Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quality versus quantity

The most important thing that I have learned throughout these last 3 weeks of training is that I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I needed to. Then again, I was running without a real goal and for me that is not something that works for me. I need to stimulus of a goal in my sights to keep me focused and that will push me to work harder and harder. I am constantly referring to the movie Forrest Gump when talking about goals. Remember when he is sitting on the bench and the feather keeps floating and floating with no real direction, going wherever the wind would take it? I want to be in control of where I go and that’s why goals are important to me.

When training for Ultra Marathon races (50K and higher) the main emphasis is on running long distances at a slow comfortable pace. The idea is to prepare my body for the rigours of being on my feet for a long time, sometimes as long as 18+ hours. There is no denying how difficult that training was but at the same time I had done so many of these ultras that I had to compensate by not running at top speed.

Now that I am training for a marathon I see what I have been missing and my body is responding in a way that I haven’t seen in years. I’m also craving more carbohydrates than usual and I’m seriously contemplating switching my diet to vegetarian at least for the majority of the time so that I can get the necessary carbohydrates into my system.

The training program I am on switches from slow to fast to medium tempo runs and always keeps my body guessing as to what is coming next. I’m also doing more core work than ever before since I have more time to do this after running shorter distances. Planks are becoming a staple now and I am doing these 2-3 times per week. All of this is helping me to become stronger and stronger.

In the beginning I had hoped to get down to about 150 pounds but I’m not sure how much strength I would lose if I did that. I am going to keep my weight around the 155-160 range which means losing about 8-10 pounds. I am confident that I will accomplish that before my race at the end of September.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another great training week

Today I had another great run and it has been amazing to see how quickly I have been able to pick up the speed work even though I haven’t trained like this in a few years.

I had to run 6 miles at race pace or better today which for me means at least an 8 minute mile. I was happy with my track work on Thursday but wasn’t able to rest enough on Friday as my training plan requires so I had no idea what I was going to be able to do today.

I started off fast and was able to keep a strong pace throughout. I would check my watch periodically just to see if I was on target. There was a little bit of a wind on the way back and that affected me slightly but I fought through that and finished the run in 46:26 which works out to be ahead of where I need to be.

My goal is a 3:30 marathon time or better so I know that I have more work to do but I am happy so far with 3 weeks of training in the books. Tomorrow I will be doing a slow recovery run. I never thought I would appreciate these slow runs but after 2 really hard runs this week I know that I will.

I saw a really good movie yesterday called “UP” and I encourage everyone to go see it. Disney really does know how to pull at the heart strings and this movie was no exception. I know my son enjoyed the movie but I think I liked it even more than he did. Without giving too much away, what I liked best was the message it sent which was putting the past behind you and building a new adventure. With so many things happening in my life lately, this movie was just the ticket to remind me that it is time to start building a new adventure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Embracing change can be difficult

I often talk to my clients about the changes they need to make in their life to achieve the goals that they want. Well, nobody is immune to change, including yours truly and I'm about to embark on a big one soon.

After 7 years living in the same house, it's time to say goodbye as I'm going to be moving to a smaller place with me and my boys. My thoughts have turned from fear and apprehension to excitement and then sadness.

Saying goodbye to something that has been so much a part of my life is going to be hard but in many ways it's something that I need to do for myself. I need to establish more independence and this is a big first step. I know that there will be difficult times ahead but I'm also optimistic that there will be some good things to come from this as well.

During my run today I thought about how familiar the streets are to me around my neighborhood. It will be refreshing to learn some new routes and lay down some fresh tracks in my new neighborhood.

I can either fight this change and be miserable or I can accept this change for what it is and work with it. It all starts and ends with a great attitude and that is something that I have learned from the many long races I have done. There comes a point in every race where I have to dig down deeper than ever before and have the courage and heart to continue. I am going to view this change in much the same way and I believe that that will help me.

I am really enjoying the variety of my training program. Today's run was only 4 miles and that allowed me to do some core training afterwards. Tomorrow I will be running the track at Pineridge School in Pickering as I will be doing 4X400 metre repeats.

It's amazing to me how quickly my speed is already picking up. Today was supposed to be an easy run but when I looked at my watch I realized that I was running faster than I was supposed to go.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

50K Race Report

Today I am sore, tired, bruised AND loving every minute of it. Why you ask? Because I know that I truly left everything I had on the course yesterday.

