December 2013 - Run for the Thrills


Working Out Together, We get the Job Done

Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

JANINE: James, don’t you love our new treadmill?
JAMES: (pant, pant) Yeah, I guess so. Although “love” might be a bit too strong a word for it.
JANINE: Better than running outside in the ice and snow though.
JAMES: Yes, no doubt.
JANINE: Who ever thought that we would be able to work out together?
JAMES: Remember when we were dating and I actually came out with you on a few runs?
JANINE: This article sounds boring. It’s stupid and contrived. I would never say, ‘don’t you love our new treadmill’ like that.
JAMES: I thought a simulated conversation between us would be a nice, creative way to write an article about how we can workout together, now that we have this fancy setup. Come on, play along with me.
JANINE: I can’t find the picture of us working out together. Did Zara delete it?!
JAMES: Hey, come on, talk like you’re on the bike.
JANINE: Ok, here’s the picture. Oh, there’s a few good ones. Let’s put more than one picture in. Let’s do a gallery.
JAMES: Then I guess I’ll roleplay for the both of us. (Pant, pant!) This running is hard work!
JANINE: I like it when you just write the article. Or when I just write the article. You can do the whole thing. Talk about our intervals.
JAMES: What’s that you say over on your bike there? You’re picking up where you left off earlier? You’re happy that we can work out together like this?
JANINE: Yes, James, my dear husband. This is great.
JAMES: I think I’m working harder than you. I’m sweating more anyway.
JANINE: Then I guess I should speed up. (Speeds up effortlessly.)
JAMES: How on earth are you so good at this exercise thing? I feel like I’m dying!
JANINE: Let’s take it up a notch: let’s do some intervals. 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy.
JAMES: How do you do that? What is this interval thing?
JANINE: Well, you run fast for 60 seconds, then you run at a slower pace for 60 seconds. Meanwhile I’ll bike fast for 60 seconds, then go a bit slower for 60 seconds.
JAMES: Ok, when do we start?
JANINE: You have a digital time readout on the treadmill, you count us down to our first 60 seconds fast.
JAMES: All right, 3 – 2 – 1 – Go!
(Both pant for 60 seconds)
JAMES: 10 seconds until we can (pant, pant) slow down… 3 – 2 – 1 – slow.
JANINE: Nice work! Wasn’t that great!
JAMES: Great. Yes. Actually it was pretty good. Wait, are the 60 slow seconds almost up already?
JANINE: Yep, ready to go again?
JAMES: I guess so… 3 – 2 – 1 – Go!
(Both work hard for 60 seconds)
JAMES: 3 – 2 – 1 – slow. Phew. That actually felt good.
JANINE: Nice work. Now we just have to do this 12 more times.
JANINE: You can do it! I believe in you!
JANINE: James? Are you okay?
JAMES: Guess I can’t cheat with you right here beside me. Ok, I’m ready. Bring it on! 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!

And so, our two heroes, James and Janine, worked out happily, side by side. Because they are smart like that, they were able to meet their fitness goals and work on their relationship all in one go.

JANINE: You should also mention that you got up to 6.8 – the fastest you ever went. But I sound like a b@#$ when I say all that stuff at the beginning of the article. Take it all out! James, please take that part out.

And so, James wrote an article about the experience. And he even managed to tease his wife in it a bit. He had to, because she posted all those pictures of them in which he looked awfully scruffy and fat.



Testing Swimming Fitness

Posted by | Training, Triathlon Training | No Comments

Testing out my swimming fitness at a time trial event at the Kiwanis pool

It turned out to be a family affair – with both my son Caleb and me having our first races with a mixture of the Master’s Swim group that I train with and a few of the kids from the West Park Aquatics Club that Caleb attends.  It was great fun to do this with Caleb.

I learned to dive off the blocks for the first time and “raced” all in the same day. I swam the 200m freestyle (3:10. 67) and 800m freestyle (13:24.87).  Caleb raced the 50m freestyle (38.84) and 100m ( 1:31.70) freestyle.     We had fun just experimenting with racing.  A good test of our current fitness levels and a place to improve from in the coming months.

