Balanced Runner

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Mom, We Made It! Storm The Trent Adventure Race

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Events, Training, Why I Run | 2 Comments

Storm the Trent Adventure Race – A one of a kind adventure!  It was a day of fun, mud, puddles, bushwhacking, nonstop precipitation, perseverance and team bonding. This race was not for the faint of heart.  This race required embracing whatever nature threw our way and I am proud to have faced it with my friend Nate and our 14 year old sons, Caleb and Ben. Storm the Trent took place outside of Peterborough in the town of Warsaw, with three different distances for different abilities.  We embarked on the mid-sized, Trek Race.  The details of the event were kept under wraps until we arrived Saturday morning. Due to the forecast of rain all day, the canoe paddle portion was scheduled first.

Here is our adventure race recap – Team:  Mom R We There Yet? completed the 60 km race in muddy glory, non-stop rain and successfully found all 13 Check Points :

  1. Canoe Paddle: Caleb and I worked as a team in one canoe; Nate in Ben in a second canoe.  It was a mass start in the river with major congestion as everyone paddled along the river to the first check point (CP1) and used our electronic chips to check in at floating stations.  A 180 degree turn and a hard paddle back to the start point was successfully executed.  One canoe capsized en-route, due to the congestion.
  2. Mountain Bike – Section 1: We pulled the canoe out of the water, transitioned to our cycling gear (life jackets removed) electronically checked in at CP2 and headed out as a team on our four mountain bikes.  This section involved locating one unstaffed Check Point (CP30) and finding our way to CP4 with only one wrong turn along the way – thank you to Ben for guiding us the correct way!
  3. Run 1 and Locating Maps:  At CP4 we transitioned to our first run section.  Along this out and back run to Rotten Lake, we needed to locate four maps off the trail (using a satellite map of the run route) which provided vital information required for a later run section where we needed to find four hidden check points.  Caleb and Ben were in charge of recording the information found at the four map stops – a permanent marker and a waterproof map bag were essential during this section as the rain increased in intensity.  At Rotten Lake we checked in electronically again (CP31) and we were back off running to our bikes.
  4. Mountain Bike Section 2:  This was a long intense mountain bike portion of the adventure race.  Mud, rocks, puddles, streams and twists and turns made this a very challenging ride. Rain continued to pour down on us relentlessly. We cycled through puddles that were so deep that we were literally up to our knees in water.  Sometimes we made it through the puddles, sometimes we fell. I have never cycled through water like this before.  We did our utmost to cycle through the rocky terrain, but for some sections we resorted to walking and running with our bikes, after several falls and a bloody knee. This was challenging for the most experienced of mountain bikers, which sadly, we are not!   Three more electronic check points were reached during this ride portion and finally we made it to the second run section.  At this point we were fully drenched, mud caked and cold.
  5. Run 2 and Orienteering: Transitioning to the run was a relief, however, getting running shoes on was extremely challenging as finger dexterity was gone. My “easy” laces were not so easy and I could not open my shoes.  My lovely teammate Nate even tried to use her teeth to loosen my laces – with much assistance I finally got my trail runners on and we were off searching for four hidden checkpoints.  Here we used the information that we had gathered earlier, during our last run. It took us a while to find the first check point; that success boosted our spirits! The running warmed my numb feet and a caffeine power gel energized Ben, who had been fading during the last bike.  With all of our spirits rejuvenated, we were off running as a team to find the next check point in the creek bed (very hidden).  Thankfully other teams helped us find the check point.  Next we were bushwhacking with our compass to find the third check point.  After being lost for several minutes, Caleb got us back on track and we successfully orienteered to the last two check points along this run route.  Then it was a quick run back to the bikes – a switch of the shoes – and we were off riding again –
  6. Mountain Bike Section 3:  This was our third and last mountain bike ride; this one to the finish.  This section consisted of dirt and paved roads, a huge relief after the technical sections we had navigated through during the last ride.
  7. The Finish LINE:  Team:  Mom R We There Yet? made it across the finish line in 5 hours and 45 minutes. (race results to be posted at Stormthetrent.com)

 

We finished together as friends, mothers and sons.

