Tag Archives: running

Top 10 Reasons Why a “Quick Run” Is Impossible

I admire those people who say they are going for a “quick run”.

They are those phenomenal runners who stack up personal best after personal best, while barely breaking out in a sweat, who can simultaneously update their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds with professional-grade photos of wildlife, beautiful scenery and gorgeous skies.

They can carry on a conversation without ever being out of breath. And they look so graceful, from the beginning to the end of the run, like gazelles out for a joyful dash through the savannahs.

They inspire me! I love them and I am incredibly jealous of them.

Meanwhile you can find me at the back of the pack, fiddling with something or other, or holding a part of my anatomy that’s complaining, wondering why a 3 kilometer run takes me an hour… or two.

Here they are, my top 10 reasons why going for a quick run is impossible (for me).

10) Stretching
Doing stretching exercises before and after a run has always been part of my regimen, but rushing the stretching process is a recipe for disaster. My body gave me hints that I needed to do more.

I found the best way to get all the stretches my body needs and to maintain my flexibility is to do additional exercises whenever I’m relaxing in front of the TV (even in the off season when I’m not running).

That way, I can truly take my time, I can complete the full exercise list carefully and mindfully to my full range of motion, I can challenge myself gently without bouncing, and can do a full, comprehensive round of stretching exercises to keep my body at peak performance for running throughout the season.

9) Preventative maintenance for allergy and asthma
For me, April and May are the worst months for running, but waiting until June is out of the question.

Before I set foot outside of the house and take deep breaths containing the allergens that can make me miserable, my allergy and asthma meds need to be actively pumping through my system.

After the run, my neti pot is my best pal for rinsing out allergens.

8) Utility belt preparation
If I’m running a short distance in my own neighbourhood, I just carry a few essentials: house key, ID and health card. But if the starting point of my run is a favourite park to which I need to drive, the packing process requires some strategic thinking to include car keys and those just-in-case items like auto club card, credit card, maybe a little cash.

But ultimately, I cannot bring the full contents of my “George Costanza” wallet and risk injury by running lopsided or by weighing myself down.

Plus, if I am running longer distances, a water bottle or two is necessary, along with a pack of energy gel, neatly tucked in the compartments of the utility belt.
Then the utility belt needs to be balanced to ensure an even distribution of weight of the add-ons.

7) Picking the playlist
Music is my motivator, but matching the playlist to the mood can be an agonizing process:
Is this a fast run or a slow run? Do I need the “encouragement” playlist? Am I aiming for a personal best or am I just getting the mileage in? Do I feel nostalgic or do I want some new music? Do I want to sing along?

6) Hydration… but not too much
The difference between being properly hydrated and making sloshing noises while running is such a fine line.

5) Eating… but not too much
The difference between having a light but satisfying bite and running with a stitch in one’s side is a very fine line too.

4) Post-run snack planning
If I plan on running 10 km or more, I need a snack for the finish line. If I am running in a location other than home (and on a warm day), this process requires planning, preparation, containers and ice packs.

3) Matching the socks to the shoelaces
I don’t mean matching in the fashion sense, I mean matching the thickness of the running socks with the tension in the shoelaces. If the combinations is too tight, shin splints can result. If the combination is too loose, blisters can result. It’s that Goldilocks “just right” sweet spot in the middle that can take some time to find.

2) Matching the wardrobe to the weather
When it’s sunny and over 15 degrees Celsius, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a t-shirt and shorts and I’m ready to go. But anything below that requires some careful analysis of the projected timeline, the distance, the trajectory (open areas vs tree-lined, sunny vs shady) and of course, the hourly weather forecast.

1) Untangling earphone wires
I long for the day that someone invents earphone wires that are tangle-proof, or that can untangle themselves. What a rotten feeling to be all psyched up, warmed up and stretched for a run, only to be stuck at my front door untangling those fricken wires… and then the running feeling passes. But we must persevere!

I’m sure my neighbours must get a good laugh at my expense in watching me pace back and forth on my driveway, fiddling with my earphones, getting increasingly frustrated, demonstrating the international signs of impatience and exasperation.

When you total it all up, a “quick run” can take me about 3 hours.

But I found out early in my running career that preparation is key.

