Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monthly Review - JANUARY 2012

74.2 km :)

A whole lot better than the 0 km mileage in December 2011 and the 0 km mileage in November 2011. :)

My best January mileage since I started running. I logged zero runs in January 2011 (achilles tendon injury) and only one 3K run in January 2010.

Week #1 - Run #1

7K (7K scheduled)

Woo hoo! We're off and running, both literally and figuratively. :)

I have defaulted to the original half marathon plan from my favourite local and independent running store, Runners' Choice. It is less aggressive with mileage build-up than the training program I was using last summer/fall. Because my goal is simply to be able to run the distance rather than a PR, it's an ideal choice. In June, I will return to a PR-specific training program.

The boys and I headed to Springbank Park for a run around it. A lovely day to be out with them and it felt very good. They are such good running partners (I'm truly very lucky). The snow is all gone. TWO days ago, I was running in snow squall conditions and it was tough workout on a snow-covered country road. Today, I was overdressed with running tights and a light running jacket. Crazy! It really is a funky weather winter here ... but clearly a good winter for all the beginner runners in the LTR programs around the city. They can't use harsh winter conditions as an excuse not to run. :)


Pilates class followed this run. I made it back home in time to change clothes, give myself a quick wash (oy!), and drive there in time. I am doing my best to go to pilates 3X per week (Tues., Thurs. and Sun.) and fortunately, it has become a part of my regular routine, which makes it so much easier to be faithful. I'm very pleased about this because that's half the battle there!

Tonight's class was the toughest to date. I knew the moment I heard my instructor ask, "Is there anyone new to pilates?", followed by "Good! We are all veterans!" that we were in for it. I know why I go to classes because there is no way that I would do this kind of thing on my own at home. :) :) A great after-run stretch session, too - just what I needed for my legs. :)

Week #1 - Schedule

Monday - OFF
Tuesday - 6-7K
Wednesday - 7-8K
Thursday - 5-6K
Friday - OFF
Saturday - 6-7K
Sunday - 8-10K

Monday, January 30, 2012


from "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual," by Michael Pollan


PART II: What Kind of Food Should I Eat?
(Mostly plants.)

RULE #40 - Be the kind of person who takes the supplements - then skip the supplements.

We know that people who take supplements are generally healthier than the rest of us, and we also know that in controlled studies most of the supplements they take don't appear to be effective. How can this be? Supplement takers are healthy for reasons that have nothing to do with the pills. They're typically more health conscious, better educated, and more affluent. They're also more likely to exercise and eat whole grains. So to the extent you can, be the kind of person who would take supplements, and then save your money. (There are exceptions to this rule, for people who have a specific nutrient deficiency or are older than fifty. As we age, our need for antioxidants increases while our body's ability to absorb them from the diet declines. And if you don't eat much fish, it couldn't hurt to take a fish oil supplement too).

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

6K in the Snow :)

Change the colour of the runner's jacket to neon orange & black, and this is what I pretty much looked like on my Sunday run. :)

I took Friday off after running my first three days in a row, and Saturday proved to be just too busy to fit it in an intended short run.

I was aiming for a long(er) run today. Ben and I usually take the dogs out to a friend's farm on the weekend so they can run around and wear themselves out. I've noticed a solo female runner a couple of times, and was reminded of the hours and hours I spent on my bike, cycling on a similar concession road, when I was a kid/teenager growing up in the country. This gave me the idea to copy her. :) So today, after bundling up in my winter running gear, Ben dropped me off on a sideroad and headed to the farm with the dogs on his own where we agreed to meet. :)

This was a fun run. :) I was dressed appropriately for the weather, and it was sweet to be out solo for a change (sans dogs) out in the quietness of the country. Only a few cars passed by, which was sweet, because I had the road all to myself. The sideroad itself was good for running; enough had fallen to make it crunchy rather than icy, and there had been enough car traffic to depress the snow somewhat. I ran by a few horse farms which are usually very pretty and scenic. :)

However, it was a lot tougher once I turned onto the concession road. The snow on the road was not a compacted as on the sideroad so it was much tougher to run in. I was now running into the heavily falling snow, which also made a difference. It was soooo much more challenging , but after warming up properly for ~3K, I could handle it better than if I was trying to trek through this from the start.

