Become a Runner

I always laugh when non-runners think I’m so crazy for “just an easy 8k today”, because to them that is crazy! For me, that would be a 40-minute run and in our world, that’s an easy run day. Since I’ve been running non-stop since my first cross-country meet in grade 3, I struggle to wrap my head around seeing people in the gym dying after 20 minutes jogging on the treadmill. I realize running isn’t easy and you can’t just go out for the “easy 8k” on your first day on the roads, so this post is dedicated to beginner’s who want to call themselves “runners”!

The biggest mistake with beginners is that they expect to be able to run for an extended period of time on the first day. This will not happen. While it seems tedious and boring, you’re going to have to start out with a run-walk. This simply means running for a period of time, then walking for a period of time and repeating this.

While I’m not a coach or expert, there are many “couch-to-5k” plans that follow this advice. Here’s one that I thought seemed great:
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Don’t try to go too fast or burn yourself out, take it easy and enjoy the experience! Soon you’ll be out there with the elites! If you’re already a runner, send this post along to a non-runner friend and spread the running joy. 🙂

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In With The New

In the midst of a depressing foot problem, I realize how important feet are to running (duh) and have set out to learn as much as I can to keep them healthy and strong! This goes beyond finding the best shoe for your foot to knowing when to switch out your old pair for the new.
Remember that I am not an expert and my suggestions are a result of research I’ve done.
As I read various sites, I discovered many different views on the subject, which all seem to make sense to me, so the question is, which one is true?
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In my opinion, the best one is to listen to your body and watch out for signs. A new shoe is fully cushioned and ready to protect your foot. Of course it will break down overtime and eventually you will begin feeling aches and pains as a result of the lack of support. Obviously not all aches and pains are a result of old shoes, so use your judgment.
In order to be sure, it is a good idea to go to a running store and try a new pair of the same shoes and feel the difference.  If the difference is extremely noticeable it’s likely time for a fresh pair.
As far as when you should expect this, I would not go by time (2 months, 4 months etc.) because everyone’s training is different. For example when training for a 5k versus a marathon, clearly your mileage will be different, so you’d have to switch out shoes sooner when training for longer distances. Most sites recommend switching out between 400-600 miles.

Every one is different and this means your mileage, body weight and foot type will be an influence. For example, running on the road will wear shoes faster and a heavy over pronator will wear their shoes out faster than a neutral runner. Changing your running shoes is extremely important as running in worn out shoes increases risk of injury! If you’ve calculated your total mileage in your shoes, checked for physical signs on the shoe and have listened to your body but are still not sure, go to a running store and ask an expert.

How often do you change your running shoes?

REVIEW: Spirit of the Marathon

I’m a huge sucker for inspirational sports movies, no matter what the sport, however, I am disappointed with the lack of running movies out there! That’s why I was super excited to see four running documentaries highlighted in the August edition of Runner’s World. (As pictured below)
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So, last night after finishing the third Harry Potter book (yes, I’m a nerd), I was bored and decided to watch Spirit of the Marathon, which is of course the first film before Spirit of the Marathon 2 shown in Runner’s World. Here’s my thoughts on the film:

The movie chronicles the training of six runner’s in their preparation for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Four of them being regular people and two elites: Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga. For some it was their first marathon, which was motivating to watch, however, I think I would have enjoyed seeing some more hardcore trainers who also have jobs!

Therefore, I honestly didn’t find their training to be overly exciting or inspirational and there wasn’t much on the training regimen of Kastor or Njenga, which was what I was hoping for. Luckily, the film made up for this in giving a very interesting history of marathons.

In the beginning of the film, they give a brief history of how the marathon began and evolved and became so popular and also spent a lot of time talking about the history of women and running. There was an interview with the women’s running pioneer who entered the Boston Marathon (when women weren’t allowed) as “K.V Switzer”, so officials would think she was a man. During the race, the official made an attempt to remove her, but she just kept going!

It’s crazy to think there was a time women were banned from racing for such ridiculous reasons, one being that they feared a women’s uterus might fall out. Come on, seriously? Overall, the film outlined women’s history in running very well and made me feel proud to be a female runner.

In the end, each athlete’s race in the Chicago Marathon was empowering, especially Deena Kastor, who won the Women’s race. All in all I enjoyed the film, despite some slight changes I would have liked to see, and would recommend to all runners!

I look forward to watching the rest of the running films and will keep you updated! Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve seen any running films worth watching!

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

You may have noticed I haven’t made a blog post in quite awhile and there’s a very good reason for that-I haven’t been running much! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am having an issue with one of my toes as it is curved and forces running impact to hit the tip of the toe, rather than the bottom. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and it never was a problem, until I increased my mileage and suddenly my little useless toe was in so much pain I could barely walk, much less run.

After trying countless toe separators and sleeves, my doctor has finally referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. While I’m relieved to be resolving the problem, I’ve been overwhelmed with disappointment.

