life

Four ingredients for success

I recently wrote a post on Instagram about my four ingredients for success. I wanted to build on that and add some meat to the bones. When I am asked about how I got faster, there are many reasons why my body has adapted and become stronger {speed work, strength training, nutrition, mental strength}, but when it comes down to it, these four things have had the biggest impact. This can be applied to running but also in all areas of our lives. DREAM BIG.

You must believe in a dream so crazy that it scares you. This goal will light a fire deep within you. It will give you a reason to get out of bed in -20ºC at 5:00 am to train. For me that was Boston back when I was a 4:45+ marathoner. Qualifying for Boston seemed impossible, but there was a tiny voice in my head that asked, Why not you? I started to dream. I stated to plot. I started to think, Yeah! Why not me? I decided then and there I would one day qualify. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it - NEVER worry about the how-to at first - but I knew I was going to do it.

As you move the yardstick closer to achieving your goal, it's important to have stepping stones along the way. These stepping stones can be found daily if you look for them. Your ability to go faster, stronger, longer....

While the dream big goal is the driving force, if you don't have smaller wins along the way, I am afraid you'll miss out on the best part: the journey. As for me, there have certainly been highs and lows in this journey, but you know what? I’ve never once lost my faith that I will achieve this dream.

SHOW UP.

Consistency trumps perfection always. This means showing up when you don’t feel like it. This means doing the work even when it’s not perfect. This means working with what you have RIGHT NOW.

There are many days when we'd rather sleep in, watch Netflix, do anything BUT the thing that will get us closer to our goal. Why does that happen? We are so *fired up* one minute, and other minutes we are ready to throw in the towel and call it a day.

Know that you are NOT the only one who experiences these feelings. When these moments come, tell yourself all you have to do is show up. Somedays these workouts will turn out to be some of the best of your cycle, others will be garbage. That's ok. Your getting out there did more than sitting on the couch. And when that's not enough, there's always tomorrow.

WORK HARD.

"Stop wondering why you didn’t reach the goal you set out to achieve without doing the work required to get there."

Big goals, I don’t care who you are, do not come without hard work and they certainly do not happen over night. This means getting ugly and gritting through each and every tough workout. That 20 miler on the schedule? It’s there for a reason.

After 15 marathons and some time spent in the running community I can tell you that no one is an overnight success. Those people qualifying for Boston in their first marathon? This is not their first rodeo. They've likely been running for years and have equally put in the work. I used to focus on other people's journeys. What are "they" doing that I'm not? STOP. Comparison will get you no where. Put your head down and focus on your own journey.

DON’T QUIT.

Now above all, you can not quit. Trust the process. This journey may be months, it may be years. I won’t deny there aren’t times I wonder what I’m doing. Allow yourself those moments {they’re normal}, but whatever you do, do not quit. Keep moving relentlessly forward. Be open to change and learning from your mistakes.

This is all part of your story.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

Fail quick

It's Saturday morning and I'm sitting here fired up and reflecting on what went down in last week's half. Over the years I've had many a races that didn't go exactly as planned. Truth be told, last week I set out with the A goal to run a sub-1:40. I came up short by 3 minutes and 37 seconds. My B (sub 1:45) and C (run a steady strong race) goals were accomplished. I was on a high placing top 15 and 2nd in my age group. As someone who ran their first half marathon in 2007 in 2:45, back then I would have never thought I would be a "front of the pack" runner. I smile at this now. I also learned that my legs didn't bounce back as quick as I thought from being on my feet for 22+ hours the previous weekend, with very little sleep. I am OK with this (it was one of the best weekends of the year). These are my takeaways from that race.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, I'm fuelling my fire for my next half (I will undoubtedly need another one before Chicago), and of course the Chicago Marathon. I KNOW I have a sub 1:40 in me now. With the fitness that inevitably comes with summer training, I will achieve this goal.

Over the years I've experienced my fair share of "missed goals".  Whether that was my sub-4:00 marathon, my current quest to BQ, or my sub-2:00 half (that took me 4+ tries in 2011/12). Success is not determined by your wins, but by how you bounce back after a "failure". Growing up a ballet dancer, and a recovering type-A perfectionist, I have struggled with failure. I would let it eat me up. Running has helped me grow A LOT in this area (in all parts of my life). I now look at things much differently and EMBRACE FAILURE. I've stopped dwelling on the "what ifs" and "could haves". They do not serve me. They lead to overthinking and do very little in helping me move the yardstick closer to my goals.

You have to have PURPOSE in running. If it's strictly for the quantifiable goals (time, weight), sadly I am not certain the running journey will be a pleasant one. I run because it makes me strong mentally and physically and has changed my perspective on life (running can do that, you know). I see failure as a productive part of life. Onwards.

Show up.

Fail quick. 

Shake it off.

Learn the lesson. 

Get going. 

5 MEAL-PREPPING TIPS FOR RUNNERS

This might be bold for me to say, but I consider myself a master meal prepper. I’ve been meal prepping on and off for the past seven years. I started in 2009, after finishing grad school when I realized that living on garbage for the past few years had taken a toll on my health. To fix my predicament, I started running and then I stumbled upon fellow Canadian and fitness enthusiast Tosca Reno and her Eat-Clean Diet books. The books appealed to me because they weren’t just about losing weight, but viewed the diet as part of overall fitness. Important for us, her plans emphasized the importance of meal prepping. Being the Type-A that I am, I loved the ideal of planning meals and being ready for the week. Seven years later, and here I am running far more than ever and meal prep has become essential to balancing my running goals with the demands of daily life. Over the years I’ve refined my prep, and offer these five tips to meal prepping like a champ.