Thank you to my awesome team-mates for their great attitudes and persistence.  Each one of us had our highs and lows along the route, but we stuck together.  As a group we suffered only one bloody knee, many falls in mud and puddles, one blood sugar crash at around the three hour mark and one stuck shoe – not bad for a tough race! – no major casualties and another successful adventure accomplished!

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Training for Life: Adventure Race Preparations

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Events, Training | 2 Comments

Canoeing! Kayaking! Cycling! Trail Running!

It was a great day in Niagara for the four person team training for Storm the Trent—an adventure race that involves trail running, mountain biking and canoeing.  Today the team of four was in intense training mode.  The team is called “Mom R we there yet?” and is made up of two mothers and their 14 year old sons:  Karen, Ben, Caleb and myself.  Today we had a taste of all three sports spread throughout the day and we are hopeful that we will survive this event, only a mere three weeks away on May 14th!  Today was our first time out on the water in the canoe, so it was an important test for us.  We managed to canoe approximately 4km around Martindale Pond, almost half of the 9 kilometers that we will have to do on race day.

This is such an exciting event to be doing as team.  The adventure involves challenging ourselves physically – we will be engaging in three sports, only one of which we are all comfortable with (trail running).  The next challenge is to work well together as a team throughout the whole experience.  There will be times to be light-hearted and joke around (Ben and Caleb have this down!) and then there will be times to be supportive and serious, such as when someone is  having difficulty with an element of the race.  Learning when to goof off and when to be quiet may take some practice for the 14 year old boys!

In most races, going hard and being the fastest is the goal. In this team event, however, being being the fastest solo athlete is not the mission.  Our objective is to be a cohesive team and do the best we can all together.  We are not going for speed records here (at least not this year!). Throughout the race we all need to be within 100m of each other at all times.  The team element is so vital for the success of the event that there are five core principles clearly stated for all teams to adhere to:

  1. I do not leave my teammates behind me
  2. I keep my teammates within visible sight at all times
  3. I look after my teammates, and expect them to do the same for me
  4. My teammates and I form a unit – we do not move faster if we separate
  5. If for any reason one of my teammates cannot continue, I will stay with them until they are safely off the course

“The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts” – our goal as a team made up of friends and family is to work together, utilizing all of our collective talents and abilities to build each other up and keep motivated for the duration of the 42km biking, 9km running and 9km canoeing!

Easily done!

Caleb-

This is insane and I love it! Being a part of an event like this is going to be something I tell my kids to prove how sprightly and crazy I was “back in the day”. Not to say that this event won’t be challenging, but I strongly believe that we are going to have some real fun completing it –  the “I’m dying, make it stop” kind of fun. The thing I’m most mortified of is having two triathlete mothers (especially the ever intense Janine) preforming alongside Ben and myself; if the race doesn’t kill us, they just might! On the flip side, I’m really looking forward to the mountain biking aspect, speeding down a single track trail with my cross bike and huffing up hills is my idea of fun. It’s a bit out of my comport zone but then again, if it wasn’t, what would be the point of doing it in the first place? On the whole, I’m going to be incredibly happy to preform in this race, but I think I’ll also be incredibly happy to cross the finish line and then take a nap. (Also, “Hi mom! I’m on your blog!”)

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Swim Training

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Gear, Training | No Comments

Time to get serious in the pool with longer swim workouts.  With my sights on open water swimming and summer triathlons, I am focusing my swim training on increasing my endurance over longer distances.  Today’s workout totaled 4.1 km and focused on lengthening my stroke and slowing down my arm cadence.  I have a high arm turnover and a strong kick, which means I do well at the shorter fast distances, but I need to learn to translate that speed to longer stretches.  I get into oxygen debt too quickly as I am working harder than I should with my quick turnover.  I am preparing for the half ironman this summer in Muskoka on July 10th and possibly a longer open water race (dare I try a 10km race?)

