January 2014 - Run for the Thrills

2 hour treadmill

Strategies for Long Treadmill Workouts

Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

There are times when treadmill workouts are preferable to running outside – even for a long run!

Trust me, when it is -27 degrees C with the wind chill, and you need to meet specific speed targets for a long run, the treadmill is the way to go.  Now I understand completely that a long run on the treadmill gets boring, but with the use of some key strategies it is possible to conquer long treadmill workouts.  This morning I ran 16 miles = 25.7 km on the treadmill.  I did a one mile warmup (video below with the shirt on!) and then did 24km (15 miles) at my current marathon pace of 4:14 per km (6:49 per mile). It would not have been possible to do that speed in the cold, wind and icy road conditions today.  The treadmill made this key workout possible for me today.

Strategies to Survive the Long Run on the Treadmill:

  1. Focus:  Know what your target distance and speed goals are for the run, and commit fully to doing the workout before you begin.  Break it up by time (or distance) and celebrate with each quarter or third or half that you accomplish and just keep going.  Remember the goal marathon that you are training for and the importance of this long run.  Do not allow yourself to wimp out!
  2. Company:  Enlist your family to make the rounds to visit you, talk to you, and distract you at times during the run.  You keep running, but focus on what they are doing and saying to you.  Watch my eight year old son Elijah in the video, doing some interesting rope acrobatics.  That is enough to distract anyone for a while!  If possible, have someone exercise beside you (on a bike trainer, doing indoor weights, anything….)
  3. Entertainment:  Watch a movie or listen to music.  It certainly helps.  I made it through an entire movie during my almost 2 hour run.  I like comedies to keep it light.  I almost had a laughing fit this morning, but thankfully managed to not fall off the treadmill.  I tried watching the Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King one workout, but found that far too intense.  I had to shut if off as I watched Smeagol murder his brother and descend into despair.  Avoid the intense dramas!
  4. Water and Washroom Breaks:  Take a break when you need it – make use of the indoor facilities.  You do not always have that luxury.  For once you do not need to find the nearest Tim Hortons or resort to the woods.
  5. Count your Blessings:  Just look outside at the blowing snow and the frost on the windows and remind yourself of how much better the indoors are at the moment.  Know that you will kill this workout indoors and meet your time goals (important when you are doing a Marathon Pace workout).


All Smiles!

Ashley has never been Happier

Posted by | Runner Profiles | 2 Comments

Ashley Law is a new Runner from Philadelphia, with an inspiring story.  She has only been running a year and has already completed two half marathons and has her sights set on a full marathon.  I love her energy and willingness to share her story.  Running has changed Ashley’s life for the better!

How long have you been running? I started in January 2013

Why did you start running? Last January I went through a devastating break up. As someone who already had anxiety, it really broke me. My anxiety got a lot worse. I stopped doing things that I loved and I was having issues concentrating on things, doing my job and I could see things spiraling. I knew I needed to make a change. I promised myself to do something out of my comfort zone. My brother who has run marathons and half marathons convinced me to join him and my sister-in-law in doing the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I agreed.

Where do you usually run?  I run outside mostly, but since this winter has been brutal I have been running on the treadmill, which I hate. There’s something about running outside… it’s so freeing.

Do you run with other people or by yourself?  Usually I run by myself. When I run at the gym, I go with my girlfriends. Unfortunately my brother lives in Texas so I can’t run with him.

How do you motivate yourself to run when you don’t feel like it?  I have a board on my door that I wrote motivational quotes/reminders to help me. Also the day of races, I always write on my hand: Remember why you started!

What are some challenges you’ve faced with running?  Getting started and finding my routine was the hardest part for me. I stopped doing a lot after the break-up. I needed to find myself.

Have you done any races or events? Do you plan on racing in the future?  I ran my first half marathon September 15th, 2013. Then did a Spartan Race on September 28th. This past weekend I ran the Houston Half Marathon (Jan 2014). My next race is the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington DC in April.

Do you have other running goals?  I want to do a marathon! My brother and I have a bunch of runs for our running list. The biggest one we want to do is the Disney Dopey Challenge! 4 days, 4 races: 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon.

Brag about yourself – what challenges have you overcome? What are your biggest accomplishments? 2013 was the year of challenges. I was always there to support and cheer my big brother on but I always thought, “You’ll never see me running one of these!” My brother and sister-in-law have been my biggest supporters and biggest inspirations. The morning of the Philly Half, I was a wreck. I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat, I felt like I was going to throw up and I wanted to back out. But I knew I couldn’t. My parents, nieces and family were going to be at the finish line. I couldn’t let them down – and more importantly I couldn’t let myself down. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I didn’t have a time I wanted to finish by – I just wanted to finish. I really struggled after I hit 6 miles but I pushed through. There were a few times I had to walk. I was really struggling by the time I got to the 10th mile. My entire body was aching, but I literally ran into some friends from high school and we ran together until the 12th mile. When I got to the 12th mile, I got the best surprise. My big brother who had already finished the half ran back to meet me. He ran the last mile with me, which made all the difference in the world and led me across the finish line. I finished in just under 3 hours and it was my greatest accomplishment.

