Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016

As this is the first day of 2016, I thought I should take a moment to write a quick post; something to start the new year. The family ended 2015 is quietly as possible, recovering from a hectic run to the holidays and the requisite illnesses. We watched movies, read books, listened to music, and laughed about some of the things we did in the previous 12 months. So now we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, 12 new months to make new memories.

We do not typically make lists of resolutions, although we occasionally reflect on things e can-do differently in the weeks and months ahead. For example, while my wife has read well over 100 books this year (10 in the last 2 weeks), I haven’t read many books at all which is unusual for me. So this year I hope to read a modest 12 books. This doesn’t seem like much compared to my beloved’s total, but it is a dramatic improvement over this year. Also we plan to continue leading a healthier lifestyle through good eating choices and exercise. To that end, I am already signed up for my first race, a Sprint Triathlon in May. I will have to hit the pool a few times to make sure I can finish the swim portion and still have energy for the cycle and the run portions.

As the year moves forward I plan to run more races, maybe even going back to the half marathon. Certainly I plan to finish some races with faster times than this year. It’s always good to have some goals!

Excuses, I’ve got a few.

This morning when I stepped on the scale, I thought at first my eyes had deceived me. Did it really register that number? 199. No way. How did it happen? Oh yeah, I spent the weekend at a tournament where I didn’t eat the best food. Sure I used the dreadmill in the hotel, parked as far away from doors as possible, and did yoga in my room, but all that managed to do was help keep the weight gain disaster to a minimum. For the last 3 months my weight has consistently been 3 to 4 pounds lower than that, and I plan to keep it there for the winter. I know the weekend gain doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but having worked so hard to get below 200 lbs, realizing that I could have come so close to hitting that number again in a single weekend is a shock.

I have written before that my exercise typically drops off during the winter.  This year I am only coaching one team, and it only has practices once a month so I’m not getting much skating. My bike is set up in the trainer, but I haven’t actually used it yet. Running in winter doesn’t appeal to me as I fear injury, but I may have to rethink that. I have lots of fitness app, but I’m not using them as regularly as I should.

The idea of scheduling exercise into your daily routine is not new, now unfamiliar to me. Changing my behaviour, however, is another story. I know I’m not alone in this, and that other much more successful runners (and bloggers) have had to double back and re-set their path. Their stories are both familiar and inspirational to me; there is hope and there is a community of support. Clearly, though, I will have to get my body moving.

Improvements Made, Lessons Learned

The first time I ran a race, the 2009 Army Run, I had never run any long distance.  My training was inconsistent and uninformed.  Yes, I tried to follow the 10 & 1 rule recommended by various experts.  I ran around the neighbourhood and the school track a few times, much to the amusement of my family.  I knew I wasn’t going to finish anywhere near the front of the group, but I knew I was going to finish, I just wasn’t sure how long it was going to take me.  The route takes runners past Parliament Hill, the Canadian War Memorial, and along the World Heritage Site Rideau Canal. It is also the route many students from Lisgar Collegiate Institute have run for years as part of their Canal run in gym class.  As my father was a teacher and Head of Phys. Ed. at Lisgar for 33 years, he knew exactly how long it should take somebody to run that 5k loop.

2009 Army Run Result

When I finished my first race, I proclaimed my success to any and all who would listen. My dad’s response he has stuck with me more than anybody else’s. He was pleased that I had completed the race, but my time of 36 minutes received a less than enthusiastic response: “It should’ve taken you 25 minutes.”  That’s it. At the time I was impressed that I finished at all. Sure I knew I could go faster, like maybe as fast as 30 minutes, but 25 minutes was just plain crazy. That’s the kind of pace/time super-fit, lean, long-legged true runners achieve. Not 220 lb, stocky, thick calved coach potatoes lumber to.

The idea that I could run 5k faster than I did, let alone in 25 minutes, has stuck with me since. As a result, I’ve been more aware of my pace, my form, and my effort. When I did finally run 5k in 30 minutes (last year), my daughter’s wise assessment was “That’s what happens when you run more.” Not bad for a then 11 year old. Typically, though, I do not spend enough time each year running to get much faster. Last year I was averaging about 7:15/km while still holding to the 10:1 pattern. This time held regardless of the distance; sometimes I was a bit faster and sometimes I was bit slower. While I was pretty pleased with that time, I knew I was getting faster and stronger. I started running a couple of times a week in April of 2015, and fairly quickly (no pun intended) I was getting under 7:00/km. Sure enough those times started dropping below 6:00/km and I wasn’t stopping for walk breaks anymore. Imagine my surprise when I finally ran 5k in 5:05/km — that’s a time of 25:22. I had finally achieved what my father said I could do, something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do. What changed? Quite simply, I did. I exercised more this year than any other year. I made better food choices. I worked at it.

I weigh less and I move more; that’s a simple equation for success. But there’s more to than that. I value each accomplishment I’ve made, and I recognize that while those accomplishments will come and go like the tide, I have to keep at it. Here’s hoping I stick with into the winter and beyond.

