Day 77: #Speed training at the track. Ouch.

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” -Ken Doherty

Tonight was speed training at the indoor track because it was way too slippery outside. I’m not much of an indoor runner (as you know) for a few reasons: (1) it’s boring, (2) I feel like people stare and (3) it’s too stuffy. I do find a huge difference running on the rubberized floor though, my knees are thanking me rather than hating on me this evening. However, my quads are still incredibly sore from TRX the other evening. No joke. I’m still bracing to go down and up stairs, as well as sitting (first time I have ever wished I had those senior handles in the loo). But the stubborn person that I am, I cannot bare the thought of losing another day of training so I felt like powering through it. Not going to lie, literally half-way through I was almost ready to quit.

The internal struggle:

“Don’t be silly Kat, no one else would continue in this pain. Quit. You have blisters on your feet. Your quads are burning. Your chest is burning. You’re red and sweaty.QUIT!vs. “You can do this. You’re half-way done. Everyone else has had awesome runs this week, join them. Dig deep. Take a break if you have to, but DON’T QUIT!!“.

So, I grabbed a quick drink of water and hopped back on the track. And then when I had about six minutes left I took another break to stretch. I didn’t quit.

In total, I did ten minutes of sprinting and twenty minutes of regular pace running. So the intervals were one minute sprint, two minutes regular running (sometimes slow). I have absolutely no idea how many laps I completed, but I didn’t really care this time I was just thrilled to finish. I felt really good for the first 15 minutes, but it took a lot of willpower to continue the sprinting once I hit the halfway mark. I am proud to say that I finished on a sprint interval and finished strong. I took a half lap around the track just walking – my legs felt like rubber! It reminded me of the days when we would be training for basketball and had to do suicide after suicide after suicide (without the throwing up afterward). I wouldn’t say it was completely miserable because I actually felt like I showed the track who was boss but I would say that I’d take hill training over speed. Nuff said.

To cool down was some yoga and of course, planks. I did lots of stretching and drank lots of water and now I’m just relaxing in front of the tube.

Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday out there!

Day 76: Just had my ass handed to me by TRX bootcamp @TricoCentre

Today was cross training day and although I considered (albeit briefly) working out on the bike, when I took a look at the Trico Centre drop-in schedule I noticed that there was a class I wanted to take, but could never fit it in: TRX. You may recall that back in September I mentioned that there was a class at the gym and I was worried that I wouldn’t be coordinated enough to do it: I was right (more on that later). But, lately I’ve felt like I’m in a bit of a rut with weight training and spicing things up, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to confuse my body a bit. Well, it was definitely confused…and angry. We weren’t even fifteen minutes into the class and my legs were burning. From high leg lifts to TRX planks, my heart was beating faster than ever!

I can’t even recall what we did exactly, because the whole time I was watching the clock calculating how many minutes of hell were left before I could go home and watch my shows (Bachelor Canada and RHONJ). I do explicitly remember the planks though. Now, I’m not sure if the instructors tactic was to humiliate in order to get results or what, but she kept saying “Kat! What’s going on with you?!” (when it took me longer to complete reps or even take a break). Well, let me see lady, this is my first time suspending my chubby body on little, teeny ropes so forgive me if I don’t trust them right away. And that’s when I told her I had “trust” issues, with the straightest face I could manage. The girl beside me chuckled. Obviously she didn’t know who she was dealing with. Stubborn. I was certainly not the most graceful one there, but you know what, I frigging well finished!

And bloody hell, don’t even get me started on the frigging planks. As you know, yesterday I did the @ChatelaineMag challenge of 1 plank every hour for 12 hours so I’m a little beat up from that. And today I did two planks before leaving for the class (both two minutes each). So tonight, when she told us we need to do 10 planks; hold for 3 seconds at the top and then slowly come down in 3 seconds, I wanted to punch her (but not really)… and of course, she started in with the “Kat! What’s going on with you?!”…nothing like pickin’ on the new gal! 🙂 But I don’t give up that easy, lady! I may not be good at it now, but I will be. A year ago I couldn’t do a chaturanga and bitch, I can do fifty in a row now!

Do you know what TRX stands for?

This Really sucks X 10000000000000000000000

Anyway, needless to say, I plan on getting back for another class because I’m stubborn like that. It was a good work out and all I can say is after this shit, I better be “Strong and Lean” when it’s all said and done!

#YOGA with the wonderful Rachel from @TricoCentre

I love yoga.

‎”I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” ~ Gandhi 

Tonight I attended all level yoga class at Trico and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. My favourite instructor led us – Rachel. She’s incredibly patient, thorough and really takes the time to explain each pose so that people (like me) don’t injure themselves. Her encouragement never ceases and I can truthfully say I’ve never felt self-conscious or intimidated when she helps out.  She’s also ridiculously fit and always has good tips/advice.

