Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time for some zzzzzz's

I was clearly feeling the effects of the training and adventure of the past two days. I think I clocked my total mileage between walking and running at about 50 KM. As I stumbled out of bed this morning, knowing that I had to do a 8 Mile run at race pace I had two questions; How and Why am I going to get this done?

I suppose I could have done the run tomorrow and taken today off but I know how much that would have eaten me up inside and that wasn’t really an option for me. Instead I took my time this morning just trying to wake myself up and psych myself up at the same time. I decided to download a few motivational songs to keep me going. By the time I had finished my cup of tea and eaten my ½ banana I was ready to at least attempt this.

In order for me to reach my marathon goal I need to be able to run an average of an 8 minute mile or better for 26.2 miles. These race pace runs are designed to prepare my body for how that pace “feels” like. There are many factors that lead up to keeping or “holding” a certain pace including temperature, elevation, and wind. Of course the main factor is how I’m feeling on that day in late September. I’m sure my body will not be as beaten up as it has been these past two days so that was in the back of my mind as I left my house.

As predicted I started out very fast and finished the first 4 miles in 7:54, 7:52 and 7:48, 7:53 respectively. I have a bad habit of starting out too fast while trying to “bank” some time for later on during a race. This practice doesn’t always work however and by the time I started my 5th mile my body was really starting to tire. Mile 5 was 8:05 and I wondered if I was going to be able to continue. With still 3 more miles to go, doubt started to creep into my mind. I started thinking about any excuse to stop. My breathing was shallow and I know I was starting to wonder if I had made the right decision to run today.

I decided not to quit but I also decided that if I didn’t hit my goal today then I wouldn’t be disappointed. This seemed to take some of the pressure off and I finished my 6 in 7:55. It certainly helped that I was running some of that mile down the same Rossland hill that I do my hill repeats at. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I had two miles remaining.

At that point there was no way I was going to settle for anything less than my full effort for those two miles. I kept saying to myself that even if I average my race pace I will be finished in 16 minutes or roughly 3-4 songs on my mp3 player. I was glad that I had downloaded those songs because they really helped me through those last two miles. Mile 7 was exactly an 8 minute mile and Mile 8 was my fastest at 7:29! I have no idea how I pulled off that last mile because when I glanced at my watch and saw that I still had ½ mile left I got really upset as I thought I was closer to finishing than I was. ½ mile is another 4 minutes, not much unless you have already been pushing yourself for over an hour without stopping.

In the end I finished the run in 1:03:07 which works out to be a 7:54 pace. I learned a great deal about myself today. It amazes how powerful the body is when the mind relaxes and allows the body to do what it needs to do. It is almost like the mind is the antagonist and the body just sits there and takes it all until it decides that enough is enough and decides to fight back with reckless abandon.

I also realize the importance of rest and that is what I will be doing between now and Tuesday morning. My body is beaten and needs to recover now more than ever. All I need now is a comfy couch and big sized pillow…………..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sometimes I am too hard on myself

After yesterday’s “adventure” I returned to my own training this morning. My training schedule for this weekend calls for a long run of 16 miles and a pace run of 8 miles. Ideally the pace run is done on Saturdays and the long run is done on Sundays. It doesn’t really matter, though, which one is done first as both require different techniques and running speeds.

I decided to do my long run today but instead of going on the road I decided to go back to the Seaton Trail. I KNOW after yesterday you would think that that would be the last place I would want to go but the trails were calling me this morning so off I went.

I wanted to run for approximately 2.5 hours. Because running trails is more difficult than running on the road I figured that that was the equivalent of how long it would take me to do 16 miles on the road.

I started out at the “dump” and made it all the way to the Whitevale Road and then turned around and headed back. I managed to escape the first half unscathed but wasn’t so lucky on the way home as I fell a few times and suffered a little cut on my knee.

On the way home I passed several of my friends who had started out an hour later. It was nice being almost done as they were just starting.

As I was nearing my car I noticed that I had done under 12 miles. Once I saw that I got upset with myself and decided to run along concession 3 until I completed the full 12 miles. I’m not sure if I was more upset with not completing 12 miles or more upset that I couldn’t just stop short of 12 miles and be happy with my run.

The whole time I wondered if I had cheated my training by not doing 16 miles today? I think the fact that I have a hard time “settling” for anything but my best is a good thing but I also need to cut myself some slack from time to time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quite the afternoon

Just when I think that I have done everything I can with regards to running, along comes a day like today which reminds me otherwise.

My morning started out with training one of my clients at 7:30 AM. It was a good 5K run and she has been progressing nicely each week. Today she was able to run for 6 minutes without stopping after only being able to run for 1 minute this was quite an accomplishment for her.