Back at it

I recently recently wrote that I had lost the motivation or focus to run, but that I knew I needed to find it again. After reading on Twitter about a number of people who were either getting back to running or were beginning to run for the first time, I knew I had to make the time to get back at it. I’m fortunate to live in a runner friendly city; there’s even access to a great trail network at the end of my street. I’m also fortunate to have a wife who supports my running even if she can’t imagine why I would enjoy it.

Yesterday I made the time. I hit the trails for 5.5k at 6:04/km pace. Also, I went back to 1 minute walk with 15 minutes running. Given that I hadn’t run in a little over a week, I thought it best to play it safe.

I don’t have a goal race yet, but I’m toying with a fall 10k or even making a return to the half marathon. The one and only time I completed the distance, I hadn’t really trained properly. Because I didn’t know how to at the time. Now that I’ve been running for a few years, albeit off and on, I have a better idea of how to train, and I know where to look for training ideas and plans.  I also appreciate the value of encouragement. When I hit a wall and was walking during the duathlon, at about the 3k mark of the final run, a teenage runner going the other direction said “You can do it. Keep running.” She didn’t know me, but her smile and positive words got me running again and got me to the finish line under my goal time.

It felt good to be running again. I’ve found a new training plan to follow thanks to iRun magazine. They’ve partnered with sporting goods retailer Sport Chek to provide a variety of 10 week training plans (5K, 10k, half, and marathon) for people looking to race in October. Because I want the challenge, and I still hope to meet my goal weight, I’ve opted for the Half Marathon plan.  I have no idea how this will go, but I’m prepared to give it a shot. If you’re looking for a plan for the fall, why not chick out the site (http://mybestrunningrace.com/). Who knows, you might find your self pushing new limits.

Looking for motivation

In the last few weeks I’ve run a 5k race and a sprint duathlon. While the 5k was an opportunity that popped up because we were in Chicago the weekend of the race. And it fit my training schedule for the du. But now that I’m done the du, I’m at a bit of a loss. I haven’t run or biked since the race, and I’m having a hard to time “finding the time” to get moving again.  The lethargy is even in creeping into my writing; it took me almost a week to finish the BTN Big 10k recap, and I haven’t even started the National Captial Duathlon recap yet. Hopefully I will find the “time” / motivation to get going again; maybe I have to sign up for another race.

What tips do you have for getting back to running/exercise after your goal race?

Duathlon Training Update #4

Week 5 July 13 — July 19 (week 8 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Monday Rest Rest

Swim: 600m in 17:30

Still worried about my foot — lots of foot massage and stretches to help loosen it. I did manage over 11K steps today.

Nice, easy swim at the end of a very hot day felt great.

Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes

Stretch:10 min

Bike: 8.9 km in 22:23 (20:55 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 19:42 (19:02 moving time)

Bike ride getting a bit faster as the days go on, and I’m adding a bit more distance. Birthday dinner took precedence over my run. Pacer app says I walked more than 2.7 km over the course of the day so I will take that.
Wednesday Run/Walk: 10

Bike: 10

Run/Walk: 10

Stretch:10 min

Bike: 8.9 km in 18:22 (18:18 moving time)

Bike: 8.9 km in 22:47 (22:19 moving time)

Run: 3.1 km in 19:20

Yoga: 10 mins

Although the morning ride was pretty fast, the afternoon ride presented me with a pretty strong headwind (approx. 19 km/hr) so I didn’t make great time. Focused on consistent and strong pedalling form. After my run, spent 10 minutes using Yoga app to stretch out. MUST remember to do this everyday! Finished it all with a quick swim.
Thursday Bike: 60 minutes

Stretch:10 min

The day was a complete right-off. I didn’t bike, run, or anything. I didn’t even reach 10k steps. I didn’t even eat particularly well. Argh!
Friday Run: 30 minutes or

Swim or Yoga/Pilates class

Walk: approx 1 hr. Bike was in the shop, daughter had field hockey, and we went out for dinner.  running was not going to happen.
Saturday Rest

Stretch:10 min

Rest

Stretch: 10 mins

House work and moving boxes counts as stretching, right?
Sunday Bike: 40

Run: 30 minutes

Stretch:10 min

Walking and painting Some days, even though you have a good plan and everybody knows it, it just doesn’t happen.  I did, however, spend a great day with my family and we got some things done around the house that were essential.

Duathlon Training Update #3

Week 4 July 6 — July 12 (week 7 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Monday Rest Stretch:10 min Rest

Walking: 7300 steps

Stretch: 10 mins

Read an interesting article about the difference between Rest and Active Recovery that will help me through training.
Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes Stretch:10 min Steps: 12509

Bike: 8.5 km in 22:01 (20:56 moving time)

Bike: 8.7 km in 19:39 (19:36 moving time)

Swim: 550m in 14 mins

Pacer app indicates 136 min active time approx 3.2 km. Too bloody hot for a run today 28C but feels like 35C with the humidity. The swim was a much better way to get exercise and stretch..
Wednesday Run/walk: 10 Bike: 60 minutes Stretch:10 min Bike: 8.5 km in 20:00 (19:01 moving time)

Run: 2 km in 10:32

Ride: 20.3 km in 1:01:18 (52:23 moving time)

Walk: 3 km in 44 mins

Stretch: 10 minutes

First long ride of the year; lots of traffic stops. Will clearly need more time in the saddle at long distances to be ready for duathlon. Also had a nice 3k walk after dinner with my beloved. I finished the day with a quick swim to cool off. Pacer app counted 15214 steps.
Thursday Run/walk : 30 minutes Stretch:10 min Bike: 8.5 km in 22:00 (20:41 moving time)

Bike: 2.8 km in 8:04 (7:11 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 19:35 (18:48 moving time)

Run: 4.8 km in 28:30

I thought the ride was a bit faster; need to work on pedalling consistency.