When I was at the 5.5K mark, Ben drove up beside with the dogs. It had been tough for him on the ATV in the falling snow as well, and he could not pick up any speed without the wet snow making it both painful and hard to see. I was a little disappointed to see him because I had planned to run 10K (regardless of the conditions!), but now that he had packed it in, I couldn't ask him to wait around. Instead, we agreed to meet up at the next corner to give me another 1/2K+ so I could achieve 'more' than half my goal. :) In that last half km, the weather worsened so maybe it was just as well that my run was cut short.

Off tomorrow and 'official' half marathon training (within reason) starts Tuesday.


One of my running friends has her treadmill stored in a friend's garage because it won't fit in her new condo. She recently offered it to me for free. :) She promised me that it is a good, solid commerical-eque type of treadmill, and not a cheapie that feels crappy to use. We were scheduled to pick it up today, but my friend and I decided to wait until later in the week when the weather was better.

Once the treadmill is at our place, we will need to have it properly serviced through the Treadmill Factory (hopefully this will not cost us an exorbitant amount of money!). We considered buying a treadmill almost a year ago, when debating whether to purchase a club membership or an @home machine. At the time, we decided that the membership, which could be cancelled after a commitment of one year, would be the best investment. Now we have an opportunity to try both and see what works for us. I have the future treadmill area set up already, with all of my race bibs on one wall, and my medals/framed half marathon bibs on the other. :) Pics will be posted once the TM arrives. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Power of "2" and My Wish List


For months now, I have been attending a Kundalini yoga class faithfully twice per week. I want to start building on this.

If I can do this twice a week, what else can I do 2X week?

Body Sculpt class
Yoga @home using a DVD


I originally wrote the above post on August 18, 2011. This is when I first started thinking about the power of two. I realized how my Wed. and Fri. 6:30 p.m. yoga class had become a part of my routine. It was a given, and best of all, I never felt like bailing - I always looked forward to going without needing someone to prod me. How cool is that?

I didn't post it because I was still mulling it over. Just a quick draft post to capture my thought at the time. And then I was distracted away from my blog because I was injured and couldn't run.

Now that I am cleaning up my 'draft' post file (lol!), it's cool to re-read it now before adding to it and posting it today because I have actually added pilates 2-3 times per week since that time. Woo hoo! I am surprised by how easy it was for me to do this. The other night, I was so tired and really just wanted to stay home quietly for the evening, but I still went (and felt better for going). :)

For me, there is an important lesson to be learned from this. Although I was tired after my day, I still went to pilates. I knew I would be on my back, hips, and tummy most of the time during the workout. If it had been a cardio workout, I probably would have bailed. I honesty think it's been easier to commit to yoga and pilates because they are not hardcore 'cardio' workouts per se. I am developing much better strength and flexibility, but I am doing it without pumping techno music and sweating profusely. :) I arrive home relaxed, and then I am off to bed early. This is why it's working so far for me. Cardio, running, and high energy workouts work best for me much earlier in the day, not usually in the evening.*

In conclusion:

Yoga (check)
Pilates (check)

The next item on my list? Swimming twice per week. :)

*At this point in time ... I'm adding this caveat because there have been numerous times in my life when I ran/cycled in the evenings or would go to the gym for a workout to burn excess energy. I was much more athletic during these times so I have no idea if this is an 'age' thing, a 'schedule' thing, a 'fitness level' thing or even a 'winter season' thing. The next year will no doubt show me. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Very Short & Sweet 3.75K

It's been a long time since I ran this short of a distance. :)

But it has also been a long time since I ran so late in the day (dinner time). All day I felt like going for a run so I was pleased to sneak out for this shorty with the pooches. I had just enough time to walk in the door, shower, and then head to yoga for post-run stretching. :)

I think I had a bit of breakthrough as well with my stride. I concentrated on picking up my knees more this time when working on my posture, and wow! It felt different, but it also felt 'right'. Very interesting!

