Tag Archives: training

On The Fly

The confidence that I had in my fitness a few days ago is now as unstable as my knee, wavering in a stiff breeze. Since I am still two and a half weeks out, I am reconsidering my my race prep strategy. It is definitely a heavy schedule and I think I might have given myself a little much credit to think I can conquer and thrive with this program.

Last week I did two workouts a day, twice, just to fit it all in around my clients, but that resulted in runs ending early, running too slowly, or just putting myself through unnecessary pain for mediocre outcomes.

It also resulted in me barely being able to keep my eyes open past 5pm.

Throughout the week, I was happy with the effort that I was putting in, but when it came time to run a 5km (yesterday’s planned workout), I was too burnt out from my workouts for the run to come together as planned.

My 5km turned into a 4km in 20:10; I guess I would rather run a decent 4km than a bad 5km. It’s not like I should practice gutting out that last kilometer in preparation for the race or anything. In a race scenario I would be asking a lot of myself to get through that last kilometer with my fastest pace with these type of training runs. Just because I am confident that I am capable of a sub 25 probably doesn’t mean I should get comfortable and train like an idiot.

I haven’t actually made any changes to my programming yet, but I think I’m asking too much from my body. It does seem to be a trend that no one else thinks my muscles are as big as I do, so maybe I should step back and re-evaluate.

I have convinced myself that any inactivity could give my knees a chance to go back to their old ways of getting all bent out of shape. So instead of listening to my body I’m just trying to keep things moving aggressively. Logical.

A rolling stone keeps rolling faster, and faster, and faster.

As long as I can squeak out my sub 25 run in 19 days then I will consider myself to have been successful.

For now, anyways.

 

BlogRun

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The Thrill of the Chase

As another race day comes and goes, another start line is approaching in the distance.

After a sub- par performance at a 5k race last May resulting in a 25:45 finish, I was not particularly impressed with my time. Neither were two of my friends, K and S, who I used to run against back in the day. The days when we absolutely flew with unappreciated athleticism. Once they had finished reminding me how slow I had gotten (as all good friends should do), I challenged them to test their current cardiac output.

So today we raced.

The course was flat, the sun was out, and the light breeze against us on the way out was a fresh reminder that we would have the wind at our backs to the finish. We started close to the front because I will never again zig- zag a 6 minute kilometer trying to hurdle children, sidestep strollers, and be called “too aggressive” for a race (The Pace to Race). When the gun went off, there were only a few mild swerves needed to get onto a clear path and I was good to go.

Beyond the start line I didn’t know where K or S was, but just nearing the 1km mark I saw some waving arms beside me and looked over to see K settle in at my side. We ran in silence, knowing we had both set goal times that were not achievable with wasted breaths. At the first kilometer marker, my watch blinked 4:52 to which I clapped and gave K a big thumbs up. She had headphones in and I didn’t catch her attention so I just settled back in and rejoined her in “the zone”.

We continued on in silence, other than a “Well, that’s pleasant” comment from K when we got hit with a wall of animal droppings/ sewage/ nuclear waste odor. Kilometer 2 came at 9:57.

Approaching the turnaround, K said she was going to have to slow down but she didn’t seem to drop off so I thought it was more of a warning than a factual statement. We rounded the halfway pylon at 12:36 but I wasn’t panicking, yet.

K slowly started to fade back and I kept moving with increased fear of one of them catching me, now that I had put some space between us. There is absolutely a mental advantage to running with your competition. It is much scarier to not know where they are and to have to set the pace rather than hold a pace. Ego is on the line, here.

The next kilometer was my slowest; I think I got a little too comfortable which would have be great if it was a race longer than only 5 kilometers. But it was 5 kilometers. You don’t get comfortable.

I hit the 4 kilometer mark solo with a sloshing sound echoing from my stomach and cheesy motivational sayings starting to cycle through my head. I tucked in behind a woman with a blue tank top and an indistinguishable tattoo on her shoulder and just wheezed annoyingly behind her. There is no bodily sound that is embarrassing enough to deter you when you put your “fastest” reputation from a decade ago on the line.

The 4 kilometer sign coming and going meant that I had to run a 4:45/km pace to get me to the line in time. I ended up passing the tattooed blue tank top wearer and crossing the finish line with what felt like an optimal combination of strength and fatigue. The woman I passed actually came and found me as I was wandering and panting in the finish area and gave me a solid high five. Bam. No words needed. I love the running community.

My chip time was 25:03, which was four seconds slower than my goal of 24:59. That stings a little but I now have the confidence that I can run a sub 25 minute race; I just didn’t do it today.

Today’s run was a full 42 seconds faster than my last race and I’m absolutely on track to get some great times under my belt by the end of this racing season.

The summer of the 5k continues!

MEC

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Again, but From Here

It has been 2 weeks since the race, and today was my first run since. After a week off for knee relief, followed by several tiring days and a few sleepless nights, I decided that not running was the best training option. I was also hoping that my muscle memory would forget my last performance, and go back to my older, faster, gait. I’m sure there is a historical example of where sitting, waiting, and wishing resolved an issue…

Once my knees remembered that they are 27 and not 87, I opted to run today and start back into a more goal- oriented workout schedule. I headed out into the sunshine and relatively fresh air (it is Toronto, after all) and started off with the intention to run 20 minutes easy, followed by 10 minutes at a 5k pace. Somewhere, the running gods were having a great laugh at my expense.