Way back when I started training, I had all of the races I wanted to run all lined up with countdowns going for each one, all in preparation for the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon in October. For once I was actually excited about running and was truly enjoying the training experience. I would wake up early in the morning actually smiling knowing I would soon be out the door running. I even skipped some Saturday nights out in order to rest up for my Sunday long run.

I’m sure you fellow runner’s can relate to this running euphoria, but for me it was new. Throughout high school I struggled against girls who were much faster than me and I struggled to run the short distances of track and cross-country. By grade 12, I was completely unmotivated and barely put any effort into training. When I began university I was barely running at all and struggling to find success in my schoolwork and was desperately seeking something outside of school that would make me feel accomplished. I found this in running.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to run a marathon and before I knew it I was immersed in training and was working harder than ever. As I said before, I had dreamed up what my entire experience would be like and looked forward to every step. This is why it was so hard for me to accept that my foot couldn’t take it.

Once I decided I couldn’t continue training, I learned that I could handle going for a short run one day then biking the next in order to keep my fitness up. But, while it may sound dramatic, I had trouble even enjoying these short runs knowing it was all for nothing and I would lose the fitness level I had worked so hard for four months to achieve.

As I found myself in a running rut, I finally found inspiration while watching the women’s 10k at the USATF Championships. If you watched it or saw the results, your mind probably immediately went to Shalane Flannigan, however, in my circumstances it was Kara Goucher. Kara led with training partner Shalane early in the race but fell back hard and finished fifth. She recently wrote a blog post about how truly disappointed she was with the race and how she thought she was for sure going to place in the top 3. But, as she says in the post, things don’t always go the way you want, but that’s no reason to give up.

She made me realize that you need to set new goals and be grateful for these learning experiences. I now know I was crazy to be that upset by my changed running plans. I’m only 19 years old and have a long running career ahead of me. This will only be a short time off in the long run and I will come back stronger than ever and ready to conquer my first marathon! Sorry to Kara for stealing your post’s title for mine, but it was just so appropriate!

Here’s a link to Kara’s blog post: http://www.runtheedge.com/2013/06/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/

National Running Day Celebrations

Happy National Running Day fellow runners!

I hope every one was lucky enough to celebrate with a long and tough speed workout like I did! (can you sense my sarcasm?) Today was three sets of two 400m’s and one 1000m, which was in total six 400’s and three 1000’s. I was fine with the 1000’s, but it’s those short and evil 400’s that always kick my butt. I am now desperate for a long stretching and foam rolling session.

Regardless of the pain I’m currently feeling, on National Running Day I feel so blessed to be able to run and to have such a passion for running! If you haven’t run yet today hurry and get out there and celebrate!

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Post-Race Reflections

At last, after a year I was finally among throngs of nervous runners as I laced up and headed to the start line of the Beat Beethoven 8K race. As horrible as the nerves feel in the moment, theres no better feeling than right before the gun goes off, as the excited and scared energy of hundreds of runners fills the humid air.
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Having not raced in a year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as times and pacing goes but was hoping to be under 35 minutes. I struggled to pace myself and found my kilometre splits were all over the place. As a result I finished in 35:17. While I didn’t quite reach my goal, I am happy with the race and the results and have learned from the experience to not hold back, but rather keep the pace I know I can run.
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Overall it was a really fun event, followed by a delicious pancake brunch to celebrate with my parents. Today I am headed to the doctors to hopefully resolve a toe issue that has been forcing me to hold back from training too hard, followed by a long yoga session to stretch out my sore muscles and clear my head. Hope everyone else who raced this past weekend were happy with their results!

Rainy Day Runs

I am constantly coming across photos on Pinterest and Tumblr that exclaim how “running is better than therapy”. This statement couldn’t be more true and always makes me laugh. My mind spins on runs as any problem or sad aspect of my life is forced into my conscience allowing me to confront these issues and attempt to find a suitable solution. Despite the bouncing endorphins, I am always at ease and peace post run. However, this problem solving can create a problem in itself because I’m not allowing my raw emotions and feelings to be brought to the surface. These emotions manifest within me forcing my body to react in various ways in a meek attempt to deal with untouched stress. This is where rainy days become beneficial to my well-being.

Every Kingstonian has been waking up this week with a groan as they look out at the window at the unfortunate wet pavement and consistent patter against their window. I was right along with them in our sorrow and was especially depressed that I would have to run through it.

However, the rain turned out to be a good thing. Somehow the dreary, depressing dark skies and rhythmic sound of raindrops hitting the ground below me allowed me to be mindful of my emotions hiding behind solutions. Finally, the velocity of how different things in my life affected me were confronted.

I make the choice to be happy and that means pushing away negative thoughts and people, but sometimes it’s important to let yourself feel. As soon as I began pushing through the raindrops, my mind was clear and my heart took control. I realized in this moment that I can use running as an avenue to not only find peace but to be shamelessly sad, angry or any other emotion.

We all run for a reason and all feel unique and empowering things. That is the beauty of it. How do you feel on runs? What do you think about?