By having my running clothes washed, ready and in one spot, shoe and sock combinations worked out ahead of time, a few favourite playlists pre-picked and ready, and a daily stretching routine fully in place (even on non-running days), the preparation time for a run is much less of an issue.

In the end, I think a good, healthy run shouldn’t be rushed. It takes the time it takes, to remain safe and injury free. The homework needed to achieve a good running season is always ongoing.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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The First Runs of the Season

I have always admired those runners who are able to look out the window at the most adverse weather conditions and still be able to pick out the perfect layers of clothing, lace up their shoes and go for a run with a smile on their face. They are my heroes!

I will admit that I tried it for a couple of winters, and when properly dressed for it, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, on a sunny, crisp winter day, a nice run can definitely raise the spirits after long stretches of grey winter skies.

But when Mother Nature delivers long stretches of snowy day after snowy day, and it has been weeks since I have even seen a sidewalk, it is all too easy for my discipline to be hiding on the couch under a pillow and blankie, thumb stuck on the remote, leaving a trail of sodium-reduced potato chip crumbs wherever it goes.

However, when March rolls around, it is no exaggeration to say that I can’t wait to get out of the house. The excitement and desire to return to the running trails builds with each passing day.

But when it comes to those first runs of the season, I have learned that managing one’s expectations is incredibly important.

After being away from it for several months, I tend to over-romanticize the running experience, accentuating the positive, musing about beautiful spring runs on flat, bare sidewalks, the fresh spring air, the sun shining, and the birds cheering me on. Continue reading

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My Weirdest Injury from Running

RunningIf you ask any weekend warrior, I am pretty certain that most will have a story or two about an injury sustained while practicing their favourite sport. I am proud to say that I am no different.

In my journey as a runner, I have been no stranger to shin splints, knee issues, “IT Band” irritation, plantar fasciitis, lost toe nails and bleeding nipples. I sometimes ask myself why I do it, but the answer is clear. Aside from the occasional occupational hazards of the sport, when I am in top running form, I feel so much better and I enjoy the multiple benefits associated with it.

But the oddest running injury I have encountered to date has to be when I injured my eye.

How did I do that? It wasn’t easy.

Picture it… Ottawa, July 2015… a beautiful summer day, as I was coming home from work and the running trails were yelling “André, it’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you come out for a run?” My body responded, “Yes, indeed! Could it be a more perfect day? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the temperature is perfect for running, the humidity is low and an ever-so gentle breeze will keep me cool. Absolutely. I’d be a fool not to.” You can’t bottle that kind of enthusiasm!

Faster than a Broadway actor in a one-man-show, I changed from my work clothes to my running clothes, filled the cat’s bowl with her favourite dinner, laced up my shoes, picked my perfect musical playlist and went for my neighbourhood run.

When the weather is flawless and mind, body and soul are in perfect alignment, a run can be a beautiful thing. It was phenomenal! Continue reading

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Deleting Without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt

Remote A couple of weeks ago I did the unthinkable… I deleted 25 shows from my personal video recorder (PVR), without even watching them!

It is not because the shows weren’t good. In fact, some of them were shows I enjoyed quite a bit. Unfortunately, it came down to one simple fact: there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

The sad part is that I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to binge watching: game show marathons, “Bewitched” marathons, “The Nanny” marathons, “Dallas” marathons, watching an entire 24 hour rotation of MuchMusic (once, back in University, …I dared myself), and the list goes on. Television has been a passion since I was very young, as well as a good companion to a “latch key” kid (who also happened to be an only child).

I was one of those kids who pushed up the national average for the number of hours that kids watched TV. I could have easily put in 3 hours per evening during the week and on the weekends, cartoons in the morning and family programming in the evening. It is probably no surprise that the first book I learned to read was the TV Guide.

However, my conundrum is this: I seem to have the willpower to not fall into the time trap of hours of video games on my iPad, cute cat pictures on Instagram or chain watching YouTube videos (unless they are vintage Price is Right episodes, in which case all bets are off). However I really have to exercise tough love with myself when it comes to watching television. A few endearing characters, clever writing, a storyline to make me laugh or think… I can easily get hooked.

September and October brought us a new raft of shows to watch and even though I thought I made careful choices to ensure I wasn’t painted into a corner, I still seemed to be drowning in programming. Continue reading

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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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