Monday, March 31, 2008

The Pied "Runner" come follow me

Recently I decided to expand my business to inclue teaching people how to run. I'm so fortunate to have several clients already on board and I can't wait to recruit even more. I know that they will find the joy and peace that I find whenever I go for a run.

What I provide is an individualized running plan which will prepare you for your first race. For some that means doing a 5K race while others may want to try a longer distance of 10K or perhaps a 1/2 Marathon. Others may want to just learn how to run just for the pure enjoyment of running which is fine. Whatever your running goal is, I will guide you in the process and be with you literally every step of the way.

Most companies provide a running manual or offer a group running program. The problem with this approach is that it lacks individual attention. I plan on running at least once per week with my clients so that I can not only motivate them, but also sharpen up any techniques before an possible injury occurs.

Without a doubt, running is my passion and I know that anyone who wants to run CAN run. After that, all you need is a plan and that's what I'm able to provide.

If you are interested in learning how to run, please contact me at:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Making history versus repeating history

Whenever I interview a new client I ask them about their goals. When the issue turns to a specific weight that they want to reach, I always ask them how long it has been since they were at that weight. I do so because I want them to think back and remember a time when they were that weight. I want to trigger some positive feelings about how they felt about themselves during that time. There usually is a pause and I can tell that they are putting themselves back in time to when they were most comfortable with their appearance (whether it is a weight goal, or specific size of clothing or even just feeling like they had more energy). Being able to recall positive times in your life can be so important and can give you the momentum you need to achieve your goals.

I try not to dwell too much on what happened between the time they were most happy about themselves and the present because I know that they have already beaten themselves up more than anyone else could possibly do. I want them to realize that they can achieve what they once had because they have done it already.

When it comes to my running, there are times when I can recall old races and feel good about the fact that I can finish any race up to 50 K's in the trails. However, so much of what I'm about to accomplish is unknown and that is where it becomes a real mental battle. I cannot look back to a similar race because this is the longest race I've ever decided to do. I can take solice in the fact that before I started running, doing a 25 or 30 K race was something I had never done before and I was able to do that without too much difficulty.

My main goal for this race is just to finish so I'm not putting any added pressure on myself to complete it in a certain time. I try to go into each race with 3 goals. One being a realistic goal, one being a goal that I'll be very pleased with and one that is a dream goal.

During these two days of rest I've been replaying the Seaton trail terrain in my head over and over again. It's like I can see every branch, every long hill and every stump. I picture myself running ever so slowly across the muddy ground. I picture myself walking up the longer hills and talking to many of my ultra running heroes along the way.

Next Saturday I'll be running in the OUS Spring Warm-Up. It's a "casual" race meaning that there will be no chip-timing, no bibs and no medals handed out. The main reason for this race is to get all the trail runners together for a meet and greet and along the way there will be varying distances from 10k, 20k,28k, 38k or 48k (I'll probably opt for the 28 or 38 K). I'll be using this race to pick the brains of as many runners as I can as this will be my last run before I begin my taper program.

I also ordered my 9-Day Isagenix Detox kit today which I will start on April 6th and finish on April 14th. This will give me 5 days to carbo-load for the race on April 19th.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One rest day down, one to go!

It figures that the weekend I decide to take off from running turns out to be one of the better weather weekends we've seen in quite some time. That being said, I still didn't have an uncontrollable urge to go running today. I did lift some light weights and did some core training but nothing too strenuous. My body and mind are both starting to heal nicely as I expected them too.

This weekend is the Around the Bay 30K race in Hamilton. It's a race that I've done the previous 2 years and is a race that if I didn't have my upcoming 50 mile race in 3 weeks, I probably would have done again. When I decided to run my first Marathon in 2006, I used the Around the Bay race to prepare me for the Marathon. It was a good stepping stone as the body usually hits the preverbial "wall" after about 30 KM's.

Fast forward to 2 years later and I'm now routinely running Marathon distances or more, for training runs. It's amazing to me how my body has responded to running these long distances on a regular basis. I would have been pleased with running 50 KM's per week during trainig but now if I don't run about 60 Miles (100 K's) per week then I see it as being a "letdown."

I really don't know what I'm capable of down the road but I always said that I would never attempt to run a 100 Mile race. Then again, when I first started running I'm sure I said that after running a marathon (26.2 Miles) I would never run anything longer than that so who knows right?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Emotionally and physically bankrupt

I need a break. That's what my body is telling me and after finishing a 3 hour run just moments ago, I'm in full agreement for a change. I guees that's what happens when you run 100 KM's back to back to back.

After consulting with several trail running friends, they all seem to agree that what I'm feeling right now is normal and expected. My legs have been feeling heavier than they have in a long time and although I gutted out the run today, it wasn't easy and I know that rest is the only thing that will cure what ails me right now.

With three weeks to go and 13 more training runs between now and my race, it's time for my body and mind to start to heal itself. I'm going to hide my shoes away for the weekend and probably not even do much weights either.

I'm sure that once I wake up tomorrow or Sunday I'll want to go for a run but I'm going to resist the urge to do so and focus on getting stronger mentally instead. I'm glad I have my kids this weekend to keep me distracted.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Memories during my moonlight stroll

I don't think it's an accident that the route that I always run has so many people that have influenced my life living on it. Whether it's old relationships or just casual acquaintenances, there seems to be so many familiar houses that I have to run by. As I run by each of these houses, I can't help but think back to the people who have touched my life.