I had fun in the pool with my “swim toys”; hand paddles make me work harder as I push more water, strengthening muscles, improving technique and slowing down my stroke.  The paddles are an excellent tool to assist in my goal of getting more power out of each stroke.

Here is the workout I did this weekend (Designed by Karen Natho):

  • Warm-up:  15 x 50m on 1 minute (3 pull, 3 back/breast, 3 fly/free, 3 kick, 3 free)
  • 250m Long Stroke focus with hand paddles
  • 2 x 300m with last 25m of every 100m head up front crawl
  • 2 x 600m on 1:45 pace
  • 2 x 250m decrease cadence every 50m, starting at normal rate for first 50m
  • 8 x 50m kick on 1:05
  • 250m long stroke with paddles and drag legs
  • 150m cooldown

It is important to keep it fun in the pool with swim accessories and new bathing suits.  Check out the new Speedo Swim Suits at Trysport Niagara, inspired by the upcoming Rio Olympics – ready for sun and fun.  The bathing suit I am wearing is perfect for outdoor swimming, as the back is cut-away to allow for better tanning (eliminate those annoying tan circles on the back).  This suit did well at staying in place, despite its open design.  It did not shift for flip turns or while pushing off the wall. I recommend this suit if you are looking for something different.

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Mountain Biking: Road Cyclists take to the Trails…

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training, Triathlon Training | No Comments

….And hilarity ensues!  Nothing like some falls in the mud to keep oneself humble.  I consider myself a competent cyclist, but sadly this does not translate into mountain biking.  The experience of riding in Short Hills with my triathlon training partner Nate (Karen Natho) was fraught with challenge, fear, excitement and loads of mud, but we eventually accomplished trails 1 and 2….

WHY?  I think it is excellent to keep challenging oneself throughout life.  When I turned 40 I tried triathlons for the first time ever and promised myself that rather than resigning to old age and the gradual loss of abilities and fitness, I would try something new every year.  At 40 I did my first triathlons and a half ironman.  At 41 I did my first Ironman.  Now at almost 42, I am preparing for my first adventure race with my trusty training partner and our 14 year old sons.  The Storm the Trent Trek Race will consist of 42 km of mountain biking, 9 km of trail running and 9km of canoe paddling.  This big event is now less than a month away – May 14th.

Mountain Biking the good, the bad and the ugly…

  1. There is a definite thrill component to mountain biking that does not exist in road cycling.  Shaking and bouncing down steep, uneven terrain and wondering if I will remain on the bike is a scary experience for me.  I am braking more than I should on most descents, but at least I am remaining on my bike most of the time.  There is the constant fear of, “will I make it over that log?”, or ” Will I get through this patch of mud?” I am sweating from fear almost as much as from exertion!
  2. There is a huge technical component to mountain biking:  maneuvering over logs, rocks, streams and sloughing through mud is extremely treacherous.  It requires specific strategies to remain on the bike, rather than experiencing the natural elements up close and personal.  Nate and I did our share of walking, but I am pleased to say, we did considerably less dismounting and more plowing through the mud and elements as the kilometers rolled along.  By the end of our ride, we were managing to get through many challenging sections, while staying on our bikes!
  3. The Pacing of a mountain bike ride is much slower than riding (and Running?!) on the roads.  The fluctuating, hilly terrain means one is covering far less ground than on the roads – at least for us, that is!  I cannot speak for a true mountain biker, but I was shocked at how few kilometers we had covered after what felt like hours!  Our entire ride did not take hours—it was more like 80 minutes—but the exertion felt comparable to hours on the road and we had covered far less ground.  The humility element strikes again:  our average pace was slower mountain biking (5:35 per km) than for our RUN the morning before (4:40 per km)!  Not quite sure how that is possible.  I blame it on all the muddy puddles.
  4. Mountain biking is great for building strength and agility.  Hills are so steep on the trails – inclines can be much steeper on the trails than on the roads and there are more frequent fluctuations in elevation and speed along a mountain bike route.  We rode up very steep sections that we never experience with our road bikes.  Great cross-training for our primary sports.
  5. Mountain biking forces you to take yourself and life less seriously!  You have to roll with the hills, flow with the mud, embrace some dirt and tears… life is not serious on the trails.  Mud in the face, grit in the teeth – it forces you to laugh and let loose and let go of any pretense of looking good and all put together!  A thorn bush ripped my tights and Nate fell into the woods as she tried to make it through a muddy patch.  Thankfully we laughed and enjoyed it all and nobody got hurt.
Four weeks till our big Adventure Race.  How are you enjoying the lovely spring weather?  What events do you have planned for this season?  I would love to hear of all your pursuits, so add comments below!

