Following the Plan?

As spring is in the air, thoughts turn to the racing season and my on going struggle of whether to follow a training plan or not. I have run a lot of races and I confess that I have only followed a training plan for one of them. I know many people follow a plan and I have friends who stick rigidly to their plan, no matter what. I found that having a strict schedule did not work for me. I started well and knew what I had to do each day, but half way in, I started to lose motivation. It became a case of  having to run a certain distance at a particular pace.  Race day was fine but such a relief that it was over. Afterwards, I completely lost my interest in running. I did not want to run and couldn’t understand what had happened to me.  I thought about what it was I loved about running; how I love to explore different routes, how I love being outside, how it makes me feel happy and free and realised that for me, following the training plan had taken away the joy of running and turned it into a chore. It took a few months, but by running when and how I felt like it, without any agenda, I eventually began to look forward to running again.

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Now here we are again at the start of another race season, friends are again following strict plans and I am again wondering if I should too. They tell me their pace and ask me mine. I have no idea how fast (or slow) I run.  Yes, I would like to be faster and I am sure if I trained hard, I could be, but will I lose motivation again? It is often difficult not to compare yourself with others but my advice is to do what works for you. You may be like my friends, and do well with a strict schedule, or you may be like me and find that demotivating.

I have a 50K race towards the end of summer and although I have run that distance before, this will be on challenging terrain. My goal is to  finish this race upright and within the cut off time and so yes, I will train, but without following a strict plan. My training will be long runs/hikes in the mountains with friends, lots of climbing up and running down hills, core strengthening exercises and maybe a bit of yoga added in. I will let you know in September if this strategy worked!

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No Excuses!

Too cold, too dark, too icy… Does this sound familiar?

If you are finding it difficult to find the motivation to run in the winter, you are not alone! The colder mornings, darker evenings and  icy conditions  can often leave us wishing for the summer again. But wait! remember when you moaned about the heat? Oh yes, apparently it was too hot to run outside not that long ago and so you opted for the treadmill and the nice air conditioned gym instead. Or even better, decided to forgo any exertion and just sit on the deck with an ice cold beer!

Everyone makes excuses at times but it is often too easy to listen to that little voice that can talk you out of anything! With the winter almost upon us, its important to stay active for many reasons. We’ve all heard about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and know that dark, grey, cloudy weather can sometimes make us feel a little down  but here in sunny Alberta, we are lucky enough to have around 333 days of sunshine a year.(www.currentresultss.com/weather/canada/Alberta/sunshine-annual)

So here are my top tips to get you outside in the winter months:

Set a goal. Find a race to sign up for. There are still lots of races held throughout the winter, as well as registrations opening for many next season. Calgary marathon has a distance for anyone ranging from 5k to 50K

(Register here http://calgarymarathon.com/register.html)  Now is a great time to set yourself a goal as you have the winter months to work towards it.

Join a running group. Having a commitment to meet other people and run is a great way of ensuring you turn up, and at least there will always be someone to take great action photos of you running in the snow! Calgary marathon society has started a weekly running group (Details are on their website)… or if there isn’t a group near you, do as I did and start your own.Copy of IMG_5795

Go shopping! Who doesn’t love new running gear! Seriously though, it is important to have winter weather specific fabrics and clothing so that as long as you have the appropriate clothing, you’ll be warm and toasty.

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Stop complaining! Yes, you can find an excuse for anything if you try hard enough, but how about channelling those thoughts into positive ones? You are lucky that you get to run. Many people can’t, so be grateful.

Finally, my favourite. Be a badass! Running in the snow is even more hardcore than running in the rain (which, as we all know, is pretty darned impressive anyway.) Running outside in weather that sends most people inside, puts you totally off the badassery scale. Try it and see!

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Now What?

After the highs of the weekend, is anyone else feeling a little deflated? What a weekend though! For me, it started on Friday with a trip to the expo to collect my race packets, listen to speakers, speak with some of the other forerunners, work at the 5Peaks booth, hang out with friends and make some great new contacts. Then, a quick change in the washroom, and off to party!

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Race day came around fast (4.30 a.m alarm) but the sunrise on the drive in to Calgary made the early start worth it!