We did some balancing and learned how to separate our toes to give us better posture. I can’t remember what she was calling it (I am terrible with yoga names) but basically you mentally envision your big toe moving away from your baby toe and finally (miraculously) some day it will happen (or so she says). I enjoyed tonights class because it wasn’t as vigorous as it sometimes can be and truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me (as I type this, my eyes are struggling to focus). Mind you, I do enjoy getting my sweat on at yoga, but tonight was not the night! I felt really strong when we did our chaturanga’s (which I did full ones). And in my research I learned about SUP Yoga – does anyone know anything about this? I guess it’s when you do Yoga on a paddle board. Check it out! 

Anyhow, I borrowed the below from Yoga Channel about spreading your toes – have a read, I feel like it’s going to help!

Why should you spread your toes?

  • Improved postural alignment; spreading your toes assists in lifting the arches of your feet. (To very briefly summarize,) this action lifts the ankle, the knee caps, and finally sends the energy upwards to properly support and symmetrically align the pelvis, spine, neck, and head. This is called pada bandha, one of the energy locks in yoga.
  • A smarter foundation; with “awakened” toes, they become smarter in detecting the subtle weight shifts in your body, thereby better abling to communicate to your brain and body in how to stabilize (Hello balancing postures!). And P.S. – Better communication also means less tripping over your feet/ ankle sprains (for you clumsy ones).

How do we spread our toes? 

  • Warm up by manually massaging your feet and wiggling your toes with your fingers. You can also roll your arches on a squash ball or tennis ball (or any ball really).
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes apart by placing them in between each one – this shows your unfamiliar brain what the action of abduction feels like. If you are really ambitious, you can also use toe separators.
  • In hero pose, lift your heels off the ground and hold for a nice stretch along the backs of your toes and feet.
  • Have a seat, extend your legs out in front of you and look at your toes. Look at each toe one at a time and attempt to abduct it. You’ll have to be patient – this will take a while to achieve. Doing this while watching TV, on your lap top, reading, etc may make it easier.
  • Standing tall, practice lifting your toes, and spreading them apart as wide as you can. Once again, take advantage of idle time (ie. Waiting for water to boil, food to be microwaved).
  • During your yoga practice, use mountain pose or equal standing pose to lift your toes, spread them wide, and set them on your mat.
  • Finally, you can incorporate this into other asanas – balancing, seated, even in arm balance. We could always use a little more pada bandha in our practice!

Another interesting fact is that you can actually BUY these things called “Yoga Toes” and they’re basically like the rubber things you use to separate your toes while putting nail polish on them. They basically train your toes to separate, without all the mental work. They run anywhere from $20 – 30 (so I’ve seen) OR you could just go to the drug store (as Rachel advised) and buy the toe separator from Sally Hansen.

Day 74: 10km run in the snow. Sigh.

All good things must come to an end. We left Phoenix, which for most of the time was 30 Celsius, only to arrive in Calgary to almost -30! It was such a shock to the system but we’re slowly getting back into the groove of cold weather and snow; my tan is already fading…

This morning I had intended to get up at 6:30 a.m. and complete a 7 mile run (even though my training schedule only had  6.25 miles scheduled). However, when push came to shove, I got going at 7 am, had my usual pre-run breakfast and hit the trail at 8’ish. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the entire run. Mind you, I wasn’t tired at all but the cold weather mixed with crappy sidewalks made it frustrating. FACT: I enjoyed running in the desert much more than snowy Calgary! I snapped a picture of the only part of sidewalk I ran on today that wasn’t snow covered. But I made it through relatively unscathed; did a lot of slipping and sliding though! I don’t have any long socks to wear in my sneakers, so I’m looking for recommendations. I used to wear wool socks because it is so cold some days (I double sock) but I don’t feel like that is a feasible solution. So – winter runners – any advice?

The rest of the week looks like it may be a little chilly here (sigh). I start the second half of my training which includes major mileage building. I can’t believe I’m half-way through! When I started couch to 5k, I remember explicitly thinking (while running 1 minute and walking 2) that there was no way I’d ever be able to get back to running an hour – taaaaaa daaaaa! When you finish a longer run like this morning it’s such a wonderful feeling (runners high)… BUT then I realize, “Oh crap. I need to do double of this…” and I start coming down from my runners high. I really hope I can keep this momentum going, I’m really looking forward to knocking this half-marathon off my bucket list!

Anyway, here are todays stats: 

  • Distance: 10.02 km
  • Time: 1:02:16
  • Pace: 6:13
  • Best pace: 5:55

P.S: I learned a running tip on Twitter today: Before Running, one of best things to improve running gait/prevent injury is to place a deodorant can on the floor & roll underside of foot. I’m going to try this before the next run. Also, I need to get one of these foam rolls – they’re loads of fun and work.

Hope everyone is happy and healthy out there!