Two rides in the afternoon b/c of quick trip to doctors.  first time running after a ride so I’m happy to have been on 5k pace under 30 mins. Should have run the extra 200m but my wife called. Family comes first.

Friday Bike: 30 minutes or swim or Yoga/Pilates class Bike: 8.5 km in 20:25 (17:49 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 20:41 (20:41 moving time)

Ride home was not as fast as I hoped but I pedalled the entire time, no stopping.

Also had a couple of swims after work & dinner.  My wife taught our daughter how to flip turn, and used me as the exemplar. I was surprised it came back to me so quickly.

Saturday Rest Stretch:10 min REST & STRETCH I took it easy like I’m supposed to. the metatarsal bruising in my foot seems to be back so the break is good for me. So are the stretches and foot massages.
Sunday Bike: 90 minutes Stretch:10 min Stretch

Swim: 100 m in 2:38

Walk: 1.3 km in 15 minutes

Family commitments kept me from following the plan today.  I did go for a nice walk with the dog, and there was some light housework to do, but I didn’t get anywhere near my bike.  This is good because my foot is still bothering me a bit and I want to be ready for race day.

A Lesson Re-Learned

This week the hot weather has returned to Ottawa, and that means taking precautions when being outside exercising.  On at least one day this week, I was either in a hurry or not very attentive before getting on my bike or hitting the trails for a run.  It didn’t take very long before I remembered why the people at the Running room store I frequent recommended Body Glide when I started running.  I’m not likely to forget now,

Keeping my focus

Bianchi World Champion Sticker put on ALL their bikes in 1987

I made the mistake this week of looking at the results of other athletes who have recently completed duathlons in the Somersault Events so far this year — okay I looked at some of last year’s results too.  I only looked so that I would get a sense of how much time it should expect to be moving.  Of course all I really did was discover how fast other athletes, who probably have more multisport experience than me, were actually able to cover the Sprint Duathlon distances.  This didn’t really need to be part of my fact finding research since I know how long it takes me to run 2 km (about 12 minutes), bike 20 km (about 45 mins), and run 5 km (about 30 minutes).  I know I’m not going to be the fastest athlete in the field, not matter how small it is, and I know I AM going to finish.  I really just want to finish.

Instead of looking at other athletes’ finish times, today I looked up tips for transitions, food and nutrition, and strength training. This information will keep me focused and be way more beneficial than knowing that somebody else finished in a time that was right for him on that particular day.

Duathlon Training Update #2

Duathlon Training Summary Week #3 continued

For the week June 28 (end of week 5) to July 5 (week 6)

Week 3 June 28 — July 5 (week 6 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Sunday Run/Walk: 15

Bike: 30
Run/Walk: 15.

Stretch: 10 min

Run: 6 km in 36:19 time

6:01/km AVG pace

Just glad to be running again! Went out hard.
Monday Rest Run: 5km in 30:19 time

6:02 AVG pace

Took it easier than yesterday, but still happy with progress.
Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes.

Stretch: 10 min

Bike: 8.5 km in 21:47 (21:16 moving time)

Bike:8.5 km in 21;10 (20:42 moving time)

10 minutes swimming approx 200 m

1st ride to summer school site.  17 km return ride should be good training
Wednesday Run/Walk 30

Bike 30 minute

Stretch: 10 min

NOTHING! Canada Day celebrations with family took precedence over training
Thursday Run/Walk: 30 minutes

Stretch: 10 min

Walk: 1.2 km dog walk

Summer School walking: approx 9000 steps — way more than 30 mins

Leg stretches to help heel

Had planned to bike, but had to change that plan at the last minute
Friday Bike: 30 minutes or swim or yoga/Pilates class Bike: 8.1 km in 21:14 (17:33 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 21:14 (19:56 moving time)

Swim: 10 minutes approx 250m free & breast

Added new bike computer that syncs with Strava iPhone app so I have more accurate data. Still finding the best/safest route home — looks like I’ve got it. Nice refreshing swim when I got home.
Saturday Rest. Stretch:10 min gardening and a trip to the shopping mall

10000 steps according to Pacer app

Sunday Run/Walk: 10

Bike: 60

Run/Walk: 10 Stretch: 10 min

Run: 5 km in 29:15

Walk: 1.3 km in 12 mins

Swim: 20 mins

Walk: 3 km in 43:00

Didn’t get on the bike today, but I did manage a 5k PB. Also had a nice 3k walk with my beloved after dinner.