The best part - this was the first time I have run 3 days in a row. :) Celebrating the small stuff.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rollercoaster 10K

Or maybe I should call this the 'inadvertent interval' run instead? :)

The good stuff first:

- I ran a 10K - woo hoo! I will be happier when I start running in the double digits a little more often than what I am doing now, but until then, this will do. :)

- It didn't rain on me and the path was well salted by the city so my concern about potential ice was alleviated.

- The dogs were great; they were very serious about running today. When I stopped to walk, they were like horses chomping at the bit, which was good, because my walking intervals were kept very short as a result. I'm finding that my first km is now faster than my second km just because they are excited and anxious to start running - it takes them a km distance to settle into pace. :)

The odd stuff:

- I have been concentrating on my breathing, incorporating the diaphragm breathing learned from yoga and pilates, and as per the discussion in Chi Running/Walking. It really works! I'm enjoying it, too. However, it just wasn't easy to incorporate today for some reason, probably because of what I am about to write next ...

- My pace was all over the map. I acknowledge that I wrote on this blog recently that I was not going to focus on speed so much, and this still is my true intention. However, I couldn't help, but notice last week that I was hitting paces much faster than at the peak of my training program last fall!?! At first I thought it was a fluke, but after tracking it on a few subsequent runs, I'm seeing it more consistently. Huh! Maybe this focus on posture and breathing is already working ... or maybe I am too distracted paying attention to my posture and breathing that I don't realize I am running faster (Angus is at his peak form in the winter so I can also attribute the faster pace to his happier running). Just something I am noticing and making note of ...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Running Update

I haven't been blogging my runs like I usually do.

Usually I am following some sort of training program. I blog my runs as a way of keeping track of how well I am following my chosen program. And throughout 2010, I was pretty faithful. :)

But these days, I am not following a training program. I'm in what I like to call post-injury 'recovery.' :) Therefore, every run has been conducted with the mentality of a gradual return, acutely paying attention to how my calf feels, stopping myself on purpose to walk for a minute to rest the leg, and essentially playing it by ear, one run at a time.

Fortunately, my last three runs have been very, very good and I think I am ready to start stepping it up. :) There is significant improvement and I can feel myself getting back into the groove. I have focused on breathing and my posture, thanks in part to reading the book, "ChiRunning," and these small adjustments, just on their own, has helped. I'm not quite sure what I was doing 'before' but now, the running is easier, the pace is much quicker, and I'm hitting more stretches in which I feel like I can run effortlessly for a long time (before I hit my designated landmark and force myself to walk to give the calf muscle a break).

And so, as of Monday, January 30th, I plan to start another round on a training program. I have a spring half marathon at the end of April (that I just want to be able to participate in) and a tentative half marathon in early June. In order to achieve these goals, I will need to be more focused with my running. This will likely prove to me within a matter of weeks if a half marathon in April is do-able, or if I need to scale it back, adjust my goals, and then wait until later in the year to start ramping it up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Pass on Joining an HM Clinic For Now ...

I have mentioned several times in this blog throughout 2011 that I was interested in joining a running group/half marathon clinic. I wrote in December that I was hoping for the 'okay' to run from my physiotherapist in time for me to join the group I had in mind which was starting in January.

Well, it is now the 22nd and the group I wanted to join started a few weeks ago. As the start date approached, I realized that my enthusiasm had waned. I wasn't too keen on joining while I was still recovering, and felt that perhaps this might push me to do at a time when it wasn't smart to be pushed. I'm not running more than three times a week at the moment, and my mileage has yet to exceed 10K. My calf muscle has no issue while running, but I am feeling tenderness in my muscle on my rest days. I was warned about this - my scarred tissue is being stretched so it's not unexpected. I also notice it more when there is a significant change in the weather/temperature.