After that run finished I met another client and friend (Karen) for our weekly trail run through the Seaton Trail. We had to cut this one a little short but she did amazingly well and I can’t wait until next week when we complete the whole first half section of the Seaton Trail.

By now it was 10:30 and I was feeling good but a little tired. Krista, the third of my running clients today, and I set off on another tour through the Seaton Trail. The pace was a little quicker and the hills were a little tougher but she managed amazingly well. As we climbed to the top of the one of the last hills I stopped to give her one of my energy gels. I then noticed that my car key was no longer in my pouch.

Unfortunately time was not on our side as Krista had to head back home so we had to abandon looking for the key at this point and instead we finished the loop. She gave me a ride close to my home and at that point all kinds of thoughts were going through my head. I really had no idea what to do but I was hoping that Karen, who lived not too far away, was going to be home. Off I went to her house which was about 2 miles away.

Thankfully she was home and she offered to take me back to the Seaton trail along with her son Keith so we could all walk there and try and find the key. Thankfully we were able to find it but not before another climb or two up more hills. Of course then we had to make the long trek back to where the car was.

All told I must have run/walked well over 25 KM’s today on a day that was supposed to be a rest day (LOL). I can’t thank Karen and Keith enough for being there today when I needed them. It was an experience that I will not soon forget. Even though I do love the Seaton trail, I think I have seen enough of it for one day……..then again there’s always tomorrow……

Training Update

If I hear one more person complain about the heat I think I will blow a gasket. I remember all too well how cold this past winter was and even though I never missed a run, I certainly prefer this weather over that.

What I love about this time of year is that I get to run as the sun gets up. I actually get a kick out of the fact that I get to see the sun rise every morning.

Yesterday my workout consisted of doing 5 hill repeats up the Rossland hill at the corner of Westney and Rossland. It is a 2.5 mile run to get to the hill so I used that as my warm-up and subsequent cool-down afterwards.

The total amount of time it took me to do all 5 sets including the slow run down the hill was 20 minutes. It was a very tough 20 minutes that’s for sure. I was very happy with the fact that my 5th set was the fastest one of the 5. I was able to keep my pace at about a 4.5 minute/KM. My main goal was to keep myself as upright as possible and really use my arms to keep my legs going. I was also trying to work my quads so I would make sure that my stride was high and long.

As I “trotted” home and that IS the best way to describe it as my legs were feeling very heavy, I thought about how I seem to have a good start and a good finish but somehow in the middle I stumble. It is something that I really want to work on as this will be very important for my race in September.

It is hard to believe that I won’t be doing a race until August 8th (Dirty Girls Trail Race) so I’m thinking about entering a smaller race like the Durham ¼ marathon at the end of July. I could use that race, or another similar one, to gauge how my speed is coming along.

Today I will be doing the equivalent of a running trifecta. I will be doing three different runs with three different people all at three different paces. Two of these will be in the trails. It will be interesting to see how tired I am at the end of the day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fast feet today

Today I decided to do something different. My schedule called for a 4 mile run. This was supposed to be a somewhat easy run but I had other plans in mind.

After listening to a good friend about running most of my runs faster than my race pace, I decided to make this a very fast tempo run. If this was my race pace then I needed to finish this run in 32 minutes (8 minute mile).

When I took off I could feel a slight pain on the top of my left foot. I think this to do with me needing new shoes and also the fact that I am pounding the pavement more now than ever before in terms of quickness and foot turnover.

The pain lasted for the first ½ to ¾ of the first mile and then I decided not to think about it. It truly is amazing what the mind will do when you decide to focus your attention on something else other than the pain.

I picked up the pace and before I knew it I was doing a 7.5 minute Mile. Once I saw that I really wanted to try and maintain that for as long as possible. When I finished the run and saw that I had done the 4 mile run in 30:31 I was extremely happy and satisfied. I actually think that I can run faster than that and I’m hoping that by the time I am done I will be able to run 4 miles in under 30 minutes.

Tomorrow I will be doing some hill training and instead of speed, I am going to focus on working my quads as much as possible.

Today I was asked to be a part of a health fair at Nielsons in Markham. My presentation was on trail running. It was and still is amazing to me that people are coming to me looking for information on running in general and trail running in particular. I have had the pleasure of turning many people onto running and each and every time that happens I get chills because it makes me so happy to know that other people are getting the same satisfaction that I am.