Tomorrow we are off to Martinedale Pond to practice our paddling…

Christmasrun

Run for Joy

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training | One Comment

My Christmas Day run—pain free, breathing the fresh air—was a wonderful joy this year.  After three months of recovering from a running injury, to be able to run 10km is a gift that I do not take for granted.  I am still awaiting the results from my MRI done on Dec. 21 and I continue to receive regular chiropractic and ART care.  I am cautious, as I still experience some pain in my hamstrings, back and glutes. I am however, hopeful that I will recover fully and once again be able to run a marathon. This is not a guarantee, but I will enjoy whatever my body will allow.  I will be thankful for each run, bike and swim that I am able to do.

Here is my challenge to myself and anyone else who is reading my humble words:

Remember to Run for Joy and to find ways to keep running and fitness fresh and exciting.

1. Each day that you are active, thank your body for allowing you to move and be healthy.  When you push yourself, thank your body for allowing you to work hard and get stronger.  When things feel a bit challenging, celebrate the fact that in that moment you are getting stronger.

2.  Take in your surroundings.  I am blessed to be able to run along Lake Ontario and marvel at the beauty of the Great Lakes. I run up and down the Welland Canal and see Ocean liners from distant countries passing through – running, cycling, hiking are great ways to enjoy your environment and remember the blessings in your life.

 

3. Be adventurous and always willing to try something new.  One new challenge for me this year is to do an adventure race with my son, Caleb and my training partner Nate and her son, Ben.  The four of us will be a team (name yet to be revealed!) in Storm The Trent, an adventure race involving mountain biking, trail running and paddling (canoe).  The race involves orienteering and the order of the sports is unknown .  I am new to mountain biking and orienteering.  This will definitely be fresh and exciting!

4. Run with or without your stats. I usually run with my GPS watch in order to know all my stats – my pace, distance, time.  This keeps me challenged to keep a certain pace.  This can also become obsessive and unhealthy at times.  I think it is a good practice to sometimes run just for the pure sake of running, without worrying about a certain pace.  I know roughly how far I have gone without a watch (truth be told, I have many distances memorized around my home and city) – but to keep the joy in running, leave the watch at home sometimes.

5. Set goals for yourself to keep you motivated.  If races are intimidating, there are local community fundraisers that are focused on participation rather than on racing.  So far I have two races set for 2016.  Definitely less than my usual goals, but I am being cautious, as I am still recovering from this running injury (which first appeared last April 2015).  My goals thus far are Storm the Trent on May 14 and the Muskoka Half Ironman in July.

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What new challenges will 2016 hold for you?  Please share your goals and aspirations!

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When You Can’t Run, Keep Moving Forward…

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training, Triathlon Training | No Comments

I am a runner who is not running.  I am staying positive, but truth be told, it isn’t easy for me. When asked (frequently) what marathon I am training for,  I react with pain in my gut and try to figure out how to explain my situation.  I can’t run, but I am still moving forward.

