Tag Archives: half marathon

For The Love of Running

The completion of my first half-marathon last fall is an achievement for which I am extremely proud. But from the moment I crossed the finish line, I have been positively stumped in determining the next goal for me and my running.

Unless someone is just incredibly gifted genetically, anyone that has trained for a half-marathon will attest to the time commitment one must make to get there, supported by organization, discipline, a goal and a plan. And sometimes the plan can appear so daunting, just getting started can be a challenge.

It is bad enough that we just wrapped up the winter-that-never-ends (here in Ottawa), during which time I did not see a sidewalk in what seemed like forever, so I hibernated in my cocoon of pillows and blankets while clearing the PVR or watching Netflix. Then the guilt of not running set in.

But with spring’s recent arrival, I got my first run of the season out of the way a few days ago (better late than never, I guess) and I was pleasantly surprised. The full routine of stretching I started doing in recent weeks, in anticipation of that first run, really helped as nothing hurt for this first 2 ½ km run, but clearly cardio capacity needs to be rebuilt.

I was happy to be out there, finally out in the fresh air and sunshine, already in shorts and t-shirt, bypassing the running jacket and running pants due to my late start. It was a wonderful day, but throughout the run I kept asking myself the question I had been asking myself since last fall: what is my goal?

Throughout my running life, I always had that one race ahead of me, or a tangible goal whether it was to run a longer distance, to beat my personal best time or to recover from an injury in time for the next big race. Running without a set goal seemed foreign to me.

Even among my group of friends who are runners, the goal always seemed to serve as an ice breaker in conversations: “What are your plans for your next race?” Or if someone was sidelined by injury, “When do you hope to be back in training for that next race?” Or travel-loving runners talking about the next destination race and figuring out the logistics of accommodations, meal planning and the completion of their pre-run rituals.

Without a doubt, running races is a big part of the process and helps many of us remain focused and on-target for a distance or a time, but at the moment, Continue reading

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The Guilt Of Not Running

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShortly after the major milestone of running my first half-marathon last fall, I have to admit I really enjoyed the month that followed. With training on the back burner, I fully enjoyed the free time I reclaimed: more time for writing, more time for staying on top of errands and housekeeping, and of course eating anything and everything as my metabolism was still cranked up high and quickly burning up anything I consumed.

Then the post-run party is over, replaced by holiday parties and more “fun food”!

Then when the holidays are over… Winter! Ugh!

When it comes to winter I am not a sports enthusiast:

– Despite many lessons in my pre-teens, I skate about as gracefully as Bambi on ice. Sorry, Rideau Canal.

– When I was a kid, my dad was in the ski patrol. We were out on the slopes at the crack of dawn every Sunday. You could say that before age 12, I did enough skiing to last me a lifetime and it would be true, especially given that I was not a fan of the cold and snowy part.

– Contrary to popular belief, Canadian kids are not born with hockey sticks in their hands. Besides, I was always picked last for team sports like that, so I sublimate that lifetime of trauma, by attending as many cheery musical theatre performances and uplifting operas as I can afford.

– I tried curling, I understand the game and really enjoy the wardrobe options (Google: “Norwegian curling pants” and click on the “images” tab) but I prefer my exercise in short spurts.

So what about my first love in sports, running?

In theory, if properly dressed for it, running can be performed in almost any kind of weather. I say in theory because I know my limit is around -20 degrees Celsius. Below that, my lungs are not happy in the days that follow, but that’s just me. The fact is that I have enjoyed running on sunny and bright but less “crisp” wintery days. Continue reading

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Building Your Perfect Playlist

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen I posted “The Half-Marathon Playlist” a couple of months ago, it did not occur to me that it could attract as many readers as it did. Given the ever-increasing number of runners as well as the ever-increasing number of races, it did not come as a surprise that any advice that can improve on personal bests has the potential to draw interest. I guess that steps to building the perfect playlist are no different:

1. What motivates you?

The first question to ask yourself is what motivates you and what keeps you motivated? Perhaps you prefer the ambient sounds and solitude of nature. I know others for whom conversation and the shared social experience is what keeps them engaged. That’s OK too! Everyone responds differently and there could be a chance that music is perhaps not your motivator. But if music spurs on a natural reaction, makes you want to move or makes you lose track of time it may indeed be your motivator. If that is the case, read on! Continue reading

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Filed under Misc blogs, Running

My First Half-Marathon (part 2, after the finish line)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the week leading up to the Army Run, I kept checking the weather forecast, hoping for the picture-perfect backdrop for my first half-marathon. Sadly, the call for rain seemed consistent throughout the week, right up until the day itself.

Then came the logistics of figuring out where and when to park downtown. Between the 25,000 runners and the crowds lining the routes to cheer the runners on, competition would be fierce even before the cannon was fired to mark the beginning of the race. Ultimately, the goal was to get to the race safely and in a relatively zen state.

Aside from those two wild card factors, I seemed ready for the big race: good nutrition, good sleep, good stretching exercises, no pain and no inflammation. It was time for preparation and training to go into auto-pilot mode and to do their stuff!

What I discovered along the way of the half-marathon journey is Continue reading

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The Half-Marathon Playlist

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTo build up to that point where someone can run for over two hours takes a great deal of mental and physical preparation. To be in the moment and running consistently for over two hours takes an amazing playlist.

In chatting with my fellow runners, everyone seems to march to a different beat when it comes to the soundtrack for half-marathon training. Some prefer silence, to be alone with their thoughts; some prefer paying close attention to the ambient sounds of nature or the footsteps of other runners; others like the company of cheerful conversation to help pass the time. For me, it’s all about the playlist!

What that playlist consists of is a very personal choice as it all comes down to what motivates the runner in that specific moment. Just the same there seems to be a natural curiosity among runners in terms of “what’s on your playlist?”, always searching for the perfect song to develop that perfect playlist.

Over the last several months, I have been adding and deleting songs regularly, in seeking that perfect combination for race day. While on the one hand I want songs with a very clear consistent tempo that aligns with my natural cruising speed for running, a full two hours of those can get a little dull. I believe the solution is Continue reading

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My First Half-Marathon (Part 1)

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When you make the decision to sign up for a half-marathon, usually by then you already have some sense of the time commitment required in the coming months. If you follow some of the structured running plans, experts tell you that on different days you will be gradually building up your training and performing different kinds of runs (not just long distances) in order to work your muscles, your cardio and overall endurance in different ways.

Then you need to follow up that training with yoga sessions or stretching exercises, lots of time to rest and sleep to properly recover, as well as time in the kitchen to prepare healthy recovery meals and snacks. Clearly it is a significant time commitment.

However in all the friendly tips, hints and warnings, people seem to leave something out… preparation time. Specifically, how long it takes to prepare for a 16, 18 or 20 km long run. On some days, I swear it takes me less time to pack a suitcase for a weekend away involving formal wear, two changes in weather patterns and a change of seasons. Continue reading

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What Writers Think of When They Are Running

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or.. What runners think of when they are writing

T’was a Sunday morning
Ideal for a run
All stretched and hydrated
I was ready for fun

My run gear was laid
On the bedside with care
Hoping the weather, as planned,
Was 25, mostly fair.

I drove to the park
My favourite starting line
Where the paths run flat
Backed by views sublime

The first few K’s
Were a bit of a mess
My contacts felt itchy
My shins felt stressed

I wondered right then Continue reading

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