Many of the people I saw today kept saying how they can’t run but when I relayed my story to them they seemed to understand that anybody can do anything as long as they really want to. I think that the people there could really get a good sense of how passionate I am about running and I hope that I was able to turn more people onto this amazing activity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to work

After talking things over with a very experienced trail runner, I have decided to slightly modify some of my training. He told me, and I agree that the majority of my runs need to be faster than my expected marathon pace. Today I put that into practice during my 8 mile run.

I was feeling the affects of some not so good eating over the weekend and I could actually “feel” the heaviness. This got me very frustrated initially. When I reached the 1.5 mile mark, I was about 15 seconds behind where I should have been. This may not sound like much but in running it can be very tough to make up. I started to feel a little better after the 2 mile mark and that’s when I picked up a little more speed. It helped that I had a slight decline going down Westney Road to Kingston Road. As I turned the corner and headed East on Kingston there is a hill about ½ KM long. I knew that I had to charge up the hill so off I went. I was clearly winded after that but happy at the same time. I allowed my breathing to gradually return before turning the corner at Harwood Avenue.

I headed North on Harwood and there is a slight incline in the road so that added to the challenge. I have done this route so many times that I know every piece of sidewalk there is. At the 5 mile mark (corner of Harwood and Rossland) I was now seconds ahead of where I needed to be. However, I was starting to feel tired. Even though I was heading home with 3 miles to go and a long downhill in front of me I had to fight the urge to slow down.

I thought about my race and how I’ll have to go through some ups and downs and how some of the race I will be ahead of my pace and other times I will be behind. The bottom line is that I have to finish strong and in control. That seemed to help and spark me as I picked up the pace even more now.

I needed to finish the 8 mile run in 64 minutes and my final time was 63 minutes so I managed to make up the 15 seconds and then shave off another full minute. My last mile was actually my fastest mile of the trip.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trying to stay on course

After doing 3 Ultra marathons since the end of April I now find myself in a training dilemma when it comes to doing my long runs on Sunday morning. Typically I would do anywhere from 3 to 4 hours or more, for a long run as I was preparing for these Ultra races. Now that I am in marathon training my “long” run today was what my mid week runs used to be. I almost felt like I was cheating myself by not going longer than what the plan has laid out.

I just concluded the end of week 6 today with my 10 mile long run and as you can see, the training starts to intensify more and more each week. I will stay the course even though sometimes it’s difficult to do so. Today, for instance, I was supposed to run 45 to 1 minute slower than a “normal” run which for me should have been about a 9 minute/Mile. I had a very hard time staying within that range today and averaged an 8:35 minute/Mile instead. This despite the fact that I walked a little bit and also stopped off at Tim Horton’s to have my water bottle topped up.

I have three goals for the Scotiabank Marathon. One is an Ultimate Goal where all the stars will have to be aligned for me to be successful. One is a Realistic Goal, meaning that I will be very disappointed if I fail to reach it and the other is a finishing goal meaning that I want to be able to finish the race healthy and injury free. I will keep these goals a secret until after my race in September.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


So far, even though my training is still in the infancy stage, this is my fastest 7 mile run to date. The average pace was 7:42 per KM and I could really feel the "push" today. Running in the rain just added to my excitement today.

What I really found interesting was I was doing a 7:30 or better clip but then I remembered that the goal is to simulate my marathon pace of 8:00/Mile so I would slow my pace down a little. However, just when it felt like my pace was about an "8" I checked my gamin and noticed that it was about 7:45 pace. I will need to get better at what an 8 minute mile feels like but right now I'm pleased that I could hold onto a faster pace for that amount of time.
Tomorrow an "easy" 10 mile run.

Thoughts of Niagara Falls

Today I will be thinking about a race that I cannot attend. It is a race that I have done 3 times since 2006 and that is the Niagara Falls 50K race. It is the race where I did my first 50K and I will never forget that experience.

One of my favourite running pictures (see above) was the finish line of that race and I still get Goosebumps when I think back to the finish of that race. It is a 25K out and back with aid/water stations staggered every 5KM. We run to the great falls and then turn around and come back. Obviously we cannot restrict the roads to just runners so when we actually get to the falls we are darting in and around many visitors who are there taking pictures or mingling with friends.

Like any other Ultra race, it’s a mental challenge to know that you will be on your feet for better than 4 hours. It usually takes me about an hour or so to get into a good “zone” and after that my mind just takes over and my feet follow.

Two years ago at this race I actually got lost towards the end and added an extra 2-3 KM’s. At the time I was very upset but now I can look back and laugh at the experience. In fact, I have gotten lost a few times at other trail races so it’s something I am used to (LOL). Whenever I am in my zone I tend to pay less attention to what is around me and simply run. I have to do a better job of staying on course. Thankfully I won’t have to worry about getting lost at the Scotiabank Marathon in September.