Maybe this is good for me.  I have had twenty years of relatively injury free training.  There were three pregnancies and minor issues after each (plantar fasciitis and some hip issues), but I enjoyed years of great running.  Now is a time to expand my horizons and also to help me understand just how blessed I have been.  So, here is a summary of the injury as I understand right now.  I have degeneration in my lumbar spine between L5 and S1 – the Lumbosacral joint.  This was discovered with x-rays.  There is likely bulging at the disc there, but difficult to determine without an MRI.  Since May I have had issues with my left hamstring and glutes.  This is likely all due to the spine and the nerves being compressed.  My gait is off due to poor nerve function and then muscles are getting strained.  Currently I have chronic low back pain; it isn’t severe, but enough that it would be foolish to run and ignore it.

Good news, I am a triathlete as well as a runner!  I have alternative sports to keep me going.  I also have an excellent chiropractor, Geron Cowherd, who is providing so much insight and advice on how to deal with this injury (next article will be about Chiropractic Care and ART).  Lower back injuries are very common, especially among marathon runners due to the repetitive impact and stress of bounding as we run long distances.  A combination of genetics (low back issues run in my family), 20 years of running and pushing myself too hard in some complementary exercises (see below) are the underlying reasons for my current predicament.  I have a plan and I am confident that it will keep me moving forward.  I hope these suggestions can encourage others suffering from an unwanted injury.

How to combat injury and stay injury free:

  1. Do Strengthening Exercises:  It is essential to identify my weaknesses and do the correct type of strengthening exercises to correct my imbalances and deficiencies. I specifically need to focus on core strength to support my back.  Planks and abdominal exercises need to be my new favourite activities.  My left leg is also significantly weaker than my right (it was my left hamstring and glutes that have been flaring up all year) so I am doing specific exercises to activate my left leg.  These exercises include bunkies, bridge poses (activate glues), squats, lunges and slowly adding in more plyometric exercises as I build strength.
  2. Find a New Outlet for Athleticism:  I may not be running, but I am moving!  I am throwing myself into swimming, cycling and strength training.  Rather than approaching injury as a time to give up, see it as an opportunity to learn a new sport and get good at something new.  I am now planning on doing a 10km open water swim next summer.  This is something I have never done and it will give purpose to my swimming.  I have also joined a gym, something I have not done for years.  Spin classes and weight training will keep me energized and fit.
  3. Invest in Regular Chiropractic Care: Regular chiropractic adjustments restore spinal motion and alignment.  ART (Active Release Therapy) works the muscle tissues and ligaments to break up scar tissue and restore proper movement. Currently this is a more acute problem for me, affecting nerve functioning.  Regular adjustments can help prevent imbalances from getting severe and keep nerves functioning properly.  It often takes an injury to see the value in treatment.

    Chiropractic Care

  4. Focus on Deloading and Elongating of the Spine: The issues I am having are due to compression in the spine.  To reverse this I am hanging upside down in an inversion machine at the gym and doing headstands at home.  I haven’t yet resorted to hanging upside from the monkey bars at the playground! The inversion therapy is a great idea after a long run or ride.  When running, using the 10 and 1 approach (run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute) is a great way to give the body a break from the bounding throughout a long run.  It is effective in deloading the spine every 10 minutes and allowing for a long run.  I will use this technique when starting to run again.
  5. Approach Complementary Exercises with Caution:  Yoga, cross-fit, strength training, Pilates…are all excellent activities, but in my case they are secondary to my focus on triathlon and running.  When approaching these complementary activities I must remember to approach them with caution.  As an athlete it is easy to think I need to always push myself.  It is easy to create an injury in these secondary activities that will interfere with the primary sport.  Not being as proficient in these secondary activities, it is easy to overstretch or tear a muscle.  This is definitely a contributing factor to my current injury situation.  One  yoga class I felt compelled to try the “bird of paradise” pose that was being demonstrated.  I pulled my leg up as high as it would go….not a good idea for the hamstring.  Definitely caused some tearing.  Another day last spring I was in a fitness class and did Box Squats and I jumped as high and squated as deep as i could possibly go.  Again, contributing to tearing in the hamstring and glutes.  More is not always better.
  6. Focus on Nutrition: Proper nutrition is needed to repair and build muscle tissue.  I needed to add more protein to my diet.  I also need to supplement with essential fatty acids:  linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). These oils are found in fish, flax seed pumpkin seeds sunflower seeds and soya oil .  I do not consume enough seafood, so  in my case a supplement is the easiest way to ensure I am getting what I need.  Essential oils help to decrease inflammation in the body; this is essential for every athlete and especially necessary for me at this time when I am fighting inflammation in my spine. 

