Tag Archives: start

Check.

Run a smart race: debatable, but overall successful.
Don’t get hurt: assuming no new injuries counts as successful.
Get a sub 25 minute 5km: check.

This past Saturday was another planned 5km race on a fairly flat, paved route through Sunnybrook Park. The weather was ideal, my knees were feeling good, and I was rolling into the park on a good night’s sleep. It was a perfect storm of racing conditions by my standards. My friend S and I only had to hit the porta potties about 6 times before we could consider ourselves officially ready to go. I just don’t know where women find the time to squeeze in a pre-race warm- up.

My chase pack was down to one, but in a race of over 400 people, it is hard to feel like you only have one person to stay ahead of. Our missing friend (who joined us in an earlier race) opted out after a crazy work schedule and a lack of training convinced her that she shouldn’t spend the money to run a subpar performance. I know how that goes, and up until this current streak I am on, getting to the starting line was a huge challenge in itself.

I had some tightness in my left calf and as of today it is shooting down my heel, and it feels like the rumblings of a little plantar fasciitis. I’m really looking forward to taking on this extra challenge…

Either way, I’m still the reigning leader of the pack.

A race really breaks up a training program and helps re-frame your perspective and gives you a fresh start without ever having to break. I’m excited to get back to work and improve on my time again. I would love to take another 13 seconds off my time but three weeks isn’t really that long. And 13 seconds is pretty long.

I actually only have two weeks to train because the week prior to racing isn’t meant to be much more than rest and maintenance. It is a week meant for staying safe and avoiding people who may push shopping carts into you or may wander into your path without warning and force you to dive around them on sidewalks. The week before is for wearing a crossing guard vest and screaming when people come too close to your bubble. … Oh, that’s just me?

It has been a long time coming to get me to where I am now. It was a year and a half off running followed by a triumphant return to running which was quickly dismissed by a dislocated kneecap and accompanying torn ligament. That was eventually followed by a painfully gradual and much less triumphant return to running (again) which turned into this streak I’m on now.

Just because the process isn’t glamorous, doesn’t mean the result can’t be glorious.

Strategize for next race: check.
Celebrate the little victories: check.
Appreciate every step: check.

TOWR

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Back For More

It has been way too long since I have posted anything. Full time work, part time work, and full time school do that I guess. Sorry to admit that I would rather be known for being a hard worker than for my blogging consistency. I’m back on track now I swear.

I have another MRI on my knee tonight, however my limited (non- existent) background in medicine makes me think my knee is almost good to go. If you are going to tear a ligament, it looks like this is the one to go for. My theory is that it was on the verge of tearing since the car accident, so my body is used to functioning without much support from it. There is a knee surgeon who works out in my gym and yesterday I picked his brain a little. I asked if he would recommend operating on a torn MPFL and after seeing my leg day he thought I was crazy to consider surgery. He told me that he does full knee replacements and so would not be the surgeon for me, to which I replied that I probably should get a spot on the waiting list now. By age 26, I have worn my knees out to Bambi status, and I am banking on robotic body parts being available soon. This is not a complaint because I’d rather use my body up than be laying on my death bed commenting on my joint fluidity.

I hope the afterlife has squat racks.

On that glorious note, I took off my knee brace for Monday’s workout. It was terrifying, exciting, and significantly reduced the smell of my workout. Someone should invent braces that come with built in fans like they have for those mascot costumes. When I instructed a running group at my previous job, my “smelly knee brace” had a more wide- spread reputation than I did. I think it made people run faster so they wouldn’t get caught downwind. Whatever it takes to make them run.

When I was working out, I kept looking in the mirror trying to figure out how far I am from my body about four months ago before my kneecap dislocated and my hopes, dreams, and body weight came crashing down. I temporarily felt disheartened to realise I am in a permanent state of re-building, until I realised that everyone in the gym is there for the same reason. Sure, some of us do it with a sickness of going until we cramp up into a sweat-soaked mess but everyone has the goal of change.