While I do wish I could be there with my friends, I also know that my son takes priority over anything else and today is my son’s birthday party. I had seriously thought about running the race and then coming back for his party but I could tell that he wouldn’t have been happy with that and I really hate disappointing him. There will be other races in my future but today is his day.

I took a good friend and client into the trails yesterday and she did an amazing 4.5 mile loop in the Seaton Trail. It’s amazing to watch her progression in the trails and I am so proud of what she has done in such a short amount of time. It was one year ago that we were training for her first 5K race and now she is blazing the trails like a seasoned pro!

Today I am doing my 7Mile run. I have to do this in 56 minutes or less as that is the goal for today according to my training plan.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Doing what is right isn't always easy

1009 seconds! That was time spent running my 5 X 800 metre repeats at 5:00 AM at the Pickering High School this morning. This was an average of 3:36 seconds per 800 Metres (twice around at close to top speed).

What made today interesting wasn’t just the rain, which I was OK with, it was the swirling wind that I had to contend with. I’m sure the wind played a part in my overall time although it was amazing to see that half the track I had the wind with me and the other half the wind was against me. Checking the weather network I saw that the gusts were about 30 KM/Hour so that affected my running to say the least. I was hoping for a minimum of 4 minutes to do 2 laps so I was very pleased with the results.

Getting up daily at 4 AM sometimes takes it toll on me and the fact that I have to do all my training on my own makes it difficult at times. I know in my heart that I will never sleep in or get and decide not to run and yet I do get a lonely feeling sometimes.

I’m sure that’s how it is with my clients who are trying to change their eating habits and lifestyle behaviours. At times it can seem like you are all alone and to a greater extent you are right. The one and only person we can never escape from is ourselves. That is something that I will be figuring out next month as I venture out on my own after 18 years of living with someone (between my ex-wife and sister who moved into my house after my separation).

I am hoping and counting on, actually, my running to help me get through this and I am confident that it will. I think that is why running is so appealing to me. It allows me to build my confidence up and is always up to challenge me just when I think I’ve conquered every challenge out there. Don’t be afraid to work on what you need to work on for yourself. Sometimes it’s important to be selfish at times because how else are we going to make the improvements on our own?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Training recap

On Tuesday I did my first run of the week and it was a very nice 7 mile run. I decided to do a little bit of a tempo run for the last 3 miles and it is getting easier and easier to switch gears. I really need to practice running a little slower at the start so that I can pick it up in the middle part of the race. In the past I have been guilty of going out too fast and then not having enough “juice” towards the middle. For some reason I always seem to pick it up for the last 2/3 of a race so it is the middle part that I need to focus on.

Today, I did a 4 mile run at a nice steady pace. I have come to accept these recovery runs for being a very important part of my training. I used to “have” to run at least 8-10 miles per day or I felt like I hadn’t done too much. Now I am appreciating these small runs because my intensity levels have increased dramatically. At the end of the run today I did some core work and some weight training.

Tomorrow I will be doing speed work at the track near Pickering High School. The training calls for 5X 800 metre repeats and I will attempt to run this as close to race pace as possible. For me that translates into running each 800 Metre distance in 4 minutes or less. In between each set I will be walking about 200 Metres to catch my breath.

A few weeks ago I was able to do 4 sets in less than the 4 minutes required, so I will have to see how the addition of 1 extra set affects my performance.

Yesterday at the gym I decided to check my body fat and weight as we have recently purchased a new fancy digital scale/body fat analyzer. Much to my surprise my weight was 162 pounds and my body fat was 9%! I was completely caught off guard by those numbers and felt very good about where I am in my training. I knew that I was making some improvements but I feel that now I am right on track to getting to 150 by the end of September when my race arrives!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mind controls everything

For the past 10 weeks I have been teaching a walking clinic for the employees at American Express who have signed up for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60KM walk in September. It’s amazing to see the transformation of these amazing women who had a tough time completing a 5KM walk and who are now doing 16 KM walks as part of the training I have given them.

It reminds me of how powerful the mind is and how we have really only touched the surface with regards to what we are capable of. The more ultra races I do, the more I’m convinced that it is my mind that needs to be trained as much if not more than my legs. Physically I think I can do just about anything I set out to do as I feel that I am taking the proper steps to keep myself in the best shape possible.