It is incredibly encouraging to talk to many of my friends who have experienced injuries in the past and are back to doing the sports they love.  I will never take for granted the ability to swim, bike and run.

long ride

Why Every Runner Needs to Cycle

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training, Triathlon Training | 3 Comments

I am currently on the road to recovery from a hamstring strain.  It has been a month now of nursing this injury and reducing my running.  My longest run so far is only 12 km (as a marathon runner, this is a short “long” run!).  The good news is that despite the fact that this injury is hampering my running, it is not preventing me from cycling.  Quite the opposite – I am gaining in cycling fitness, probably quicker than ever, now that my legs are fresh from the reduced pounding from running.  Here are the top 10 for “Why Every Runner Needs to Cycle”:

10. Running Injuries will happen.  Cycling keeps you moving, fit and happy.

9. Cycling is the perfect cross-training for runners, as it strengthens balancing muscles (not used as much in running) and thus helps prevent injuries from happening in the first place

8. You can colour co-ordinate your bike and your cycling jersey!  Thanks Wolf and Barb at Trysport for the awesome cycling gear!

7. Having the fitness from running will quickly translate into strong cycling.  You can quickly pick up this new sport.  The aerobic fitness is there from running and with a bit of time the leg strength for riding will develop.  Before you know it, you will have your cycling legs!

6.  You cover some pretty incredible distances as you gain fitness. Today I rode 143.8 km – my longest ride to date ever.  I visited two of the Great Lakes today, visited Niagara-On-The-Lake, Fort Erie (got a glimpse of Buffalo), Port Colborne, Welland and back home to St. Kits.

 

5. Variety is the spice of life – shake it up and get out of a rut.  Running your same 10 km route for years on end can get dull eventually.  Try something new.

4. Bikes are more expensive than running shoes.  Oh, maybe that is not an advantage.

3. You can ride over 100km with a pesky hamstring (or Achilles, or calf)

2. Cyclists have great legs!

1. Cycling is incredibly fun!  There is the thrill as you pick up speed on the downhills and see yourself traveling at over 60km/hr.

 

 

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Break from Running

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training, Triathlon Training, Why I Run | 2 Comments

I am currently taking the longest hiatus from running that I have taken in the last 20 years, with the exception of when I was pregnant with each of my three children.  This is a forced break from running, due to my left hamstring which has a strain at the insertion site to the glute.  I am on week two of no running.  (Well, I did sneak in a small 8km run last Thursday, but was promptly reprimanded by my physiotherapist)  How am I even surviving?  It is actually astounding that I am doing so well.

  1. Embrace Cross-training:  The timing of my new triathlon bike could not be better.  I have been doing so many amazing rides and increasing my cycling mileage. The cycling does not at all aggravate my hamstring, for which I am very thankful.  The key is to choose cross-training that does not interfere with the healing of the injury. Find sports that you love and that keep you aerobically fit, without causing any stress to the affected areas.  Try swimming and cycling.  Triathletes have a great advantage in the cross-training camp.
  2. Find Effective Treatment from Professionals:  There are many interventions that aid in the recovery from injuries.  I have had excellent chiropractic care and physiotherapy treatment for my injury.  Focus on healing and discovering the original source of the problem.  A physiotherapist will look at how you are running or moving in your sport and daily life and discover why this injury occurred in the first place.  Only then can the most effective treatment be prescribed and preventative measures taken for the future.
  3. Do your injury-specific “Homework”: My homework includes hamstring and glute stretches and strengthening exercises, as well as prescribed rest from running.  Schedule in time to do the injury specific work that will heal and strengthen the muscles involved.  Do this work when you would normally be running and view it as valuable as your regular training routine.
  4. Enjoy other Activities:  Getting out of my regular routine of running certainly shakes up my life.  It means I have strange breaks in my day and different energy levels.  For a runner to stop running is a shock to the system.  Go for walks and hikes in new places and do not think about the training effect for a change; take time to read and pray and do yoga.  Become more well-rounded and see what it is like to be a non-runner for a few days.
  5. Stay Positive:  I am focusing on the things I have gained as opposed to what I have lost.  My swimming and cycling mileage is dramatically elevated and I am loving the other sports.  I am fresh for my rides and the quality is therefore increased in my cycling workouts. A positive mental attitude makes life much more enjoyable and will only be accelerate the healing process.