I felt exhilarated to be running again; with the cool wind at my back, the sun in my face, and the musical serenades of obnoxious, beat- driven dance songs in my ears. I planned an out and back course and felt great until about halfway, when the sun started feeling a little too hot and perfectly timed, an elderly woman told me “I wish you wouldn’t run in this heat”. I gave a friendly smile back to her concerned scowl, but saved my breath for the way home.

I changed my plan to just run for 30 minutes because I was anticipating that my threshold pace and my easy pace were one and the same today. I imagined that at 20:01 I would lurch forward and catch myself, falling back into the exact same pace. No extra energy to waste on that one good stride today! It was just a little heartbreaking that my easy pace was actually a few seconds per kilometer faster than my race pace two weeks ago, but not to worry, I knocked that out of my system and dropped down to somewhere around a 5:30/km pace.

The only time I got close to my wannabe 5km pace was when I saw a sprinkler and actually chased the stream of water (which I did not catch up to) so I then casually came to a pause (shamelessly stood on someone’s lawn) so that I could not be missed this round.

The rest of the trip home was slow and hot, a drippy combination of sweat and hose water. But it happened, and 30 minutes came.

It is hard to be disappointed with any run at this point so I’m eagerly looking ahead to the next one.

I have to catch that sprinkler.

 

 

 

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The Pace to Race

Last Sunday was race day.

It was not as fast or as glorious as I had hoped it to be, but I finished the race vertical and left inspired to work harder and come back faster. So I think I can check that off as a success in one way or another.

As much as I would love to list my excuses for not hitting my goal time in an attempt to justify that it was the Universe’s fault, I was happy with how I ran four of the five kilometers. The first kilometer did me in but it was a learning experience. Or a reminder, anyways.

I could list all of the training runs I did in faster times, all the intervals I ran, and tell you about the days I didn’t feel like running but did it anyways. It doesn’t matter how good the workouts are if they don’t build on each other and if they don’t come together. In this case, neither of those may be the issue but my body just couldn’t do it.

And that’s okay.

The bar is set at 25:44.

And now I’m going to smash it.

I have three more races planned this year, because if I don’t keep challenging myself then how will I know what I can do. I am not running how I want to, but I know where I want to get to. My goal is to stay injury- free to race June, August, and October and improve on my time each run.

Just keep trotting.

RunFinish2

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The Knee Bone’s Connected to the…?

On Friday I cried and I can’t even convince myself it was more pain than frustration. It was the type of day that made me want to stamp my feet and then curl up in the fetal position. Nothing that a rum and coke and then laying face down for hours can’t fix.

My MRI was at 1am in the morning. Luckily riding the subway in the wee hours of the morning on a weekday keeps you awake and alert. I arrived to the maze of empty halls and dragged my bum leg to the imaging department. I was really early because I was plagued with the fear of having to pay the $100 late fee. That is a lot of money that could be put towards my recovery (rum and cokes). But if my mom is reading, I meant to say, paying you back!

After blissfully enjoying my half hour laying completely still listening to loud banging and rattling I went to change out of my size extra large robe. I started talking to a man who would have been a little older than my dad. His wife has dementia and was there getting an MRI on her brain.

I wish it was easier to keep things in perspective without having to see someone else in a bad situation.

So after a few hours of sleep I headed to work and rolled in nice and late after the subway broke down and who knew that another hundred people would need a cab at 8:30am on a weekday.

Once my break rolled around I decided to do an upper body workout. I warmed up, got ready to go and headed off to find a bench. I went to sit down and heard a loud pop as I felt a snap in my knee. Awesome. 12 hours after my MRI. So close.

flamingoknee

My weekend was extremely sloth like and I ventured out once for a few groceries. Seeing the doctor tomorrow and hoping for a miraculous sleep induced recovery!

Tomorrow also starts a week of upper body workouts! Let’s get half jacked!!!

kneebone

 

 

 

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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…)

shoulder

 

 

 

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No Squats & No Trots

I can’t lie, it is hard to watch people run by me in shorts and tank tops. They are all rubbing in my face that I can’t run right now. How rude.

This week I saw a doctor who thinks I have damaged the cartilage and meniscus in my left knee. The last time I saw him, I had just been hit by a car. Looking over my file he didn’t seem surprised to see me again. He prodded and poked around then he sent me on my way after requesting an MRI.

So after having every fun exercise eliminated from my temporary repertoire, I nestled in on the stationary bike for a thrilling resistance- free ride. My doctor told me only about a hundred times: no squats.

Maybe he reads my blog.

Cardio equipment at the gym has the same etiquette as using a public washroom. Am I wrong?!

