 6 AM race. The last time I did a race where I had to stay overnight at a hotel, was last year in Owen Sound. It's a different experience when you stay in a different place the night before. Sometimes it can throw your timing off and since I'm such a creature of habit, it's something that I will have to guard against.