My mental game, though, needs some fine tuning. There are certain parts of each race I’ve done this year where self-doubt has crept in and I must figure out why that is happening and what I can do to overcome it. I am proud that I have been able to fight through this but it would be nice to have a race where I didn’t have to. However, maybe that is the point of these ultra races. The longer I am out there, the more my mind begins to wander. Surely in a shorter race I wouldn’t have time to think about too many things but when I am out there for 4, 5, or 6 hours it seems like that negative self-talk is inevitable.

During my training I am paying very close attention to keeping my mind relaxed and also doing some visualization exercises. I am imagining that I am actually at the race and I am at the half-way mark where fatigue starts to set in. This will allow me to be as prepared as I can be mentally for the challenges of running a fast marathon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good and Bad Days

Yesterday I was approached by two of my neighbours. The two ladies asked me if I was a personal trainer. Without missing a beat my instincts took over and I said, “Yes I am.” They asked me if I had a business card and I went inside to get them each one.

As I was walking inside I asked myself why they thought I was a personal trainer. I decided to ask them that as I handed them my business card. They both remarked that I was in really good shape and that they have seen how dedicated I am to my running. This caught me off guard because I am so hard on myself and I don’t see what others see. It was a truly nice compliment and yet I had a hard time accepting that. I know that has plenty to do with my Eating Disorder and distorted body image from my teenage years. I don’t suffer as much as I used to and yet I still have good and bad days.

I think that one of the main reasons why I remain so dedicated to staying in good shape is because I do have a hard time seeing what others see and I am constantly trying to improve my personal appearance. Hopefully one day I will see what others see but until then I will live from day to day and try my best to take the compliments at face value. Yesterday surely was a good day though!

A return to the waterfront trail

I am so lucky to be surrounded with some truly beautiful places to run. There are three nature trails within 15 minutes of each other (Seaton, Greenwood and Rouge Valley) and then there is a little beauty called the Ajax waterfront trail.

It has been over a year since I ran on this trail and I am so glad I decided to pick today to do my long run there (14 miles).

I started at the end of Liverpool Road in Pickering right beside the marina. The weather was great with just a slight enough breeze which kept the humidity down. It’s always nice to run by the lake as the temperature is a little cooler there than in most places.

The trail itself is mostly flat but there are few hills thrown in. At just over 3 Miles was the Rotary Park Pavillion and I was able to refill my water bottle there. The remaining 4 Miles consisted of some rolling hills. There were plenty of people out riding their bikes, rollerblading or just walking. It was one of those days that I was thankful for just being alive and taking in all the beauty around me.

When I reached my turn around point at 7 miles I felt very strong and wanted to go a little further but decided to stick with my plan. Instead of going further, I followed the suggestion of my marathon plan which said to run the last 2/3 of the long run at a quicker pace so that is what I did.

By the time I finished I felt so much better for picking this spot and I guarantee that I will be back there again from time to time. Because I run so much, sometimes all I need is a change of venue to re-energize myself.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm Mr. Brightside...

Why am I Mr. Brightside? I have suffered through many tragedies in my life including the death of a fiancĂ© at an early age. I’m sure many of you have gone through similar circumstances in your own life and I’m also sure that you could justify giving up because of that.

Having to deal with the passing of someone who I thought would be with me for the rest of my life has really strengthened my inner being. I know that when I run she is with me and everytime I finish a run I tap my heart and look up to the heavens to say thank you for touching my life so very much. There are many things that I had to go through while my fiancĂ© battled for her life but I won’t go into too much detail here. However, when things get truly tough for me emotionally I can think back to what she had to go through and it puts my issues into perspective.

As I was running today the song Mr. Brightside, by the Killers, came on my mp3 player. I thought to myself, I truly am Mr. Brightside because I keep battling and fighting no matter what circumstance I am given. I want Ingrid to be proud of who I am and what I am doing with my life. I know that I have a rare gift of helping people and I take great pride in that. It is not something I take for granted. The thrill I get when a “disciple” starts following my guidelines and then start seeing great results is something that I cannot put a price on.

Today was supposed to be a 7 mile run but I was feeling good so I gave myself an extra mile to do. I wasn’t running any particular pace as my training didn’t call for one today so I took the time to practice switching gears and I also wanted to get used to feeling what running a 5 minute KM pace would feel like for an extended period of time.

Tomorrow will be my long run of 14 Miles and I am really thinking about running by the Ajax waterfront for a change of pace. I haven’t run there in years it seems so it will be a nice change of pace for me. My pace needs to be significantly slower tomorrow so I will obey Mr. Higdon’s training because so far he hasn’t disappointed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A good time to reflect

I find Fridays a good time for me to reflect on the week that was and the week that is upcoming.