So - no group running/HM clinic - yet. Just solo, steady running to strengthen the calf muscle again. When I am ready to do so, I will add more runs to my week and then more mileage to my individual runs. Another half marathon clinic is offered in early June (the goal race is the Springbank HM that I listed as a 2012 goal). We'll see. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Running Goals for 2012

1. To run injury-free!

I have made this my number one running goal without fail for the last few years. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I have experienced the true value of this goal twice. Grrrrr! I am being careful as I ease back into regular running, cognizant of how my calf muscle is feeling and letting go of some of the goals that I was considering making prior to this injury. I'm moving ahead with making additional goals for the year ahead, but with the caveat that I may need to adjust/change them depending on how well my calf responds to increased mileage, workouts, etc.

2. To run in all six (6) London Honda Series races.

I participated in 4 races in 2010, 5 races in 2011, and I am aiming to make 2012 the year in which I run in all six. :) I have volunteered to help the organizer this year with the Series by offering to be the individual who attaches all the disposable chip/foam strips to the back of all the race bibs. I am looking forward to contributing to this terrific local Series in this small way. :)

3. To run in the 10K @ the Really Chilly Road Races in February.

An offshoot of goal #2. In 2010, I was not in running shape to participate in this event. In 2011, I was happy to run in the 5K; I had just returned to running a few weeks prior. This year, I would feel very good about running in the 10K - no PR goal - but just being able to run a 10K for the first time so early in the calendar year.

4. To run in all eight (8) Runpiker Series races.

A little busy on weekends in the spring and in the fall, but I truly enjoy the healthy excuse to drive out of the city and run in some very pretty towns around Southwestern Ontario. They usually have a sweet community vibe to them and they are simply just good fun. :) They are well worth adjusting any training program to accommodate. For me, this is what puts the fun into running. When I had to cancel my goal HM, it was a true bummer, but it was easier to deal with because of the fun I experienced throughout the running season at all these races. If that HM had been my one and only race planned for the season, I probably would have had greater difficulty dealing with my disappointment.

5. To run in the half marathon in the Forest City Road Races in April.

This goal can be tracked on my blog. In 2010, I ran in the 5K, my earliest 5K in the calendar year at the time. I was very pleased. :) In 2011, I ran in the 10K, my earliest 10K in the calendar year at the time. I was so proud. :) (see blog header photo - that's the event). No PR goals - it was just about being able to run that respective distance so early in the year. For several years, I have aimed to run in the half marathon in 2012. And yes, I am going to go for it. :) I have my half marathon training program scheduled already.

However, it is all about being able to run it from start to finish. There is no PR goal in mind. Similar to the previous two races, it's just about being physically able to run a race with this mileage so early in the calendar year. If my running progresses from this point forward the way I have it planned, I'll be able to do this. However, if my running level/mileage develops more slowly than anticipated, I will change it to another 10K, and aim for the half marathon next year.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the road races. I have already submitted my name online to be a volunteer for kit distribution (no response back from the organizer as of yet).

6. To run in the Run for Retina 10K again.

I had it in my head last year that I would like to run in the half marathon in this event in 2012 ... to use it as a trial run before the Forest City Road Races since the race is held on the same running paths that I use regularly. However, the dates are different from last year, making it too close for me to the FCRR. The half marathon might be a consideration for 2013.

The swag was terrific last year. I wear my running jacket all the time as a regular jacket and all finishers receive the same large, colourful, and very solid medal.

7. Aim for a half marathon in Niagara Falls in June.

A yoga classmate who runs multiple destination half marathons annually told me that she and several friends were planning to participate in a women-only half marathon together in June. When I asked her if this was the Toronto event, she was a little confused and said that she thought it was in Niagara Falls; she wasn't sure because she just agreed to do it, but hadn't looked into it further. I checked online when I arrived home and there was no such thing (??). I assumed that she was mistaken. However, a week later, I was PM'ed by a DailyMile user who was promoting a new event - a half marathon for women in Niagara Falls in June! How funny is that? The following week, the new website went live. And the swag includes a bottle of wine! Ha ha! :)

There are so many reasons to do this:

1. Running in Niagara Falls along the parkway is very cool. This HM is similar to, but not the same as, the NFIM route, which I know is a good one.
2. It would be fun to participate in a women-only half marathon, especially an inaugural one. I would enjoy being a part of it.
3. If Ben were to come with me, it's the type of event he can handle - LOL! Ben hates crowds and busy traffic. I love Toronto; he does not. :) He doesn't mind Niagara Falls.
4. Did I mention the bottle of wine as swag? :)
5. This is a consolation for the lost NFIM HM last fall. :) :)
6. Considering where I am at with my running, this is more do-able than the FCRR. It gives me an alternative - I can handle the decision not to run in the HM in April (we'll see) if I have a substitute to fall back on.

I purposely wrote "aim" in my goal line because as I type, Ben and I are both experiencing precarious work situations so our financial situation closer to the date will determine whether a trip away to Niagara Falls is do-able at the time. This is not worth doing unless there is available funds. :)

8. To run in the Springbank Road Races Half Marathon again. :)

Another offshoot of Goal #2 (part of the London Honda Series. This was the race I did sooooo well in right up until the 18K mark when my left calf painfully seized up and I ended up limping the rest of the race to the finish line. Rematch! :) And another attempt at using it as a training race for my 2012 goal race ....

9. My goal race of the year is the Niagara Falls International Marathon Half Marathon.

No surprise here. :) My ultimate running goal for the year is to run in this race and to run it well. :)


Mainly repeats from last year ... some new additions. :) This gives my running purpose and hopefully there are not too many outside factors or health/injury issues that will prevent me from attaining these goals. :) :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of 2011 Goals

I have a separate page on my blog where I track my goals. I have a few 2010 "carry-over" goals (ones I didn't achieve so I added them to either my 2011 or 2012 lists), my 2011 goals, and then a work-in-progress list of my 2012 goals.

For clarification, before I post the following - I am not the type of person who gets upset about missed running goals. I use my yearly goals more as a guideline than a must-achieve list. Although I am pleased when I meet my goal, I don't freak out or get overly negative when I don't. This is not how I approach running. I feel disappointment sometimes - for example, it took me awhile after my race in Stratford to wrap my head around the fact that my goal race, the Niagara Falls half marathon, was not do-able - but my disappointment didn't last for very long. I really try to keep it all in perspective and to keep moving forward. I am pretty sure the posts on my blog over the last 1+years reflects this about me, too.

Without further ado, here is my review of my 2011 goals before posting my 2012 list:


1. First and foremost, to run this year injury-free !!!

I accomplished this ... until September when I injured my left calf muscle during the Springbank Half Marathon and then tore it during the Festival City 10K. :(

As someone who always warms up and cools down with every run, stretches properly after her runs, started doing yoga 1-2/week, and who tends to err on the conservative side when training and pushing myself, this was very, very frustrating. It was something I discussed in detail with both my sports doctor and my physiotherapist - I thought I was doing everything 'right'. However, this second injury was the catalyst for learning about the bio-mechanical issue I have with my left leg, which was behind my left achilles tendon injury at the end of 2010 and again this year with my left calf muscle. The upside to this is that it's not a result of something that I was doing 'wrong' per se, but a pre-existing issue that I am now aware of and need to pay attention to in order to prevent another injury in my left leg in 2012. It has instigated my recent interest in exploring running beyond training plans & programs, and I'm finding it quite interesting. :)

2. To continue improving upon my running speed so that my average pace is consistently in the 6-minute zone whenever I run. I was on the cusp in December, but will no doubt be solidly in the 7-minute zone when I return to running regularly (I am making this resolution when I am off from running with an achilles tendon injury :( ...).