The day started with me getting up at 3:45 AM. The weather was perfect for running which meant a warm day with little humidity. I really couldn't have asked for a better day. My goals for the race was to go all out for the first 30K of the race and then see what I had left in the tank for the final 20K. I had to complete a 10K loop of the course which included a massive hill climb which seemed to take forever to get to the top of. Once the 10K loop was completed, I had to run 2, 20K loops for a total of 50K. I was very familiar with the course as I had attempted my first 100 mile race there just a year ago. This helped me prepare mentally for what I had to do.

I was very happy with my 10K time of 55 minutes and I know that I really pushed myself. The first 20K loop I finished in 2:08 which put the first 30K at 3 hours and 3 minutes. I was looking to do a 3 hour time for the first 30K so I wasn't too disappointed overall.

The final 20K was extremely difficult as I felt like I had run out of gas. I kept telling myself that this was a training run for my race in September but I still felt like I hadn't given my all at times. With about 10K left in the race I got a burst of energy and really picked up the pace. I ended up passing runners who were about 5 minutes ahead of me at one time. This also fueled my confidence greatly and I picked up the pace even more during the final 5K.

The finish line featured a steep incline and I was in no mood to walk it so I pushed up the hill and sprinted to the finish line. My legs started cramping badly and as I crossed the finish line my legs seized up. Although I was in pain, it was well worth it to know that I had really pushed myself hard.

My final time was 5 hours and 26 minutes which placed me 8th in my age category and 19th overall out of 55.

I improved from Seaton by 1 hour and 20 minutes so I know that the speed work I have been doing has paid off. I also learned that I didn't need or want to use my mp3 player. There were times when I was really tired of listening to music and I simply turned it off. This is something new to me as I usually listen to music the whole time.

Today I am recovering nicely and will probably go for a long walk in the Seaton Trail and reflect on my race. My rule is that I have 24 hours to think about my race and then I must let it go and work on my next goal.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Putting the past behind me

'C S Lewis' Quote

"Has this world been so kind to you that
you should leave with regret? There are better
things ahead than any we leave behind."

And so, I am about to embark on yet another race. I've lost count actually about how many I've done but I'm sure it's somewhere in the 20 to 30 range, maybe even more. This year will be like no other because I really want to put to rest the bad race I had in 2007 at the Mississauga Marathon. Rather than keep talking about my disappointment, this year I plan to actually do something about it.

Even though my first love is still trails, I feel that for me to really go forward, I must get over this stumbling block. Tomorrow I really want to do well, although I am keeping my time goal a secret. I want to come away exhausted both mentally and physically and leave everything I have on the course.

Thanks to all of you for your support, I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's race week again.....

Today will be my last run before my race on Saturday morning so I'm going to enjoy every step I take. As I write this, it's 4:30 AM and I'm about to head outside and enjoy the solitude of the roads knowing that won't be many people around.

The following passage is something that I've written before every race, hope you enjoy it.

If I forget to smile during the week,......... please forgive me it's race week!

If I feel like crying when I see someone run, knowing that I can't......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I feel like I've gained 20 pounds after carbo loading for three days....please forgive me, it's race week!

If I seem like I have the "deer in the healights" look all week...........please forgive me, it's race week!

If I have a hard time sleeping this week..........please forgive me, it's race week!

If I start wondering if I've trained enough for my race........please forgive me, it's race week!

If you hear me mumbling to myself about what the hell I was thinking about when I decided to run 100 miles.......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I run to the bathroom every 5 minutes from all the water I need to drink this week.......please forgive me, it's race week!

If you see me eating 6 blueberry bagels over the course of a day......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I start going through withdrawl from the fact that I can't run for most of the week..........please forgive me, it's race week!

And finally.....If I forget to thank all of you who read my blog and have wished me well with my race this week.............please forgive me, it's race week!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bookmark it and remember it forever!

8.12KM in 39:29 (average pace of 4 minutes and 51 seconds per KM)

These were the results from my tempo run this morning and I will remember this today as my training intensifies in the weeks and months to come. I had not done a tempo run in such a long time that I had no idea how it was going to turn out this morning. The conditions were great, for me anyway, with a cool breeze and overcast skies, I was begging for the rain to come down on me and thankfully that's just what happened.