So here I am, biking in slow motion watching the Raptors game on the TV, listening to my iPod, and occasionally texting on my phone. Yes you heard me right; my workout was actually that uninvolved. Calling it a workout is quite generous since it was a sweat free 45 minutes. Anyways, I am in a row of 12 bikes, all of which are available. There are two more rows of cardio equipment behind me and everything is empty.

So a woman comes over and sits down right beside me. Then she doesn’t turn on her TV and watches mine. Then she reads what I text and mimics me every time I move.

Why do people do this?! Am I just crazy about my personal space?? Actually don’t answer that. But really. I bet she is the person who sits beside you on the subway and leans in to read your paper instead of her own. And I bet she would use the bathroom stall right next to you.

On another note, I think I should formally do a study on the (predicted) correlation between how increased physically injury drastically impairs patience and social skills.

My apologies to those how get in my gimpy way.

deadfall

 

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First Things First

Sometimes one commitment has to overrule another. So for a few reasons there will be no triathlon for me in the near future. An overestimated range of motion in my bad shoulder, and a lack of ability to train my best for two different upcoming events are main factors.

In April I will race 5km but the triathlon will have to wait. Maybe later this season or maybe next year. Right now my priority is to do one thing (well) at a time. As much as I am disappointed in having to scale back, I can recognize how much I love to get carried away. My workout today was full of dropping weights to perfect my form before I add weight back. Maybe the feeling of progress just gets addictive or maybe we give ourselves too much credit thinking that our reflection has better form than we do. Regardless of how we get there, a lot of us seem to end up pushing more than we can at some point.

One of my clients set a new personal best pushing 8 plates (360lbs) on the decline leg press yesterday because he put half the plates on the wrongs pegs- he thought he was taking them off and not loading them. So for some of us, it is accidental.

My running has been going slowly but now I am officially registered to race and what is better motivation than the realization of approaching deadlines. The hardest part of running right now is the weather. If I didn’t have a job I probably wouldn’t leave my apartment… seriously. It is spring and it is snowing in Toronto. Motivation seems like an idea only for those who don’t live in layers of bundled clothing.

I am looking for a sub 24 minute run on April 27th and hoping for an injury free journey there. My plan is to run 5k outside this weekend and then I will base my next month of training off my time. Here we go again!!

dreamers

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Ch-ch-changes

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is get too comfortable. Despite my lack of philosophical insight or all-knowing wisdom, I speak based on experience.

We underestimate our capabilities and overestimate how ideal repetition seems to be. I doubt that anyone laying on their death bed would say, “I regret all those times I tried something new”. It is hard to look back on a year, month, or even a week, and feel like your feet are in the same place wearing down footprints in the ground. Our footprints should be spaced far and barely leaving a mark before the next one is planted.

Today, D and I worked out at a different gym. New faces, new equipment, completely different atmosphere, and most importantly- new people to race on the treadmills. Even though we are going from one gym to another gym, it allows enough fresh air and change of scenery to clear your mind. Because nothing clears your mind like body odor and the sound of weights crashing, am I right?

This was a great time in discomfort, just in a small scale, one day type way. Finding new things, trying new things, and accommodating this with strangers’ schedules are all things that should happen daily. I found it really surprising that even as a trainer, I was intimidated at times. Maybe it was because I spent a lot of time wandering to see where everything was or maybe it was because I was the only female not doing cardio. I ended up doing deadlifts just right in the middle of the gym since the racks were taken and I wasn’t sure where to go to be out of the way.

As a bonus, today was the first day I saw what happens when steroids go bad but that is a whole other story.

This is about more than just fitness.

I am itching to be uncomfortable.

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Process and Progress

I am trying to upgrade my workout log from my current system; millions of loose pieces of paper scrawled with increasingly tired handwriting as the list goes on. As much as this is wasteful and inefficient, I am too OCD to make a book of partially illegible workouts. I need to come home and print them out neatly. The handwriting is definitely a good measure of how hard the workout was, though. On days when I need to really kick my butt I could look for the page where the words turn to shaky lines and there are traces of tear drops. No matter how authentic the chicken scratch on paper shreds, my personality requires tidy writing. Must be my only quirk.

Next in importance after tidy printing, I have felt the thrill of almost smashing my face in.

I am (carefully) checking off my to- do list, which not so coincidentally is identical to my “you won’t do these again” list as per my surgeon. It is with great proudness I can say I conquered a dumbbell bench press. Started with 20 pounds in each hand, and found it shockingly easy, in a relative sort of way. My spotter encouraged me to keep pounding out reps until my right arm decided it had enough and it careened its’ dumbbell towards my face.

In danger, I close my eyes and brace myself apparently. Awesome life skills. Use a spotter with quick reflexes, friends!

The only thing that remains in that no fly zone is contact sports. I won’t lie, it probably will never be crossed off that list and I’m okay with that. Contact sports will be the one time I will use my shoulder injury as an out. As much as I love thinking I have super strength, my body was not built for combat.

My swimming career is in the making now; I have been in touch with someone who will help me regain (or learn) my strokes and then I’m sure this challenge will feel much more real. Triathlon also comes with the added challenge of finding a flattering one piece bathing suit.

Just kidding.

That doesn’t exist.

swimmer

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