I am pretty sure that when I initially wrote this, I had my 'every day' runs in mind. It's hard to recall what I was thinking because my mindset has changed quite a bit since I wrote it! I achieved this goal in the sense that all my races in 2011 were in the 6-minute zone, but this pace zone was a hit & miss in my training runs. I used a 5K and a half marathon training program from the same book last year, and the coach/author emphasizes the importance of easy runs for the first 8 weeks being just that - easy. I took it to heart and spent 16-17 weeks just easy running, and building up my half marathon mileage. I like my lessened dependency on watching my Garmin and I plan to keep this up.
Truthfully, I think my pace will naturally gravitate into the 6-ish minute pace zone on a regular basis on its own as I become lighter on my feet (i.e. lose some weight). I'm not going to carry this goal over to 2012 because it's not my focus, but I'm speculating that it will happen anyway as a natural result of other things that I plan to focus on. We'll see. :)

3. To participate in all six (6) London Honda Running Series races and place in the top five (5) in my age group as a result of my perseverance and improved pace. :)

My potential prize for 5th place? A $10 gift certificate to the Runner's Choice in London - LOL! :) :)

I placed 7th and was on the injury list for the last race so I ran in 5 out of the 6 races. "If" I had been able to run in the last race, my probable age placement points and the extra bonus points I would have received for running in 6/6 would have bumped me up to 6th place - LOL! Close, but no cigar. :) There were age categories in which only one runner or three runners met the Series' criteria. My age group happened to be one which was heavily contested. :)

4. To participate in seven (7) out of eight (8) Runpiker Series races.

The Toronto Women's Half Marathon is on the same date as the first Runpiker Series race - the Dairy Capital Run. I ran the 5K in 2010 and would love to run in the 10K this year (it was a very fun, well-organized event). However, my heart is really into the half marathon with only women in Toronto, and I set it as my next half marathon goal after completing Niagara Falls.

UPDATE (March 2011): I was unable to start running again until February so training for this half marathon in time is no longer possible. Therefore, I will participate in all eight (8) Runpiker Series and seek out another third half marathon to run.

Achieved! I ran in all eight races and had a great time doing so! :) As for my 'heart' being into in all women's half marathon race, there is a new one this year :) but I will cover that in my 2012 goal list.

5. To be registered in a minimum of two (2) races at all times.

Once I have finished running one race, I will proceed to register myself for the next one as a method of keeping me motivated and looking forward.

For the most part I did this. What ended up determining this more for me was deadlines for race t-shirts. :) In one instance, I registered for one race that was 'two races' away because they sent a reminder email that only those registered by a certain date would receive a t-shirt - ha! At the time that I wrote this, I was wondering if I would lose enthusiasm for the race series as the year progressed if I didn't do this. This didn't happen at all - I am just as enthusiastic for it in 2012 as I was in the two years previous so this now looks like a moot point.

6. To run in a minimum of one (1) race per month.

I will need to fudge this a bit and start in February as there are no January races scheduled within my driving radius, but otherwise, when I look at my 2011 list, this is do-able!

January - 0 (Snowmaggedon & injured left achilles)
February - 1
March - 0
April - 3
May - 3
June - 3
July - 1
August - 2
September - 1
October -1 (2 planned races cancelled due to calf muscle tear)
November - injury list
December - injury list

I made 'hay' in the spring (April - June), but didn't find a local March race after all. I then had to abandon this goal by November. Another 'it is what is' - I ran in more than 12 races anyway so that's good enough in my books. :)

7. To participate in a minimum of three half marathons this year.

1. Toronto Women's Half Marathon - May 29th (change – achilles tendon injury prevented training)
2. Springbank Road Races Half Marathon - London, September 11th
4. Road2Hope (Half Marathon) - November 6th

This is open to change and/or addition. If I am able to convince my sister to run a half marathon with me sometime this year, I am looking at The Chocolate Half Marathon in August or the Run for the Grapes in September with her.

My sister ended up having a horrible year at work and this had a negative impact on her running; therefore, I didn't push the idea of running in the Chocolate HM or the Run for the Grapes together. I still like the idea so I will likely let it simmer in the back of my head for the next few years as a fun thing to do with her. As for my list of half marathons, I accomplished the Springbank HM as planned, but was forced to drop out of my goal Niagara Falls HM. I was not in a financial position at the time to add a third, out-of-town HM so my focus on adding this race to my list was rapidly losing steam by the end of the summer anyway. I'm still adding three half marathons to my goal list for 2012. :)