I'm a big believer in the "bookmark" theory and today is a day I will file away and keep as a reminder of what I am capable of. Ironically enough, I was hoping to just be able to do an 8 minute mile so I exceded my goals. Bookmarking can apply to anything we do in life and should be used whenever you feel that you cannot meet a challenge head on. Whether it's eating, running or dealing with tragedy, you must remember your past successes because that will trigger your mind to deal with things more clearly. Knowing that you have overcome similiar obstacles in your life will allow you to be more positive with your choices in the future. We tend to focus on everything that we don't do right instead of remembering what we did do right.

This has been a great week for me and I feel invigorated and ready to challenge myself next weekend at my race. I know that I will remember this day when I feel tired next weekend and it will give me the strength to keep running. Tomorrow I will do a long slow run and this will give me time to reflect on the week that was and look ahead to next week. I have some goals that I want to accomplish with regards to my race next weekend but I'm keeping them under wraps for now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's been quite the week

As I prepare for my Marathon in September, I also have a few races I want to compete in before then. That left me with a little bit of a problem. Do I start my marathon training now and then skip a week because I have a race next weekend? What distance should I run next Saturday? (25K or 50K) What should next week look like as far as training?
Well, I decided to start my marathon training plan and it was a great decision. One day I ran fast, next day slow, next day up and down hills and tomorrow I'm doing a run on the track followed by a long slow run on Sunday. I really like the variety of the runs even if they are shorter than what I am accustomed to. Sandwiched in between those runs were two really good core/stabilizing workout so it's been a great week of training and dieting.

Next week I will follow the 2nd week of my training but will probably take Thursday and Friday off in preparation for my race next Saturday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The hills were mine this morning

If you live in Ajax or Pickering you probably know the hill that starts at Westney and Rossland and continues East on Rossland to Harwood. Today, as part of my training, I ran 4 sets up and down that hill. The distance was about 300 Metres and each week I will lengthen the distance and increase the sets (I'll alternate between the two). This was the first time I had run hills in more than a year. Whenever I see a hill during a trail race it means that I get to walk but because I am marathon training I have to prepare my body in a different way and that means increasing my speed. The first two sets were hard and after the 3rd set I was ready to pack it in but I kept pushing myself to finish because I knew how much I would have beaten myself up for not finishing. Nobody has to guilt me into doing anything, I'm very good at that myself.

I have had a good first week of preparation for my training. I'm still a few weeks away from my actual training program but I wanted to use this week as a preparation for what is to come. Next weekend I will be either doing a 50K or 25K trail race in Sulphur Springs. Right now I'm leaning towards the 25K but you never know.....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happiness is not given to us it must be earned

If I've learned anything throughout my 41 years on this planet it's that as much as I want to wish for something to happen it really isn't going to happen unless I make it happen. That goes for all aspects of my life whether that's relationships with my kids, financial issues or my running goals. How much time do we waste each day wishing instead of doing? It's something that I'm getting better at because I understand how precious time is and how we must live every moment in the present instead of thinking about the past or future. While I think we can learn from our past and use it to build up our strength, there is more to be learned if we look at our lives in present.

Today I did my first floating fartlek run. This was an intense run where I ran at a slow pace for 3 minutes and then did a 1 minute sprint. I did 4 sets of these and ran a total of 6 miles. The run brought back so many good memories of when I was training in the winter of 2006 for the 2007 Mississauga marathon. I'm on a mission and I won't let anything get in my way. This requires some mental discipline and that is something that I thrive on. Whatever your goals are, keep them close to your heart and don't let anyone or anything invade that positive space.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Committment is a beautiful thing

I have decided to run in the Scotiabank Marathon on September 27th. Why is stating this so important to me? It's simple. Once I have a goal there is little that gets in my way to achieve it. In fact I am more motivated than ever to try to get a personal best time in that race. The best marathon time I've done is a 3:39 and that was in Jacksonville Florida in 2006. I would love to get a 3:30 or better for that race and that will require some serious training which I'm looking forward to. I also want to run at the lightest weight possible and I'm aiming for a 145 to 150 pounds which is about 15 pounds lighter than I am right now. I really believe that the extra weight lost will translate into more speed. In addition, I will be focusing on improving my core strength and doing agility training instead of weight training. I may even throw in some yoga as well.

Looking back at my previous races has really got me motivated. I was able to do a 1:40 half-marathon and a 1:13 10 miler. Both of these races are good indicators of what I can do and my hope is that I'm an even better runner now than I was when I posted those times.