From the woman who's most responsible for me finding my passion, to the woman who helped me when I was going through a tough time during a particularly bad break-up. My running route runs along the perimeter of so many of these houses and I can't help but wonder what is going on with their own lives now.

Whenever I run early in the morning it is so quiet as there are hardly any cars on the road. I can get lost even more in my thoughts during this time and I really feel the presence of Ingrid, my fiance who died years ago, watching over me. Sometimes I can almost feel a gentle push if I'm feeling tired. It's by far my most enjoyable time to run and everything seems to be in focus for me.

Unfortunately, today was one of the last early morning runs I'll be able to do for some time and I'll have to switch to running in the afternoons for a few days each week. It's definitely not my preferred choice but as I tell my clients, you have to make getting in shape a priority in your life or you will never achieve your goals.

I'm hoping to do a trail run tomorrow and then a long run on Sunday. I'm going to stop doing weights until my race is over so that I can drop a few pounds and be lighter for the race. Even though I feel tighter as a result of doing weights, I also know that I've put on a few pounds of muscle in the process. The last thing I want is to carry extra weight during my race so I'll focus on trying to drop about 5 pounds between now and April 19th.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's getting harder and harder to stay motivated

Maybe it's all those months of training, maybe it's the crappy weather lately or maybe it's that my race is coming up so soon. Whatever "it" is, it is wearing me down lately. My legs seem heavier than they've felt in a long time. Each time I go out for a run it seems as though I'm challenged by something. Today it was the ice-covered sidewalks which forced me onto the roads once again. Amazingly enough, some cars actually moved out of the way so I could have a few feet to run on.

I remember that when I was training for a marathon, there came a point where my body said enough is enough. I think that's where I am right now. Given the fact that I have routinely run more than a marathon for a training run, I suppose it makes sense. While I know how much I hate tapering, (reducing the amount of times I run) I know that it's almost time for my body to get a long rest and prepare for my race.

However, knowing how much I love to run, if I seem more moody,upset, sad, angry or any other emotion I can't think of right now, I hope you'll understand that's it's because I won't be running. During the last few weeks leading up to a race, and this is the biggest challenge I've ever given myself, I tend to go into hibernation. I'll try to remember to come out from time to time to say hello!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Isagenix success stories

My husband and I joined a gym in June 2007 and set goals of losing 40 and 25
pounds respectively. While we were initially doing well in losing weight
and making lifestyle changes (i.e. exercise and nutrition), we found our
weight plateaud after the first three or four months. It was around this
time that we were meeting with Greg D'Cruz for counselling on nutrition.
Greg recommended that we try Isagenics products to help us achieve our
goals. We decided to try the 9-Day Cleanse. The products were easy to use
and great tasting - we particularly enjoyed the Tasty Snacks. More
important than the ease of use and the taste was the result. At the
conclusion of 2 days of pre-cleanse followed by the 9-Day program, I had
lost 10 pounds and 15 total body inches while my husband lost 14 pounds and
12 inches. The program helped us take a huge step forward with our fitness
goals. We were extremely satisfied with the product and have continued to
incorporate the snacks and shakes into our meal plans. We truly believe in
the Isagenics products and recommend them to anyone looking for a kick-start
to achieve their fitness goals or lifestyle changes.

Sara Duffus-Martin and Jeremy Martin

I love Tuesdays!

Most people think that the week starts on Monday but what it's worth, my week starts on Tuesdays. That's because I usually take Monday off from running and do some light weight lifting and core training.

Every Tuesday morning I meet my friend Ken at 5:45 AM and we run anywhere from 10-12 Miles. This is by far the fastest run I'll have all week and it's usually the only run where I actually have some company. When I was training to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon two years ago, Ken and I would run "tempo" runs together on Tuesday mornings. These runs would be extremely fast but they also seem so long ago. Now that both of us are training for endurance races, we still run Tuesdays at a fast pace but nowhere near the speed we used to run.

Running mostly alone forces me to really dig down deep to motivate myself. I think I shock many of my running friends when I tell them that I run my long runs by myself. This past weekend when I ran for 5 hours was particularly tough but also mentally satisfying at the same time. Running forces you to use your mind to overcome challenges and while it's nice to have people to run with, it still comes down to overcoming individual battles.

I think what I'm most proud of has been my ability to do most of my training on my own. I know that when things get tough in the Seaton race, I'll be able to recall all those long training runs that I've done. What I'm most thankful for, though, is having a friend to run with at least once per week as it gives me a chance to listen to someone else talk instead of me listening to all the voices in me head (LOL).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Getting help from all kinds of sources

As I sit here this Easter Weekend, my focus has been on my race. Each day completed brings my race closer and closer to the start. I found a very good article on completing a 50 Mile race so I thought I would post it here:

How to run 50 miles

I'm hopeful that the information I share in these few paragraphs may help people run longer distances. I feel no one should have to suffer through the unknown if there is someone who can reveal what lays ahead. Those that make their first attempt at 50 miles may need just a little boost to get over the hump. I have no special secrets to reveal but rather through my words I hope to reveal just how easy running can be if you just do it through your heart. I'm not one to keep my ideas to myself or within a certain group so it I feel it is only appropriate for me to share with everyone.

While there are many things that factor into a successful 50 mile run the number one recommendation I make to everyone is be confident in your ability. Believe in yourself!!! Surround yourself with confident individuals and block out negative comments from those that may not be. If it's in your heart to do so you will persevere through adversity and cross that finish line under any circumstances.