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Happily, I had my VIP status printed on my race bib so was able to get coffee and breakfast in the VIP area which was great. Then it was time to head to the corrals for the start. My goal was to run the half without any pain and to have fun, which I did. I had originally signed up for the 50k again but changed a couple of weeks before the race due to ongoing injuries. Initially, I was very disappointed to do this, mainly because I wanted that huge, shiny medal so much! but it was the right decision. I finished the half marathon feeling great and met up with some of the other forerunners to hang out in the VIP area.

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While we were waiting for the 5k to start, we sat and watched some of the other finishers coming in, which was very inspirational. The 5k was a fun run and a good way for me to loosen up after the half marathon. There were so many people, runners, walkers, kids, strollers so it was very crowded, especially at the start but we had great fun chatting to people and spotting other friends along the way. Finish line, and another medal!What a fun day! The weather was beautiful, the course was great as usual, the spectators were totally awesome and everything about the race organization was spot on, from the packet pick up, to the post race food and not to mention the totally awesome medals!

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So… Now what? well registration is open for next year!
http://calgarymarathon.com/register.html

Bring it on!

Aside

As you may know, (because I’ve gone on and on about it for ages) I reached the BIG birthday back in January.. I was 50! I had been a little worried about how I would feel, turning into another decade, but so far, so good. Although the fact that I decided to celebrate my birthday all year could have something to do with it! untitled (29)

Earlier this week, a (younger) good friend told me of how she was mistaken in a store for her child’s grandmother. She was understandably rather upset by this despite our reassurances.  Another friend was feeling down about all the changes that growing older brings to women, and I am slowly becoming resigned to the fact that I’m having to wear my glasses more and more. (Shopping recently at a race expo, I spied a cute jacket that I wanted. It was $80 which I thought was a bit much, but hey, I wanted to celebrate my race in style so I gave it to Mr True North to pay for with the rest of our haul. Apparently the bill came to more than he thought because he asked me what had cost $110. Nothing, I say… turns out that I need my glasses to read price labels too! Oops!)

Anyway, back to the point..Getting older. Happens to us all. Not much you can do about it. Totally inevitable. Doesn’t have to suck though!

When Mr True North was 50, our daughter bought him a book as a joke untitled (27)

http://www.amazon.ca/Younger-Next-Year-Strong-Beyond/dp/076114773X

Turns out it was the best present ever, as it acted as a catalyst for some major  lifestyle changes.( You should all read  this book, even if you are so young you think 30 is middle age, as it has really important and useful information)

Then I saw this commercial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo6QNU8kHxI  Watch it, even if you’ve seen it before as it is profoundly shocking in that so many illnesses are preventable with a healthy diet and exercise.

Over the years of being a runner, I’ve had many people question why I run with  negative comments such as ‘You’ll wreck your joints’ , ‘Your face will sag’, and even ‘Your insides will fall out’. I could go on and on about the many reasons I like to run, but this is one of the biggies.. I want to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible, even if I can’t see where I’m going!

747649-1014-0038sLooking a bit windswept after a Goofy birthday weekend

What do you want from a personal trainer?

As a personal trainer myself, I love watching other trainers working with clients. Often I get great ideas from them but occasionally I see things that make me cringe.

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If you were hiring a personal trainer, what would you expect from them? Here are my top ten suggestions:

1. I’m sure your 20 year old butt looks much better than mine, but please do not spend half my session demonstrating your perfect squat in front of the mirror

2. Do not ask me to do an exercise that you can’t demonstrate

3. I’m sorry if I’m interrupting your lunch break, but please don’t eat when I’m paying for your time

4. Oh, and don’t stand there with your Starbucks in one hand and your cell phone in the other (yes, really)

5. If my session is an hour, I expect your attention for most of that hour. This does not mean you can leave me on the chest press machine while you wander off to chat to your buddy

6. Talk to me. I may not be able to answer you in more than one syllable, but silence is awkward

7. Don’t let me off easily. I do that on my own, that’s why I need you

8. On the other hand, don’t yell at me. That’s not encouraging, its mean and I might not want to come back

9. Don’t just talk the talk:  an overweight, unhealthy trainer does not inspire confidence

10. Remember my name, act like you’re pleased to see me and have a great workout planned for me

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I am a Marathon Maniac!

As many of you know, I was a fairly latecomer to running. It wasn’t until I was 35 that I voluntarily ran a step that wasn’t away from a wasp or some other insect.