Read more at Salty Running.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

A letter to #MyFutureSelf

New Balance Canada has launched an initiative that gives runners an opportunity to write a letter to your future self about aspirations in sport and life. You can submit a letter to yourself here. In approximately one year, New Balance will send the letter back to you through a unique time capsule initiative. Make sure to include the hashtags #MyFutureSelf and #iRunMagazine for a chance to have your letter in an upcoming iRun edition! When I saw this initiative, I was intrigued. However, I didn't realize how much of an impact actually writing the letter would have. I highly encourage you to write one.

Here is my letter. 

Jayme,

Look how far you have come. In 2008 you ran your first marathon in 5:38. You were never going to do that again. Running was hard. Training was hard. Why do people do this? You carried on. Remember that feeling when you first broke 2:00 in the half marathon, and then 4:00 in the marathon. I want you to smile when you think about these milestone moments. They always seemed like an impossible hurdle at the time. Yet, you proved you could do it. Now you are training to qualify for Boston. You will get there. Never underestimate the power of a dream.

Look how far you have come. Running at one point in time used to be for a number on a scale. You hated your body and saw running as a way to punish yourself. You were chasing a perfection that could not be defined. Over time, running became more. Running turned into redemption, not punishment. Don’t EVER take the gift of running for granted. Be grateful daily.

Look how far you’ve come. You are in a good place. The demons that used to eat you inside are no longer in control. You still have to work on things (everyone does), but you are strong. Running is still hard, but the daily challenge is something you crave. See this letter as a reminder. A reminder that running has changed your life for the better. You are motivated to run because running makes you strong mentally and physically. You train hard, so that you know come race day You Are Ready. The early morning runs, the hours spent outdoors, never quitting. This is why you run.

#MyFutureSelf #iRunMagazine

-Yourself

Have you wrote a letter to your future self? 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava.

 

Why I tried a juice cleanse with Urban Juice Press

Truth be told, I've never not eaten something in a day, let alone a juice cleanse. I look back on my many years of yoyo dieting and attempts to stay fit through running {hard to do when your nutrition is out of whack}, and shudder. I do not do well with restriction. In fact, it wasn't until I started learning of the wonders of nutrition and meal planning did I recognize just how unhealthy my previous behaviours have been. Over the years I've made a lot of progress in this area. Fast forward to present day. I generally have my nutrition in order. Sure, there are always things we can improve, but I now see my body as a performance vehicle and treat it accordingly (how can I expect it to run fast, if I'm not fuelling it right?).

I've always wanted to try a juice cleanse. Some of my favourite health and wellness advocates and endurance athletes talk/write about them. Yet, I always found excuses why not to give it a try, despite knowing all the benefits (too expensive, I'd get too hungry, why are there so many bottles). I also knew I couldn't go the restriction route. The idea of drinking a class of water with lemon and cayenne pepper makes me ill. I've done lots of reading on juice cleanses over time and knew there are a TON of options out there these days. Options that wouldn't require me to live on some weird water sludge. That lead me to a local business, URBAN JUICE PRESS.

URBAN JUICE PRESS began with the idea that people can heal themselves and take responsibility for their own health. Founder, Justin Gauthier story includes a diagnosis for Crohn's disease in 2010. After years of pain, at a certain point, Justin had had enough. The current treatments were just not working for him, and he made the conscious decision to take his health into his own hands. Justin soon discovered juicing! I am so glad he did.

I chose the URBAN JUICE PRESS Kickstarter Cleanse because it targets beginners and, well, that’s what I am. It also has an appealing mix of juices + smoothies + nut milks, so I didn’t feel restrictive. I already eat a smoothie bowl for breakfast most days!

Day 1

Bottles: 9

Coffee: 0

7:10 am – Skin Tonic – Organic Cucumber, Organic Apple, Organic Lemon

I got up around 5:45 am. I normally would have a coffee before working out, but had a lemon ginger tea instead. I am reminded how much I love coffee. Can I really go two days? I worked out from 6:30-7:15 am (strength). When I got home, I drank the Skin Tonic while rolling out my legs. Normally I would be drinking my Vega Accelerator. The Skin Tonic was light and fresh. I’ve had some juices where the lemon and celery and too pronounced; this one was more subtle.

8:15 am – Green Energy - Organic Green Collard, Organic Matcha, Organic Maca Root, Organic Chlorella, Organic Raw  Cashew, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Banana, Organic Date, Filtered Water

I wanted to have my breakfast before leaving the house, so ended up having the Green Energy (280 cals of deliciousness) within an hour of the Skin Tonic. The Green Energy is a smoothie and not technically a juice. It was creamy to taste and filling. I filed the bottle up a bit with water to shake the remaining smoothie out. As if I would forego some of these nutrients.

9:45 am – Turmeric Avenue - Organic Sweet Potato, Organic Pineapple, Organic Carrot, Organic Lemon, Organic Turmeric Root, Organic Jalapeño

Normally I would be working on my second coffee at this time. The cleanse provides two morning snacks, so I planned for them at 9:45 and 11:30. I love turmeric and often use it in my shakes, so naturally I loved that taste. It was the jalapeno in this juice that I found so interesting. The juice wasn’t hot, but it did have a kick. Feeling surprisingly energized and not hungry.

12:00 pm – Greens 101 – Organic Kale, Organic Cucumber, Organic Apple, Organic Celery

I ended up having my second “snack” at noon. Plans change. Similar to the Skin Tonic, I found this one light and sweet, re: apple. I enjoyed it, but knew I would be hungry soon. I’m used to having a fairly substantial lunch and normally have a pretty big appetite around noon. I’ve also noticed that I don’t have the usual heart burn I experience before lunch re: coffee. That’s a discussion for another day.