My advice is just that, advice and it should only be used as a reference however I do suggest that you read, comprehend and use what you think will work for you. Anyone who has completed a 50K or marathon most certainly has what it takes to complete a 50 miler. It's not about ability but rather desire and how much of it that you have. A marathoner obviously has his or her own training methods that have worked. If they worked for the marathon distance there is no reason why it won't work for something twice as long. My suggestion is to try to do one long run per week equal to or more than 20 miles. It would be beneficial to run a 50 K as one of those long runs but not necessary. There is no need to increase your weekly mileage beyond that of the long run. Obviously the more you run the better you will be trained and could potentially run faster but at the same time you need to be cautious. Train your body for what lies ahead but don't break it down into bits and pieces. Running trails would be excellent training for those who are not use to rocks, roots and mud. Again it's not absolutely critical to do so. If you can't or don't have access don't fret because you will be okay.

Do not forget to train your mind as much as your body. Research the course and visualize yourself running on parts with a smile on your face. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line and allow the feeling of satisfaction to consume you. I can assure you this method will be a tremendous help and it will also allow you to gain confidence which in turn will release the burden of worry. Find a goal other than finishing the race that will motivate you. Run for a friend that can't , run for a family member who has had an impact on your life or just plain old run for what's in your heart. Running is not always about crossing the finish line as what we do sometimes influences others to change in a positive way or look at life in a more positive way. To some, running may seem like a sport that has no effect on anyone other than the participant but take a look around as you run and you will realize just how wrong that is. Run with your heart, run for someone else, receive the benefit while at the same time having an impact on someone around you. The energy you generate from that alone should be enough to get you to the finish.

At the start of the run never look past the first mile. Intimidation is something you can not allow and looking at the entire distance can break you down little by little. Just run with the knowledge that you will be spending the entire afternoon in the woods with friends. Make it about time rather than miles. Have fun with it!! Pretend and fantasize that you're at a party or a football game tailgating or somewhere else where time is consumed easily while you're having fun. Never worry about what lays ahead!!!

In the later miles it will become more about the mind then the body. Maintain a positive outlook and never allow thoughts of failure to enter your mind. There is plenty of time so the only pressure you will have is the pressure you place upon yourself. Your mind will try many times to trick you into believing you can't continue. You can overcome that by running, walking or crawling forward at any pace. Ultramarathons are by definition a series of ups and downs that if dealt with properly ultimately end in a feeling of euphoria.

Take care of yourself while running. Carry water, eat at the aid stations and wear the proper clothing. Be prepared to take care of yourself and never rely on aid or any other help that may be advertised or offered.

Don't worry, don't be intimidated, be confident in yourself and have fun!!!!
(Relentless Runner)

A nice recovery run

After running for 5 hours yesterday I was a little stiff getting up this morning. I spent most of yesterday trying to get myself comfortable but noticed that I couldn't sit in the same position for too long. I also wasn't as hungry as I thought I'd be but I certainly was more tired as I ended up falling asleep on the couch.

The goal for today's run was simply to work the kinks out from yesterday. Give my legs a chance to stretch themselves out. I wasn't going for any type of distance or time although I tinkered with the idea of running 13 miles. I settled on running for 11 miles instead and I feel better for making that decision. Now is not the time to push myself any further than I need to. It's more important for me to remain mentally and physically strong.

With only 3 training weeks left (the final week before the race I'll be tapering), it's more important than ever for me to gradually bring my mileage down so that my body can begin to heal itself in time for the race. This is the time of my training where I traditionally get very upset as I literally have to talk myself out of running so much. Resting is something that I've learned is a necessary evil but it's not something that I enjoy. I've decided to do another 9-day Isagenix Cleanse in about 1 week so that I can get myself more prepared for the race. I've told anyone who will listen that the Isagenix 9-day cleanse is more mentally challenging than physically challenging and I can't think of a better way to prepare for a race than to do the cleanse.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Feeling like Forrest Gump

27 Days! That's all that stand between me and my first attempt at running 50 Miles. After all those months of training it's come down to this. Today was my last chance to get in a mammoth type of long run and I took advantage of the fact that I didn't have my 2 boys today and went out just after 7:30.

Last weekend I decided to do 2, 10.5 mile loops and made a pit stop at my house to re-fuel. Today I topped that by doing 3, 10.1 mile loops. I purposely picked this so I could simulate the feeling of pushing myself out on the course 3 times. Because I had done 2 laps the week before, I knew that mentally and physically I would be fine. Doing that 3rd lap meant that I had to use plenty of mental imagery to take my mind off the fact of the unknown.

On the advice of one of my friends, I decided to go the opposite way for my 2nd lap. Even though I was doing the same route, it helped to run downhill where I would usually run uphill and vice versa. Doing the first two laps was difficult but manageable. The weather during the 2nd lap was colder than the first one which surprised me a little. Luckily there wasn't much wind to deal with.

As I finished the 2nd lap and re-fueled for the final time at home, I gave myself a few extra minutes to stretch out my hamstrings and take in plenty of water, 1/2 banana and my electrolyte drink. My pace for that final lap was much slower than the last two but my main goal was to run for at least 4.5 to 5 hours so in this case the slower the better.

One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump. In that movie there is a scene where Forrest is sitting on his chair on the front porch. There is a long moment of silence while he is gazing out and obviously thinking about something. Just then he gets up and starts running. That pretty much sums up how I feel most of the time. It would have been nice to have the company that he had during his runs though because I had to run alone today.

As I turned the corner and headed for home I was so proud of not giving in to any mental demons today. I was actually surprised at how well I felt. I took a few extra walk breaks but I think the main thing that helped me was that I was able to just relax and not worry about finishing my run in a certain time or at a particular pace.