Trail Race 6

True Trail Runners at the Aktiv Trail Races

Posted by | Events | No Comments

Chad wearing white jacket, I am behind to the right, Mark with beard, Joe wearing santa hat

photo by Carrie Lee

Saturday was a day for the truly dedicated trail runners.  Race #6 in the Aktiv Trail Running Series took place in -12° C weather, during the start of the snow storm that engulfed southern Ontario for a day.  We were out there, on the escarpment,  racing in the snowy, incredibly slippery conditions.  These are true trail runners at their best.

The muffled horn sounded…suddenly, after trying to warm up a bit, we were off! I was a bit surprised when the horn went off and my legs did not respond quickly. I was trying to shake the cold out of my muscles and get into the groove; I was taking it a bit easy. But not the top guys – they were off in a flurry and I was chasing them.  We trudged up the hills, at times slowing to a shuffle up the escarpment, as buried sticks, roots and uneven ground tripped us up.  We pushed hard though, despite the slower pace.  In the first couple kilometers, I managed to pass several runners, and then I was tracking down the last three: Chad, Joe and Mark (and Wolf who is in another league altogether).  I could see them, and slowly gained, catching up to Chad on the large downhill stretch on hydro hill, but alas, the small trail section at the bottom of the hill had an unseen root, which I tripped on.  Down I went; it was not to be (still not certain whether Chad threw something out of his pocket!).

Congrats to Chad, Joe and Mark who all raced very well in those extreme conditions.  I was surprised at how quickly they set off and how solid they ran on those treacherous trails.

Saturday was a day to celebrate the determination of trail runners in Niagara!  I am pleased to have raced with everyone in the series.  The fact that we were all out there, giving our best and enjoying whatever weather conditions nature brought our way, is worth celebrating.  The first couple races we ran in shorts and tank tops, with sunshine beating down upon us.  Race #3 brought the rain.  Races #4 and 5 we experienced the mud! Finally, Race #6 brought in the arctic conditions.  Nobody wore shorts in that last race!

To all of us who ran the series: we are a flexible, determined crew!  To the organizers of the race, Wolf and Barb and gang: thank you for challenging us and putting on such a fun race series.

For Overall Race Series results check out Aktiv Life website.




Posted by | Balanced Runner, Why I Run | 3 Comments

Keep trying new things.  Never stop.

My children are trying new things, learning new skills everyday.  I work with children who have autism and we challenge them every day to move out of their comfort zones and learn new skills that are very difficult and uncomfortable for them.  When did we, as adults start being content with the skills that we currently have?  Somewhere along the way we start settling and start living through our children.  I am thrilled to watch my children achieve and strive, AND at the same time I am not going to stop living my own challenges.  Let these two be symbiotic – motivate and challenge your children with your endeavors and watch them trying new things and let them also spur you on to try something new.

Sue, a swim mom, who is connected to my son’s swim team decided to learn how to swim after watching her two children train.  She was a non-swimmer, afraid of the water, and she was determined to learn how to swim.  It is harder to learn as an adult, but that didn’t stop her and she now loves swimming and has goals for open water swims and her first triathlon this summer.


Firsts this week:

  • Running a TRAIL RACE in a Snow storm.  Fun, challenging footing and a great workout.  (more to come in another article)
  • Learning Butterfly Stroke in swimming for the first time.  Now that is tough!
  • Got my treadmill up to 11.6 miles per hour in a workout for the first time while doing 400m repeats during my intervals on Wednesday.

Goals for First in 2014

  • Do my first Triathlon – A Half Ironman – this has been on my “bucket list” for a while.
  • Do my first sub 3 hour marathon at BOSTON (I’ve done it elsewhere – but not at Boston)

What firsts did you do this year?  What firsts will you do in 2014?

bare minimum run

Bamiru – the Bare Minimum Run

Posted by | Fit by Forty | No Comments

You know how sometimes, occasionally, it’s a tiny bit challenging to motivate yourself to get out the door and do your run?

It could be that I’m the only one who ever feels this way, and if so then please excuse my ramblings, but maybe you also occasionally feel less than excited by the prospect of pulling on running clothes and schlepping around outside in the cold, sweating and spitting and stumbling all over the sidewalk.

One of my best tricks for getting out there when I really don’t feel like going there (or anywhere) is what I call the ‘bare minimum run’, or bamiru for short.