I am definitely looking forward to running again soon.  I do want to ensure that it is pain-free running.  I am thinking long-term, so I will not risk a short term run because I am impatient.  In the meantime, I have many other pursuits to enjoy!

nototherace

When to Say “No” to the Race

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Training | No Comments

As athletes, we try to develop strong determination to keep on going, pushing through any pain. That drive is necessary and helps us to achieve new personal bests.  However, sometimes this quality of extreme persistence is our own worst enemy.  How do you know when to stop pushing ahead and say “No” to the race?

For only the second time in my life I have had to pull out of a planned race.  I am going to pass on running the Mississauga Marathon, a race that I love and has been great for me in the past.  My training was gearing me up for a spring Marathon – I had all of my long runs completed (up to 37km).  So it goes strongly against my determined nature not to follow through with my plan.

How to know when to say “No to the Race”

  1. Chronic Ongoing Pain:  Keeping a training log is an impartial way of looking back over the weeks and identifying if an injury has been an issue.  I thought my hamstring pain had only been around for a couple weeks, but looking back over my training log, I discovered that I had recorded the first twinges of pain 4 weeks ago.  Prior to that I had other issues; tight quadriceps and heel pain.  I have been plagued with various injuries for 6 weeks.
  2. An Honest Analysis of the Consequences of Running the Race:  In a race, it is inevitable that an athlete will push herself.  I have found that for me, it is extremely difficult to hold back in a race even if I know I should save myself for a more important later goal.  I’ve learned that if I truly need to hold back, then running a race is not an activity I should be engaging in. While I might be able to get away with it for a shorter distance, like a 5k, the pounding of the full 42.2km distance of a marathon would definitely exasperate any injuries that I am trying to nurse.
  3. Listen to the advice of Health Care Professionals and Coaches: Having an ongoing therapist who knows how your body responds to stress and how quickly you recover is key to knowing when it is time to call a “time-out”. I am not always able to determine when it is time to call it “quits”.  I need people in my life who tell me to slow down when it is necessary. Last week my chiropractor – Dr. Geron Cowherd – adjusted my lower back and did ART (Active Release Therapy) which had a very significant impact on my hamstring. I felt almost instantly better.   In fact, it was the most improvement I had ever experienced from a single treatment.  I was able to run well over the weekend with no significant pain.  However, the pain returned Monday morning.  Geron has seen me recover quickly from injuries in the past, but this time he told me to stop.  I will listen.
  4. An Assessment of the Importance of the Race:  Prioritize!  Determine what the most important goal of the year is and go from there.  Will this current race assist in achieving that main goal or detract from it?  My main goal of 2015 is to complete my first Ironman race in September. It is time to increase my cycling mileage and start combining the three sports in practice.  Running the marathon now would not give me a great time (as I am injured and currently not at peak fitness) and it only has the potential to detract from the Ironman, with risk of further injury and a prolonged recovery time.  A marathon has a minimum of 2 weeks (and up to 4 weeks) post race recovery, which would mean the loss of much valuable training time. I will gain nothing from the marathon in terms of my Ironman goal, except lost training time and likely worsened injuries.