1:15 pm – Green Energy - Organic Green Collard, Organic Matcha, Organic Maca Root, Organic Chlorella, Organic Raw  Cashew, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Banana, Organic Date, Filtered Water

Ooooh. What a treat to have this one again! 1/4 done my cleanse. Feeling optimistic knowing that I have 4 more juices + smoothies + a cashew milk after this “lunch”.  Like breakfast, I really enjoyed the taste and texture. I’m busy today, so it’s kind of nice to just grab this bottle vs. my bag of Tupperware.

3:00 pm - Happy Rabbit - Organic Carrot, Organic Apple, Organic Pineapple, Organic Lemon, Organic Ginger Root

I don't know if it's because I've only drank juice today, but this carrot juice was so good. My energy level normally dips a bit around this time of day, so I normally have a snack with me. While not my usual Superhero muffin, the carrot juice did give me a bump in energy.

Pre-dinner - Creamy Cashew - Filtered Water, Organic Raw Cashews, Organic Dates, Organic Maple Syrup, Organic Vanilla, Organic Ceylon (True) Cinnamon

I'm thinking about food and how my dinner tonight will be a smoothie. Hmmm. Don't get ahead of yourself; you WANT to do this. *Opens Creamy Cashew,* oooooh, this is good. I enjoyed the vanilla and maple I can taste in the "milk". I start to wonder more about what is in the cashew milk in my fridge and how long the list of ingredients are compared to this.

6:15 - Raw Chocolate - Organic Cacao, Organic Green Collard, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Raw Cashew, Organic Banana, Organic Date, Organic Blueberry, Filtered Water

I drank Dinner right before heading into see a viewing of Patriots Day. The cacao smoothie was tasty. The bottle said it had blueberries in it; I tasted more chocolate + greens more than anything. I got a tea afterwards to sip on. I have a bad habit of snacking in the night, so I know I will need to keep busy {thankful to have the movie to go to}.

9:45 - Immune Supercharge - Organic Carrot, Organic Apple, Organic Beet, Organic Lemon, Organic Ginger

Back from the movie and I can have my evening snack. I'm impressed with this one. I've tried a number of beet juices and this may just be one of the best I've ever tasted. Is it because it's so fresh? Is it because I haven't eaten real food today? I go to bed not feeling hungry. Success.

Day 2 

Bottles: 9

Coffee: 0

Day 2 was the same as Day 1 in terms of bottles. I woke up early for a run. I felt lighter than normal {the absence of salt in yesterday's diet had an impact}. I weighed myself and was down 1.6 lbs. Again, water weight. But all in all I feel fine. I drank herbal tea throughout the day. By dinner time I had an appetite and drank my Raw Chocolate and Immunity Supercharge 45 minutes apart. I feel like this was a huge personal win to make it to the end of Day 2 strictly on juice. Wicked way to start 2017.

All in all, I am SO happy I tried this juice cleanse! After completing the two days, my body and mind are feeling pretty good. This was the reset I needed. I would highly recommend this entry-level cleanse to anyone who is seeking to improve their overall health. Press restart!

Have you tried a juice cleanse before? 

Beet juice? Yay or nay? 

You can find URBAN JUICE PRESS on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine

Why not now

The other night I was laying in bed with my mind wide awake. For better or worse, I often do a lot of thinking before falling asleep. While I'm often pretty good at keeping myself in check, on this particular night I was thinking about possible what ifs, many of them not the good what ifs if you catch my drift. What if it doesn't work, what if I really can't do XX, what if they don't like me, what if I'm not good enough... Do you ever find you think about all the reasons something won't work, before it's even happened? Many of these reasons are fictional, of course. There are times that doubt and what ifs have convinced me to play small. To downplay my achievements, or convince myself that something (whether it's in running, professional, or personal life) could never possibly happen. The worst feeling is the regret of knowing you've played small for no other reason than your own self doubt.

It's easy to focus on the failures; one failure can overshadow 100 successes. I read something the other day that talked about the story in your head. You either work with a narrative that supports an abundance of success, or you trap yourself with a limiting story, "I can't do that because..., I'll never be good enough because..." All too often we buy into a story that doesn't positively serve us.

Stop that.

I think we all can use a little reminder to go for it and ask ourselves: why not now? We too often put things off and wait around for some day when we are "ready" (you will never be) and the conditions will be perfect (they will never be). Why not focus on all the reasons why it will work? You are always once decision away from a totally different life.

What are you doing TODAY that will take you closer to achieving your dream?

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I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine

Immunity Boost Ginger Carrot Soup

So you've just completed a marathon, when suddenly you have a sore throat, or a cold. You may think that all that running makes you healthy, but did you know that your immune system is at its weakest in the two weeks following a big run or a race? According to Runners World, while 30 to 45 minutes of moderate daily exercise does stimulate the immune system, the rigors of running longer distances temporarily weakens it. Now, I don't want to jinx myself, but I have done a pretty good job at staying healthy through the past two marathon training cycles. Multi-Vitamins, immune-boosting foods, you name it, I've probably tried it. That is why I was bummed this past week when I came down with a horrible sore throat. With many people around me being sick, I guess it should come as no surprise that my weakened immune system left me susceptible to a bug.

Enter my Immune Boost Ginger Carrot Soup. I was first introduced to white miso by Shalene Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky's, Run Fast Eat Slow, cook book. Knowing that it is rich in probiotics, I decided to use that as a the base for my soup. Ginger is a known cold and flu fighter, so adding that was a no brainer.

Immunity Boost Ginger Carrot Soup (serves 1)

Place all ingredients into your blender or vitamix

  • 1.5 tsp white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup steamed carrots
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato
  • 1 table spoon raw ginger
  • 1/3 cup almond or cashew milk
  • 3 cups hot water

Blend on high for 2 minutes.

