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!

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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?

New Age of Training

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As a nineteen year old I’ve grown up with technology, therefore all of the crazy things that can be done with computers and iPhones don’t amaze me the way they do my grandparents. However, in this case, I was pretty astonished with the technology available to help runner’s train smart and hard to gain optimal training to smash PR times.

As i began training for my first marathon, I was feeling confident as I worked through my specific training schedule, just running at the speed I felt for that run. However, this meant that my kilometre splits were all over the map and I had no idea which ones were accurate, too fast or too slow for marathon training at my level. Rather than tracking training through splits, my coach uses heart rate zones and I am lucky that he has the technology to perform a VO2 max test in order to discover these zones.

For those who are not familiar with the test, a VO2 max test determines training heart rate as a function of a percentage of VO2 max, which is a measurement of the body’s maximal oxygen uptake. When training as an endurance athlete, you should be raising you’re oxygen uptake through intense training. As we know, as your heart rate goes up, you’re level of intensity also increases. For example, when you’re running intervals, your heart rate would be much higher than during a long, easy run.

In taking the test, I discovered what my heart rate should be through 5 zones: recovery and regeneration, aerobic base, intensive base, anaerobic threshold and intervals. With my Garmin Forerunner 610 watch and my heart rate monitor, I will be able to track my heart rate to determine if it is accurate for the workout I’m doing (easy runs, long runs, intervals, temps, hills etc.).

I did my VO2 test about a week ago and as a runner nerd, it was a super interesting process. We started out weighing me, taking my blood pressure and resting heart rate, then I warmed up on the treadmill. Once I felt ready, it was time to strap on the all face consuming mask, which tightly covered the entirety of my nose down to my chin, forcing the inability of any air to escape from any sides. It was slightly claustrophobic, but I could still of course breathe freely.

It was now time to begin the test, and I was honestly pretty nervous. Not only was I going to be forced to painfully hit my physical limit, but I was anxious about the results. The first minute of the test began at 4.4(mph) and at each minute was increased by 0.6 until at five minutes I was running at 7.5. From there we began increasing the inclining starting at a 2% incline and by 10 minutes reached 8% incline. This is what killed me. I despise hill workouts, therefore was pushing myself beyond any hill limit I had ever attempted. I had to stop after this last minute, but luckily there was enough data to determine heart rate zones.

Essentially, what we discovered was that these would be my target heart rates zones:
Recovery and Regeneration: 146-156
Aerobic Base: 157-164
Intensive Base: 165-171
Anaerobic Threshold: 172-175
Intervals: 176+

While I still track my splits, I believe this is the superior way to train as you know you are training  at the level that is possible for you’re body and fitness level. Therefore, if you do not have a heart rate monitor I highly recommend the investment! I look forward to using my heart rate monitor for the first time on tomorrows easy run and seeing if my zones match up to my training. Hopefully this will help me as I finish my final preparations for my 8k race coming up on June 2nd.
Let me know how you train by leaving a comment below!

Gear Guide 1.0

Welcome to Gear Guide 1.0! A.k.a Olivia’s favourite things running style. While running itself is amazing, it becomes that much better when you have some running swag to make you look and feel as fast as you are. I personally have a slight addiction to shopping for running and workout clothes, but come on it’s totally functional to have 10 pairs of shorts….right? Yes, i know it’s not, but luckily it gives me the wonderful opportunity to test drive various products and show you all my favourites! Therefore I have created Gear Guide, which I hope to do at the start of every season to showcase products appropriate to that season of course. So here we go!

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1. The watch: Being the most important part of training for a race, it’s crucial to have a high quality GPS watch that can track your kilometres (or miles), splits and heart rate. My beautiful Garmin Forerunner 610 holds all of these necessities while also being extremely aesthetically pleasing! The Forerunner vibrates after each kilometre in order to notify you of your split and also provides you with you’re heart rate from an added heart rate monitor. Therefore you’re covered whether you’re training revolves around splits or heart rate! I may be bias as Garmin is the only brand I’ve had, however I have never had an issue and have only heard great things from fellow runners!

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2. The Shoes: Equally, if not more, important as the watch are the running shoes. I am a firm believer that everyone’s feet, running style and training are different, therefore I’m not recommending these shoes but merely ranting about why i love them! These shoes are the Mizuno Wave Precision 13’s and they are my babies. I swear I didn’t just buy them for the colour, while that may have been an influence, they’re actually perfect for me.

Now for the not so important (but much more fun) stuff: The clothes

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3. The Quarter Zip: Confession: I have a completely irrational obsession with quarter zip shirts. I seriously fiend them. Why? No idea. However, luckily living in Canada they are super practical as they keep you warm, but also wick away sweat so you won’t be stuck dying of heat half way through your workout in -20 weather! The colours and brands are endless as I have no brand I particularly like over another. If you don’t own a quarter zip, re-evaluate your life choices and go buy one!

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4. The Shirts: I’m sure you can tell by now I love bright colours and I’m sure any boy who braved reading this has stopped due to a pink overload. Regardless, here are my two favourite types of training and racing shirts. The singlet on the left is my racing singlet. It’s light and barely there, therefore when you hit the wall 3/4 through the race, you won’t be thinking “get this stupid, heavy, sweaty shirt off me”, you’ll only be thinking “kill me now”. The Nike shirt on the right is simply a basic and light shirt for training.

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5. Shorts and Sports Bra: I’m normally one to try to support actual running brands rather than over-priced Lululemon clothes, however when it comes to shorts and sports bras, I become a Lululemon snob. The bra is supportive and comfortable, need I say more? I have tried many brands who have similar shorts to these and have honestly never been happier than with these Lulu ones. They never ride up and the built in underwear doesn’t chaff your skin. As far as the Nike Spandex, I may have fallen victim to advertising, as in the past addition of Runner’s World, my idols Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher were wearing these, so I simply couldn’t resist. Luckily they’re actually pretty great!

Hope you enjoyed Gear Guide 1.0 and didn’t disagree too much with my choices, but please leave a comment letting me know what your favourite things to run in are!