Now it is time to focus on RECOVERY and my long term goal of the ironman.  The beauty of this event is that although I must now take some time off from running, I can continue to pursue my swimming and cycling training.  I will enjoy active recovery and a weekend with my family, without the pressure of a marathon.  I have determined that I will focus on the positives and treat my body with care and respect the time it needs to heal.  For inspiration, I read the story of Krista Duchene,who broke her femur a year ago and today found out that she will be be going to the Olympics to represent Canada.  There is hope!

How have you coped with your injuries?  Have injuries forced you to say “No” to a race?  I would love to hear about your experiences and learn from your recoveries!

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Why Make Running Goals?

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

Happy NEW YEAR!

Time to make running goals and resolutions for 2015…

How many people still make New Year’s Resolutions? Has goal-making gone out of fashion?  It seems that the fear of not accomplishing their goals prevents many people from even making them. If they do not make a goal, presumably, they cannot “fall off the wagon” and they will not be disappointed.

I propose the opposite. I think you will be much more disappointed in your year if you do not make any goals at all.  Sure, you may fail, but you may also achieve something phenomenal that you would not have done at all, had you not dreamed and reached for an ambitious goal.  AND if you do fail, you will most definitely have learned many valuable lessons along the way and grown as an individual.  To try is to grow and learn.

When I look back over my running and training goals, I see how much I have gained from challenging myself with new dreams and aspirations.  In 2014, I had two very specific running and training goals.  One that I did not fully accomplish, and one that I accomplished with flying colours.  I have no regrets and I am pleased that I made both those goals.

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

  1. sub 3 hour Boston Marathon
  2. Successfully complete my first triathlon – Half Ironman

I ran the Boston Marathon in April 2014 and had a great time.  I completed it in 3:06:48  – NOT a sub 3 hour marathon.  Had I made too ambitious a goal?  I do not think so.  I think I could potentially have achieved the time, with smarter racing on the day—I went out too quick.  Still, I am glad I made that goal and I am not devastated that I did not accomplish that time.  It reminds me how challenging the Marathon is and how amazing it is to reach those hard-to-get times.  I have run a sub-three-hour marathon elsewhere, but not at Boston.

I completed my first ever Half Ironman triathlon in September in Muskoka.  It was a thrill and I felt strong throughout most of the race (the last 5km of the run were tough!).  I did what I wanted to do and even had the bonus of coming first in my age group.  It was a special day and so much training had gone into that event.  It was one of the thrilling moments in my life—the swim, bike and run felt euphoric at times.  I loved the whole 5 hour experience!  I do not take for granted that I completed this goal—on another day, with poor conditions, or if I had been fighting illness, the result could have been very different.  This was a gift.

Announcing one’s goals publicly can be frightening.  People may hold you accountable and ask how things are progressing.  (James has found this with his Fit by Forty goal!) You will probably achieve your goals, or you may not.  Do not let fear stop you from experiencing new and exciting adventures in 2015.

Make SMART goals!

Specific: Saying, “Get in Shape” is not specific enough.  You need to specify how frequently and how long you will workout or have a clear end goal, such as run a half marathon.

Measurable: You must be able to clearly identify when and how you have accomplished your goal.  It can be a body weight goal; a specific race distance or specific target race time.

Attainable:  With a clear plan and specific steps, most goals can be attainable given an appropriate time frame.  Make a plan so the goal is attainable!

Realistic:  The goal needs to be something you can actually do.  However, do not be deceived; often a challenging goal is more likely to be accomplished than a very simple one, as it will take true commitment and hard work.  What matters is how motivated you are to achieving your goal – with hard work, you will be must more likely to achieve your goals.

Timely:  You need to set a time frame to achieve your goal.  without a time limit there is no urgency and you are far less likely to work towards your goal.

GOALS for 2015

Go ahead and create a new goal for 2015.  Do you need to try something new?  Do you want to go faster?  Do you want to go further?  Dream and go for it.

My goal for 2015 is to complete my first Full Ironman.  I thank my friend for challenging me to pursue this dream!