Here's the final tally:
Total Distance: 30.3 Miles (49 K's)
Total Time: 5 Hours
Calories burned: well over 3700
Total songs listened to: Too many to count
Total bathroom breaks: 0
Total gels used: 4

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Afternoon delight?

Unfortunately I was unable to run at my usual time of 5 AM this morning. While some may see this as a blessing instead of curse, I found it more irritating than anything else.

However, I was able to get away for a 13 K run in the afternoon. Running in the afternoon or evening is something that I would rather not do but if I have no other choice than I'll do it. Obviously I prefer to run in the mornings because there is less traffic and it's a great way to kick off my morning.

My run today was faster than I would normally go and it probably has to do with the fact that I have more food in my system than I normally would have in the morning. However, the conditions were not ideal for running as I had to contend with wind gusts of up to 46 KM/Hr at times.

During my run I passed about a dozen high school kids running with their track and field coach I assume. I wonder how my life would have been different had I discovered running earlier in my life. Then again, I was very overweight for the first two years of high school so running would have been difficult at that time.

I'll be doing some light weight lifting tomorrow and then will be spending most of my Easter weekend running. This will be my last really long run before my race so I'd like to get to run a minimum of 4 hours on Saturday and then do a recovery run on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So much has changed in 3 years for me

I've been wondering why I've been reminiscing so much lately and then I realized that it's been exactly 3 years since my life changed so dramatically.

In 2005 my wife and I decided to separate. There are certain life changing moments that happen in a person's life and this was certainly one of them. We both were unhappy and living more as roommates than anything else. Although neither of us were surprised by our decision, it was still a shock nonetheless.

This was followed by yet another life changer. I decided that the job that I was doing (addiction counselor) was not where I needed to be. It was a very depressing job and isolating at the same time which didn't help. I knew that I needed to get out of that environment as quickly as possible.

Some people say that things happen in "3's" so of course the final piece to my puzzle soon followed. After my separation I met someone who literally changed my life. She introduced me to running and eventually trail running. I will never forget the feeling I had after I returned from running in the trails. I felt like I could walk on water and suddenly my life had clarity. I had never run before in my life, other than when playing sports, and I was surprised at how well I was able to adapt to this sport.

Running wasn't just about a physical activity as I soon found out. I met some incredible people and started to build more of a social network of friends. I used to hibernate myself after coming home from work but now I had more friends than I knew what to do with. All of this was overwhelming at times but it also seemed to fit with what I needed. I found several people who were also recently separated and this gave me an outlet to talk about my feelings with people who were going through the same things that I was.

It's three years later and not only am I still running but suddenly people are asking me to teach them how to run. I'm not only surprised by this I'm flattered at the same time. I know that if I can learn to run then anyone can as I was one of those people who used to hate running and never really understood why people ran in the first place.

Sometimes I think that I've taken on more than I'm capable of with regards to my upcoming race. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to running. Then I remember WHY I run in the trails in the first place. It's because I love the feeling of running in nature. Breathing is so much easier when you are away from cars. I can relax and just enjoy the scenery around me, hopefully see a deer or two. As long as I continue to reinforce these values, I know that I'll be fine for my race.

I wonder what the next 3 years will be like?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting stronger and stronger

I just finished a very good 10+ mile run this morning (5:45 AM)and I feel so much better than last week. I felt like I could have run forever, (having both lungs working properly sure does make a difference).

During my run I talked with Ken about the mental prepartion needed for the type of race I'll be doing. He is training for his first 100 Mile race so he can relate to what I've been doing with regards to training. There is going to come a time during the race where I'll second guess myself. I'll wonder if I trained enough. I'll wonder why I'm doing this in the first place. I may even tell myself that there is another race I should try a month from now. These will be the kind of mental hurdles I'll have to overcome and there is absolutely no way to prepare for them.

Pain is the other thing that I'm going to have deal with. After my run on Sunday my calves were screaming because they were so tight. Most of that had to do with the fact that I stopped running so it will be important for me to keep myself moving during the race in April. If I stop for too long I know I'll start to tighten up. My only hope is that I don't cramp up but because I'll be running at a more relaxed pace, I'm hoping that I won't suffer from cramps.

Whatever illness I had has slowly started to fade and my cough is becoming less and less an issue. Now all I need is some warm weather!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A very special running route

Yesterday I talked about how I decided to run 2 loops instead of one long loop. Sometimes I have to challenge myself mentally because when it comes to running, it's more mental than physical.

Running past the same streets twice is hard but there is one stretch of road that is extremely motivating and heart wrenching at the same time time. As I turn down Westney Road from Rossland, there's about 2 K's until I reach Kingston Road. This part is extremely fast as there is a slight downhill as I'm running. About a 1/2 Kilometre from Kingston Road there is a poll with about 50 stuffed animals taped to it. I know that it probably is a reminder of a child who had died. Everytime time I run past those animals I tap my heart and blow a kiss to the monument. I think back to my fiance who died and how she's probably watching me as I'm running.

Yesterday as I ran past this monument for the second time I once again tapped my heart and blew a kiss. This time I got a wave and what I perceived as a thank you from someone who saw me do this. There can't be much worse things in life than to lose a child and as I was running I thought about how lucky I am to have two amazing boys.

When I'm running my race next month, I'm sure I'll think back to yesterday to keep me motivated.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2, 10.5 mile runs are not the same as 1, 21 mile run!