Serve with a tablespoon of nutritional yeast sprinkled on top (hello, vitamin B12!)

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How do you stay healthy while training or racing? 

Do you have your own immunity boost soup recipe? Please share!

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine

Long Road to Boston

I first learned about Mark Sutcliffe's book back in May when I was on his talk show to speak about the Ottawa Marathon. He mentioned that he was publishing a book on his journey to Boston. Being on my own quest to Hopkinton, I made a mental note that this would be a must read for myself. Fast forward to October, I was invited to attend Mark's hometown book launch of the Long Road to Boston. Hosted at Ottawa City Hall, more than 200 people crowded into the Mayor's Board Room on October 24th to support the book. After being introduced by Mayor Jim Watson, Mark spoke passionately about his quest to Boston and pointed to the various people around the room who were a part of that journey.

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I took the book home that night and began reading. Mark sets the stage by using the first few chapters to give a history of the marathon event and the Boston Marathon. While not all new information for me, I got chills with the reminder of how epic the forty-two-point-two event really is. From the first Olympic games, to K.V.Switzer and the 2013 attacks, there is a reason why the marathon holds so much importance to runners.

Mark tells his story of starting out as an "average" runner, who eventually Boston Qualifies and completes the race from Hopkinton to Boston (spoiler alert). While not always a runner, after getting started, running had became a huge part of his life. I couldn't believe how much of Mark's story I could relate to.

After his first marathon in 2004, Mark went on to complete more than twenty marathons, including the Boston Marathon course with Dean Karnazes. Like many of us, the task of Boston Qualifying seemed unthinkable for many years. I found myself smiling through many pages where Mark reflects on how crazy of an idea Boston Qualifying was, but ultimately found himself obsessed.

Equipped with spreadsheets, training plans, supportive running friends and family, Mark recalls the highs and lows of his journey. While the "journey" is why we run, the outcomes are not always pretty. Mark talks about marathon finishes within seconds of a BQ and the trials that inevitably crop up with marathon training. Regardless if you are chasing the unicorn or not, most can relate to the feeling of being oh-so-close-but-yet-so-far, vividly told by Mark.

The Long Road to Boston is story of why Boston means so much to runners and inspires readers to believe that nothing is impossible. I highly recommend this book for any runner, especially those acquainted in dreaming big and on a quest for self-improvement.

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For those of you in Ottawa, Mark will be leading this week's Run Ottawa 6@6 (Wednesday, November 16)! Join myself and fellow Run Ottawa members at Bridgehead Roastery and Coffeehouse at 6:00 pm for a 6K run, followed by a couple of stories from the Long Road to Boston. 

If you cannot make it to the run on time, feel free to join the talk portion around 6:30 pm. More information about the event can be found on Facebook.

Have you read the Long Road to Boston?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine

Post-Ottawa Marathon Update

Life post-Ottawa Marathon has been carrying on. It's funny in the lead up to the race, everything else just seemed like it could wait. Now that I'm here, I've found myself in a busy season, both in personal and professional life. Perhaps it's because I sub-conciously deferred decisions post-May 29th

I’ve had a chance to reflect more on the race. I'm comfortable how things unfolded on race day, and more importantly, I'm pleased what the last training cycle has set me up to accomplish going forward. I took a recovery week after the race and have started running again. I'm going to take June as a maintenance month, with one 5K race planned (Emilie's Run). I'm back running with my OAC Racing gals and will use those as my two speed workouts for the week.

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Admittedly, after the race my mind has quickly wandered to what's next. This is a character trait of mine, for better or worse. Once I clear what I consider to be the hurdle, the wheels start turning as to what's next. While I could probably benefit from a bit more down time, I find myself launching into new projects, chasing the next dream. For now I have registered for the Army Run Half Marathon in September, a week before our wedding. I plan to then enjoy our Wedding Day and honeymoon (i.e., 2 weeks OFF) to the fullest.

If I do decide on running a fall marathon, it will likely be the Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon. Third time is a charm. As I mentioned, I will use my two OAC Racing Team workouts as my speed work and aim to run more long runs with the group. My body responded very well to an increase in mileage in the lead up to Ottawa, so I may try to test those limits again this summer. I mean, what else does one do on a Saturday morning?

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In terms of goals, I'm still committed to that 3:4x I know I have in me. In order to get there, I am planning to be more focused with my long runs, including a bit more race pace and longer distance (e.g., 36km LR). For my past two marathons, my highest mileage was a couple 32-35km runs for Hamilton and a couple 32-33km runs for Ottawa. Meaning that come race day, anything past that distance was unchartered territory. I would like to see what a couple longer runs will translate into.

What are your summer plans?

How did your spring races go?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running storyin Canadian Running MagazineHave a suggestion for a runner profileLet me know!

Weekend in MTL

We all arrived at my sister and brother-in-law's house on Friday night. My parents are here for the weekend as well. We are here celebrating my Mom's birthday and Mother's Day, and have tickets for Cirque de Soliel! This also meant an early start to my 27k long run. I planned a straightforward route for Saturday morning, that would take me from their place, through downtown, getting me back here before 10:00 am. Overall, I'd say the run went well. Admittedly, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. My legs were feeling pretty good by the time I went to bed on Friday night, so I knew I was going to get'er done the next morning. As planned, I woke up early, drank my coffee, ate my Picky Bar, strapped on my compression socks, and hit the road.

I'll admit, I have been experiencing some tight calves this week. At this point, I'm not overly worried about this. I'm chalking it up to peak marathon training, and have committed myself to adjusting runs as needed. I'm also icing and rolling lots.