Unfortunately what that means is that I'll have to cut back on my trail races somewhat. I'll likely compete but only in the smaller distances (25K). This will allow me to continue to support my trail running friends but won't burn me out as I prepare for my race in September.

My next race will come at the end of May and that is the Sulphur Springs race near Hamilton. I will most likely run the 25K trail race and then stay on to support my friends who are running the 100 mile race there.

Being alone versus being lonely

(Seaton Trail MudPuppies)

When I first started running 4 years ago, (wow that seems hard to believe) I used to call the Running Room in Pickering my "Mecca." Every Sunday morning groups of runners congregate and then run various distances. It becomes addictive and something that I would never miss. As I started to progress in my running I discovered my love for running in the trails. There's something special about them that's hard to describe but I feel more at home there than on the roads. I started running with a different group of runners who were more experienced running in the trails and they taught me everything I needed to know. They are affectionately known as the Seaton Trail MudPuppies and I am proud to call myself one of them.

When I ran trail races there were large stretches of time where I wouldn't see any runners for up to 30 minutes at a time. This hardly ever happens during a road race. I had to condition myself to use my own inner strength to motivate me rather than trying to catch up to a runner who was ahead of me. What this taught me was that I didn't NEED to run with anyone to stay motivated. Although running is an individual sport, the group aspect cannot be discounted and that is what makes places like the Running Room so appealing to most.

I has been about 2 years or more since I ran with the group from the running room but today I decided to give it a try. I ran from my house to the store which was about 5K away. When I got there I realized that I only recognized a small handful of people. In the past I knew everyone there. I ran with the 1/2 marathon group who were doing 20K. The run started off ok but I soon realized that this was not for me. At about the 1/2 way mark I made a detour, put on my mp3 player and just took off.

The run was amazing and I don't think I would have had the same experience had I continued with the group. It had nothing to do with the speed that they were going but there just was just something missing and I couldn't pinpoint what it was. As I started to run longer my thoughts became more clear and I was able to just relax and go at my own pace. I realized that I don't like running with groups of people because I do my best thinking on my own. I NEED to run on my own so I can process the week that was and think about the week that's coming.

There may be the odd run or two that I'll do with my trail running friends but when I'm on the road I prefer the sanctitiy of my own peace of mind.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Embrace the struggle don't hide from it!

Whether it's dealing with a death in the family, a relationship that has ended, selling your house or any other number of different stressful situations, people turn to substances to help them through the pain. Instead of allowing the emotions to hit them full on, they take an alternative route. The problem is that the detour usually leads to more problems because when the pain returns, you realize that the issues haven't been dealt with.

We all have to find balance in our lives and that starts with doing some serious soul searching about who we are and what triggers our emotions. These are things that are not always pleasant to deal with because it reveals our vulnerability and many people see this as a sign of weakness.

I'm coming to grips with these issues myself and I realized why I am so afraid of being alone. The main reason is that I'm afraid that I won't be able to control my eating at times, especially at night when nobody is there. Many people with ED will hide and hoard their food and will purposely not eat in front of people because they are afraid that they will be judged. It's not something that you can explain to people who don't have ED but those who do have it know exactly what I'm talking about.

Now I'm confronted with my worst fear and that is really doing some soul searching on my own to see what makes me "tick!" I can only do this one day at a time and each successful day lays the building blocks for a great foundation.

I've decided to train for another Marathon in the fall. Although I have done many marathons and ultra-marathons (50 Mile and above), this will be my first attempt at running a fast marathon since 2007. The training and diet will be intense but I am looking forward to it.

Once I get the program I want, I will post it and continue to do regular updates so people can follow along if they so choose.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Has it really been that long?

I was reminded today that it has been a few, make that many months, since I've updated my blog. So much has happened since that last post but fear not, I am still alive and kicking.

I completed my certification for Personal Training and now I can do both Training AND Nutrition counseling so that is something I'm proud of. I train clients in the basement of my house or take them out for runs in the Seaton Trail.

The one thing that has not abandoned me is my love for running. Whenever I'm down or need to be inspired, a run will almost always do the trick. While others may turn to alcohol, drugs and/or gambling, I usually find my "drug of choice" on the pavements or better yet in the trails. To me it is more than just a form of exercise, it's something that clears my mind and allows me to let go of things instead of bottling them up. I am, and will continue to be a positive person and I don't want negativity or hatred to enter into my heart as I know it is a wasted emotion.

Well, there you have it for now. It's been awhile since I posted and hopefully it won't be that long again.