Still being warped is frustrating because I have been struggling to increase weights and still maintain good form in my workouts. My hips are out of alignment, and my spine is curved so my back is still imbalanced. I guess I just got a little too comfortable and when I feel comfortable, I am not aligned, and every other body part dominoes along into my personal take on anatomical structure. Doing high volume and low weight workouts is working well for me though and I love the change of stimulation. I would absolutely recommend adding this phase into your workouts (depending what your goals are) because 4 sets of 30 reps isn’t easy on anyone.

If your workout isn’t mentally hard, it probably isn’t physically hard enough.

Getting motivated and back at it.

I think this is Abraham's greatest quote.

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Happy Birthday Shoulder

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
           -William Shakespeare

I spent my one year surgery anniversary knocking back rum and cokes, plowing through chocolate eggs, and not exercising. So far off the rails it pains me to put it into print.

All these comebacks sure are tiring. I won’t let health go unappreciated again.

This has been a week of resetting, refocusing, and pushing back. I should be prepping for a 5k race that is four days away and somehow I have ended up exhausting the exercise database in my brain for ways to avoid getting fat. Today a trainer smacked my leg to tell me to activate the muscles to which I stopped and screamed, “Stop jiggling my fat!!!”

Each workout since the infamous doctor-says-no-lower-body-exercise fiasco of three weeks ago increases in creativity. I’ve said this before, but I think it needs to be restated: my clients do not get hurt, I give great advice but I don’t take it. The other trainers just laugh when I walk by carrying a 10lb body bar saying, “This counts as body weight, right?”… People pay me to push them, and this gets difficult to turn off, I guess.

Today I did the Stair Master, single leg Romanian dead lifts (10lbs what up!), single leg hip bridges, and modified knee extensions. My knee felt tired but not painful, so I did some Peterson step ups but three later, I had to stop. It felt like I had just pogo-sticked up Kilimanjaro on one leg. The best part of it all was that a celebrity’s bodyguard was beside me bench pressing about twice his body weight and I was working substantially harder. I tried to play it cool but the sweat stains and muffled crying sounds probably blew my cover.

As with all situations, there is a silver lining. Each time your feet are taken out from under you, the world is opening a door of opportunity to rebuild your physical and mental strength, and develop consistency, resilience, and pride. In my case it was technically only one leg that went out from under me, but my point remains. I would rather be hurt from exercise than develop issues from being sedentary, a hundred times over. Injuries allow us to learn so much about ourselves, and offer us the chance to improve in much more than just a physical way. We can all admit that starting anything is easier with a kick in the butt.

Sure, some things haven’t gone the way I had them playing out in my head. I did, however, spend my one year surgery anniversary surrounded by friends and family, laughing loud and eating well. Compared to a year ago, my shoulder is significantly better, my overall health is definitely better, and I have lots of zig-zagged footsteps behind me. Maybe I need to think less about how I thought things would be and focus on all the greatness that is now.

I can hardly wait to work up a sweat again tomorrow.

(Throwback to my shoulder a year ago…)

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Repeat to Failure

Lately I’ve been a little annoyed being part of a silent herd of people, anxiously traveling to their destinations at a speed that is just never fast enough. I’ve got caught up in the Toronto sidewalk mentality to want to push past whoever is in front of me and go faster. Hurry up and wait. Never have enough. Speed through life by dragging your feet.

I believe I have discovered the root of my annoyance of repetition. To be honest, I’m sure I’m nowhere near figuring myself out but here is a start.

After 2 years of working in the same gym I’ve seen the same people come in every single day and workout. This is good. They are committed and dedicated. This is good. They look identical to when they first started. This is bad.

Why are people happy with not making progress?! This is like the people who purchase sessions with a trainer and then think that they have made an investment towards their health and the hard part is over. Maybe I am so frustrated by them because I spent a long time in that place, myself. Now I want to tow everyone with me to the place where people aren’t wasting their time in such a consistent and effortful way.