Today for my long run I decided to do my usual 10.5 mile run twice. This meant that I would have to pass by my house and go out yet again for another loop. I purposely decided to do this because I know how mentally challenging that is. However, for my race in April, I'll have to get used to doing the same route 3 times. What makes it mentally tough is coming to the end and knowing you have to myself out for another 2 loops.

What made today's run tough was that I know my route so well that I could probably run it blindfolded. There are certain parts of the route where I know I only have a little bit left to go and I can push myself because my house is so close. When I finished my first 10.5 miles, I actually went into my house, refilled my water and electrolyte drinks and headed out. I didn't want to stay more than a few seconds because I didn't want my mind to even consider stopping.

The second loop was certainly more difficult as the winds really picked up. I'm happy to say that I finished the run and didn't take any shortcuts along the way (although it was tempting at times).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The official countdown starts now!

Unbelievable! 5 weeks from today I'll be running my first 50 Mile race in the Seaton Trail. What that means is that I really have 4 weeks of actual training left as I'll be resting for most of the week leading up to the race.

The main focus between now and April 19th will be to stay focused and healthy. I'm contemplating doing another Isagenix Cleanse two weeks before the start of my race. That will allow myself to mentally get prepared and drop a few pounds at the same time.

I find that these can be the toughest weeks before a race because by now I better be properly trained becaue 4 weeks just won't do anything but build upon the running "base" that I've already developed. Each week I've increased my mileage and then the last three I've brought it down a bit. Tomorrow and next weekend will be the longest runs until the race and I'll use them to build more confidence and inner strength.

I'm hoping that the weather will finally start to get warmer as that will be the best reward I can have for all of my hard work. I've been running in so many different clothes combinations that it will be nice to just wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt for the race. I'll probably have to change my outfit a few times during the race, especially my socks. I'm anticipating the worst with regards to blisters, sore feet and hips and I find that the more I can mentally prepare for the pain I'll be going through, the better I'll be come race day. It's not a question of "if" I'll feel the pain it's a matter of "when" it will happen. One of my favorite trail running quotes is, "if you feel good during an Ultra don't worry, it will pass!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Inspiration through perspiration.......

I often think that if I was overweight but still educated in nutrition would my clients listen to what I have to say? I know that I probably wouldn't. In my opinion if you don't "look the part" then it's hard to make me believe what you are saying. You could have all the knowledge in the world but when it comes to talking about nutrition and exercise, you better be a good example yourself.

While I still have yet to achieve all my fitness goals, I believe that I try very hard to set a good example for my clients. What I'm most proud of is the fact that many of them have no idea how old I really am. One of the most flattering things happened to me about a month ago when a 20 year old thought that I was in my early
20's. To say that that comment made my day is an understatement.

Running certainly keeps me looking and feeling young and the extra weight that I've lost hasn't hurt either. I'm also very committed and focused on my goals, my upcoming race for example. I'm very good at not letting outside distractions get in the way of what I want to do. It's all about setting priorities and sticking to a plan. There really is no substitute for hard work and I'm not afraid to put in the time and effort needed.

When I hear my clients complain about a lack of time to exercise, most of the time I'll use myself as an example. There are times when I HAVE to run at 5 AM or I simply won't be able to. I know how important my training is to me so I don't view it as a sacrifice. I'm very quick to relay my own situation to my clients so that they are aware of the obstacles I have to overcome. Nobody is immune to having a "busy" schedule. I've heard every excuse imagineable but the bottom line is that excuses will always prevent you from achieving your goals. Stop making excuses and make a plan instead!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

That's more like it!

Talk about night and day. Yesterday I was clearly frustrated by the traffic and the weather and I'm glad to say that today was so much better. I managed to get my 10+ mile run in and was able to practice my race day strategy. I've been flirting with doing a 10 or 20 minute run followed by a brief walk. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages. Running for 10 minutes is good but sometimes it takes me a full hour to get into a running "groove." The constant walk breaks seem to break up this pattern. However, when it comes to the race in April, having more frequent walk breaks will probably help.

Running for 20 minutes allows me to get into a better rhythm, especially when I'm starting out but I'm worried that this may be too long of a run when I'm in the trails.

I'm going to take the next two days off from running and then do a 3 to 4 hour run on Sunday morning. The goal of that run will be to practice more run/walk strategies. I may run the first hour by doing a 20 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk and then switch to the 10/1 run walk afterwards.

I'm glad that the sidewalks were ploughed today so I didn't have to worry too much about oncoming cars. Ironically, in the only stretch where there were no sidewalks, I came close to being hit yet again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Please forgive this rant.......

I'm tired, wet and extremely upset. When I woke up this morning I didn't realize that we received yet another dumping of snow. Now, this obviously wasn't anything close to what we received this past weekend but for a runner it was more than enough today.

I quickly realized that running on the sidewalks was going to be extremely difficult which meant I had to run on the roads. I've gotten used to running on the roads even though there is an element of risk involved. I run towards the traffic so I can see the cars heading towards me. This should work however I've realized that drivers have their own agenda when it comes to runners. I've come very close to being hit more than a dozen times and I've come to the realization that I will be hit at some point. The reason I believe that is simple. Some drivers will purposely try and run me off the road. Others are too busy talking on their cell phones to notice a runner or anything else in front of them. Then you have the drivers who seem bent on coming as close to hitting me as possible before quickly turning their vehicles. Maybe they are jealous because I'm actually getting some exercise early in the morning while they are stuck in their cars.