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The route was primarily on sidewalks. I left the house before 7:00 am, so the streets were pretty quiet. I ran 13.5km out to the Olympic Stadium then turned around. I had one Hammer espresso gel around the turn around, and carried water in my handheld. Throughout this training cycle, I'm pleased to have pretty much nailed my fuel plan (this did not happen overnight).

I focused on keeping this run easy. With four weeks out from the Ottawa Marathon, I knew there was no need to be a hero.  The plan was to pick it up a bit in the last 10km with strides in the last 5km. I was pleased with the 27km I put in the bank. I was grateful for the change in landscapes and, after warming up, the distance seemed to pass pretty quickly. This throwback was on repeat throughout.

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In the afternoon, we went to check out the Atwater Market! There was a Beer Festival on, and lots of local vendors. Obviously I had to get some authentic Quebec maple butter. Yum. As I mentioned, tonight we're heading to Cirque de Soliel! One of their shows has recently come to Old Montreal.

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What's your favourite city to explore while running? 

Have you been to Montreal? The Atwater Market? 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

 

Update & My top five podcasts

Hi friends! With 30 days out from the Ottawa Marathon, I'm definitely starting to feel excited. I've been training since January. I won't say that the time has flown by, because it hasn't, just like I can't say it's all been pretty! That's what makes the arrival to race day all the more sweeter. It really is about the journey. Training has been going well. I was looking over my mileage in the past four months and I was surprised to see I've run over 1,140 kilometres! In the past week my calves have started to ache a bit. I've been icing and rolling lots. I won't say it's injury territory, but definitely a "check yourself" moment for me. As a result, I've rearranged a couple runs (which I hate doing), and remind myself that staying strong and healthy is key.

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I've been listening to a lot of podcasts these days. I wanted to share my five favourites with you! They are great to listen to on a run, while making dinner, or walking to work! I listen to podcasts just as much as music. So without further ado.

1) The Rich Roll Podcast

I've been listening to Rich Roll for a while. I was hooked ever since I read Roll's book, Finding Ultra, back in 2013. The show interviews one guest per show, covering a range of topics from triathletes and marathon runners, to business leaders, addiction recovery and health food nuts. Rich's own story is one of addiction, recovery and transformation.  His message is always uplifting.

2) Endurance Planet 

Tawnee Prazak hosts a weekly podcast showcasing a range of health, fitness and endurance sport topics, with many reoccurring guests (e.g., Ask The Coach "Lucho"). I started listening to Endurance Planet last year and have powered through at least 60 percent of the shows. I love her interviews with professional triathletes and ultra runners.

3) I'll Have Another with Lindsey Hein Podcast 

I'm a big Lindsey Hein fan and this podcast just cements that. Lindsey hosts a weekly show covering primarily running related topics. She's had sub-3:00 marathoners, business & community leaders and olympic hopefuls on her show. I love the easy going feel to this podcasts, leaving listeners feeling like we're just hanging out.

4) The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey 

I've recently added Jamie's show to my "subscribed" podcast repertoire. Listening to her conversations with awe-inspiring women from all walks of life brightens my day. The struggles and triumphs shared through her show is incredible. Every week I find myself researching her guest to learn more. Seriously, check this one out.

5) Ben Greenfield Fitness: Diet, Fat Loss and Performance 

I was introduced to Ben's show via Endurance Planet, as he is frequently a guest on that show. I started listening to him more and more back in January when I was working on cleaning up my diet. I would listen to him on my treadmill runs, and just soak up the information he shares each week. Some of my favourite topics include high fat low carb diets, and ways to maximize your diet & supplements to enhance performance & recovery.

Other podcasts that I listen to include: The Dave Ramsey Show, Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, Running on Om, The Lively Show, and Serial.

What is your all time favourite podcast? Specific episode? 

How many podcasts do you subscribe to?

What genre of podcasts to you enjoy most?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

What you do in the dark

I walked into work the other day listening to Running on Om’s podcast with Lauren Fleshman. It was a Q&A episode and one of the listeners asked how to manage big dreams and the demands of daily life. I got to thinking about my own situation. I thought about my incredibly supportive fiancé and family, and reflected on how grateful I was for their support. I started thinking about all those nights I go to bed early to get up at dark-o-thirty to run in the morning. I thought about those weekend mornings I’m MIA on a long run. Or the impact it has on my ability to be *fun* on a Friday night. I’m sure many of you reading can relate.

I recall a few times groaning about getting up in the morning. G sympathizes, but ultimately encourages me to go. He knows how much running means to me. And more importantly, he knows how disappointed in myself I would be if I didn’t go. That said, last week when I was deciding not to do my long run, he was patient in listening to me deliberate and encouraged me to cut myself some slack.

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Sometimes I wonder what it is I’m doing and if all of my work is worth it. Those thoughts are very few and far between, but I won’t lie that they never happen. It’s in those moments that the support of my family matters most. They keep me in check.

Running marathons really is about what you do in the dark. When you talk to a runner, or follow them on social media, you only see a small sliver of what goes on. The uncaptured moments are, for the most part, far from glamorous. There are missed Saturday morning brunches, or late night drinks. There are mundane days and compromise to be made. The truth is, when you register for  marathon, and plan to put in the work, this is par for the course.

In the long run, I know that reaching my goals will ultimately depend on my hard work, but I would be kidding myself if I said I could do it without the support around me.

Do you listen to running podcasts?

What's something you had to sacrifice in order to reach your goals?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

Take the day off

Deciding not to do my long run last week was harder than I thought it would be.  All arrows were pointing to me not doing that run - I was on vacation in DC and my ankle has been bothering me a bit - but for some reason, for a brief moment, I really struggled to give myself permission to take it off. For the past 13 weeks, I've been pretty darn dedicated to getting my runs done. In fact, I've not missed a single assigned workout. Now that the weekend is over, and I put three rest days in the bank, I'm confident that skipping the run was the right decision.