I am going to switch up my program soon and focus on strength more than size. I am surprised at how much I am enjoying these bodybuilding workouts however there will come a time when that will absolutely hinder my ability to run. Also, my friends are tired of me asking them to feel my muscles. Can’t stay in one place too long!

Stop wasting your time! 🙂

drivetowalk

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Round 2

Last you heard from me, I had upgraded my comeback to ‘quest’ status. And I take my questing very seriously. So, I am throwing myself back into it. I am registered to race next Sunday. Eight days to get things together is potentially not my best idea but the race payment has gone through so let’s see what happens.

Race photos from last weekend were finally posted so I could witness the pain all over again, as well as experience it from a new angle. My impatient wait for photos was rewarded with pictures I have no recollection of. That is the funny thing about finish line photos; our brains are half dead and half on speed. I swore I was alone but it turns out there are three women right behind me.

And nothing breaks your confidence like seeing someone you perceive as “unfit” in your finish line photo. Is that a terrible thing to say?

My mom has a finish line photo featuring a white haired, frail looking man right behind her, and I remember her pointing that out a few times. The problem is that several races can finish at the same time so you just don’t know who will photobomb your memories. The cropping feature was invented for finish line photos.

Maybe my goal for Sunday will be to make sure I finish with lots of space around me. Who knows, maybe I can photoshop in a Kenyan or two.

2013-04-23-Finish-Line

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Eyes on the Prize

This strategy of listening to my body seems to be paying off for me. I have spent most of my time with weights in the gym, doing my shoulder exercises, and foam rolling until I’m nauseous and what do you know; I just ran a 25:05 on a 5km route.

Previous runs have been faster, less physically and mentally painful, and much more effortless. But this feels so much more rewarding. Today is a victory for me… despite the fact I’m going to miss all of Sunday football. Again.

This is what I needed. My goals keep changing and my body keeps changing and I keep moving towards wherever I am going. I don’t think of myself as inconsistent or not committed, but I have changed so much in the past year that I am just adapting as my standards and ideals change. I am consistent because I listen and respond to my body.

Post- race will be another big re-evaluation for me because I haven’t completely stressed myself out with life changing decisions yet. Close but not quite. Running will never be abandoned as it always steps up in my life when I need it but I can be unbiased enough to recognize that my body responds best to other forms of training. After my run today I was rewarded with sharp knee pains and overwhelming tightness in odd places showing me a flash forward to my future as a crippled old woman. In a wheelchair. With all my trophies piled on my lap.

To earn today’s pops, cracks, and twinges I ran a time I’m actually happy with. I said I would be happy if I go under 25 flat when I race and I’m pretty darn close. What makes me happiest is how close I came to quitting and how hard I worked to keep going. Few experiences match the high of a solitary maximal effort. No one knows where my route ends and no one will make me run until I barf, except me. I did what I set out to do (and I kept everything down).

I have to admit: this is the first time I have run a full 5km since… probably over a year ago? And yes I am racing a 5km in 3 weeks; it is a weird training style absolutely. But my body didn’t feel like it could do it before, so I didn’t make it. This could have backfired and (knock on wood) could still work against me. But how can some pre-planned workout schedule know how my legs will feel, what my terrible schedule will allow, or adjust to where my head will be at. I don’t know even know these things. My body won’t advance in regularly timed intervals so neither will my program.

After my run, I texted one of my good friends who I used to sell running shoes with (think dream team style). He is a fantastic athlete and all of his times blow mine out of the water, yet he has this amazing enthusiasm for my modified distances and increased times. Sure enough, he follows up to my run time with a link to a race in support of a donkey sanctuary, where my time would have placed me as the first female. A donkey shaped trophy would really add to my apartment but running and being supported is rewarding enough.

Maintaining commitment to anything is worthy of reward but committing to something, working hard, and seeing progress is a reward in itself and I can’t promote that enough. That is probably why I work in fitness? Or maybe it is because I just like a career that lets me spend the day in stretchy pants.