There are a few drivers (they probably are runners themselves) who actually go out of their way to move far away from me when I'm running on the roads. I always give them a wave and thank you when they do this.

I know that before I started running I probably didn't pay as much attention to runners than I do now and this is a plea to all of you who read my blog. Please be aware of your surroundings when you drive. If you see a runner and you have room to move out of the way please do so.

Today I came very close to being hit a few times and I wanted to shout out to them that these are my roads to! Then again, they probably wouldn't care. End of rant!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pushing it a little at a time

I just got back from a great run. I ended up going a little longer than I normally go but I'm glad I did. I'm slowly getting my strength back and it's just my cough that seems to be lingering around.

The weight training I've been doing has really seemed to tighten up my core and I believe it's having a positive impact on my running. I've been concentrating on doing lots of single leg exercises (leg extensions, one legged squats, leg curls, lunges) and I can feel my legs starting to get stronger. I was reluctant to do any weight lifting but I now believe it's a very important part of my training program.

I will use each run I complete between now and my race to increase my inner strength. I keep having dreams about my race and what I want it to look like. I've run in the Seaton trail enough times to know most of the terrain, and I know which parts I can run and which parts I'll need to walk. For me, the biggest challenge will be once I've completed two laps (52 K's) knowing that I have to go out there one last time to finish the race. There is a time cutoff of 10 hours which means that I need to be at the final turn-around before 10 hours or I'll be disqualified from the race. The "average" time I'll need to avoid that is a 4 hour lap. Each lap is 26K's and the best I've done is 2:45. Obviously I'll be running much slower than that but I barring an injury, I really shouldn't have to worry about the cut-off time.

I use mental imagery quite a bit to help me prepare for races like this. It's also important for me to avoid outside distractions or anything that could be seen as "negative." If I don't have my mental "A" game then it won't matter what shape I'm in physically. When it comes to running ultra-marathons, it's more mental than physical. I know that I'll be in pain at some point during the race. I may fall 1/2 dozen times, have scrapes, bruises or whatever but I'll have to block out that pain and continue onwards. What will help is knowing that the other runners will be experiencing much of what I'll be going through. Even though running is an individual sport, having people around me will help to keep my mind focused on everything but the running.

There is absolutely NO room for self-doubt or pity when it comes to ultra races, especially in the trails. The 20+ trail races that I've done in the past all have presented different challenges as well as breathtaking beauty. I know that as I head into this race it will be the greatest challenge that I've ever encountered. I like to use fear as a way to motivate me and to keep me from getting too overconfident. Fear forces me to respect the course and that will ensure that I continue to prepare as hard as humanly possible.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My life without thank you!

This past week I got a small glimpse of what it was like to not be able to run. Granted, I knew that at some point I would be running again so that helped but I quickly confirmed what I already suspected and that is I NEED to run.

Running doesn't make my life suddenly "better" but what it does give me is a chance to be alone with my thoughts. This in turn allows me to process things in my life that normally I probably wouldn't do. It forces me to use my brain and to call upon my inner strength for help and guidance. It teaches me discipline and structure and makes me pay close attention to my diet.

Most people who don't run like to say that runners are "running away from something." I prefer to think that I'm running towards something. What that "something" is a better "me." I know that when I'm running I'm a much happier person and not only do I attract positive people but I feel that part of my enthusiasm rubs off on others.

I felt very strong today during my run and although I still have a slight cough, it wasn't enough to deter me from running. It was very cold (minus 18) but there wasn't much wind. Much to my surprise and joy, all the sidewalks except for one small stretch, were ploughed. Besides almost getting hit by a car (something that seems to happen almost daily), it was a great run. My main focus today was just getting my body back into running shape and I feel that the days of rest really seemed to help. As my race draws closer, I know that these are the weeks that I need to become as mentally focused as possible. If I try to think about running 50 miles it becomes too overwhelming so I'm going to break the race up into smaller segments. That will allow me to mentally focus on just one section of the race at a time.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This was a tough call

When I woke up this morning I still had my cough but I can feel myself getting stronger. Then I looked out my window and saw the snowfall, checked the temperature (minus 16) and prepared for my run. I sat and thought about what would be accomplished if I decided to run today and what I setbacks could occur as well. The last thing I need right now is to make myself worse. Yesterdays' trail run made me realize that my breathing is nowhere close to where it should be and that made for a very tough run. I then thought about the conversation I had with a good friend at the Running Room yesterday. She confirmed for me what I already knew and that was that my main focus between now and the race, is to stay healthy. That means not taking unnecessary risks.

Deciding against running is something that eats me up inside as I somehow feel like I've cheated myself by not running. I must fight that urge, though, and keep my mind focused on the bigger picture. I know that a few missed runs, this late into my training, will not result in having a bad race in April. However, if I let this illness linger longer than it needs to, then it will impact the race.

I'm someone who has a very hard time sitting still and the thought of doing nothing, when my mind tells me I should be running, is very hard to take. At this point, though, there really is no point in running outside when the roads/sidewalks will be barely ploughed, if at all. Add to that the trouble I'm having breathing and that doesn't add up to a good combination.

I decided to do the smart thing and rest for one more day and then begin my running program again on Monday or Tuesday. By this time my body should be healed and hopefully the conditions outside will be more conducive to running. I thought about going to the gym to run on the treadmill, and I may still do that later in the afternoon, but right now I think it's better that I just rest.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

6 weeks from today.......

Wow, even as I wrote that headline I had to do a double check of the calendar to make sure I was right. It's hard to believe that after all the training I've done, it now comes down to these final weeks. In January it seemed like such a long time away but now I can say that my race is NEXT MONTH!