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Once I ran in my first race, a 10k at the age of 46, I was hooked. I loved everything about the event: the preparation, the training, the excitement at packet pick up, the buzz on race day, not to mention the feeling of success and accomplishment that I had done something I never would have imagined possible! Well, the races got longer and more frequent and when I had a few half marathons under my belt I read about a group called the Marathon Maniacs. Members of this group are exactly as described – marathon maniacs! As I read the criteria for joining I was amazed that anyone would ever do that, let alone, actually want to do that! Well the idea obviously took root in my mind and eventually I qualified to join their sister group, the Half Fanatics.

The last few years, I have found it very empowering to set myself goals and my goal for 2013 was… yes, to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs! I already knew I wanted to run the Calgary marathon and so I looked around for another one close to that date.  For the first level, I needed to run two full marathons within a 16 day time frame. Handsome Husband decided that Rock and Roll San Diego was the one to do! That worked out perfectly for me because it would mean a mini runcation in that beautiful city, but not so good because it was just one week after Calgary!

Eventually race day for the Calgary marathon dawned and I was feeling good! I had trained, rested and was hoping to beat my last time. We set off running and all was good. The miles (or kilometres in Canada) ticked past and when the half marathoners split off, I settled into the rest of my run. Until 30k (18.5 miles) I began to get bad stomach cramps which worsened and resulted in two porta potty visits! I also developed a huge blister on the ball of my foot and maybe this affected my running gait because my hip flexors hurt, as did my lower back! I really struggled the last few miles, had to walk a fair way.( I’ll stop the injury list there because I know my mother will read this and be even more convinced that I should stop running before I damage my joints!)

I eventually finished with a time of 04.58.52, very disappointed with my performance and worried if I was going to be able to run another marathon in a week!

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We left for California on the following Thursday and spent a wonderful few days in the San Diego area before race day arrived. Well, I was very nervous and wasn’t looking forward to the run at all. Luckily, I had spent so much money at the expo that I had a VIP porta potty pass which allowed access into the VIP potties at the start line (If you have never seen these… wow!)

As the pre race nerves got worse, I decided to focus on the fact that I was getting to run in a beautiful place in perfect running weather, and forget about everything else. To cut a long race report short, it was great! No stomach issues, no blisters and hardly any leg/hip pains until the last couple of miles. Apart from having to walk up a killer hill at mile 21, I didn’t need to walk at all, and finished in 04.46.06.

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As I was handed my medal, I felt a little emotional. Although I hadn’t been  happy with my Calgary performance, I am amazed and proud that I am now officially Marathon Maniac #7283!

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Obsessed? Me?

This weekend I am running in the Calgary marathon and as I was planning my race day outfit, it became glaringly obvious that I may have an obsession with a certain brand of clothing.. and looking through my previous race photographs confirms it.. I am obsessed with YMX!

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If you have never heard of YMX by Yellowman brand, boy are you in for a treat! I first discovered this brand 3 or 4 years ago when I was searching online for different, more exciting exercise clothing. Where I live in Alberta, Canada isn’t a very exciting shopping destination! We don’t have access to many of the smaller brands or manufacturers and although a certain popular brand began in the next province over,  you can almost guarantee that someone else in the gym will be wearing exactly the same item of clothing as you!

As I browsed through the website, http://www.ymxbyyellowman.com  I was hooked! I placed my order and later that afternoon I had a phone call from a representative of the company explaining that shipping to Canada would cost extra and was I ok with that! Great customer service! Living in Canada, additional shipping costs are something we just have to face and I was expecting the usual 3 to 6 week wait time until I received my order. But no, it arrived the next day!

I am not going to go into the technical details because you can read all about those here http://www.ymxbyyellowman.com/c-sport_performance_fabric.html  but I will tell you that the fabric is amazingly soft and light. There are no rough seams and you honestly won’t feel as if you are wearing anything at all! (This from someone who had her mother remove all the scratchy labels from her clothing as a kid!) The fabric is sweat wicking, most has an SPF factor and the colours and designs  are beautiful, oh, and it’s called Madkool!

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As you all know, gym clothing takes a beating but even my oldest YMX tops look like new. They don’t fade or shrink at all. I love that you can wear them for any occasion, not just working out, they pack up really small when travelling and don’t crease and you can rinse them through in a hotel bathroom and they will air dry overnight!

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What more could you ask for?  Well, maybe this.

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When YMX announced that they were looking for ambassadors, I knew I had to apply and was honoured to be chosen to represent a brand that I am so passionate about.