Week 2: training from -20 to +10

Calgarys_Sidewalks_snowI’ve realized now that I’ve got a full-time job, the best use of my time (and easiest thing for me to do) is weekly reports on training to keep me on track (rather than daily) and schedule them so I don’t have to worry about them posting – you’re the guinea pigs! Stick with me…

Jan 5: 5.41 km Run

I ran around my neighbourhood. The roads/sidewalks are a mess right now because of all the snow we’ve had so it wasn’t a particularly fast or enjoyable run but I finished it!

Jan 6: 22.57 km Bike

We all know just how much I love the bike. I was actually happy for the change of scenery. I am not enjoying the treadmill so much, so the bike was a welcome change (for a while.) I completed varying degrees of intensity and felt pretty good when I got off of it. My knee was still a bit tender at this point but biking helped make me feel stronger (even if it was just psychological!)

Jan 8: 6.53 km Run

This run was from my office over lunch time. The weather was quite mild and I actually enjoyed most of it. However, I did finish my run on the Centre Street bridge hill which was a colossal mistake. Yes. I do realize this will help me in the long run, but I was tired and I didn’t think I had much more in me to keep going. I remembered pretty quick from my last half-training that this is very much a mental game!

Jan 9: 6.40 km Run

The dreadmill. I mean, treadmill. This run was at the @TricoCentre on one of their glorious treadmills. As much as I dislike them, I do know that it makes more sense to hop on one than try to run around our sloppy, snow/ice covered streets. For some reason I am finding the treadmill even more difficult this time around – not sure if it’s just me, or if they’re actually just harder (probably me…) I also completed this with varying intensity in speed and incline.

Jan 11: 7.02 km Run

Glenmore Reservoir run and it was terrific. I had only intended to do a 6.4 km run, but was feeling really strong and wanted to take advantage. The trail was quite busy, despite heading there fairly early. It’s nice to see others out and feel the support/encouragement.

 Jan 12: 7.22 km Run

Final run of training week #2 was with the girls at #EauClaire. We started at around 9:45 and ran along the river, crossed and circled back to the parking lot by the Shaw building. It was a pretty nice run (but very slippery), much warmer than the one last Sunday and we did go further than we intended (which was good.)

That’s it for training! Hope everyone is happy & healthy out there.

Here are some tips for stretching [Source: About Running]

  • Don’t rush it. Stretch slowly      and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Don’t stretch through pain. Don’t      stretch beyond the point where you begin to feel tightness in the muscle.      You shouldn’t push through muscle resistance, and never stretch to the      point of pain. As you feel less tension, you can increase the stretch a      bit more until you feel the same slight pull.
  • Do stretch both sides. Don’t just      stretch your left calf because you feel tightness on that side. Make sure      you’re stretching both sides equally.
  • Don’t bounce. It’s a common      mistake, but bouncing risks pulling or tearing the muscle you’re trying to      stretch. Make sure you stretch your muscles gradually.
  • Don’t hold your breath. Stay      relaxed and breathe in and out slowly. Make sure you don’t hold your      breath. Take deep belly breaths.

Day 109: #YOGA with @BryanJonesYoga — SLAINTE!

yoga stretchSo TRX didn’t happen. It was a busy morning at our joint and I didn’t manage to get over to the gym in time, so I pulled out the old yoga mat and followed along with Bryan Jones on YouTube. It had been a while and was long overdue.

It felt really great to do the stretching and complete poses that a few months ago I found incredibly tricky. It’s unreal how it gets easier and easier; binding isn’t nearly as painful as it used to be (it’s still not always comfortable though). The pace of his yoga session allowed me to push just enough, but not too hard to quit. I also spent some time afterward doing a few circuits of weights and planks. It was grand!

Now that I’m all stretched out I’m ready to bring in the new year with some great friends!


Day 79: 4 mile run through the neighbourhood

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

-Christopher McDougall

This morning I woke up and couldn’t even think about going running. I didn’t feel like it. I’m certainly no gazelle and if you asked my son, he would say I was more like a bear 😉 Now, I’m not sure if I’m just hitting a wall or if it’s the fact that my legs are killing me. I’m not sure if it’s time to just give my body a longer rest, or what. It took a lot of motivation this morning to get going. I read a few blogs and a few things on line. Reviewed my favourite quotes. Completed a round of planks. Ate my regular porridge, consumed some caffeine + water. Then when I just needed a little push, I was recipient of a teeny bit of coaxing from the peanut gallery and I finally hit the pavement.