We ran the Houston Half this past weekend and we both set PRs. I maintained my pace the entire time and set a PR by 30 minutes! He wasn’t allowed to run back to meet me at the 12th mile this time, but he was waiting for me as soon as I crossed the finish line. Running has completely changed my life. It brought my brother and I even closer together and it has helped me to become the person I was always meant to be. I just needed a push to find myself, and now I have never been happier!

Snack After Workout

Healthy ‘Snack After Workout’ Treats

Posted by | Fit Food | No Comments

After a hard workout, we get hungry. (Well, who am I kidding, I’m hungry a lot of the time, but let’s not go there.) We want to eat something tasty to refuel. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to counteract all of that hard hard work with a snack that is too high in calories or fat. If the workout is carried out away from home, there’s a risk that the drive home will include a trip through a drive thru.

Obviously, fries or donuts or muffins do not lead to a positive post-workout experience. So then, what should a smart person do for their ‘snack after workout’ treat?

The answer, of course, is to plan ahead, and bring some quick and easy snacks with you. A little bit of preparation ahead of time will lead to a much happier snack after the workout.

Variety is the spice of life, so pack a few options. I got this cool stainless steel lunchbox from a company called Planetbox that helps keep all my snacks neatly compartmentalized.

Here are some ‘snack after workout’ options to get you thinking:

Something Sweet

dates almonds
I’ve got some dates. No prep required.

Something Crisp

Celery and cucumber sticks. Takes 5 seconds to chop up. Dip is nice too.

Some Raw Fruit & Veg

I have cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, and tomato wedges.

Something Substantial

I have a piece of frittata from last night’s dinner. Boiled potatoes and cooked broccoli are diced and added to sauteed onions and garlic in a cast iron pan; eggs are poured over top. Cook at 350° for about 30 min or so.

A Treat or Two

I have some almonds and a slice of candied ginger.


Choosing Great Workouts

Posted by | Training | 3 Comments

What workout do I embrace today?  Choosing my workouts has suddenly become more challenging now that triathlons are on my horizon. Juggling three sports creates new dilemmas for me and I have had to think about and discuss the best plan of action for my workouts.  I do have a strategy now, for the next few months at least…I will fill you in, but first, I want to share the elements that I think are important for everyone to consider when deciding how to set up their workout schedules and know exactly what to focus on.

  1. Be Purposeful:  Make a conscious decision about what you will focus on, rather than letting life or other people decide for you.  Without being purposeful, distractions, random events, and lack of motivation will keep you from achieving your goals.
  2. Listen to your Heart:  What do you love to do?  What activities do you enjoy most?  When do you feel most energized?  If outdoor adventure is your passion, look into trail running, hiking or mountain biking.  If competition motivates you, you definitely need to be training for a race and striving for a time goal.  Maybe you need the flow of yoga in your life.  Find what you love and then commit to doing it.  Even the activities you love will be difficult to do some days…you will still need commitment!
  3. Choose a Goal:  Find a focus of what you want to accomplish:  This could be weight loss, completing a specific race (i.e. marathon), achieving a personal time goal – a PB, reducing stress through exercise, learning a new sport (try squash, rock climbing), finding new adventures.
  4. Take Inventory of your Resources:  It is essential to determine how much time you have available to exercise and what resources you have available to invest into your chosen sport.  If you are not realistic, you are likely to fail and be disappointed.
  5. Determine Where you Have Support:  A training group is huge in making training fun and keeping you consistent in your  training.  Look at your support networks.  Also communicate with your family and share your goals to ensure that they are supportive.  The best-case scenario is that your community will cheer you on and assist you in achieving your goals, rather than tearing you down.

My Training:

For the next few months my focus will be on building up my running mileage to be ready for the Boston Marathon.  I have several races planned that are meant to assist me in getting my long distance speed and endurance ready for the marathon.  My secondary focus is on getting fitter in swimming.  I am working on my swimming form – my kick is strong, but I am weaker in the pull and have some specific areas to work on.  I will focus on these two sports and save the cycling until the spring, after Boston is done.  I was feeling rather stressed out about fitting all my workouts into my life, realizing that right now, I simply do not have time for cycling and in fact, at this point it is not that important.  My limits are largely with my time; I work full time and want to keep family first.  When I start adding too much, it cuts into my valuable sleep time, my body gets run down, and illness begins to make its rounds.  It is liberating to me to focus, streamline and give my best in the areas that I am concentrating on.  I am loving my runs and swims!