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It's funny when we get into the vortex of marathon training (it's definitely a thing). The routine of running is ingrained in you. It's what you do. That said, it's equally as important to find balance. Will skipping one 18km run impact me in the long run? Heck no. Frankly, it will probably leave me better off.

I had the best time in DC! I am truly grateful to have such good friends and family. They lift me up. The weekend off was exactly what I needed. We went to some great restaurants, and I even got to cheer for runners at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler (can I just say how much I LOVE race days!?) The time off left me fired up and ready to take on the next 8 weeks till Ottawa Marathon race day.

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I'm good with taking the day off every once in a while. To stay up late and have an extra drink or two. Note to self: it's JUST running. #notmarathontraining

What are ways you maintain balance while marathon training?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

What I eat in a day

Marathon training requires much more than just running. Powering my body with top-notch fuel is a huge component in successfully getting to race day. Here is a glimpse into what a typical weekday looks like for me.

4:45 am. Wake up. Coffee with almond milk.

5:50 am. Head out the door on my morning run. Anywhere from 10-20 km.

7:20 am. Get back from my run. Drink water, 1 table spoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 tsp Sweedish bitters.

7:30 am. Feed the cat. Jump in shower.

7:45 am. Pack lunch for the day. Make breakfast shake (meal 1).

Beet Ginger Protein Shake
  • 1/2  raw beet
  • 1 chunk raw ginger
  • 1 scoop Vega Sport Protein
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • 1 tbs coconut milk
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum

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8:15 am. Get ready for work.

8:45  am. Walk to work.

9:00 am. Arrive at desk. Begin the work day.

9:15 am. Second coffee, with almond milk (normally brought from home in travel mug).

12:00 pm. Lunch (meal 2). Spinach salad with sockeye salmon burger, 50g avocado, mix of carrots, apples, beets. Dressing: 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs nutritional yeast. 10 macadmia nuts.

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12:45 pm. 1 serving of dark chocolate (85-90%).

1:30 pm. 1 litre of water with a Nuun tablet.

3:00 pm. (Meal 3) 1 hard-boiled egg and a Chocolate Chip Lara Bar (ever since cutting the processed junk out of my diet, these have been my go-to afternoon snack).

6:30 pm.  Dinner (Meal 4). Cooked in a pan with coconut oil:

  • 2 cups kale
  • Raw beet
  • Raw ginger
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • ½ Egg whites, with Italian spices

Once cooked, I add some cut up apple on top. Something about the salty/sweet combo. On the side, I steam a cup of cauliflower, with 50g avocado, nutritional yeast, Himalayan Pink salt and pepper on top.

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7:45 pm. Dessert (Meal 5).

“That is definitely not Ice Cream” Ice cream

  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop Vega Sport Vanilla Protein
  • 1 tbs coconut milk
  • 9-10 ice cubes
  • ¼ water or almond milk
  • ½ tbs xantum gum (this is what makes it thick)
  • 1 tsp ginger powde
  • Blend in Vitamix for 4 mins.
  • Once blended, 1 tbs shredded unsweetened coconut ontop.
“That is definitely not cake” Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • ¼ egg white
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Microwave for 2 mins.
  • 1 tsb almond butter and 1 tsp chia seeds on top.
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9:30-10:00 pm. Sleep.

What's your favourite afternoon snack? 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

I was not a runner

I was never a runner. I started ballet at a very young age, and eventually moved away from home to go to ballet school. I loved ballet growing up. It was who I was. As a result, I was never into sports and wouldn't have considered myself an athlete. IMG_3441

As the years went on, I eventually decided to pursue ballet schools in the United States. In the summer before grade 10, I began studying in Pittsburgh. However, instead of fuelling my passion, I ended up growing a part from ballet. While I was good enough to continue (I had been accepted and given a scholarship to attend full-time), I knew that in the long-term, ballet wasn't for me.

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I moved back home and began life beyond dance. I really struggled to define myself outside of ballet. After doing something so seriously for so many years, it's hard find your next thing. I battled with weight gain and feelings of overwhelming blah. I tried many things, but nothing ever ignited the same passion in me that ballet once did.

By the time I got to university, my Mom convinced me to try running. It was her thing and she knew what running could do for me. I hated running at first. I felt totally outside of my comfort zone. I remember registering for a run clinic at the local running store (we were training for our first half marathon at the time - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon). The idea of running more than 5 kilometres seemed impossible. My training in my early running years was lacklustre, to say the least. I barely ran more than 16km before that first half marathon. However, I crossed the finish line (in 2:45).

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With time, and constant encouragement (and enticing race registrations, including the New York City Marathon) from my Mom, a powerful thing was ignited. I started to see myself as runner.

I look back on my journey now and smile. Running has given me more than I could ever imagine. Now, after completing 12 marathons (and nearly two hours off my first marathon time), I can say that your life is entirely up to you. If you had told me back in university that I would now be training for a 3:45 marathon, I would have laughed. Lots of thing seemed impossible at that time.

Running has changed my life for the better. Running makes me strong mentally and physically. It's given me abundant joy, grit, and determination that has carried over into ALL areas of my life. I AM A RUNNER.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter and Instagram. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

Fear

fear ˈfir/noun
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

There are many things in running and life that seem too big to overcome. Whether that's a long run, a fast pace, starting your own business, learning a new language, or going for a new job. All of these things put us outside our comfort zone. Fear often greets us in our journey and tells us we'll never get to our destination.