Feeling rewarded, motivated, and supported; the countdown to race day is on.

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”   -Theodore Roosevelt

18

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Ready or Not

I race in less than 2 months and today I had the thought that I wasn’t ready. The “butterflies in my stomach” that feel more like cement mixers. Of course I shouldn’t be ready yet, but my brain had me convinced I wouldn’t be ready in time. All that means to me is that I am nervous which is good because it means I want it.

Ready is such an interesting concept. I don’t know what the weather will be like, who the other runners will be, or how my legs will feel during the race. So can’t you only determine readiness in hindsight? Why do people always ask you if you’re ready when you clearly don’t know the answer?! Do they want you to call after the race: “Nope, turned out I wasn’t ready yet”.

If I have only learned one thing from this world it is that you are never ready- and that’s not a bad thing. Life would be dull and uneventful like a movie watched over and over again. We don’t know what is coming and sometimes we don’t even know how we will react. Half of them time I feel like my emotions are doing one thing while my brain is saying “I thought we were ready”. Luckily, I can remind everyone I am female and be excused for any emotional explosions.

So rather than convince myself I am ready, I can acknowledge with ease that I will never reach my optimal performance level, particularly because I like wine and chocolate too much. I think racing is more about who can get to the start line injury free and who can tailor their training to be able to be the best on that given day. Also, it is about getting to the finish line first… minor detail…

Who wants to be prepared for everything anyways; that takes the fun out of everything! And accepting that you aren’t ever going to be completely ready comes with an contented feeling that could be mistaken for readiness…

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The Start

Part of me wishes I had started this blog earlier but I know myself well enough to know that all of my initial posts would have been me feeling sorry for myself and probably posting weird pictures of my temporarily warped body.

Here is a quick recap. I come from an athletic family- you could say I was bred rather than just born. I always thought I was a natural but it turns out I was just always conditioned for high intensity exercise (that was an exhausting lesson). I worked in fitness for many years before getting into training, and I have been working in Toronto as a trainer for the past year and a half. Running has been my main source of fitness but my heart has a soft spot for squats, deadlifts and everything else that makes the juice heads in the gym give me that face that says “That girl knows how to do that?!”

After being hit by an SUV, I have had one surgery and I am at 10 months of rehab. I am lucky to have a degree in Kinesiology as well as a brilliant network of kind and giving individuals. Let’s just say I needed a printing press for all the I.O.U.’s that I was writing. It is extremely rewarding to rebuild a body through corrective exercises, and it restored my wonder in the amazing intricacies of the human body.

So as much progress as this blog omits, there has been a lot and there will be a lot more. Let’s leave it at that.  I am moving forward and so is this blog! 🙂

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Squats and Trots

I consider myself an athlete.

Sport is a mental game and although I may be temporarily sidelined from competition, I think the situation is a great challenge for my mental strength. I compete against myself every day that I workout (or I don’t). No one in the gym will know if I cheat myself a few reps to save myself from the ugly face and weird sounds that come with them. No one will know if I am actually not changing the song on my iPod but killing time while I pretend my legs are still feeling strong. No one will know if I go straight home to stuff my face with junk food because “I worked hard and earned it”.

But this is a mental game and my willpower is an Olympic barbell.

Being injured slapped me across the face with its silver lining. It took its time but sure enough it appeared as it always does. I was in a rut at work as a personal trainer and the world kindly gave me a wake up call when I was hit by SUV  while I was biking to work. Lifestyle changes are incredibly hard and this bad situation ended up being an amazing lesson to remind myself just what that experience is like.

As a trainer I was given a chance to learn (again) how intimidating the gym is to an unfit person, and how physically and mentally hard getting fit is. I would even dare to say it was unappealingly difficult. Luckily, I knew I would come to one day appreciate the struggle. The journey is just getting started and it is worth it already.

This blog is my story, my motivation, my interest in fitness and nutrition, and my progress. Thanks for reading 🙂

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