One week ago I was preparing for my third Ultra Marathon since the end of April. Even though my focus this year is squarely on the Scotiabank Marathon, I wanted to do a few Ultras so that I can maintain the great contact with the many friends that I have made since I started running in 2005. Well, mission accomplished.

I will be missing a few Ultra races that normally I would have run in (Niagara Falls next weekend and Creemore Springs Race in July) but I have to remember why I am training. I will also have to put my love for trails on the backburner as I concentrate on running on the roads more. Normally I would run in the trails at least once or twice per week but these days will now be spent doing speed work and hill training. I already have noticed a difference in my oxygen uptake and I am able to sustain a faster pace for longer than I have in the past so I know that the training is paying off.

My training calls for running 6 days per week with Fridays being my day of rest. I have swapped that for Mondays because I train two clients on Fridays (one on the roads and one in the trails).

Training for Ultra races required me to run ridiculously long weekly mileages, sometimes as much as 100 KM or more per week. Now I am doing about half that mileage but the intensity has increased substantially. My “long” run this week is 14 miles where normally that might be considered a normal run during the week. Every run used to be the same and I know that my body was simply getting used to the pattern I was doing so I wasn’t seeing much of a change. I realize more now than ever how important it is to have a varied program. One day I’m doing hill training, the next day I may do a tempo run and the following week I may be doing track work at the local high school.

Even though I consider myself an experienced runner, boy that sounds funny coming from me, I know the benefit of having someone else to be accountable to. For me that comes in the form of a training plan. It is the reason why I firmly believe in either journaling or having my clients follow a meal plan. If you are honest and not afraid to put down exactly what you are eating from day to day it can only help you to see your pattern more clearly. I haven’t done a meal plan for myself in quite a long time as I feel that I do have a handle of my eating pattern/habits but it’s something I am seriously thinking about doing for myself once I move at the end of the month.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Running is my life

What would my life be like if I didn’t have running? I really wish I never find out.

Ever since I got separated 4 years ago, running has been the once constant in my life. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing, raining, hot, cold, thunderstorms or clear skies. It is there for me when I’m feeling happy or sad. It has gotten me through the heartache of losing my dog and the heartaches of failed relationships. The only thing that running ever asks of me is to take care of my feet with regular tune-ups (new shoes). Other than that, little is asked in return.

I always start my day off with a run. Now and then I’ll take a day off here and there, usually to recover from a race, but, knock on wood please, I haven’t had to take more than 3 consecutive days off from running since 2005.

My favourite time to run is without a doubt first thing in the morning. I need that “fix” to start my day off right. It’s difficult to describe the feeling that I get from a run and unlike many of my friends who like the feeling they have after the run is over, I actually love the feeling I get WHILE I’m running. I’m able to really look at my life when I run, the good and the bad. Mistakes I’ve made and the things that I have accomplished.

Running is more than just a physical activity for me, it’s a way of life and it is no different than brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It is a routine that is unlike any other I have ever experienced and it continues to feed me positive feelings day after day after day.

I’m lucky because I get to see the sun come up while others are tucked away in their beds. A friend of mine is going through a rough time with his workouts and hasn’t been at the gym for a few days. I wish he could get the same feelings I get from running that he gets from lifting weights. If I am depressed then running lifts me up. No it doesn’t make everything better but it does give me an escape for an hour or two and I usually come back with a much better attitude about things. The guilt of not running would eat me up inside and would make for a very long and depressing day.

Today I did a 45 minute tempo run. I had forgotten how gruelling this workout was but I quickly found out. I started out running at a comfortable pace (5:10 to 5:15 min/KM) for the first 13 minutes. After that I picked up the tempo quite a bit for 20 minutes (4:25 to 4:30 min/KM) and then finished with 12 minute cool down. I really wanted to push myself today and I was happy with what I accomplished.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Building blocks to success

Today I did my required mileage, ok so I went 4 miles instead of 3 but it was close enough. I'm really starting to find out how to gauge my speed. Each run I have I have thoughts about the Scotiabank Marathon. I try to imagine that I am running the race while I'm training and that keeps me focused.

Even though the race is still months away, I need to train properly in order to reach my goal. I am laying down building blocks so that my foundation will be strong. My goal weight is still 150 to 155 and right now I am about 10 pounds away from where I need to be. I know that I will achieve this weight as long as I stay the course and keep my workouts as varied as possible. In addition I will be slowly increasing my carbohydrates, reducing my protein intake and keeping my calories under 2000 per day. I want to keep my carbohydrates relative high since I am doing so much running. Protein isn’t as necessary for me right now because I am not building muscle. It will probably represent about 25% of my diet with Carbohydrates and Fats at 55% and 20% respectively.

