Tag Archives: training

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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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Running

Would I Have Been a Good Writer, Had I Started Earlier?

I tend to think that the road of life I travelled was indeed meant to be uniquely mine, with all the potholes, hitch hikers, detours, storms and speed bumps I experienced along the way, as well as those stretches of smooth, dry pavement and clear weather conditions.

But it does not stop me from sometimes wondering if I had started writing earlier, with a greater sense of commitment to my craft, what kind of writer would I have become? Would I have been any good?

When I look back on childhood, I shake my head at my attitude toward teachers who forced us to write drafts of our compositions. I remember thinking that drafts were a huge waste of time because I wrote what I meant and I got it right the first time. Oh my, how times have changed!

When I read my journals from the early days (before I was journaling with a purpose), I see the seeds of creativity and the fire within, already yearning to tell stories. The stories in question may have been a little shallow, but a writer needs to start somewhere.

When I look back at some of the work I posted on my former web site “The Spin on Life at 33 1/3” (before blogs became popular), I do see the building blocks of who I am as a writer today. I surprise myself when I am able to crack a smile at stories I wrote almost two decades ago. And I also see how far I have come as a writer and how my style and execution have evolved and refined. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Writing

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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Preparing for Competition (…Shows)

When watching a reality competition show do you ever find yourself yelling at the screen, “Have you ever watched the show?” I remember a season of the Amazing Race several years ago in which a couple was eliminated in the first few weeks, and their parting words were, “We just didn’t think there would be so much running involved”. Years later, I am still asking myself what part of “Amazing RACE” did they not quite understand?

Checking out the Ice Bar in Stockholm, site of an Amazing Race Season 6 challenge

Checking out the Ice Bar in Stockholm, site of an Amazing Race Season 6 challenge

While I cannot comment on how people get selected for reality shows, there always seems to be that one competitor or team who does not seem as well-prepared as the others, despite their great spirit and enthusiasm for the show. I guess producers must think that this makes for good TV, especially for the loyal viewers who have watched from the beginning.

The recurring saying on the show Big Brother is “expect the unexpected” and the production team does indeed come up with jaw-dropping twists to keep competitors on their toes. But when it comes to competition shows, if someone was serious about applying to be on the show, why wouldn’t they prepare, practice and rehearse as much as they can?

For example, in 2003, I had made a request for tickets to attend a taping of The Price Is Right and in the months that followed, I recorded every episode, watched each episode attentively, wrote down every product and every price, transcribed them to organized lists, and I studied the lists on my bus rides to and from the office. By the end of the first month, I started noticing trends and products reappearing, so I suspect that studying might have helped, if I had been picked for contestants’ row. Unfortunately, on the appointed date, I did not get there early enough to make it into the studio, so that idea went back on the bucket list. If I was to try again, I would have prepared exactly the same way but would plan to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Live and learn.

But if I applied to be on a show like Survivor or Big Brother (not likely though), given that both shows have been around for many seasons, viewers know what to expect: 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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