Today, a hearty group of runners headed into the Seaton Trail to see how far we could get. It certainly wasn't the longest trail run I've ever had but it surely was one of the hardest. Not only am I still recovering from my illness but the snow covered trails made it more challenging. Still, it was great to be able to visit the place where I will be running my race. It also made me appreciate just how beautiful the trails are. I was able to do plenty of walking today and was able to take in the scenery. I am so lucky to have such an amazing place to run in and that's so close to home.

I kept thinking about what the weather will be like next month. Obviously I'm hoping for a long hot spell so that the trails will be dry up but April is a funny month and you never know what kind of weather we'll get. Last year the temperature got as high as 14 degrees on race day. I remember volunteering last year and it seemed like the perfect day to run. As long as I can wear shorts for the race I'll be happy.

Tomorrow will present more challenges as the snowfall accumulates. I will be running with some friends tomorrow and we all realize just how difficult it may turn out to be. In this case, misery does love company.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Running on empty

After not being able to run since last Sunday, I made it my mission today to do some kind of run. I found it hard mentally to get myself ready today. I'm still battling a cough and my lungs are congested, not a good sign for a runner. Oxygen is the key to running and when that becomes compromised, it usually adds up to trouble.

My legs actually felt stronger than I thought. Then again, it could have been the fact that I I've lost a few pounds during this week. I had no idea how far or long to run today. Instead, my focus was just trying to get my rhythm back and regain some of my strength. Because of my lack of appetite, my fuel systems have been running on empty for most of the week. I think I've seen enough soup cans to last me a lifetime but I haven't really had the desire to eat much more than that.
Not only does running require the ability to produce oxygen, it needs to have a constant supply of glucose ready for the muscles. I seemed to be lacking in both of these today.

I ran my favorite route today and decided to push myself a little bit, which was probably a mistake. Instead of cutting the route short, I did the whole thing and by the end I knew that I would be hurting. When I arrived home I had a very hard time catching my breath and was coughing for at least the first 5 minutes afterwards. Despite that, though, I'm glad that I was able to make it out today. It made me appreciate even more the importance of health. Running on empty is something that I can do if needed but running on "full" is much more enjoyable.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I'm ready to break free!

After spending much of this week in a "foggy haze", it appears that I'm getting stronger now. I can tell this because my appetite is slowly starting to come back. I just finished a light weight lifting workout and tomorrow I'm determined to go for some kind of run. At this point, I'll settle for a 5K run but I'm sure that once my competitive juices start to flow I'll want to do more. I know that the expectations I have of myself are high and I enjoy making myself rise to each challenge because I know that there are more mountains to climb in my future.

This week has done nothing to deter my enthusiasm for running and I know that it won't take me long to get into my groove again after a few good runs. Looking back has never been something I like to do so instead I will shift my focus on the next 5 weeks of training. These will be confidence builders because at this point I believe I've done everything I can to get ready for the Seaton race on April 19th. My main focus will be to practice my race day plan and ensure that I stick to it. Now is not the time to try anything new, I need to be confident in the plan that I've chosen and let everything just play out and see what happens on race day.

As I type this blog entry, my main thoughts are on going for a run tomorrow morning. I can't believe how much I have missed being outside. I know that the weather has been brutal these last few days but had I been healthy, I know I would have tried to do some kind of run. I've been so lucky to have so many people wish me well during this week and I wanted to let you know that I appreciate all the emails I've gotten. It really has helped to keep me grounded and in a positive state of mind, which hasn't always been easy. Running to me is more than just a way to burn some calories, it really works my mind, body and soul like nothing that I've ever done in my life. I only wish that more people could experience the joy that I get from running.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Trying not to "overthink" things can be hard when you are sick

Whenever I get sick I realize that my emotions take a beating as well. It probably has something to do with my inability to run because, for me, that really controls my feelings. Without running these past two days, I haven't been able to process things that I would normally process on the roads while running. If I'm not careful, that could lead to feelings of depression/sadness. When your immune system is compromised I really think that it has a a trickle down effect on the rest of your functions including your moods.

I've been trying to stay as positive as possible and have rationalized my sickness as my body telling me that I need this week to rest. With my race 6 weeks away, I know that physically and mentally I'm ready and a few days off will not only not hurt my race, it may actually help.

My training started in late December and I haven't missed a scheduled run until this week. That translates into a minimum of 5 days per week. Every week that went by I felt my body getting stronger and stronger and it culminated with my 36 run about a month ago in one of the worst weather days I've ever experienced running in.

After 2 more great weeks of running I hit yet another milestone when I ran with a friend in St. Catharines for 5 hours. With only 6 weeks left, my training called for a slight dip in mileage for the next three weeks and then another long run about 4 weeks out from the race. Even though I have been beating my body up physically, I have had no injuries to worry about. However, I'm a big believer in the "Running Gods" so I think this is a sign from them to slow down a little, catch my breath and prepare for the final push until race day. From everyone I've spoken to, they all feel like I'm physically ready to run this race and I believe that I am as well. All that's left is for me to build a little more confidence and get more rest. Because I'll be resting the last week before the race, that leaves me with 5 weeks of actual running. Looking out the window today, I'm glad that my illness came when it did because running in this weather wouldn't have been much fun.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rest.....that "other" dirty 4 letter word......