Running “light” for me is so important and even though I am not there yet, I can actually feel lighter now. I may have to sacrifice some muscle in order to get to that weight but I know it will help me run faster so I am willing and able to do what I need to do.

The only weight training I am doing right now is an upper body workout once per week using mostly bands and some free weights. I do this every Wednesday after my 4 mile run. I am also doing some core work to work my transverse abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors (lower back). I am avoiding doing any leg work since I am running 6 days per week and sometimes twice per day as I am teaching some clients how to run as well.

Next up: 35 minute Tempo Run tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Creating a healthy atmosphere is so important

I went for my first run of the week today. It was a nice 7 Mile run through the streets of Ajax and my plan called for an easy run. About mid-way through, though, I decided to do a little bit of speed work. It was a nice feeling and I was surprised at how much energy I had even though I had just finished a race 2 days ago.

Even though my training plan does not call for running an Ultra, it was important for me to surround myself with my friends and that was one of the main reasons why I did the race on Saturday. The friends I have made since I started running are irreplaceable and they have so much information to share with me that I feel like a kid in kindergarten class hanging on every word that the teacher has to stay. They have positively influenced my life and having those kinds of people in my life is crucial for me. It allows me to stay focused on my training even when things get tough.

Last week I had a nutrition session with two women, one was my client and the other was a friend. Throughout the whole session the friend of the woman kept putting down my client and was telling her that she couldn’t do what I was asking her to do. I made sure I kept as little eye contact on that woman as possible and pretended like she wasn’t there. When I saw my client the following week I specifically asked her not to bring that woman to my session ever again. I also asked her how she felt about the woman. She started to realize just how damaging a negative person can be.

I firmly believe that we all wear an “aura” around us and that it is either positive or negative. My advice, seek out the positive ones and run like hell away from the negative ones. Ask yourself if a true “friend” would spend more time discouraging you or encouraging you? Are they supportive or jealous of your success? Do they fit into your new lifestyle or are they part of a lifestyle that you no longer find appealing? If you can honestly answer these questions, you will find out who your true friends really are.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Kingston Race Report

(Preparing to run for 6 hours)

( This was at about the 2.5 hour mark)

(I was happy with my strong finish)

I usually update my blog immediately, or close to that, after a race but I needed to do some thinking about this before putting it down on paper.

Saturday was a day filled with many ups and downs. I wasn’t able to achieve my goal of 60K although I was still pleased with my 55.5 K effort.

Throughout those 6 hours I suffered through hypothermia, chaffing, dehydration, nausea, cramping and hit the mental “wall” of pain and doubt. Eventually, though I also was able to find the inner strength to continue and actually picked up the pace on the final 1.5 hours of the race.

My speed training, although still in the infancy stage, really paid off for the first 2.5 hours and I was ahead of my predicted schedule by a few KM’s. Reality, though, kicked in after that and I suffered through feelings of self-doubt from about the 2.5 hour mark to the 3.5 hour mark. I kept asking myself why I was doing this? I am supposed to be training for a marathon not an ultra marathon. I hated that I was having these thoughts and that made me angrier than anything else. I started to convince myself that once I hit the 42.2KM mark (a full marathon) I was going to stop and call it a day.

At this point I was feeling cold and the tips of my fingers were starting to get numb. I had had these feelings before at a race and I remembered how hard that was to overcome. The inner parts of my thighs were burning as chaffing started to set in and no amount of body glide (a product similar to Vaseline) seemed to help. I was able to ask a friend for some Advil as the pain was become a little too much to handle. He actually gave me some Aleve which kicked in right away and that helped me tremendously. The aid station also had some anti-nausea medication so I took two of those as well.

While I was upset with myself for that middle part of the race, I was equally as proud of myself for the remaining 1.5 hours as I really picked up my pace and was able to finish strong. It truly is an amazing mental battle that takes place during these races.

Once the 5 hour mark hit and I had already secured 50KM, the rest of the race was gravy and I was able to complete another 5.5 KM. I was happy that I didn't allow my mental demons to take over.

I spent yesterday going through things in my head specifically about why I seem to have these down parts of my race. I know that I need to just focus now on building up my speed and endurance so that once my marathon arrives I will be able to sustain a good pace for the whole marathon. My 24 hour rule is I will allow myself to relive my race for only a period of 24 hours and then I must let it go and focus on something else. That is what I did yesterday. I went over what I did right and what I did wrong. I examined closely the things that I could have done differently and also allowed myself to be happy for what I had accomplished. I ran farther on Saturday than I did last year at this race on a tougher course (last year it was held at a horse track). Although I didn’t reach my goal of 60KM I can still be proud of what I accomplished. I ended up finishing 18th out of 50 runners.