The bamiru is a run that you know you can do, even if it’s late and you’re a bit under the weather and you’re not feeling ambitious or even motivated. It’s the quick run around the block that you can squeeze in between events or first thing in the morning or even late at night, right before bed, because darn it, today’s Wednesday and I’m supposed to run on Wednesdays and I really can’t skip because I skipped Monday’s run.

You know you can do the bamiru because you’ve done it lots of times. Or maybe just a couple of times. But the point is you ran it before and didn’t die, so you know you can do it again. And you probably won’t die this time, either.

The bamiru has saved me a thousand times (or maybe more like three times) when I REALLY didn’t feel like running but I knew I had to because I had eaten seven donuts earlier that day. I don’t want to run, but I know that I can at least do a quick bamiru and get it over with.

SO– let’s break down the elements of the bamiru:

Bare: Not literally. No naked bamirus if you please. No, bare just means no special prep, just go out the door. Nothing fancy. No muss, no fuss. Just a run.

Minimum: If you can’t do anything else, at least you can do this. You’d like to do less, but you can’t, so you might as well do the minimum.

Run: That’s what it is. A run. AKA moving legs fast.

So, in conclusion, let us all embrace the mighty bamiru for the running blessings it bestows upon us, even when we are not in a running mood.

treadmill training

Great Treadmill Workouts

Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

Speed work can be fun on the treadmill.  I have done some excellent treadmill workouts the last few weeks. I highly recommend taking your speed work to the treadmill during the winter months.  The footing is safe, legs warm up quickly to prevent injury and it is easy to control the pace.  It also solves the boredom factor that many of us struggle with while on the treadmill. The constantly changing pace and mental focus on the intervals keeps my mind off the fact that I am running on the same spot for an hour!  This past week I watched some nature movies in the background (if I missed some dialogue it was fine); the powerful whales migrating and the attacking sharks kept me focused.

Marathon Training Treadmill workouts:

These workouts were done after a one mile warmup.  To determine my target paces I used the VDOT calculator in Jack Daniel’s Running Formula.

  1. 800m workout:  12-15 x 800m at threshold pace with 1 min. of rest between each 800.  This is a great endurance workout, as the rest is short and the total mileage is high.  The first time I did this workout I did 12 x 800m, giving me a total of 6 miles of intervals.  This week I did the full 15 x 800m, giving me a total of 7.5 miles of intervals. I did the first six 800s at 6 min mile pace and then sped up the remainder to 5:53-5:56 mile pace .
  2. Miles at Alternating Pace: 4 x { 1 mile at Marathon Pace, 1 mile at Half Marathon Pace } Continuous run, without any rest breaks.  Great workout for the treadmill, as the paces are easy to control and the different paces only vary slightly, which can be difficult to achieve running outside on uneven terrain.  I ran my Marathon pace miles at 6:49 pace and the Half Marathon Pace at 6:23.
  3. Miles and 400m Workout:  4 x { 1 mile at threshold pace, 4 x 400m repetition pace }  I did the miles at 6:15 – 6:19 pace, not exhausting myself, before doing the 400s at 79 sec. each.  Rest time was 1 min.

There are many variations to these workouts – simple mile repeats at threshold pace are a classic marathon training speed workout.  I enjoy mixing up the workouts for interest sake and to target different speeds.  The endurance element comes more naturally to me, so I need to work on the quicker, shorter intervals to improve on my speed.

If you find you have hit a plateau in your training, now is the time to add interval training into your routine.  If you need input to determine workouts to target your specific needs, I’d love to help you.

runkeeper man

The Face of a Man who Keeps His Runs (a TRUE RunKeeper)

Posted by | Fit by Forty | 6 Comments

Look at this face. LOOK AT IT! That is the face of a Run Keeper.

He’s got the dark glasses that say, I don’t want you to see my eyes because they are so intense behind these glasses.

He’s got the wiry facial hair. No use keeping it only for Movember: this man keeps that facial hair all year round. He’s just that manly.