After trying to battle this stupid virus/cold or whatever it is, I decided to take today off from running. It really was an easy decision as I had to leave work early last night and on the way home I was shivering so bad that it was hard to keep both hands on the steering wheel. When I finally made it home I emailed my friend and told him that I wouldn't be running in the morning. I then proceeded to get some much needed sleep and went to bed at 8:30.

As I type this I can feel the fever starting to break a little and most of my cough is gone. I still feel a little bit like I'm in a "haze" but better than yesterday. As difficult as it is for me to take time off, I know that I did the right thing this morning. With very little food in my system, it would have been difficult to do a run this morning.

I'll try to get as much rest as I can today and then see if I can get out for a run tomorrow. I really don't have much of an appetite so that will be my barometer as to when I should resume my training.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obsessive or dedicated?

Therein lies the question with regards to my running. Maybe I'm a little bit of both? I know that if didn't have a race in April, it would have been easier to not run this past weekend and get some extra rest.

I went through the better part of 36 years of my life being anything but a type "A" personality. Since I started running, however, I can see a little bit of that type A coming out, especially when it involves my running. I am extremely focused and very protective of the goals that I'm trying to achieve. Whenever I pick a race to train for, there really isn't anyone or anything that will prevent me from my training. It may mean that I have to re-organize other parts of my life, but the bottom line is that I know I will be prepared as much as possible for whatever race I'm training for.

It really comes down to how much I want this and the vision of my hobbling/walking or hopefully running through the finish line in April is enough to keep me motivated through these training runs. I simply know that these are a means to an end. I have a plan and I follow it. It sounds so simple and yet I can easily get confused with being someone who is obsessive.

I'm still feeling the effects of the weekend but two bowls of homemade soup (thanks Alleth) really seemed to help. I would love to be able to just sleep the day away but there are too many things to do. I did take a day off from lifting weights so I could sleep in a little longer today. When it comes to lifting weights, I have no problem missing out on a day. Even though I know it is helping, it's still so much easier to take a weight training day off as opposed to a run.

Tomorrow I will hopefully feel better and I can resume my training.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I HATE quitting

I spent most of yesterday trying to fight off my cold but in the evening it seemed to get worse. I had trouble with my breathing and when I finally went to bed I started to get night sweats. Before I went to bed I stubbornly set my alarm for 5:00AM just to see if I could make it out for my long run. I ended up getting up earlier than that (4:00) but I turned off my alarm and decided to go to bed. I eventually got up at 5:30 and was still undecided about my run.

The one thing that kept bothering me was the fact that I have run through just about all kinds of weather conditions including rain, sleet,freezing rain, thunderstorms, wind gusts etc. and none of these have prevented me from running. I hated the fact that my body was letting me down and that bothered me. I knew that if I didn't at least try to do a long run today I would be miserable. I would have felt like I quit and that is something that I have a hard time dealing with. I then thought about my race in April. What if I'm feeling this way on the day of the race? Would I quit then or at least try and run for as long as I could? For me, that answer is a simple one, I would try my best.

After having a good chat with my kids this morning, they knew that I was going to go for a run. They actually didn't seem surprised even though they knew I was clearly feeling under the weather.

I managed to get in a nice long run of over 2 hours which was my goal. The run was tough at times as I had a hard time running up the hills as I was constantly trying to get in as much oxygen as possible. Overall, though, I was proud of the fact that I didn't quit. I know that I'm my own worst critic and though others may have encouraged me not to run today, I knew that if I didn't run today I would have let myself down and that's something I don't like to do.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

To run or not to run, that is the question......

After taking yesterday off from running to do some weight training I was prepared and excited about my runs on Saturday and Sunday. All of a sudden, in the middle of the afternoon I became very ill. My head felt like lead and I quite literally thought I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It didn't help that I had to watch my 2 boys and they of course wanted my full attention. I spent most of the evening either on the couch or in the bathroom. I took an aggressive approach and loaded up on some Isafruits (very high in antioxidants) and some Neo-Citran as well as some Advil (a runners' favorite candy).

Friday night with the boys means movie night, and I stayed awake with them for as long as I could (11 PM), dozing in and out along the way. I had no idea if I was going to run today or not. Like the weather this past week, I decided to let my body be my gauge.

Without missing a beat my body got up at about 3:30 AM, I fell back to sleep for a little bit but eventually got up around 4:00 and decided to see what I could do. I prepared myself as I usually would and at least the weather was in my favor today (a "balmy" minus 4 degrees, with little wind).

When I left my house my intention was just to do a light run as I have a longer one tomorrow and there's no sense in pushing it too hard today. The sidewalks were of course not ploughed yet, so that forced me to run on the major roads. Thankfully there weren't too many cars on the road at 5:00 AM. Unfortunately the roads were not much better than the sidewalks and this made for a rather tough run. I gutted out about 5.5 miles (just under 9 K's). The hardest part of the run was realizing how tough it was to cough and run at the same time.

Today probably wasn't my greatest run in the world but at least I made it out. I am getting so tired of running on snow and ice and cannot wait until I can just put on a pair of shorts and t-shirt and head out the door. Those days seem so long away now.

Tomorrow I will attempt to do a 2.5 hour run. I'm thankful that I don't have to do an even longer one as I'm not sure if I could do it. It was interesting how my mind was working today during my run. I know that the conditions of the roads had more of an impact on my running than being sick did. Sometimes you have really look within yourself and figure out if you are helping or hurting yourself by pushing yourself when you are not at 100%. I think that this comes with experience and I know that 3 years ago, when I first got into running, the decision today would have been much different. The only way I'll know if I have done more damage today is by how I feel the rest of the day and tomorrow.