Treadmill Workouts to Survive in the Winter

Posted by | Training | One Comment

Winter has hit us hard in Ontario, with snow storms, ice storms and extreme cold.  The treadmill has been a necessity for me this winter.  It has definitely been worth the investment.  Treadmill workouts do have the danger of becoming rather boring and monotonous.  Here are some quick treadmill fixes – workouts that are effective and keep life interesting.  Below are several workouts that keep me going during these winter months:

After a one mile warmup:

  1. Hill Workout:  Marathon Pace run with Hills – set treadmill to your goal marathon, run two minutes on flat, then increase the incline to 8% for one minute, bring treadmill back down to zero incline.  Repeat this three minute cycle for 10 – 15 times (start with 10 and increase each week).  Solid hill workout at your target pace.  This gets tough by the end.  If necessary take 30 sec. at a slower pace after the hill and then increase the treadmill speed back up to marathon pace.  Ideally the pace will stay the same throughout the workout, once you are ready for it!
  2. Speed Pick  ups:  Run at a moderate pace for 2 min, then increase speed to FAST (i.e. 400m pace) for 1 min.  Allow  yourself to jog for 1 min, pick up the pace to moderate speed for 2min minute and then 3rd minute back up to FAST. Repeat for 8 – 15 times.
  3. Mile Repeats:  Miles at 10km goal race pace (challenging pace).  5 x (1 mile, with 1 min rest).
  4. Tempo Run:  Goal tempo pace for target number of miles.  Split it up with 1 min rest after every 2 miles if necessary.

Cool Down with one mile.  Quality workout now accomplished!

Linda Summers

Path to Peace: 6 Simple Tips to Live in the Present

Posted by | Balanced Runner | No Comments

Linda Summers, yoga instructor, Namaste Yoga Studio

Today’s article is written by guest author, Linda Summers.  Linda is my yoga instructor, who inspires and challenges me.  I so appreciate her classes and they enrich my training and life. – Janine 

What does it mean to be present?

Being present is simply being, or existing, in this very moment. Living in the
moment will create a life that is filled with calmness and peace; we all want a life filled with peace, but in
today’s day and age, life can become swamped. Trying to balance work life and being a parent, among other
things, can be overwhelming. So how can you bring yourself back to a simpler way of living so that you can
enjoy a life filled with peace?

  1. Breath: When things get a little stressful, try stepping away from all the external stimuli in your life and find a few moments in stillness to watch your breath. Watching your breath will allow you to be in the present moment; the nervous system calms down so you can take on the rest of your day in a calmer manner. Taking slow, deep, long breaths will help tame your agitated mind and create freedom within. So stop, clear your mind and watch yourself breathe.
  2. Yoga: Incorporating yoga into your daily routine is a great way to bring yourself back to the present moment. Yoga is a mindful practice which allows one to slow down from their regular routine and become present in the here and now. So grab a mat and indulge in a little bit of “me time”
  3. Meditate: Meditation is a great way to connect to the present. Commit to a daily practice to sit quietly and just be. Let go of thoughts about the past and try not to think of the future. Challenge yourself to be here in the now. Take that five minute break from your daily routine more often to just sit still, to simply exist and just be. You deserve it.
  4. Solitude: Being alone, just you inside your skin, can be a challenging task to incorporate into your daily routine. Oneness is a great way to keep yourself in the present moment. Make it a ritual to find solitude throughout the day to do something you enjoy doing, like taking a walk in nature, a massage, or reading a book. Try to do less. It’s your birth right. Enjoy life more. Stress less.
  5. Slow Down: Slow down the pace of your life… and take on a single task at a time. Whatever the task at hand is, such as eating, driving, listening to someone speak, cooking or working; take on one thing on your to do list at a time. Multi-tasking can cause chaos in your life, so take the simpler route and enjoy each moment in your life in a mindful manner.
  6. Gratitude: Practicing being grateful is another key component to finding a place of contentment in the now. Before stepping your feet out of bed, offer a moment of gratitude for the sweetness in your life. Writing a gratitude journal each evening before surrendering to bed is another practice you can take with you. Try writing three things you are grateful for at the end of the day before retiring to bed; appreciating and being more thankful is an attitude we can all practice more often. Incorporating these simple tips into your daily routine will keep you centered in the moment. Remember, the past no longer exists and the future is just a fantasy. So be present. Including these simple reminders into your daily routine will get you walking a path to peace once again. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to be present.

Check out Article:  Yoga For Runners


Life to the Fullest in 2014

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Why I Run | No Comments

Welcome to a New Year – 2014 – a year to fill with new experiences and new challenges.  My goal and my challenge to you is to “Live life to the fullest in 2014.

Life keeps going – chores keep happening, work keeps going….life will just keep going as it is, unless we are purposeful to chase some new adventure or make some new change – no matter how big of small.  Inertia keeps us going along the same trajectory that we are currently on.  To try something new takes great effort, and sadly, that effort becomes greater with each passing year.

Think about the people and movies that inspire  you….now, don’t just watch the movie, rather try to go live some of that adventure!

My goals fall into three categories:

1. Relational Goals – be purposeful to have quality time with family and friends

2. Spiritual Goals – spend more time in prayer and mediation and listen to God’s leading in my life.

3. Athletic Goals – become a faster runner, swimmer, cyclist:  Specifically –

  • sub 3 hour Boston Marathon
  • Successfully complete my first triathlon – Half Ironman
  • Work on cycling technique and become quicker

Let’s make 2014 something special

Here is a line up of my all my planned races for 2014:

boston logo



Please share your goals with me – post them below.  

– All my Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2014 –