And are those patches of snow in the background? Yes. Yes they are, but they don’t keep Mr. RunKeeper from his run. No they don’t. He runs anyway.

runkeeper runkeeper

He even takes a picture of himself using his running app, appropriately named ‘RunKeeper‘, designed for keepers of runs. Boy, this guy sure is a keeper of runs. If he’s got a date with a run, he keeps it.

So he uses the RunKeeper app on his phone to take a picture of himself. Has he put some fancy instagram-style filter on this photo to hide the fact that it was too low-res for this blog? Maybe. But maybe he’s so badass, his pictures just come out pre-filtered. Or maybe he just put the filter on. Probably that one. But in any case it sure does make him look cool.

Anyway, the guy took a picture of himself running. Well, actually he stopped for a second to take the picture because it’s hard to take a selfie while you’re running. It gets blurry. So he stopped first. And then took the picture with his RunKeeper App, which conveniently attached the picture to the run, so he can go back and admire how badass he looks in all of his running pictures. So he always takes the pictures at the beginning, because it’s hard to look badass when you’re wheezing and collapsing, which he often is at the end of a run.

runkeeper runkeeper

He can also use the RunKeeper app to see his pace along the way. Like, he can see how his pace dropped significantly in minute 5 when he got an email from a client and felt compelled to read it instead of just taking the 20 minutes to run without distractions. But after that dip in his pace, he can see that he held a pretty consistent speed.

It also shows him his route with a convenient little map. This is especially helpful when he is somewhere else, like Ottawa, and goes out for a run, and can’t quite remember how to get back, because he can see his route and just follow the orange line. But this guy wouldn’t need to do that – no. He’s not the kind of guy who would start running and lose his way. That kind of guy would be called a RunLoser. No, he’s a RunKeeper.

And while he runs, his RunKeeper app talks to him in a calm but firm feminine voice: “Ten Minutes,” she’ll say, if he wants her to call out the time in five minute intervals. And if he has to stop to check that email, and he pauses his run, she’ll say, “Workout Paused.” And he can’t help but hear the disapproving tone in her voice. And he thinks, who is she to judge me? She’s just sitting in some recording booth, says things patronizingly into her microphone, while I’m the one out here running in the snow.

And then he thinks, stop being silly, and he gets on with his run, until he staggers home, and she says, “Workout Complete!”, and he can tell that she’s just a little proud of him, even though he only ran 2.63km, at least he did it without a break.

runkeeper runkeeper

And then the RunKeeper app gives him an award for his hard work, and he’s proud of himself too.


How to Get Through the LONG RUN

Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

Some days I am just itching to get out on my long run.  I bounce out of bed and I’m raring to go. I feel like a gazelle and I could run forever; I have no doubt that I will accomplish my target distance that day.

Unfortunately, there are also those days when I just do not feel like being out there for 90min or more…it could be lack of sleep, a hard week of training;  it could be the grey, dreary weather, but for whatever reason, I just do not have the motivation to go for that essential long run.

In marathon training, the long run truly is key for my training.  I cannot skip it – and neither can you, if you have goals for half marathon, marathon (or longer?)!  So, we need to make use of mind games and little tricks to get us through the long run on those energy-deficient days.  Here are strategies that work well for me:

  1. Training group and training buddies.  You have a commitment to meet them – so just get out there for their sake.
  2. Commit to the bare minimum when you set out – “I know I can run at least 8km”. Start with that….and then go from there.
  3. Take it one km at a time – feel good about each km that you accomplish. Momentum will start to pick up;  surprisingly the kilometers just keep adding up and before you know it you have have gone 18km, not 8…before you know it you have met your target distance (for me 21km today).
  4. Laugh along your run thanks to great training partners.  We had a few good laughs today on our long run and it made the run a lot more enjoyable.
  5. Bring along a power gel or some sports drink – when your sugar gets low, your mood and your energy really take a dip.  Sometimes a power gel is all you need to perk you up. One with caffeine will give you even more energy!
  6. Run a new route for interest and to distract you from the hard work.
  7. Run away from your home rather than doing loops too close to home to avoid the temptation to cut your run short.  Even better, if you have someone to drive you away from your home at the target distance you need to run – you have no choice but to run the full distance to get back home (unless you resort to hitch hiking).

Push through the days of low motivation and you become tougher and stronger.  Keep doing this and nothing will come between you and your goals.