The first thing I noticed was that I had shin splints (Shin splints: known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), can usually be attributed to overloading the muscles of the lower extremities or to biomechanical irregularities. Muscle imbalance, including weak core muscles, can cause lower-extremity injuries, and inflexibility and tightness of the gastrocnemiussoleus, and plantar muscles (commonly the flexor digitorum longus) may contribute, as well. Increasing activity, intensity, and duration too quickly leads to shin splints because the tendons and muscles are unable to absorb the impact of the shock force as they become fatigued; also, the tibial bone-remodeling capabilities are overloaded.) I immediately thought, what the heck, do I need new sneakers? I probably do. But this is likely due to using and overexerting muscles during TRX on Wednesday and nothing is quite back to normal. As I had feared, it has interfered with my training so now I’m a little hesitant to go back for more abuse!

Despite the aches in my muscles, I still pushed faster than I have the last few runs. I certainly didn’t enjoy my run that much today, but it was a beautiful day for an outdoor activity (I even saw a guy running in shorts!) The temperature is warmer than it has been, so everything is melting but the ice that is left is extremely slippery. In less than a second I almost bailed twice, startling the fellow behind me (sorry!) For those of you out there training for longer distances, do you only focus on the running & weight training? Or do you also attend classes?

Anyway, that’s it for the day. Tomorrow is a rest day and I’m contemplating doing some yoga tomorrow evening at the Trico Centre.

Here are todays stats:

  • Distance: 6.44 km
  • Time: 37:25
  • Pace: 5:48
  • Best Pace: 4:50

Hope everyone is happy and healthy out there!


Day 78: 2 miles slow and missing @Cape_Breton

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

For the next part of half marathon training, my schedule has long runs slated for Saturdays. Try as I may, I can never run long distances on Saturdays, I don’t know why (mental, I’m guessing). Anyhow, after having kind of a “blah” day, it was all I could do to reverse my Saturday and Sunday runs (which I believe I’ll do permanently). So instead of running four miles tonight, I ran two. And I don’t regret it. At all. I should also mention that it was getting late in the day and I still didn’t want to peel my behind off the couch (we were watching movies) and I got a motivating tweet from one of my online running buddies:

THANK YOU! I needed that push – I honestly thought to myself, I’d rather be running than planking . . . sucker! 🙂

I started out really slow. My quads are still very tight (but thank you Runninbear a.k.a Clair for sending me the stretch video – it helps!) It took me almost half the run to get really warmed up. Once I got going I just cruised around the neighbourhood checking things out. My legs felt incredibly heavy and although I pumped my arms harder, there was no way I was going any faster. I gave in and just ran at a comfortable pace for the duration. It was slippery, but the temperature was above zero – which was delightful!

During my run I noticed that there are about half a dozen homes already lit up with Christmas lights! I had to laugh because it reminded me of walking/running through the neighbourhood this time last year and seeing a house that could only be described as the Griswold’s Part II. The lights were EVERYWHERE! I did manage to snap a picture of it, but now I can’t find it. There are no words to truly describe it.

It also reminded me of Christmas’s at home. When I was growing up, my parents were pretty traditional with the lights: some in the windows, on some trees and one Frosty the Snowman hanging out by the deck. Does anyone (other than my siblings + parents) know what I’m talking about? I would go as far to say that this particular Christmas decoration is vintage. I also want you to note that if you scroll across the photo it says “Frosty Misses You” – this is how my parents saved the photo and sent it to me last year. Notice there is also no snow on the ground? As you can see, Frosty is so old that his colour is faded. The poor thing is just hanging on by the red of his hat. Which is why several years ago, we told our dad to get rid of it or we (the kids) would. Of course, he didn’t so we tied Frosty over the side of the deck so that when our dad got home it looked like Frosty was trying to off himself. But, Frosty still lives today and I expect I’ll be getting photos shortly to prove it!

The whole point of my rambling, is that this time of year is one of my favourite times to run. Yep. It’s cold out. Yep. It’s slippery. Uh huh. It’s hard to breath. Yes. People think you’re crazy. But you there’s no way around it. You cannot beat Christmas lights and spirit. When I still spent Christmas’s in Cape Breton, I would do my usual evening running and it went by that much faster by checking out all the lights and beautifully decorated homes – I miss it. So, the next few weeks I’m going to start reporting back on all the fantastic stuff I see. And if anyone out there wants to submit photos – get at ‘er!

Here are tonights stats: 

  • Distance: 3:23
  • Time: 20:14
  • Pace: 6:17
  • Best Pace: 5:34


#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!!