Running for two: what you should know about running while pregnant

I was only about four weeks pregnant when I completed Leg 15 of the Cabot Trail Relay (15.4km at 5:00 a.m.) As you can imagine, it was a pretty miserable run because I was in full-swing of morning sickness, though at the time thought it was a case of stomach flu (yeah – that’s right PH people, I said stomach flu… I know that’s not the right term  but people know what I’m talking ’bout- so shoot me.) After that I did keep up with running, but at around five/six months threw in the towel. Now, I’ve read about women who still run at 35 weeks: (a) I could barely walk and (b) I was very lazy. I think it’s amazing that women can be so tough, so I thought I should shed some light on the things you should know if you plan to lace up while pregnant.

  • Most doctors will agree that it’s safe to continue running as long as you feel good. And they mostly advise that if you’ve always been a runner you’re good to go. But if not, you shouldn’t start a strenuous activity while pregnant, so if you’re not a runner you should put it off until after baby comes.
  • You shouldn’t run if you have any of the following problems: placenta previa, preterm labour, short cervix, preeclampsia, or growth restricted baby. It also may go without saying that if you experience racing heart (you’ll know the difference between your usual heartbeat), shortness of breath and any bleeding, you need to stop. It’s recommended that you stay below 150 bpm. Or leaking of fluids, fatigue or dizziness
  • Like most people, I hate running on the track and indoors. The good news is that it’s okay to continue running outside through the first trimester, but for two & three, docs recommend you run indoors. Why? The terrain is more consistent and it reduces the risk for trips, slips and falls. Also, if anything happens help is right there.
  • Make sure to hydrate. Before, during and after.

Other things to keep in mind:

Great shoes, supportive bra and keeping a consistent temp is key – good clothes.

It seems that nowadays more often women are running further into their pregnancy. To find out more, I fired off questions to Julia Smith: a mother of one and currently expecting number two (20 weeks pregnant.) She ran until 32 weeks in her first pregnancy and she’s still going strong today. I am completely inspired by her dedication and love of running – no way was I running at 32 weeks! Here are her responses to my q’s:

(1) Do you have any tips for women who want to run while pregnant?  The first thing you should do is check with your Doctor. If you are healthy and already a runner it probably won’t be a problem, but they should know that you are a runner and plan on continuing to do so as long as it’s safe for you and the baby. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion either if you feel you should.

Listen to your instincts. They are usually right. If you try to go even though you don’t feel up to par most of the times your body just can’t handle it and you will have a miserable run that will turn into a long walk with a long recovery.

The biggest thing I have learned is that you have to know and listen to your body. It will be incredibly taxing on your body and mentally discouraging to have a goal of maintaining your pre-pregnancy fitness levels, and unless it’s your career, why worry about it. You will get it back. Things that normally wouldn’t be an issue (heat, tiredness, dark and/or slippery conditions, not feeling 100%) are more difficult to deal with, especially if you have other children. It’s about trying to find a balance between maintaining a healthy fitness level and not doing too much that your body says “what the…” and puts you out of commission.

(2) What about stretches? Are there any additional you complete before your run? I don’t really do anything different; I start slowly with a short brisk walk, and stretch after my run.

 (3) What is the longest distance you’ve completed during pregnancy? How frequently do you go? I usually go from a minimum of 5km but have gone as far as 7km since I found out I was pregnant. I get out between 2 and 4 times a week, really depending on how I feel; how busy work has been; juggling a preschool aged child and a home. I have done two 20km long runs in the month I was pregnant, along with running 3-4 other days a week, but before I knew for sure. I was finishing my training for the Cabot Trail Relay Race and my leg was over 19.5km.

(4) What is the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for me is changing my mindset about running. It’s not just about me anymore, and you have to be so much more careful and get used to not always pushing yourself to be better, but just maintaining a physically active lifestyle. I really enjoyed racing the past couple years, but will not race when I’m pregnant because I push myself harder than I need to at this point. I have plenty of time for that afterwards! It is also difficult physically and mentally getting used to a new body shape every couple weeks. It seems you just find a rhythm, and wake up bigger the next morning.

(5) Do you add more food to your diet to “carb up” while pregnant? I generally eat a well-balanced diet of homemade foods and usually don’t pay much attention to eating more; I have always eaten when I’m hungry (and sometimes when I’m not!!) I’m not really eating a lot more than before because I was averaging 40-55km a week of running with some circuit workouts as well, and that’s down to about 15-20km a week without the circuit workouts, and gradually slowing. I love veggies, beans, meat, and homemade soups so I don’t worry about vitamins and nutrition too much.

(5) Anything else you would like to add? I plan all of my runs in daytime, or well-lit, high traffic areas where I know the majority of the people who live along the route. I often take my dog with me, she’s great company and loves to run but likes her breaks too. I also make sure my husband knows when I’m going, where I’m going and when I expect to be back. Sometimes I wear a heart rate monitor just to make sure I’m not pushing my body too hard. It’s more for peace of mind, but it’s also good to check how much effort you are actually putting out compared to how you feel, and how quickly your heart rate recovers to your normal. Smile and enjoy it. I love seeing the double takes people do when they go by and realize there’s a big belly attached to me, and yes I am running, I love it, and I don’t plan on stopping until my body or my Doctor says enough.

Thank you Julia!!