While I'm pretty good at keeping the doubt demons at bay, there are times I find myself casting shadows on my plans. To the point that I wonder, why am I doing X anyways? It's very easy to start questioning your ability to achieve a big goal.

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I was listening to a podcast on my run the other day and the topic of doubt was being discussed. My takeaway was simple: the doubt, the fear and any other friction faced in achieving your goals are simply barking dogs. Now hear me out....

You tell yourself your goal time is impossible? Barking dog. Someone tells you that "too much running is bad for you"? Barking dog. You think, there's already so many X-type of businesses; what would make mine different? Barking dog. Someone tells you you're not ready for that job? Barking dog. ALL of that doubt, ALL of that fear, ALL of that "it's impossible": these are all barking dogs.

The thing about dogs, is that they bark when you walk by and they are tied upon a leash. They KNOW you are going somewhere that they are not. They bark because they want to come with you (or for you to stay behind). DO NOT DWELL ON BARKING DOGS. Keep walking.

I'll leave you with one of my all time favourite quotes. I discovered this quote many years ago. It never get's old.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” -Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

What barking dogs are in your life?

I'd love to hear from you! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

Thoughts from Niagara & Canadian Running article

I spent the weekend at my parents in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The days were full of non-running related events, but that didn’t prevent me from getting my long run in on Saturday morning. Frankly, I wouldn’t miss a long run in Niagara for the world. I had 27km on the schedule. After last week’s 32km (half outside in the rain & slush, and half on the mill), I knew this run, on one of my favourite routes, was going to be a piece of cake. I got up early, had my coffee and was out the door around 7:30am. The temperature was ideal. I was wearing a long sleeve top, light vest, leggings, and I was set. I left the subdivision where my parents live, and made a beeline for the country roads. For those of you who are not familiar with Niagara-on-the-Lake, this is wine country. Vineyards for miles. I smile just thinking of it. I have a few places that are special to my heart, and this is one of them.

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I listened to podcasts for the first 13.5k, which took me into Queenston, past the Brock Monument and the historical home of Laura Secord. I had a Hammer gel at 9km. At the turn around I switch to my music, which gave me an extra boost.

I knew that I was pacing steadily in the 5:40s for the first half of my run. With negative splits being an area I’m working on, I decided I’d try to pick it up for the last half, all the while remaining within my assigned pace range for the day (5:30-6:00).

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As I ran back, the memory of me running the Niagara Ultra Trail Marathon on this route in 2013 flooded back to me. I got emotional for a second. I told myself to get it together, we were negative split-ing today. Despite my efforts, I revisited memories I haven't thought about in a while. That marathon was the race I ran six weeks after finishing the 2013 Ottawa Marathon in a {disappointing at the time4:02. I had placed a lot of pressure on myself for Ottawa and thought I could have done better; so I registered for Niagara (do what I say NOT WHAT I DO). I ended up finishing Niagara in {an even more disappointing at the time} 4:34.

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I look back on this now and laugh. I was so impatient with myself. Running a fast-to-you marathon takes time. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but combining my overtraining and {lack of} training plan, I wasn’t exactly working with a recipe for success. Running has taught me to appreciate and ENJOY the process. Nothing worth having comes to fruition over night. 

With these thoughts in my head, I carried on. I was running directly into a head wind, and I kept being reminded of the head wind I ran into the first half of the Hamilton Marathon. I told myself to suck it up and get going. I had ten kilometres left and you never know what’ll greet you on race day.

17) 5:34 18) 5:34 19) 5:26 20) 5:32 21) 5:24 22) 5:34 23) 5:33 24) 5:34 25) 5:29 26) 5:49 27) 5:32

I finished strong. I stuck with the plan and the distance ticked off. That's the nice thing about country roads. You loose yourself in the landscape. It felt like I had just started, and here I was getting back home. Thank you Niagara for another successful long run. If it’s possible for a route to replenish the soul, this route would be it. 

What’s your favourite rural route?

In other news, my running story was published in Canadian Running Magazine, Canada's premier running publication. I was so thrilled to see this last night. Thank you Canadian Running and Noel Paine for selecting me for this honour! You can read the article here.

http://runningmagazine.ca/getting-back-running-vowing-never/

Connect with Canadian Running Magazine on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Connect with Noel Paine on Twitter and check out more of his articles with Canadian Running Magazine here.

Why I Run

I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal running story and why I run. I wasn't always a runner. No, in fact I grew up in ballet and never really participated in sports. After growing out of ballet, it was hard for me to find my thing. I tried a few activities, but never really found my groove. I went off to university and battled to keep weight off and stay in shape. Without having a sport to call my own, this was handled by dieting and hours on the elliptical. I wasn't motivated and, looking back on it now, I wasn't in a good place mentally. I remember in third year, my Mom, who is an avid runner herself, encouraged me to run. Knowing that motivation would be limited to begin with, she proposed that we run the 2007 Disney World Half Marathon. While my training was pretty limited, it helped knowing that I was registered for a race. I had run one 10k race before that, on a whim, and thought I would wing the half marathon. Training consisted of max 10 runs, with my longest run *maybe* being 16km.  I finished my first half marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes. It wasn't pretty.

I did, however, finish. It sparked something inside of me. And while that spark was dim at first, over time I found myself running more. Now, let me pause here and say that I never was what I consider to be *fast*. Most of my runs were in the 6:45-7:00/km range. I occasionally registered for races, and mildly trained for them. In the early years of my running, it was primarily about staying in shape. Races were just a nice bonus and a way to see different cities. I ran my first marathon in 2008 in Calgary in 5 hours and 38 minutes. It hurt, but it felt great to say I had run a marathon! A few months after that, my family ran the New York City Marathon together. I finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes. It was so much fun to experience this race together.