Now my main focus will be on my marathon training. I will not be doing another race until August although I may look into doing a 5K or 10K race just to work on increasing my speed and endurance.

Friday, June 05, 2009

T-minus 24 hours

Tomorrow I will be running in Kingston as part of the Ontario Ultra Series set of races that I compete in. This will be my 2nd year doing this race although last year it was held at a different venue. This year I will be running around the Royal Military College in Kingston. I have been told that it is very scenic although after 6 hours I’m sure it will lose some of it’s appeal.

I will have a full report on the race tomorrow or Sunday.

Over the hills and far away

15 minutes. That was roughly the time it took me to run 4 hill repeats of approximately 300 M at about a 4.4 minute KM/pace. This also included the time it took me to gradually bring my heart rate down to where I didn't I was going to throw up (LOL). I ran to my favourite hill on Westney and Rossland which was just over 2 miles away and then began the hill repeats. I would run to the top of Rossland and Harwood, cross to the other side, catch my breath and then slowly run down the hill and start over again.

I am really glad that the training only called for 4 hill repeats today and I decided to stick with the plan instead of going ahead and doing another 2 more. This type of training uses so much oxygen and it’s forcing my body to respond by going beyond my normal limits. This will all pay off in September when I do my marathon.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Enjoying the shorter runs? Who ME?

I always told myself that I wouldn’t get out of bed, especially at 4 AM, to run for anything longer than 10 miles (16 K). Anything less and I found it difficult to talk myself into getting up. After all, I was always training for distance races so I firmly believed that running more mileage was the trick to prepare myself for running 50K or longer. There were weeks where I wasn’t happy unless I was running a minimum of 50 to 60 Miles per week (80K to 100 K).

Fast forward to today, and I was more than happy to just run 4.5 miles. I actually looked forward to running a shorter distance as that allowed me to do some core work and a little bit of weights afterwards.

I kept the running pace at a mid effort level pushing myself just a little bit towards the end. After yesterdays’ tough run, it was a nice change of pace. Tomorrow I will be running between 4-5 hill repeats along the Rossland Hill which is approximately ½ a kilometre. I will run to the hill which is about 2 miles away, do the hill repeats and then run home.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Feeling like a nascar driver

Today was my first run of the week and even though I have a race on Saturday, I’m sticking to my training schedule. My run started as always with a 4:00 AM wake-up followed by a cup of tea, ½ a banana and then out the door by 5:00 AM.

My plan today was to do an interval run of 6 miles. The first two and last two miles I wanted to run at a nice comfortable pace which for me is about a 8:30 to 8:45 minute mile. Sandwiched in between those I wanted to do a speed or tempo run for 2 miles. I like to call it “switching gears.” Those two miles I really wanted to push myself as much as possible.

Sometimes it’s easier to just start fast and keep that pace so I had to really hold myself back for the first two miles even though I wanted to run fast. I was disciplined enough though to do this and when my Garmin read 2 miles I took off. I wanted to really feel the burn today and that was accomplished. I ended up running a 7:50 and then a 7:35 minute mile.

I found the transition back to running slow very interesting. As I finished the tempo run and eased into the recovery portion I thought I was running slower than I was. Much to my surprise, my recovery portion of the run was an 8:32 and 8:36 minute mile. I had to laugh at one point because when I was training for my ultra races, those WOULD have been considered fast for me.

Tomorrow will be an easy 3 mile run followed by a core workout. I swore I would not get out of bed for anything less than 10 miles but I have been impressed with the training schedule that I am on and now I am a believer of the less is more theory.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Another week another race.....

OK, I promise, well sort of (lol) that this will be my last race for awhile as I prepare for my ultimate goal in 2009 which is finishing the Scotiabank Marathon in 3:30 or better.

This Saturday I will be running around in circles, literally, for 6 hours. Each lap is just over 800 Meters (or 1/2 mile) and each time I pass the checkpoint it will be clocked. At the end of 6 hours my distance will be measured. It is a unique race and I've done a couple last year and vowed never to do another one so why am I going? The answer is that I love and crave the competition that I have with myself. Last year I ran over 55KM and this year I'm trying for 60.

The other reason I am going is because of the great friends I'll get to run with. They are so inspirational and I can pick their brains about my training. Hey, what else am I going to do for 6 hours right?

The volunteers at this race were amazing last year and I would expect nothing less this year as well. I'm going to follow my training program as any other week and just treat Saturday as my "long run." for the week.