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Over the years, I've continued to run. I've completed 13marathons and 14 half marathons, chiseling 1 hour and 40 mins of my marathon (PB 3:57 3:55) and 1 hour off my half marathon (PB 1:43 1:41), with multiple 30km races. I've learned a lot from running, and now take training quite seriously. Running is no longer just about staying in shape. Sure, I feel way better when I'm training, but I don't run for a number on a scale.

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I've had a few disappointments with running along the way. After reaching the 4 hour marathon mark, like many others, I decided I would embark on chasing my Boston Qualifying time. I made the mistake, however, of thinking that BQ'ing was all that mattered. In 2013, I trained incredibly hard and saw some positive results at half marathons in the lead up to my spring marathon. In May 2013, I ran the Ottawa Marathon with the goal of BQ'ing. I finished in 4:02 and was devastated. I thought I had it in me, but the pressure and personal expectations I placed on myself were counterproductive. After Ottawa, I ran two more marathons in a matter of four months. Neither of them sub-4 hours. Exhausted (both mentally and physically), I hung up my running shoes for a year. I tried other things, like cross-fit, and while I enjoyed the workouts, I never got the same "high".

In 2015, I decided to give the marathon another whirl. But this time, it wasn't about Boston. No, it was about rediscovering the strength running gives me. With that attitude, I've since PR'd at the Hamilton Marathon (3:57) in 2015, and the 2016 Ottawa Marathon (3:55).

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Training is no longer about the end goal of BQing, or some number on a scale. But rather, enjoying the process and embracing the daily challenge running provides me with. Running has changed my life for the better. I am motivated to run because running makes me strong mentally and physically. I train hard, so that I know come race day I am ready. Chasing my PB drives me and ultimately knowing that Boston Qualifying doesn't happen over night. The early morning runs, the hours spent outdoors, never quitting. This is why I run.

Weekend routines

Over the years, I've perfected my weekly training schtick.  I run early in the morning on weekdays, with Friday's being a rest day (although I ran 2km today for my Run Streak), and Saturday's I run long. Right now, I'm sitting here with G and Saxby watching tv and updating my iPod for tomorrow's run.  I will wake up early tomorrow, have my coffee and be off.  I usually start my long runs with a podcast episode, and switch to my music halfway through.

I look forward to Saturday all week.  This is my time.  While I consider myself a morning person as it is, I am able to get up early on Saturdays (despite not having the time crunch of getting to work) and be out the door before 7:00am.  A change from when I first started running distance.  I would stress all week and dread the long runs.  Not knowing how they would go, or uncertain if I would have the motivation to get out the door in -20ºC.

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I have 23km on tap for tomorrow. I'm thinking I will travel 11.5 kms along the Rideau Canal, towards Westboro, and then turn around. Some people prefer long loop routes, but I love the out and back (see more about my favourite route in this article for the Ottawa Marathon!). Call it the A-type in me, but I like knowing that I've completed exactly half of the run before turning back.

On Wednesday, I ran with my run club for 6km @ 6 am along the Rideau Canal.  I was thrilled to see how well it was plowed! Sure sign that the city will be opening up the Canal shortly to skaters. Normally, there's thousands (yes, thousands!) of people already skating along there. Given our mild December, the ice has taken a bit longer to freeze.

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For dinner tonight, I had my usual pre-long run sweet potato, a big salad, with tofu, and cauliflower rice. Obviously humus and avocado were in the mix. I probably could have substituted the tofu for something better (chicken?) and also know this is a bit too much fibre before a long run. With that said, it's only 23 kms and I felt like nourishing my body with REAL food (more on that later). I also try to eat a bit more before long runs. Over the years, I've encountered my fair share of low-blood sugar issues in the first few kms of a 20+km run. Ain't nobody got time for that!

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After tomorrow's run, I'll have my go-to gluten free Bob's Red Mill pancakes. A marathon training staple! G and I both have a bit of work to do in the afternoon, but have planned to go to the movies in the evening. I will try to convince him to eat dinner at the Whole Foods salad bar :)

2016

Happy New Year! I hope you had a marvelous time ringing in 2016! We arrived back in Ottawa today after a week and a half in Montreal and Halifax. From Christmas with my family, to New Years with G's family, I'm definitely feeling recharged and ready to get started with 2016! FullSizeRender-2

To kick it off, I'm taking part in Run Ottawa's run streak #ROrunstreak. Basically, you need to run at least 1.5km every day from January 1st to the 31st. I squeezed in my first 2km on New Years Day and 8km today in Halifax before heading to the airport. I'll admit, I've never done a run streak before, but I'm excited for this challenge. Who knows, maybe I'll keep the streak going.

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I'm pretty fired up for what 2016 holds. Besides our wedding (!) in September, I'm going to focus on chiseling my race times down some more. I've done a lot of thinking about my DREAM BIG goal of Boston, and know that I will get there with commitment to *relentless forward motion* (regardless of how big or small those steps are). So for 2016, I'm chasing a 3:45 marathon and a 1:40 half marathon. I know I have these times in me. Time. To. Get. To. Work.

Outside of running, I'm going to aim to strength train at least 3 times a week. I'm also going to focus more on my nutrition and will aim to cook and bake two new recipes a month (four recipes total). Beyond that, I'm going to take my coffee to work at least 4 days a week. That last one may be the one that kills me.

So with that said, this week I'll start training for the Ottawa Marathon. Eeek. It makes me SO happy to be back in marathon training mode. While I've enjoyed the time off, I love the structure of my marathon training.

If you use Strava, I'd love to connect! Find me here. I'll be posting my training for upcoming races. If you're training for the Ottawa Marathon, there's a Strava group to connect to connect with other runners.

Let's do this 2016!! 

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